Paul Allison tweeted out this update from the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) exec committee last week in terms of how we need to think more expansively about literacy in the context of these shifts. As a former English teacher and NCTE member, I find these couple of lines to be of particular interest:

Because technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, the twenty-first century demands that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies, many literacies. These literacies—from reading online newspapers to participating in virtual classrooms—are multiple, dynamic, and malleable.

I think that one word, “malleable” is a fascinating choice (and a fine SAT prep word, by the way.) The ideas that these literacies must now be adaptable and bendable to meet whatever comes down the pike is a pretty big shift in thinking. Literacy, in other words, just got a lot harder to measure on a standardized test.

I’ve written before about the idea of a “network literacy” that is almost a requirement these days. I want to write more about that shortly, but a lot of what the NCTE is putting out there moves toward that. The idea of “build[ing] relationships with others” and “shar[ing] information for global communities” as English literacies is a pretty wild shift on some level.

If nothing else, this goes to the heart of connective reading and connective writing that we’ve been talking about here and elsewhere now for years. Reading and writing is still about the ability to understand and to create texts of various types, but it’s increasingly more now about connecting to other ideas, other people, and other conversations.

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