Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Random thoughts about learning and literacy

I didn't write about the NY Times article on how the Internet is causing reading to decline, but a few others did. I've been thinking about it and discussing it with others. My thoughts aren't fully formed. This morning, I was reading this post and then this one, and they're not really related, but they are, sort of. What I keep thinking is that we (I don't really know who this "we" is) keep privileging a certain kind of literacy, a certain kind of learning. We no longer seem to value the person who's good at fixing cars or can make pottery. In part, this might be driven by a decline in the kind of skilled-labor jobs that didn't require a degree. What options are there for the non-readers, the people who just don't get jived by books? And why are we so upset that they don't? Are we afraid that an educated public might be educated through reading online and watching YouTube and tv and listening to music on their iPhones and that our own book-based learning won't be privileged anymore?

I get the feeling that we're trying to pidgeonhole, to say that learning is this or that, that literacy is this or that, instead of looking at what's out there for people to engage with and figure out how to leverage that for learning.