Chris Worsnop

From Telemedium, The Journal of Media Literacy

Vol 54, No 2&3. Published Winter 2007

Chris Worsnop [& Sr. Rose Pacatte] Receive the 2007Jessie McCanse Award

Celebrating the Twentieth Anniversary of the award that honors NTC’s co-founder Jessie McCanse, two eminent educators share the recognition, presented this year to Canadian educator Chris Worsnop, and Los Angeles–based Sr. Rose Pacatte.
In announcing the awards, NTC President Karen Ambrosh said, “This year’s recipients exemplify the high principles of excellence, dedication and innovation that the Jessie McCanse Award for Individual Contribution to Media Literacy represents. Both Rose and Chris consistently contribute deeply rich and thoughtful leadership to the field of media education.”


Pioneering Canadian media educator, Chris has a long and distinguished career. He is a key leader among the innovators who forged the impressive Canadian media education movement, and whose clear principles and implementation initiatives are today a role model among educators worldwide.

Chris has balanced an amazing life as teacher, mentor, author, critic; producer, actor, and poet; and much more. His has been a rich and diverse career that spans Education, the Media, the Arts. He is known across the world for his sound pedagogical approach to learning, to Best Practices, and to a passionate pursuit of authentic student evaluation and assessment. His books, Screening Images: Ideas for Media Education (1994 and 1999) and Assessing Media Work (1996) are classics in their field.

In more recent years, he has turned his attention to the International Baccalaureate Organization where he continues to play a key role.

And finally, Chris is known and cherished by those privileged to have met him, for his wonderful sense of humor, keen wit (perhaps a touch of his British origins showing up?) and a way with words that has prompted the editors of this Journal of
Media Literacy to crown him with the title of “Poet Laureate” of our publication.
The presentation of the award to Chris took place on November 6, in Toronto. It was a fitting setting, in the midst of teachers and colleagues, during a special event in which he was a speaker, on “Film and Popular Culture” that was sponsored by the Association for Media Literacy as part of the Canadian “National Media Education Week.” It was equally fitting and meaningful that the award was given to Chris by Mary Moen, NTC’s long-time Board member, Madison teacher, Jessie McCanse award recipient, and herself a pioneer in media literacy in Wisconsin.


In presenting the award to Chris, Mary Moen stated: “with your wisdom and intellect you have opened eyes to the principles of pedagogy in a changing media environment and you have consistently led the way as an educator, to the new frontiers. Please accept our salute to your gifts to the world of Media Education.”

Chris Reminisces...

I started in media education in about 1966, when I organized a film society in the Ottawa, Ontario high school where I was working, and started using some National Film Board of Canada (NFB) films in my classroom. In 1967 I moved to a new school and expanded my use of film and other media, and in 1968 taught one of Ontario’s first grade 13 courses in film. In 1968, I spent six weeks at a media education film institute at Montreal’s NFB HQ.

All of this is a result of my (mis)spending five to seven undergraduate nights a week at the cinema. And that was a result of my spending a fair amount of my high school evenings helping my father, who was a projectionist. (Shades of Cinema Paradiso)
In the 70s I took an undergraduate diploma course in “Social Communications” at Ottawa U. and became more and more involved in media education. Then it was called “Screen Education”, and I later found ways of incorporating it into my M.Ed. studies in Kingston, Ontario. Throughout the 70s, 80-s and well into the 90s I was heavily involved in the Ontario Film Association, writing hundreds of reviews of short Canadian, non-theatrical films, and producing some of the first study guides to take a media education slant on film in the classroom. I was then a curriculum coordinator with responsibility for English, Drama and Media in elementary and secondary schools in Ontario’s largest school board.

In 1995, I retired from full time work and devoted myself to media education. I wrote the first Edition of Screening Images: Ideas for Media Education in 1994, (second edition, 1999) then Assessing Media Work in 1996. I did a lot of workshop and conference work between 1995 and 2000, and then slowly began to cut down on my activities. In 2006, I retired again and moved out of the Toronto area, only to find myself involved in running afternoon film programs in the local library.

Starting in 1999, I worked for the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) first as a committee member, than as chair of the committee and later as the chief examiner for a film course in the diploma program. My term expired in 2006, and I am now the representative for all the diploma arts programs on the IBO Diploma Review Committee. This position expires in two years from now, when I am planing a third retirement.

I am extremely proud to be named as a recipient of the Jessie McCanse award, and to be counted among those former recipients whom I have long respected as landmarks in the media education world. I am exceedingly proud of the fact that nomination for this award is by the former recipients, as I consider this to be the ultimate in peer review.