Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Speaking out against LITERACY abuse

I'll talk more about this today in class I'm sure (just try and stop me!) but I wanted to bring up the very real and under-funded issue: Literacy Abuse.

Literacy Abuse is characterized by the naming of any discourse facilitating aptitude being called "literacy" and being branded as the savior of modern education. The long-term consequences are: 1) dilution of a very real term about making and attributing meaning to abstract symbolic representations of a spoken language and the consequent failure to address those needs in society
2) corruption of the very mediums which are termed literacies by their pedogogization
3) a confusion between so called good and bad teaching methods and good and bad teachers.

Photoshoping, youtubing, digg-ing, etc... all may have value and their underlying skill sets surely have value in society, but they are not literacies, they are something else, and by confusing that with literacy we risk confusing the people who ultimately pay for our schools and determine what we must teach. Let's call it something else and justify it on its own terms. Let's also forget that just because we want to teach a 3 paragraph essay doesn't make it evil or necessarily boring. It is what we do with it as a teacher that matters. There is no inherent evil in any of the "traditional" source material or goals of school. There is only evil in poor teachers and poor teaching.



Matt said...

I tend to believe with most of what you are saying. But the important thing is that to many kids these days, those activities, such as youtubing, would be normal, everyday literate activities. Since today's kids, and kids in the future, will share these experiences, then teachers need to be willing to relate to and incorporate these aspects into school lessons.

Anonymous said...


Totally absolutely agree with you. I think its very important to value the kids capital and to utilize it to hook them in the work. I just think linguistically we should call reading/writing and similar activities literacy and the other things something else. We should value youtubing and photoshopping and the rest because they help create a whole, complete and creative mind, NOT simply because someone decided they were a "literacy". They have value all on their own as you correctly point out.