Friday, May 27, 2011

2 Classes of Digital Natives?

This article by James Gee on the Huffington Post suggests that there are two classes of literacy - basic literacy that ends you up in a working class job, which now most likely means a low-paid service job, and academic literacy which gets you through college and maybe grad school and lets you speak the language of "research, empirical reasoning and logical argumentation."

Gee suggests that there is a correlation with digital literacy. There are those who can talk about what they are reading and doing online, and those who can talk about how it all works. "He gives an example from a World of Warcraft discussion site. We are evolving a class of people, often self-taught, who can speak the digital language and function in the digital world in ways that get them employed without having to get formal credentials. His question is - is this a new premium class of literacy, or is it the same people who mastered academic literacy? It would require some research to answer this question, but it certainly raised the question for literacy practitioners of what we are really teaching. In digital skills as well as other literacy skills, there are the basics that help you survive, and then the more critical thinking skills that help you thrive and excel.

1 comment:

Suzanne R. said...

Hi There,

This is an interesting topic, but I'm a little confused about your explanation. The last line really hit home for me though. I don't know if it's the age group I'm teaching, or if it's common across the board, but my students are severely lacking critical thinking skills. A professor friend at my university cynically said, "None of our students have critical thinking skills." Is that common among young people, or is it part of the technological age? There must be a lot of factors involved. An interesting topic for higher ed instructors.