Sunday, March 30, 2008

How Literacy Has Changed!

Literacy no longer means reading and writing, according to the National Council of Teacher of English (NCTE), who has formulated a new definition of literacy. Check out the organization’s definition of literacy, and post your reactions to the definition. Here is the URL to access the definition from the NCTE site.


mary beth said...

The author of this text, the NCTE committee, has succinctly defined literacy for our time. I have to agree that we as a people will have to learn these new multi-media competencies in order to communicate and solve contemporary problems. People who choose not to learn them will be left behind. I know that our children will be well-equipped for the future. Schools are equipping themselves with 21st century tools, maybe not fast enough, but they are headed in that direction. I fear more for the adults who will be left behind and left out. Formerly literate people are at risk. I guess the upside is that, as a future teacher, I see a career opportunity teaching adults these new competencies and technologies. I am grateful to be in school at this time because it is bringing me into this new multi-media world, where I was once left out. I am, in turn, bringing my husband and my parents forward. Once I move past the fear of not knowing what I am doing, I am finding the new environment of information to be intoxicating and efficient. But at the end of the day, I still have the same struggles and joy in my life as my ancestors: raising a family, caring for sick and elderly loved ones, observing and experiencing the world in all its beauty as well as its ugly side. Even with all our technological advances, we are still human, we still experience emotion, and need love. This knowledge comforts me when I become overwhelmed with the more material, techno-world. I can get lost in technology, but my feelings will always be familiar. In a more global sense, this is the risk that people take in the 21st century: that literacy becomes more about form (technology) than substance (meaning); hence the ethical considerations mentioned by the NCTE. Our humanity gives us meaning. Without that, there is no need for the information that technology provides us. Information without meaning or purpose is worthless. I hope to consider this in my teaching as well. I want my students of all ages to thoughtfully consider the value of literacy and the uses to which they will put their newfound literacy as they evolve in the 21st century.

gayle said...

I suppose with the changing times, technology must be included in the definition of literacy. I agree with the new definition because we are a technology based society. Everything we do today is dependent on technology. Operating simple machines such as cell phones, dvd players, radios and new high definition tv's requires some knowledge of technology. It only makes sense to incoporate computers and technology into the curriculum.

As Mary Beth stated, she worries about the adults who will be left out. I feel the same way. Many of the older teachers I work with have a terrible time with technology. Honestly, I have the same problem. However, I am willing to learn to become literate!

I am glad students are given more opportunities to use the internet to conduct research, and participate in computer activities to enhance a lesson. As educators it must be a priority to become computer literate to ensure our students are prepared for the advances in technology.

Alicia H said...

I do understand how our society has changed with the technological advances that aid learning and make communication real-time. All of these advances are great, especially in medicine. Students will always be 'young' to teachers, we get older and still teach the same age range. However, I do not think the NCTE definition for literacy is accurate. Perhaps for technological literacy this definition fits, but not the original definition. I looked literate up on Webster's and found this:
Main Entry: 1lit·er·ate
Pronunciation: \ˈli-tə-rət also ˈli-trət\ | Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English literat, from Latin litteratus marked with letters, literate, from litterae letters, literature, from plural of littera
Date: 15th century
1 a: educated, cultured b: able to read and write
2 a: versed in literature or creative writing : literary b: lucid, polished (a literate essay) c: having knowledge or competence (computer-literate) (politically literate)
The NCTE definition seemed to almost talk more like lesson objectives, not a definition. Creating and analyzing something is not the same to me as being able to basically communicate. The NCTE definition, in my view, appears to address how technology can be used at advanced levels and cannot be applied to all literacy. But maybe that was their intention? Being computer literate is listed in the 3rd definition by Webster's; too bad the NCTE did not address #1 and #2 as well.

Sharon Kirby said...

We have been working on a definition for literacy at my school. It is so complex and multifaceted that no one definition is correct. I do think that this particular definition is important because we are going into a new world of online reading that has not been taped into before. Information is everywhere and it's our job to try and teach our students how to understand what they are reading. I can't image how much things will change for us when it comes to technology. Just in the last 10 years things have changed dramatically...I have a big big big! fear that I wont be able to keep up. I try and stay current in everything, but there is only such much one person can do in a day.

Debbie said...

I've been working with my students on reading, writing and taking notes daily. It is not always fun, but I am already seeing how they are thinking and processing information better because I am challenging them to process through writing. Technology cannot replace the thinking process that often happens through "critical literacy" but technology needs a place in the literacy curriculum. NCTE addresses actual literacy with technology - a very different act than reading words on a page. Rather than one literacy getting lost in another, traditional and technology based literacies are completely dependent on one another - one cannot exist without the other if we are going to successfully prepare our students for working in today's world. Follow this link to watch a telling video on the role of technology in our system of education.

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