Wesley Fryer (a Texas educator you should keep your eyes on) wrote a powerful blog entry several days ago. He is Advocating for Educational Deregulation!. Fryer discusses the primary text of his current (and final) course in his doctoral program. The text is Integrating Multiple Literacies in K-8 Classrooms, and he addresses the chapter, Toward a Theoretical Framework of New Literacies on Internet: Central Principles (authored by Donald Leu and Charles Kinzer). Wesley paraphrases…
…the definition of literacy is dynamic, and in order to remain relevant, educators at all levels must begin (or continue) to study, understand, and utilize the wide variety of multimedia as well as text-based communicative mediums available inside and outside the classroom to help students become successful 21st century communicators and netizens.
In my reflection of this statement, I see a world where the nature of information is changing. It’s the “New Shape of Knowledge” as philosopher and NECC keynote speaker David Weinberger says. In this world where information changes, our definitions of literacy must also change. They must be viewed as dynamic, adapting to the changing information environment. Yet coming out of an education environment (In my 30th year) where curriculum was set by textbooks on a five-year cycle, we are going in the opposite direction from the one that should be directing our classrooms. Instead of relying on the textbook industry, curriculum is now set by departments of education (not necessarily a bad thing) who are directed and managed by legislatures, appointed state boards, and the sensationalist rhetoric of partisan politics (a very very bad thing).
I agree with Fryer that we need to rescue education from the amateurs, and give it back to the experts — our teachers. We live in a time where trained, creative, and passionate educators with the resources, technology, and time to do their jobs, might be just the force that we need to move our society into a century were we will remain a “great nation” instead of a “declining nation”.