Educators have always considered the development of strong literacy skills for their students as one of the primary goals of schooling.
But in the last couple of decades, as the world of electronic communication has exploded with new capabilities, some parents and teachers have wondered if literacy skills are becoming less important. After all, the world that today's students will enter after school provides many ways to communicate without highly developed literacy skills.
SMS, email, voicemail, video massages
Just think how SMS, email, voice mail, and video messaging enable us to communicate at work and with friends without the need to express ourselves in well written, traditionally structured, grammatically correct texts. And to understand the messages we are receiving without really strong reading skills.
So should we be less concerned about developing accelerated literacy skills for our children?
I don’t think so.
In fact I believe the opposite is the case – our children will need even stronger literacy skills to thrive in the new world that electronic, digital technology is creating.
New technologies expand opportunities for students and give them new ways to succeed. But learners are also faced with new ways to fail.
Challenges unknown to previous generations
Today, and increasingly so in the future, students will face challenges unknown to previous generations.
- The explosion of information means they need to filter massive amounts of data, information and ideas to decide what is relevant and what’s not.
- The use of new communication formats and forms of media will need to be mastered, if they are to keep up with changes in the society they inhabit.
- Today’s students need to learn how to write effective and appropriate emails, PowerPoint presentations, and video scripts, along with traditional essays, reports, and letters.
- They will need to conduct independent research and judge the quality and authority of information sources and evidence.
- Skills like critical thinking, problem solving, the ability to work collaboratively and communicate effectively with and without modern communication technology and media are becoming more and more valued by organisations.
To thrive in this new environment young people will find that strong literacy skills are the foundation on which they can build the critical thinking, communication and discrimination skills they need.
Every student deserves a toolbox of strong literacy skills to help them meet their challenges - both now at school and in the organisations and workplaces of the future.
If you have a young child you may find this eBook useful on helping build young children's literacy through early exposure to language.