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Critical Literacy Is at the Heart of the Answer

Media, Technology and Education in a Post-Truth Society

ISBN: 978-1-80043-907-8, eISBN: 978-1-80043-906-1

Publication date: 8 July 2021


2019 was a big year. The Great Hack and investigative journalism of Carole Cadwalladr exposed the machinations of Cambridge Analytica. The US senate summoned Mark Zuckerberg to face an extended interrogation on the ways in which Facebook screens content. Greta Thunberg fomented a global ‘climate emergency’ movement with attacks on lying political leaders. If 2016 saw ‘post-truth’ rise to prominence as a concept, 2019 was characterised by myriad efforts to champion truth and counter misinformation. And then the COVID-19 crisis hit. The urgency we began to feel in 2019 to address the ills in our society and hunt for a cause and cure has intensified. We now daily ask at whose door we can lay the blame and, from there, what solutions we can implement. For now, we have drawn the battle lines between tech and society and looked to pit governments against technologies which have changed the face of media. But amidst this flurry of activity, we need to stop and ask ourselves: are we setting our sights on the right actors and are we taking the right next steps?

Written in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, this contribution responds to the burning debate on how to overcome our current infodemic and immunise against future outbreaks. It offers an alternative narrative and argues for a much more radical course of action. It posits that we have misidentified the root cause of our current post-truth reality. It argues that we are in fact experiencing the extreme consequence of decades of poor education the world over. It champions a shift from drilling young people in so-called facts and figures to developing those deep levels of literacy in which critical thinking plays a fundamental part. This is not to exculpate the Facebooks and Twitters of our time – new tech has no doubt facilitated the dissemination of half-truths and untruths. But it is to insist upon contextualising our current albeit horrifying reality within a much more complex and longer-running societal challenge. In other words, this chapter makes a fresh clarion call for rethinking how we have got to where we are and where we might most meaningfully go next, as well as how, indeed, we might conceptualise the links between technology, government, media and education.



Pauncefort, E. (2021), "Critical Literacy Is at the Heart of the Answer", Grech, A. (Ed.) Media, Technology and Education in a Post-Truth Society (Digital Activism and Society: Politics, Economy And Culture In Network Communication), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 73-94.



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