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“A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Future” By The New London Group

Summary

The goal of education is to prepare students to participate in public, community, and economic life. Literacy has always meant being able to read and write, but now, that definition has expanded to include the high number of communicative channels we have. Now, we communicate using visuals and sounds or a combination of those and text.

This is the result of technological advancements and is also a response to increased cultural and linguistic diversity. Globalization relies on these new media to overcome the disadvantages of traditional approaches. Can’t speak a foreign language? No problem, just look at this picture; you’ll get the general idea. Teach these forms of communications in school, and students will be better prepared to support themselves and their community.

My reaction

This proposal makes a lot of great points. It isn’t enough to recognize the problem and talk theory. When the article describes “transformed practice,” where theory evolves into practice,  there was finally action. Getting to the down and dirty was refreshing.

The “transformed” part comes from the agreement between teacher and student on what new practice to take on according to growing values and goals. Students will take a higher interest in what they’re learning, and they’ll learn skills they actually need in addition to the traditional skills a teacher might suggest. This takes into account that adults don’t alone know what’s best. Collaborating with students will help transform education into a system that better serves students.

The theory is important too. This article suggests that human knowledge is embedded in social, cultural, and material contexts. This is to say, knowledge isn’t stagnant just as technology and society are fluid concepts. So, why can’t education keep up? If collaboration is at the heart of human society, why aren’t students being taught those media of communication? Students who are only taught how to read and write are missing a critical part of their education.

Why does this matter?

This article shares a lot of core ideas with “Expanding the Concept of Literacy” by Elizabeth Daley, which I discussed earlier. Both agree that the definition of literacy has expanded past the limits traditional education has placed on them. Students need to be fluent in visual, spatial, gestural, audio, and linguistic media. It’s our education system’s job to grow alongside the needs of the society. Without the proper knowledge, students today will not be able to perform to the best of their ability on the job market.

 

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