Friday, March 17, 2006

does it matter if we redefine literacy?

I have read books full of dense text and containing no graphics whatsoever which argue cogently for the recognition of new literacies. Gee on Video Games and Literacy does this. Rheingold on Virtual Reality did this.

Video games, Virtual Reality. No pics. Must have been a serious and important analysis.

Why? Is it because words are the most powerful way for them to convey their message of the importance of other media? What a tremendous irony that would be! Or is it more to do with the economics of marketing a new book, that their publisher would not take the risk of the extra expense? Money. Or is it because they are older generation interpreting the world of the younger generation to other members of the older generation? No pics required for that?!

I have a deep feeling that ability to read and write text is so important that anything that diminishes its importance ("waters is down") is so dangerous that we shouldn't do it. I also have another deep feeling that everything changes and that the changes are speeding up - so what does it really matter if we modify the meaning of the word, "literacy"?

I can't make up my mind.

So my question is: Does it matter if we redefine literacy?

At the national game maker forum Ken Price wrote this:
your article on Prensky's talks is useful. I was intrigued when I saw the use of the term "literacy" and multiple categories, as I have been watching the term morphing from its original meaning ("literate" meaning "one who knows the letters" i.e. one who can read write and make meaning of text) to a new meaning which in broad term means fluent, competent, able to interpret. Literacy seems to have become the bray of any group that believes it is important (I have recently seen financial literacy, productivity literacy, business literacy and drug literacy, and am eagerly awaiting golf literacy to make my life complete...)

I was thus happy to see your literacy referred to actual literacy within various areas of activity!

The literacies which I referred to in my article were as follows:
Literacy of traditional school: 3 R's plus sit still, listen to the teacher, take notes (broadcast)

Literacy of game play: Play games, solve problems, level up (have fun while you learn what?)

Literacy of computer programming: use logic, functions, conditionals, debugging etc. to solve particular types of problems (higher order thinking?)

Literacy of the two way web: search, blogs, wikis, podcasts, IM etc. (learn to use the universal pipe)

In response to Ken at the national gamemaker forum I wrote this:
as all media becomes digitial then there's bound to be a morphing b/w text and other digital forms IMO - eg. the intro to Baz Luhrmann's romeo and juliet was when I first noticed, a text had been turned into a multi media experience to make it more accessible -- digitising text changes it nature(?)

I suppose that's mixed in with the use of the word 'literacy' to try to claim the high moral ground

thanks for reminding me of the original meaning, yes I had forgotten

I'm still thinking about it and interested in other opinions.


Blogger Leigh Blackall said...

Hi Bill, I started writing a comment, but it turned into a post, so I dropped it on my blog instead.

Basically I'm taking the line that we need more than text literacy.

2:41 PM  

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