28 November 2005

Why Johnny and Janey Can't Read

What with being ill and then trying to catch up late in the semester, I've been away from blogging for a while. Today, however, I had the opportunity to give a lecture to the University of Toronto Senior Alumni Association, a group that believes that one's brain is like a muscle - it needs to be continually exercised to stay in shape.

I shared with them my thoughts on "Why Johnny and Janey Can't Read, and Why Mr. and Ms. Smith Can't Teach: The challenge of multiple media literacies in tumultuous times." The talk traced the thinking of the Toronto School of Communication. In doing so, I
introduce the notion that our beloved literacy is now nothing but a quaint notion, an aesthetic form that is as irrelevant to the real questions and issues of pedagogy today as is recited poetry – clearly not devoid of value, but equally no longer the structuring force of society. I will ask you to consider that our society’s obsessive focus on literacy would doom future generations to oblivion and ignorance, if only they cared a whit about what, and how, we think. Further, I am going to challenge the assumptive ground upon which our institutions of education – primary, secondary and tertiary – are built, and raise the real question of our time – and of any time – namely, what is valued as knowledge, who decides, and who is valued as authority.
The folks who attended were an attentive and engaged audience, asking many thought-provoking questions after the lecture, and raising many important issues for our time. I had a thoroughly enjoyable time, as I hope they did too.

As with almost all my stuff, it's available for download [pdf] and reuse under a Creative Commons license.

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Harold Jarche said...

Looking forward to reading it :-)

Anonymous said...

Mark - awesome essay, just found it in December 2007! Are you aware of any audio recording of your talk that we could share?

p.s. I don't really blog on the google platform required for identity here. I am mseyfang.edublogs.org .

Fang - Mike Seyfang

Mark Federman said...

Thanks, Mike. There isn't a recording of this talk, unfortunately - not many of my public performances are recorded.

If you like Johnny and Janey, a similar history with a different twist is the topic of How Do We Know? The changing culture of knowledge.