If students are not trained to ask basic questions about the images which confront them, if they are not asked to examine the knowledge and assumptions which they already possess, they are being denied the opportunity to develop the most simple and essential critical tools.
Thierry De Smedt is a scholar, an educator, a researcher, and an activist in media education. He is an Emeritus Professor at the Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium, where he taught both media education and education through media to generations of students. A specialist of the role of sound in human communication, Thierry De Smedt was one of the pionners of media education in French-speaking Belgium, and an early proponent of the idea that media reception should not be studied as spectatorship, but as media competence. He directed and was involded in multiple international and European research projects on the appropriation of media and technology by the youth. Through his teaching and research, he promoted a vision of media literacy as a means to empower media users and guide them towards autonomy and social responsibility, allowing them to problematize the communicational risks associated with contemporary media. He was one of the founding members of the Higher Council for Media Education of the French Community of Belgium, one of his many involvements in the voluntary sector.