The New Literacy

This Wired Magazine article on The New Literacy got me thinking.

What if a generation of people (in the U.S., and in other countries, people who otherwise would not have read or written much) doubles, triples, or quadruples their literacy activity because they text message from their mobile phone? Could that make a positive difference on the use and quality of reading and writing?

What if “tweeting” causes people who are normally verbose in speaking or writing to learn to write concisely? Would that be a reason to “tweet” in class?

What if writing teachers (aware of the linguistic concept of register, the idea that there are different forms of a language used for a particular purpose or social setting) valued texting, writing personal letters, writing business letters, writing essays, and other forms of writing, and taught and valued them all, and helped students appreciate and distinguish them. Would we have students who were more facile in using different forms or kinds of language?

What if teachers introduced their students to Grammar Girl or other appealing grammar web sites when the learners had a purpose for writing, a specific audience, and when they cared about getting the writing clear and succinct and attractive? Would that produce better writing?

Is it time to integrate, not denigrate these new technologies?

What’s your experience?


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