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Atwood on Literacy and the Internet

Walk into an English department and raise the question of the meaning of literacy in today’s context. The lines will be clearly drawn between those embracing the now and those clinging to the past.

Even with NCTE redefining literacy years ago, there is still a strong focus on literacy from a pre-Internet perspective.

This is why Margaret Atwood’thoughts on the value of social media to enhance literacy creates an excellent opportunity to continue meaningful discussion about literacy for today and the future:

“If you’re reading something, even a one-sitting short story or article, you’re making a commitment. You’re making a lot more of a commitment because reading is in fact extremely interactive from a neurological point of view. Your brain lights up a lot. …reading is something you do” (Atwood).

This belief flies in the face of those that see much of the excerpt-based exposure we are experiencing with tools like Twitter as frivolous at best and harmful to literacy at worst.

In fact, Atwood argues that the Internet is a great literacy driver:

“People have to actually be able to read and write to use the Internet, so it’s a great literacy driver if kids are given the tools and the incentive to learn the skills that allow them to access it” (Atwood).

While schools tend to focus on the first part, there is a sharp decline when it comes to the second half: deepening and broadening the skills of reading/writing across multiple contexts (transliteracy).


Atwood on Twitter (different than quotes)

Literacy Discussion

Listen to the audio from Atwood and facilitate a discussion about literacy for today and the future with such topics as…

 

  1. Paul Hutson12-20-2011

    Totally agree with Atwood about the internet being a great driver towards improving literacy levels. Students want to be able to access the internet in order to become social on a world level. It motivates them to learn to read as they begin to take an interest in communicating with others on a global scale. Many teachers in the UK are currently finding it beneficial to use a class blog. When done well this can really spark motivation in students and increase levels in both reading and writing. It is for this reason that I am creating NightZookeeper.com as I believe that it will provide yet another motivational driver and facilitate the rise in literacy levels for all students that use the website.

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