Our local newspaper, the Jackson Citizen Patriot just asked me to write an opinion piece on whether or not texting and social media sites are hurting our children’s literacy skills. I have a very strong opinion on this but I’m hoping for some ideas to help give it more substance. Here’s what I’ve brainstormed so far:
- Social media and texting are easy to blame as the downfall of the traditional idea of literacy. There are abundant examples of students using social media poorly, but we need to be careful not to mistake correlation for causation.
- Literacy is more than just being able to read, write, or pass a multiple-choice test. It also involves being able to understand, interpret and critique. Meaningful communication must be part of this, as well as being able to create.
- New forms of media create new forms of literacy. Writing an essay on Shakespeare or Hemmingway have their place in literacy but I want to help people understand that blog posts and YouTube channels have their place as well. Colleges allowing student-created videos instead of essays during the admission process might be a good example.
- I want to address Prensky’s idea of “Digital Natives Digital Immigrants“. This quote seems to be very relevant: “It is amazing to me how in all the hoopla and debate these days about the decline of education in the US we ignore the most fundamental of its causes. Our students have changed radically. Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach . . . today’s students think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors.”
- Teaching media literacy and digital citizenship. This doesn’t happen in schools because social sites are almost always blocked. If we can’t model healthy digital citizenship in schools where will students learn it?
- I realize this is for a newspaper but does my piece really have to be in print? Maybe I could do something in addition to the written part?