Sometimes I find myself getting very impatient with the complaints of today’s youth. How they show apathy and indifference to their education, and how they are so distracted with the technology of today. So many people say that society is going downhill because of technology and that we are losing intelligence. Most of the time technology and the so-called loss of literacy take the blame. I was encouraged to read that “textual literacy has become so ingrained in Western society that it has reached the point of invisibility. But humans have only been using reading and writing for a very short time in our history” (Thomas & Joseph et al., 2007). The article also explains how Transliteracy has far reaching historical roots and that in the long past, humans have used many different ways to communicate. Surprisingly, reading and writing have only been around a relatively short time. “Transliteracy is the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks” (Thomas & Joseph et al., 2007).
Why are we so obsessed with the formality of the written word? Why do the arguments continue about whether true literacy exists beyond the printed text?
To me the arguments and complaints are useless. They will not produce fruit. In my opinion all it does is exacerbate the generational divide between the digital natives and the digital immigrants. If we are to reach the youth and promote the literacy we hold so dear, we must accept it on their terms. We must place literacy in the context of what is important to our students.
“…learning has to do with how people appropriate and master tools for thinking and acting that exist in a given culture or society. This anchors literacy and learning in societal perceptions of what is important for a particular society. Thus, the nature of “literacy” is not neutral, rather becoming literate has always depended on mastering processes that are deemed valuable in particular societies, cultures and contexts;” (Misfund, 2005).
If what we do in school continues to be so different than what happens outside of school, students will continue to display apathy and not become engaged in their schooling. Outside of school students are continually reading, writing and publishing. Often what they do is very public. As educators we must harness these abilities and skills within our own curriculum context. We must make these everyday processes about more than what happened on the weekend.
Thank you for reading!!
Mifsud, L., (2005). What counts as digital literacy: Experiences from a seventh grade classroom in Norway. Retrieved from http://www.socialscience.t-mobile.hu/dok/9_Mifsud.pdf
Thomas, S., Joseph, C., Laccetti, J., Mason, B., Mills, S., Perril, S., & Pullinger, K. (2007). Transliteracy: Crossing Divides. First Monday, Vol.12 (12). Retrieved from http://www.uic.edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2060/1908
image credit: http://studiojaaz.blogspot.ca/p/calligraphy-works.html