Monday, June 5, 2017
Does digital writing or digital literacy really matter?
After completing the reading with this week, I am left with one question: Does digital writing or digital literacy really matter? For my students, I say no.
I agree with the text that writing, which can be defined as: "an important act and an essential tool for learning and social participation," is important for all people in the modern American world (DeVoss, 1). We can use writing to express our ideas, thoughts, questions and, most importantly, to communicate with our future selves, or others over the course of time. But what is the point in writing your ideas, thoughts, questions if no one cares to listen because you are black, poor, or disenfranchised in another manner?
Since the beginning of the year, I have tried every day to give my students a reason to write their best work, or any work, in order to express or explain themselves about anything. In response, they say, " who cares about what they have to say?" And when I tell them that I care in what they have to say, we both realize that I am not enough. I cannot push them to validate themselves in one year, if they have had years before me where they are told that their views do not matter or, worse, are wrong. For, when we speak on the behalf of others for so long, they lose the thunder in their voice, or, for these students that I teach, they lose the faith in themselves.
As a result, this year my focus was pushing these students to believe in their voice outside of their writing instead of using writing to validate themselves in the traditional sense. I focused on student discourse, relating between one another. And towards the end of the year we began writing more and more, non-academically. Although most English teachers would scoff at me for this decision, I realized that in their academic writing students were regurgitating back my own words with little to no conviction or personality. In order to save them and myself, I decided that the main focus should be their security in themselves as learners.
I write this anecdote to say, that yes, writing is important. But other students have more important things that they need to learn and excel in before we have these conversations about writing. And, I will argue that the same implications for writing translates over to focus on digital writing, digital learning, and digital literacy. Yes, it is important for some. But no, I refuse to focus on using Google Classroom, when my students are convinced, due to the powers at be, that their voices are stupid, and therefore do not matter. Instead, I like to focus on things that will help them and eventually we will be able to catch up to the rest of the world.
I think that more often than not, we in urban education look at the suburban schools and envy everything that they have. They have laptops, so we want laptops. They are using internet platforms for learning, so we want to use internet platforms for learning. And believe it or not we do find the funding to accomplish all of these acts. However, we do not fix the real problems. What is the point of teaching students to write a collaborative essay using Google Documents, if they are not on a fifth grade reading level? Yes, they will write a paper. And most teachers will "meet them where they are at," and use that as an excuse for passing them along. However, they will still be reading on a fifth grade level by the end of the year. I think that we, as educators, need to prioritize where we put our focus within our classroom; and for me, and my students, I am not focused on digital writing.
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