The literacy of our generation is no less productive than that of past generations. Our dependence on written communication may hinder us in face to face interactions, however, I feel like it in a way forces us to be able to constructively display our thoughts, ideas, and emotions in written text in a way that is comprehensive on both sides of the conversation. While the way we communicate over text significantly varies from the way we communicate through a business e-mail, these polar opposites of forms of communication encourage us to explore using different tones and writing styles.
In Williams’ article he states, “If we want to serve students best in their literacy education we should not scare them with the tales of the literacy crisis of their generation…” I feel like this relates a lot to what we discussed in class in regards to the article “Our Semi-literate Youth.” The issue is not with how we go about literacy but the responses to our choices in literacy. Having older generations belittle us and tell us that we are illiterate can be hindering to developing minds. We should be encouraged to learn and embrace all forms of literacy with creative minds. Something holding us back from this is teachers being underpaid and a lack of money in our education systems. With little money, there is less incentive to explore new ways of teaching. Learning needs to not be looked at as a chore, but instead as a way to grow and enhance our experiences in life.
Williams also notes that “…it is not hard to think of popular culture representations of adolescents and adults that are ambivalent at best and often negative.” This stigma that we have developed that reading is not cool, nerdy, or antisocial is one that we need to let go of. There’s nothing “negative” about expanding your knowledge or experiencing something secondhand through reading. Reading is not something that has to be antisocial either. It can be a shared experience and it should be. Williams acknowledges this black or white kind of thinking about literacy when he states “…when I talk with fellow teachers about whether students are or are not readers, I think we are talking about a specific kind of reading.”
I have said it once and I’ll say it again. Literacy is not just ONE thing. It is many and like we discussed last week, not everyone enjoys the same books that have been being assigned for years upon years in school settings. We need more choice and change in education. We need more room for creativity. We need to advocate for creative learners because there is more than one type of student, and instead of just accommodating the ones we define as “readers” or as ideal students, we should be helping those who struggle and realize that what we have been doing for years may not be working for everybody. My hope is that those pursuing educating as a career choice are going into this wanting to be this change. Teachers shape the minds of our youth and to tell a developing mind that they aren’t good enough because their idea of literacy does not match the system’s idea of literacy is something that we cannot afford to do anymore.
We need to be encouragers not naysayers.
Author Bio: Samantha Cosmero is from Oakdale, CA. This is her third year at Chico State and she recently changed her major from pre-nursing to English. She spends a lot of time writing, doing yoga, and running. She looks forward to being an educator.