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Is IT dumbing down literacy? A personal view.

Discussion in 'English' started by mashabell, Nov 3, 2011.

  1. The majority have never been able to spell well. Ditto re using grammar.
    And grammar changes over time, but not necessarily for the worse.
    Who decides whether a book is good or bad?
    Most human inventions are neither entirely good or bad, but a mixture of both.
    IT is certainly changing us and our children.
  2. BrianUK

    BrianUK New commenter

  3. Every new technology creates a moral panic. The invention of printing created what was termed "blottorature". Previously almost every written book had been a deeply serious text, usually religious or philosphical in nature. With the invention of printing, you got literature of no great quality, produced for entertainment.The same things were said about Shakespeare and the innovation of the paid-for theatre. Even Greek was attacked, because it enabled young students to conclusively refute their learned professors. There were proposals to ban the learning of Greek.
    The same thing happened with newspapers, which were notorious for reporting the murders in a sensational manner. Then of course with television. Now video games and social messaging create concern. Interestingly, we seldom hear nowadays the term"video nasty". It's not that children are no longer getting hold of unsuitable recordings, it's that the technology is now part of the past. It's not new and exciting any more.
    However I think computers are different. They're a more significant technological change than the invention of printing, certainly far more significant than TV or video. They mean we communicate differently, we read differently, we attach different values to information. They even require a new type of learning. Now anyone can type 'Henry V' into Google and instantly know the basic facts about his life.

  4. BrianUK

    BrianUK New commenter

    That's so simple yet so perfect. I love it.
  5. I completely agree with your comments.
    As an English teacher, it is very frustrating when students simply cannot be bothered to write in full sentences and use 'text speak' in formal essays and controlled assessments. In spite of trying to drill correct grammar and punctuation in to them from Year 7 (and in fact earlier, at Key Stage 1 and 2) it is beyond belief that they don't know how to spell common words but know every text abbreviation known to man!

    Whilst I fully believe that students should leave school with a qualification in ICT, in terms of teaching ICT, my opinion is very simple, ICT should be taught as part of other subjects, using specialist IT trained teachers to support the aspects of the subject being taught. My reasons for this are thus: in certain schools, (I won't name any) OCR ICT or BTEC ICT are an 'easy' equivalent to students gaining four GCSEs; brilliant, I hear you say. Yet, when I take Year 11 students to an ICT room to create / type up / research etc etc, a very high percentage don't have the knowledge of how to even open a Word document; yet, they can 'print screen' for England!

    The ideas about using other technology in ICT lessons, however, are brilliant and this is exactly what students should be doing to 'learn' how to use new and emerging technologies in education, both to enhance their learning in other subjects and to ensure that they have the necessary skills for when they leave school.

    Rant over.
  6. I agree in part and as an English and media teacher I try to balance IT and 'books' - I also agree with your list; but I believe IT isn't the main problem as I think it allows children to experiment much more than we ever did as kids.
    I believe your list can be achieved by parents who support their children and help them to grow up with a love of literacy, books and IT. Those parents who want a quick fix with TV and computers are to blame; not IT itself. Those parents who take an interest in what their kids learn and work WITH them (reading, spelling, buying books etc) are the ones that encourage a love of all those things on your list. 'Dumbing down' doesn't exist unless you allow it to.
  7. I'm lucky enough to have a classroom with 32 computers built into the desks -so I can teach a non-IT based English lesson as well as use computers as I need. None of my students use exercise books, everything is done via a blog, note taking is done via Google Docs, and online mind mapping software. I'm beginning to use video with some of my classes as well. Unlike some others who have commented in this thread, I find that the regular use of IT is improving students' literacy and IT skills. My average ability group have written more about the text we have been studying than they would have written if they had to physically hand write. On the whole, I can only point to a positive experience and improving standards. (Yes, my Y11 students have to handwrite stuff when we are doing exam practice but the rest of the time, everything is done with IT.) And before anyone thinks of it: no, they don't need the experience of handwriting in my lesson - they get that in their other subjects.

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