To be (fully literate) or not to be (fully literate)

To be literate has expanded exponentially from the traditional definition in one’s ability to read and write. In my opinion, it has expanded to core aspects of human abilities and skills needed in the contemporary world. This includes aspects of everyday life such as social etiquette, mathematical, digital, media, health, and cultural, to name a few. With each of these aspects, there are of course subtopics in each that are important to identify and understand. I will point out a few and connect them with our current educational system, my own thoughts, and in conjunction with some of the readings we have looked at this week.  literacies in a digital age

Social literacy: Although social literacy has expanded in many ways, I will address it in regard to society’s further understanding of neurodivergences. As science and other areas have been able to study and report on neurodivergences, evidence now exists for the understanding of varying abilities in social literacy. An example of this would be students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Education has responded appropriately (generally speaking) with specific programming or educational adaptations, if required, for students who do not naturally possess social literacy skills in accordance with their age, grade, or otherwise. Within these programs and adaptations, there is great work being done to develop such skills for students, just as other literacies are being developed in general education classrooms. To better illustrate what I am trying to say, I’ll provide an example: 

My mom is an educational assistant at a high school and their Functionally Integrated Alternative Program (FIAP) classroom is proudly responsible for the Royal Beans program where the teachers can submit coffee orders and then are delivered their orders each Friday by the FIAP classroom student groups. The students in her classroom receive direct instruction and practice in expanding and developing their social literacy skills with their particular assignments/roles in their respective Royal Beans groups; they practice conversational skills for when delivering orders to teachers, customer service skills and diplomacy when interacting with their specific delivery crew, etc.  

As important as the above example is, there is also significance in the expansion of understanding and compassion (another aspect of social literacy) of the neurotypical population with examples like this.

Mathematical literacy: As we see in the recently updated graduation requirements from the government of Saskatchewan, there is an expansion and clearly growing need for financial literacy and space has been given to such a need in the high school setting, proving the government can see ways in which education needs to shift alongside societal needs. With the rate of inflation continuing to rise without wages being able to keep up, financial literacy is desperately needed for students to be able to survive with such growing economic imbalances. 

the updated graduation requirements as set by the government of Saskatchewan
A summary of the changes to be made in the 2024-25 school year graduation requirement

Media/digital literacies: Here is where I can really drive home some of the readings from this week! I think media/digital literacy is of utmost importance when considering how literacy has expanded and the most modern interpretation of what it means to be fully literate. Of course, EC&I 832 is aimed toward developing our own digital literacies as well as understanding how important such a literacy is for 

Fake news propaganda conspiracy theories disinformation manipulation news titles illustration

students (and society). The lack of attention to media/digital literacy in the school system is exactly why I chose to create a proposed digital literacy high school elective for my final project and I hope, in the near future, such a course is adopted by divisions or, further yet, part of provincial graduation requirements like the newly required financial literacy. The reliance on smart phones has led society to a point where we can no longer ignore the media/digital illiteracies that students (and adults for that matter) have or can develop. Kim’s video poignantly points out that information is now “crafted” for the viewer and the inability to differentiate between crafted information and true information is problematic in a student’s ability to develop media literacy, in particular. Misinformation and the ‘fact checking’ skill, as Kim mentions, is not new, yet in the age of digital media, there is an increasing and alarming need for verifying information. George also offers great reasoning (the AI Alec) for needing to equip students with the skills to identify fake news/information as a form of protection from being victimized by the overwhelming amount of misinformation available at their fingertips, which Grosseck and Malita underscore (344). George’s chosen article articulates and solidifies my reasoning for focusing on a digital literacy course proposal for my final project – it is a critical skill and course for current and future students as media and the digital world continue to intertwine with most, if not all, aspects of contemporary society/life. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy financial literacy is now a grad requirement, but I am a little bit shocked digital literacy has not yet been made a course let alone a grad requirement, considering the digital age society operates in. To end on a more positive note, I think Graeme makes a great point about the positives of digital literacy, including educational training opportunities and the skill of simply having fun with digital advancements. We have seen the fun that can be had in our class with the different AI tools available that can create an image of practically anything we can dream up, which I think bridges a gap for students who have great imaginations, but like me, not the practical or physical art skills to make them come to life.

Barack and Michelle Obama face swap


To end off, I think the traditional sense of literacy (reading and writing) has expanded and now become the base for which other literacies have grown; society still relies upon reading and writing for the other literacies, but the vehicle of response has expanded beyond simply reading and writing and expanded ways of knowing, producing, and articulating. This is something, I think, is good for society IF the value of contemporary literacies are recognized and taught to ensure well-rounded literacy skills for the future of our society. In other words, if we can revamp grad requirements for a singular type of literacy (while simultaneously diminishing others…sigh…), then we should probably revamp/reconsider courses offered/not offered for other literacies to ensure students are graduating high school with general and practical literacies needed for whatever their post-secondary ventures are.  


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