Sampling “The New”

Conflicting with many of the working operations of a literacy teacher in the public school system, Knobel and Lankshear challenge the definition of what fundamental literacy is. To state that literacy is the path to scholarship excludes the individual beyond an academic world. In reality, how many of us are lingering in the academic world and situating our identities solely on our intellectual achievements. There are many who identify with that definition of literacy, yet in Sampling “The New” in New Literacies, found here (seriously, it’s a fantastic read), one begins to realize that literacy is more about how we define and engage ourselves in relationship to our world.

Explaining that we all have our “situated selves,” (pg. 6), we are actors in the social situation that befits the circumstance. As an educator, my situated self within my community is one where I am seen as a leader and teammate of childhood education. However, when I am at a rock show (as I often am), with my friends and husband, my situated self becomes one of music lover and perhaps rebel. What I found interesting in the article is the identities that we hold and how they affect our perceptions in a moment, and other’s perceptions of ourselves. I began to question how my selves blend and how they can often confuse my own interpretation of literacy.

Multiple literacies are defined through technical and ethos particles. How we are defining our world and interactions, how we are learning or participating in literacy, expands far beyond the traditional classroom. Knobel and Lankshear state, “learning space is bordered by classroom walls, lesson space…, and curriculum and time table space,”  (pg. 14), which is how many classrooms operate in my building. We are all scrambling to educate our students through the traditional literacy. Yet, when we reflect on the “cyberspatial mindset” (pg. 15) where society often functions through a different lens, we must examine how to allow our students to adapt and grow in the new social context.

The article reminded me of a conference I attended where I sat in on a breakout session about media use in the classroom. The presenter argued in the same ways that Knobel and Lankshear present their thoughts: literacy is defined by our interactions with media and ultimately the relationships we seek. The presenter noted that we all know what is looks like to have a rat cook a gourmet meal, thanks to the popular Disney film Ratatouille. Although a rat cannot actually cook a gourmet meal, we all know what that looks like based on our interaction and engagement with the media. In the same way, our interaction and engagement within cyberspace, and the relationships we seek, define how we learn and perceive our worlds. We all have a space where we are accepted, engaged, and are learning in the new literacy.


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