New Frontiers in Literacy? A presentation for the ALOA Forum 9 February 2018 Moira Greene [email protected] Bridging the gap New literacies, same old goals? Throughout history the idea of what counts as literacy or being literate is always changing, being reconceptualised or remade within the context of wider social and cultural change. This remaking always creates new forms of disadvantage, new inequalities (even if while addressing other inequalities). The primary aim of an adult literacy and basic education service is to identify disadvantages, inequalities (access, opportunity, outcomes, condition) and try to address them. This often brings us into conflict with institutional priorities there may well be a conflict between economic and labour market objectives of adult education on the one hand and its cultural, social, redistributive goals on the other. The overriding challenge
facing adult education lies in the search for innovative ways to solve this apparent conflict. UNESCO, The Future of Literacy and the Literacy of the Future,1992 Evolving Concepts of Literacy UNESCO In their review of their involvement with literacy work over five decades, UNESCO identifies four understandings of literacy which have influenced the design and ongoing development of literacy programmes: Literacy as a standard skill. Functional literacy. Literacy as social practice. Diverse and plural literacies. Focussing attention on one of these perspectives also draws attention to the interaction between perspectives. For example, in focussing on literacy as social practice it becomes apparent that decoding skills are not universal skills, that there are cultural codes specific to particular texts used in particular circumstances.
Viewing literacy practices as: Skills Skills Functional Social Functional meanings are also embedded in the many non-verbal elements of text design & structure
using text form & content to locate, interpret & apply information for specific purposes Social all the elements that comprise a text are socially constructed & socially learned text know-how is developed by interacting with texts in different
social contexts set within social & cultural contexts, & shaped by needs, demands, identities, power relations Diverse codes & symbols are not static, multiple modes create new ways to encode meaning each mode employs distinct structures & features to focus
attention & guide meaning-making with multi-modality social interactions are reframed, but power relationships are maintained Diverse applying set rules & conventions to decode words, sentences & reveal text meaning embodied in multiple modes &
devices, offering multiple ways to make meaning Certificates Transformation Economy Skills QQI OECD UNESCO Inclusion DES
FET NALA PLSS ETB Too many literacies? Literacy has become literacies in the plural sense to include multiple forms of meaning-making using various technologies across different social and cultural contexts. Continually expanding capabilities of meaning-making resources are generating new social requirements for literacy practices, and so redefining the boundaries of what counts as literacy. Interacting in this complex environment requires meta-knowledge about how to use our own cognitive resources to search for, select and interact effectively with different texts in order to use them productively in particular contexts and for particular purposes. The growing need for meta-cognitive awareness about how we interact with
different texts prompts us to take another look at our understanding of literacy practices. Rerooting literacy in cognitive evolution Through interaction with people and environment humans developed: Mental modelling and symbolic representation. This led to symbol making using image, gesture, sound, space to communicate. Then speech developed (possibly from music). Finally there was graphic invention (writing systems). Different forms of reading Examples of reading: Reading the game
Reading body and facial expressions Reading the weather Reading your mind Reading motives Reading the scene Reading between the lines The mother of invention The goal of all technologies is to extend valued human abilities. Many developments in technological invention to extend human ability pre-date the introduction of writing and graphic symbolism: 39,000 BC cave paintings 25,000 BC fired ceramics and musical instruments 15,000 BC sewing needles, tailored clothing, bow and arrow, the spear, lunar records, simple maps, rope 10,000 BC domesticated animals 9,000 BC crops cultivated 5,000 BC irrigation systems
Merlin Donald, The Origins of the Modern Mind, 1991 Writing - the invention of cognitive outsourcing Working memory space was a problem for our ancestors Growing pressure from more complicated social interactions increased demand for cognitive activity (e.g. mental modelling, multi-modal symbol use, narrative and other linguistic devices) Using tools and symbols humans found a way to extend human cognitive abilities by outsourcing information onto External Memory Fields, better known as the Text. This freed up space for further cognitive developments. Graphic writing systems invented included pictograms, ideograms, logograms, phonograms. All are still in use today. Merlin Donald, The Origins of the Modern Mind. 5 %
Literacy practices are interdependent human actions mediated by culturally available tools and symbols. COGNITIVE SOCIAL mental models, changing social symbolic referencing relationships and developed through increasing social social and cultural complexities generate experience are new symbol systems and imported from and contexts for use exported to external memory fields aka ENVIRONMENTAL
texts environmental tools and resources enable the creation of external memory fields that extend cognitive, communicative and social abilities Vygotsky and Interdependence According to Vygotsky all human action, both social and individual, is mediated by tools and signs acquired in culture through social interaction. Socio-cultural experiences, and the environment in which they take place, play a major role not only in the kinds of experience individuals have, but also in the cognitive tools they develop to think about their experiences. Higher mental processes have their origin in social processes. They are first experienced externally, in cooperation with others, and then are appropriated internally to aid future problem solving.
Therefore, through social interaction during development, individuals not only acquire strategies and knowledge of the world they live in, they develop the cognitive processes that make learning about the world possible. Vygotsky, 1978, Mind in Society. Palinscar, 1998, Social Constructivist Perspectives on Teaching and Learning. Multiple Intelligences and Interdependence Howard Gardner also stresses the social and environmental role played in cognitive development. According to Gardner, intelligences (cognitive abilities) developed to solve problems and create products in ever-changing environments. To meet Gardners criteria, an intelligence must be: susceptible to encoding in a symbol system defined as a set of symbolic expressions by which information is communicated by a field of reference. Intelligences are not static, but rather change over time through social and environmental experience. Howard Gardner, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, 1983
Cycles of Interdependence Literacy practices involve both processes and products. Texts are created for individual and social purposes through a process, using environmental tools and communicating symbols. New texts then become new tools with the potential that their use may effect more changes, which may lead to developing more texts, effecting more changes... Cognitive Soci
al Environmental Cognitive Social Environmental Cognitive Social Environmental Cognitive Social
Environmental Viewing literacy practices as: Skills Skills Functional Social Diverse Functional
meanings are also embedded in the many non-verbal elements of text design & structure using text form & content to locate, interpret & apply information for specific purposes Social all the elements that comprise a text are socially constructed & socially learned
text know-how is developed by interacting with texts in different social contexts set within social & cultural contexts, & shaped by needs, demands, identities, power relations Diverse codes & symbols are not static, new technologies create new ways to
encode meaning each mode employs distinct structures & features to focus attention & guide meaning-making with multi-modality social interactions are reframed, but power relationships are maintained embodied in multiple modes & devices, offering multiple ways to make meaning
Interdependent multiple ways of encoding meaning increases need for metacognitive awareness different layers of meaning can be extracted from texts by using different thinking skills cognitive tools & symbols that enable thinking are learned in culture through
social interaction complex social patterns increase cognitive load & so reliance on external resources Interdependent applying set rules & conventions to decode words, sentences to reveal text meaning interdependent human actions mediated by
culturally available tools & symbols Meaning-making in the lifecycle of a text All stages in the social lifecycle of a text carry meaning: Context and purpose Choice of textual materials and symbols Production modes Storage and retrieval devices Distribution methods Disposal or recycling Once created, even though texts may eventually come to the end of their lifecycle, their footprint remains.
Designing Discarding Producing TEXT Distributing Storing Retrieving Rethinking Decoding Practices Decoding skills are not static, they must be continuously developed through interactions with new forms of meaning-making. Codes (systems of symbols for communication) evolve through social agreement or custom. All forms of communications are constructed from available cultural codes or symbols
including gesture, word, image, sound and space . Cultural codes change, e.g. new codes evolve through changing social customs and relations. Resources for meaning-making (materials, tools and technologies) also play a role in code change and development. Codes play a role in maintaining power relationships: switching or changing codes, splitting or segmenting codes, creating specialisms, discontinuance, restricting access to learning (informal and formal). Codes can be read or decoded both actively and passively. Whats missing or hidden may also be part of a code. Making Thinking Visible in the Design and Structure of Texts Many devices in text design are expansions of cognitive skills developed in the biological working memory.* Visual imaging - models, images, archetypes Narrative structure to connect episodic events Chunking information (lists, categories, tables, paragraphs, chapters) Organising in patterns and relationships (repetition, time order,
sequence) Mapping spatial connections, juxtaposition, flags, pointers, indicators Increased metacognitive awareness of cognitive skills can help learners with both comprehension and composition skills. *Merlin Donald, Origins of the Modern Mind, 1991 Cognitive connections between social and textual depth The materiality of texts is changing. Texts and language are becoming thinner, as the volume of texts becomes overwhelming. Too much surfing with too little depth creates a risk to our sense of intimacy. Reflected in sense of public and private spaces. Shorter attention and concentration spans. Being more connected, but feeling more disconnected. If it is through our interactions with people and our environment that we develop cognition and realise our
humanity, what is this doing to our sense of identity? Engaging with Diverse Literacies New technologies have brought about a rebalancing between different communications modes. Use of multiple forms of media is increasing access in some ways, but restricting in others. Multiple use of other modes creates a necessity to learn to use new tools and symbolic codes. Multiple representations can make it easier to access information, but may provide new opportunities for control. Access is split across multiple modes and media, mode switching. There may be institutional or social pressures to change how we interact with media. The technologies of a mode can be arbitrarily eliminated to serve institutional interests (using oral contracts instead of written ones). Multi-media distractions makes it difficult to stay on message. Reconfigured by technology?
No society has ever known enough about its actions to have developed immunity to its new extensions or technologies. Marshall McCluhan, The Medium is the Message, 1964 Technologies are developed to extend human abilities in response to social demands and values. How does extending cognitive abilities through technological outsourcing change the way we think? Do we risk surrendering cognitive capabilities to technology, for example attention, memory, spatial relations, mental modelling? Technology has provided enormous insight into cognition. But in surrendering human abilities to technology are we rewiring our brains for better, for worse? Do we need to find ways to promote good cognitive health while making the most of technology? Are cognitive skills the new basic skills? Social and technological complexities have increased pressure on human cognition, so we need to think more to handle life decision making, problem solving, relationships, planning, managing etc.
Multiple Literacies ,while widening access, have added to cognitive load both by sheer volume and by new learning requirements. New technologies are changing the way we interact with each other and the environment , and as a result may be changing how we think. Awareness of cognitive skills and how we use them is becoming essential to managing daily lives. In this there is agreement between economic objectives and cultural, social, redistributive goals. Or is there? 2012 PIAAC Results for Literacy PIAAC defines literacy as understanding, evaluating, using and engaging with written texts to participate in society, to achieve ones goals, and to develop ones knowledge and potential (OECD, 2013a). In Ireland, 93% had what was described as basic literacy skillsunderstanding print vocabulary, sentence processing, passage comprehension. 54% were at or below Level 2 which required respondents to make matches between the text and information, with some need for paraphrasing or making low-level inferences. Less than 50% were able to consistently answer questions at Level 3
which required participants to understand text structures, navigate complex digital texts, use varying levels of inferencing, perform multistep operations, recognise competing information, interpret or evaluate one or more pieces on information. Redrawing the lines of exclusion Market- led interests are focussed on improving thinking skills of those most employable, youth and younger adults. Given the current power of the market to influence educational policy, will those outside narrow market interests be left behind, again? Do we need to rethink the social organisation of learning?
The National Frameworks QQI and NFQ are structured in a way that appears to presume that the development of higher order thinking skills follows literacy development, specifically alphabetic literacy. QQI learning requirements for Level 1 and Level 2 modules focus only lower order thinking skills, not on developing the epistemic practices that are required for active participation in todays complex literacy environment. Learners with low level alphabetic literacy skills are also assumed to require a high level of learning support. Particular skills are promoted by particular literacy practices. Organising learning and instruction in this way is limiting opportunities for the kinds of social interactions that promote deeper learning. Whatever happened to: Beginning readers are not beginning thinkers? Cognitive Skills and the Social Context of Literacy Kenneth Levine, 1986 In another time and place, learning to decode text or make a signature was considered historically new for large sections of the population. Today developing certain epistemic practices for using digital tools and other external memory resources to
manipulate and transform information may likewise be historically new for large sections of the adult learning population. Knowledge of conventions of meaning-making in diverse texts and other media are not given by nature, but learned through experience and enculturation. Roger Saljo, 2012 If, through organisational structuring, learners are channelled to participate in learning activities that promote only lower order thinking skills, we are creating new barriers. The goalposts are once shifting, and the same learners are once again being left behind. Epistemic injustice the new inequality? Definition* Someone wronged in their capacity as a knower, wronged in a capacity essential to human value. Knowledge and the ability to know is highly valued in society, denying opportunity to know is a form of injustice. Two forms testimonial - gaining knowledge by being told (right to know), hermeneutical - making sense of our social experiences (right to develop cognitive capacities). As our capacity to know is socially and technologically constructed denial of access or limiting access through channeling or other means amounts to epistemic injustice.
Nobel Laureate, Amartya Sen talked about the wilful and criminal neglect of basic education by elitist factors in India. Will we be seeing condemnation of the wilful and criminal neglect of human thinking capacities in a few years? *Miranda Fricker, Epistemic Injustice and the Ethics of Knowing (OUP, 2007) Thinking to read, thinking to learn Make cognitive skills visible as background knowledge for reading for all levels of readers. Deepen understanding by exploring all levels of coding (meaning embedded) in a text. Demonstrate connections between the biological working memory and text structure and organisation. Model and use other ways to make visible the wide range of thinking skills used in comprehension and interpretation. Help learners identify and develop the cognitive skills needed to participate in a diverse literacies environment. Develop Cognitive Friendly Learning Environments
Collaborate and share cognitively challenging active learning tasks, e.g. Learning by Design, Freirean problem posing. Develop learning activities that rely on a wide range of tools and practices to support literacy learning. Include activities to refocus attention and engage concentration. Help learners to develop metacognitive awareness, to become aware of their own thinking processes. Promote thinking and questioning in context using thinking skills for specific purposes (problem based learning, inquiry learning). Help learners to recognise and to manage cognitive load. Blooms Revised Taxonomy - all learners using higher order thinking skills with different types of knowledge Remembering Understanding Applying Factual Knowledge
Procedural Knowledge Conceptual Knowledge Metacognitive Knowledge Analyzing Evaluating Creating Learning by Design Experiencing the known learners reflect familiar experiences, interests and perspectives. the new learners observe or take part in something that is unfamiliar; they are immersed in new situations or contents. Conceptualizing
by naming learners group things into categories, apply classifying terms, and define these terms. with theory learners make generalisations using concepts, and connect terms in concept maps or theories. Analyzing functionally learners analyse logical connections, cause and effect, structure and function. critically learners evaluate their own and other peoples perspectives, interests and motives. Applying appropriately learners apply new learning to real world situations and test their validity. creatively learners make an intervention in the world which is innovative and creative, or transfer their learning to a different context. Sourced from: http://newlearningonline.com/learning-by-design/pedagogy by Mary Kalantzis Looking to the future of adult literacy services Reassert the expertise of the literacy services. The pace of change in literacies will continue to accelerate. A dedicated service is needed to manage
these changes. Develop planning and design teams of literacy practitioners, maths tutors, art tutors, media tutors and IT specialists to develop a broader set of tools and practices to support literacy learning. Reframe the concept of integrating literacies as interdependent literacies. Recovering Balance in Adult Learning Reassert the more balanced goals of Learning for Life, White Paper on Adult Education, 2000: Learning that is Lifelong, Life-wide, (and Life Deep) Consciousness Raising Citizenship Cohesion Competitiveness Cultural Development Community Building
One final thought: What would happen if the whole world became literate? Answer: not so very much, for the world is by and large structured in such a way that it is capable of absorbing the impact. But if the whole world consisted of literate, autonomous, critical, constructive people, capable of translating ideas into action, individually or collectively the world would change. Johan Galtung Bibliography Cazden, C. et al (1996) A pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures. Cambridge: Harvard Educational Review Donald, M. (1991) Origins of the modern mind: Three stages in the evolution of culture and cognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press Fricker, M. (2007) Epistemic injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing. Oxford: OUP Gardner, H. (1983) Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. New York: Basic Books. Kalantzis, M. and Cope, B. (2012) Literacies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Krathwohl, D. (2002) A Revision of Blooms Taxonomy: An Overview in Theory into Practice, Volume 41, Number 4, Autumn 2002 College of Education: Ohio State University. Kress, G. (2003) Literacy in the New Media Age. London: Routledge. Levine, K. (1986) The Social Context of Literacy. London: Routledge. McLuhan, M. (1964) The Medium is the Message in Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man http:// web.mit.edu/allanmc/www/mcluhan.mediummessage.pdf Palinscar, A. (1998) Social Constructivist Perspectives on Teaching and Learning, Annual Review of Psychology. https://gsueds2007.pbworks.com/f/Palinscar1998.pdf PIAAC 2012 Survey Results for Ireland (2013) Dublin: CSO https:// www.education.ie/en/Publications/Education-Reports/Programme-for-the-International-Assessment-of-Adult-Competencies-PIAAC-2012Survey-Results-for-Ireland.pdf Reading the Past, Writing the Future. UNESCO Celebrating 50 years 2016 unesco-promoting-literacy-over-five-decades-en.pdf Saljo, R. (2012) Literacy, Digital Literacy and Epistemic Practices: The Co-Evolution of Hybrid Minds and External Memory Systems. Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy, Vol. 7, Nr 01, 5-19. Sticht, T. (1992) Functional Context Education: Learning for and in the World of Work, in Viewpoints 13, London: ALBSU Vygotsky, L. (1978) Mind in Society: The development of higher psychological processes, New York: Freeman.
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