David Booth on Literacy

Today was day one of our district’s Literacy Fair, an opportunity for educators in schools across the district to share their collaborative inquiries with other teachers.  It began with a wonderful keynote from David Booth.  Everytime I hear David speak I find him wry, very witty and yet to the point.  His topic was redefining literacy but insisting that we remember that literacy is at the heart of everything we do as educators.  He reminded us that all text forms must be used for literacy instruction and that our job is to help students make the most meaning with every text they meet so that they may use these processes to meet their future needs.  Future needs…meaning that digital literacies are here so embrace them!

Throughout his talk I kept writing down short quotations that were very powerful:

“Technology has given men the freedom to read”  “In gaming, you get better if you practice” Shinizi Suzuki “you’ve got to have a tune” “technology doesn’t dumb us down – it’s changed our minds”  AND he also shared how he “loved teaching in the online environment because everyone has a voice and everyone shares”  I nearly stood up and cheered!!!!!

However, I couldn’t help but hear the repeated theme that I have been hearing in the PQP course, in leadership reading and learning:  everyone has a narrative and we need to learn it.  It’s the relationship that is important, we need to learn about the child to help them learn, we need to learn about our staff in order to learn to lead.  He concluded with the statement that “literacy is about life”.  He really humanized how educators are being asked to approach literacy across all curriculum.

I really hope we see more teachers walking David’s walk, including technological literacy in instruction across curriculum and being non-judgemental about the choices of text that our student’s make and embrace them to engage kids in learning.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?

Some articles to read:

Newsweek:  Books aren’t dead

Time MAgazine:  How to Build a Student for the 21st C