Tag Archives: adolescents

The new language – it’s more than just smiley faces

I was just reading Silvia Tolisano’s post on her Langwitches blog about 21st century writing.

My children (16, 18, 20) are writing more and more. Their friends do too… Probably not in the way some of you can imagine… nor think of as writing…but nonetheless they are writing. They are texting… 8000 texts (per month) sent and received… Can you imagine probably 5-10 words on average per text…40,000 -80,000 words per month: A collaborative monthly story of their lives in WRITING!

Silvia quotes the US National Council of Teachers of English:

Good writing may be the quintessential 21st century skill.

Just as the nature of and expectation for literacy has changed in the past century and a half, so has the nature of writing. Today people write as never before—texting, on blogs, with video cameras and cell phones, and, yes, even with traditional pen and paper.  People write at home, at work, inside and out of school.

How has this impacted on the ways that we teach writing in our classrooms? From what I’ve seen in my parts in Australia, not at all. Seriously. We still focus solidly on textual responses and evaluations. As important as these are to critical thinking and understanding of contemporary issues and literary texts, writing has taken off in a life of its own mainly outside of school. Have we considered this kind of writing at all? Are we only concerned that adolescent texting will result in the complete disintegration of language? Well, why aren’t we talking about it?

Last night I read about Jenny Luca’s  talented young daughter in her post A story about longing, loving and coming to a realisation.

I am one very proud mother tonight. This is the work of my beautiful daughter; it’s her multimodal creative response for an English assignment based around the theme of ‘Romance and Relationships’. It’s all her own work, inspired by thepoet Rives and his ‘Story of mixed emoticons‘ that we used as stimulus material in our English classes.

I just love Jenny’s daughter’s modern take on a love story where she uses emoticons so creatively while developing an engaging storyline. I just wanted to share this because I think it shows that ingenuity and ideas can be expressed through any kind of language. If you’re sceptical you may be imagining the Bible written in emoticons, but that’s not what I’m suggesting. I’m suggesting that we open up our classroom tasks to include a richer variety of options so that young people can find a medium they can relate to.

Without further ado, here’s Jenny’s daughter’s story

And here is Rives’ TED talk which inspired this piece.

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Filed under 21st century learning, writing

Brave new world: learning to connect in new ways

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This video (3 in one) of the forum at Stanford University, "From MySpace to HipHop: new media in the everyday lives of youth", delves into a subject that I'm compulsively drawn to - social networking and the implications of these new ways of connecting. The questions that come out of these presentations are vital to our understanding of youth in order to evaluate and re-evaluate our teaching and learning programs. Some of these questions are:

  • Are we seeing an evolution to a new kind of engaged community?
  • Should we be enthused about the ubiquitous nature of digital media or should we be deeply concerned?
  • As educators, how can we spark the same engagement and motivation that we see on MySpace and Facebook?
  • Are young people changing through their participation with digital media?
  • How does this change their relationship to school and home life?
  • Why do they participate in digital communities rather than real life?

 Although the research study presented here doesn't tell us what to do, only what we need to know, I think that it's vital to realise what we need to know. Our familiarisation with Web 2.0 applications is only the beginning of a new direction in education. More importantly, we need to understand why we are doing this and what else we need to find out. One of the speakers points out that we may be at an inflection point where change is accelerating and old ways disappearing, where systems are no longer working, indescribable innovation is becoming possible. If this is true, then we need to understand it and we need to understand the good and the bad, and we need to harness it.

I've spoken about the significance of audience for young people. The first speaker makes an important point - Web 2.0 and what young people do within this environment is inextricably tied with who they make it for and with. MySpace and Facebook enable deeply social activity not driven by the technology itself. Network publics are an extension of youth's existing publics. How does this change young people's relationship to school and home life?

I'm going back to the question I was asked at my recent interview: how do we get to know adolescents?

This question is at the heart of the research presented here. The goal of the research is to understand these changes from the point of view of youth themselves. As the first speaker said, before we can design our own adult-centred agendas for education, we have to try to take young people's agendas and experiences seriously on their own terms.

Have a look at Heather Horst's submission to the website Digital youth research. I found this link on Hey Jude. Thanks.

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Filed under Education, Teacher librarians, Web 2.0