[Air-L] Your Opinion

jeremy hunsinger jhuns at vt.edu
Wed Apr 15 11:39:02 PDT 2009


I think there is a whole subtext to literacy learning.... what some  
call a hidden curriculum to it that derives from the historical needs  
that 'being literate' was supposed to resolve.  I'm much more into the  
hidden curriculum of the liberal arts i think.    Literacy is supposed  
to produce literate people, people who are capable of following  
instructions and performing well in basic situations.  I think we  
probably need to reaffirm a bit more than that, literacy, I think, is  
not good enough.  Don't get me wrong, it is great to have literate  
people, but... for instance, people seem to lack the historical  
context for things they take for granted, like why some countries have  
laws against child labor, or laws against working 80 hours a week,  
laws against certain forms of financial arbitrage, etc.  Now I'm not  
saying that everyone needs a big dose of history, but it wouldn't  
really be included on a literacy oriented curriculum, similarly some  
people graduate without understanding that there is little difference  
between balancing their checkbooks and first year algebra, because  
many tend to teach mathematics in abstraction, and when we don't teach  
it in abstraction, we don't teach people how to abstract it.  Digital  
literacy to me is just 'literacy'.... if you have the right skills to  
be 'literate' you should have the right skills to be digitally  
literate, but the argument is frequently made that it isn't so, thus  
we have digital literacy, we also have informational literacy, which  
is a different thing also apparently, there is internet literacy, and  
webbed literacies and multimodal media literacies.   It worries me  
somewhat that there is a plurality of literacies  So I dunno, I think  
as I mentioned below that there are things that we can teach at K-12  
that are immensely worthwhile investments as the basis of life-long  
learning and life-long multiple technical literacies, but I don't  
think teaching literacy accomplishes it because at a certain point in  
literacy... we say you are literate, and that implies you are finished  
and I think the 'finished' is a huge part of the problem in education  
today.   perhaps I am wrong with tying literacy to states of  
completion, but that's my current reading.   I find that to be part of  
the larger problem of knowledge being compartmentalized, specialized,  
and complete-able.  For instance, algebra.... you never stop using it  
once you've understood what it is, it is a life long pursuit, sure you  
don't have to be a mathematician, but you can recognize patterns,  
methods, ideas, etc. from algebra and it can make your life immensely  
simpler, but I bet, like my algebra training... it was for 1/3 of the  
class, 'i have completed algebra, it is all the math that is required,  
and now i can forget it'... for the other 2/3, 1/3 were going on to  
advanced algebra and then calculus which requires algebra and the  
other 1/3 were going on to accounting which is somewhat algebra by  
other means.  I think what I'm pointing to is a larger scale problem  
in education and it is the one that leads our students to think that  
the material in a college class is... unrelated to other classes and  
finished/forgetable when completed.....   anyway i think i'm ranting  
to avoid writing on commodity-forms.




On Apr 15, 2009, at 2:17 PM, Nick Lalone wrote:

> I believe that this line or argument would be akin to agreeing with  
> the
> message while not agreeing with the method. You seem to be pointing at
> trying to awaken consciousness through teaching critical thinking. I  
> don't
> know that what you want to see is something that can really be done  
> on a
> massive scale. Tailoring learning to meet the need for each student's
> blossoming consciousness would be staggeringly difficult given the  
> current
> resources we use for education. I've always felt that general literacy
> learning (and the unintended things it tries to teach), despite it's
> problems, would be the best answer to the general problem of conscious
> behavior. I'm not saying I disagree with you; just that I want to  
> see a
> solution that can be implemented without a radical overhaul of a  
> complex
> system.
>
> Nick
>
> On Wed, Apr 15, 2009 at 11:24 AM, jeremy hunsinger <jhuns at vt.edu>  
> wrote:
>
>> I tend to think that the whole...  literacy issue is actually not  
>> what we
>> need.  Literacy is to make people 'literate' and from my  
>> perspective being
>> literate in any given set of technology is not really what we need  
>> for the
>> future, we need people who have the skills to achieve literacy on  
>> their own
>> on any given new technology or old technology they are confronted  
>> with, and
>> to after they achieve literacy, which we might equate with  
>> apprentice level
>> skill, they should be able to move through higher levels of skills  
>> until
>> they become masters.   Literacy, to me, has always been problematic  
>> as it
>> become the goal instead of the goal being adaptable learners that  
>> can become
>> literate should they need to be.   Here I tend to say that instead of
>> literacy we need to develop judgment in our students and in  
>> relation to
>> judgment what Aristotle termed practical wisdom, which is related  
>> to the
>> performance of skills, but as it is developed is translated into  
>> other
>> things.   Other people describe what i'm talking about as a form of
>> creativity and adaptability, here is a fun talk about it
>> http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html
>>
>> On Apr 15, 2009, at 11:40 AM, Pam Brewer wrote:
>>
>> Elaine and all--
>>>
>>> I, too, think that digital literacy is of primary importance for  
>>> K-12 but
>>> with emphasis on "literacy."  I would also add critical thinking  
>>> with
>>> regards to digital literacy.
>>> As to the discussion of individual vs. group pedagogy, I will  
>>> speak to my
>>> own experience as a teacher.  In the classroom, I have found that  
>>> I have to
>>> teach to the group in order to accomplish goals, but the classroom  
>>> is not
>>> the beginning and end of teaching; the individual student is.  In  
>>> order to
>>> be truly effective, I have to open channels of communication with
>>> individuals, and the challenges to doing this are different when  
>>> the contact
>>> is digital rather than face to face.  Recognizing the roles of  
>>> group and
>>> individual experience, I think, are the greatest challenge to great
>>> teaching.  I'm still working on it.
>>>
>>> Best!
>>> P
>>>
>>> Pamela Estes Brewer
>>> Assistant Professor
>>> Department of English
>>> Appalachian State University
>>> phone 828-262-2351
>>> fax  828-262-2133
>>> email  brewerpe at appstate.edu
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Elaine Studnicki wrote:
>>>
>>>> Colleagues,
>>>> I have hovered in the background for quite some time reading your
>>>> extremely
>>>> rich and diverse areas of interest/research. As a K-12 educator/ 
>>>> doctoral
>>>> student I am interested in the connections between higher ed.  
>>>> research
>>>> and
>>>> the daily classroom instruction/environment that composes our  
>>>> national
>>>> educational system.  I am compelled to ask this question:
>>>>
>>>> In your opinion what do you currently think is the most important  
>>>> area of
>>>> research or perhaps the most important area "needing" research  
>>>> for our
>>>> K-12
>>>> educational system?
>>>>
>>>> Thank you for your help and time,
>>>>
>>>> Elaine
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
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>>
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>
>
>
> -- 
> Nick LaLone
> 512.633.0207
> _______________________________________________
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