The new literacy as a method of control??

I have never really thought of literacy as computer related. I took the meaning literally, and assumed it had to do with a person’s ability to read. I think my definition has always been more “traditional,” if you can call it that, and I’m not even that traditional. I think.

Unless I interpreted the text completely wrong, I thought Ohmann was a bit paranoid. Either that or I wasn’t ready for his political and socio-economic undertones. In a way, it was reminiscent of Orwell’s 1984. The government says you have more when you really don’t, and in the end, it’s just a tactic to keep the masses sedated and under control. I’m not sure how I feel about this notion that education/technology is just another way for the elite to control the lower classes. I may be going off on a tangent here but bear with me. I think I can clear this up.

Ohmann had familiar ideas regarding computer literacy: I thought some of his ideas were very similar to the notion of the “digital natives” mentioned in Mark Bauerlein’s interview. He acknowledged the potential computers can bring to a classroom but mentioned the limitations and often ill-equipped instructors. They aren’t being used for their academic purposes but mainly for recreational means. There are better ways to implement computer technology.

Then this is where I can also mention what Marc Prensky said; in an age to rapid technological change, there will be people who are scared or reluctant for such radical change. Traditions or values will be lost but new ones will be gained. We might lose something, but most likely, we’ll gain something new that will be better.

Yancey’s article was a very scholarly read; it didn’t have Ohmann’s tone while aptly linking the shifts in education and digital literacy. It reminded me of Lunsford’s research with student writing; she proved that students are doing more non-academic writing (in various forms) outside of school without coercion. She provided an academic perspective on the changes digital literacy is bringing. It was a very abrupt change from Ohmann’s take on the matter.

People need basic computer knowledge to remain competitive today. Educational institutions need to ensure that their students are equipped with at least rudimentary digital literacy. The idea itself is nothing that radical; it has already come up in our previous readings like Wysocki and Johnson-Eiola. Most employers expect potential employees to have basic word processing skills and many look for additional online editing or graphic design skills.

I know it wasn’t the only thing Ohmann mentioned, but his his ideas regarding monopoly capital and technology stuck with me. Yes, Yancey brought up good points but I didn’t think it was radically different from other composition related readings. What I really wanted to know was if there really is something more to the government’s push for digital technology? Are we just being guided from behind the scenes? Was the government’s push for more computers in classroom a part of a plan that was supposed to be more than just education? Meh, I doubt it. But I will hold onto those conspiracy type theories just because they’re fun. To quote a previous professor, composition and pedagogy need an “alert adaptive intelligence.” Literacy is changing but the digital era doesn’t mean composition is now archaic. It needs to adapt, change its approach, and take advantage of the new available resources.

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