Monday, October 18, 2010

21st Century Literacy

As an ex-English teacher (that should read, ex-teacher of English) my concept of literacy has, until recently, always been fairly conventional. I was interested to read a tweet about 21st Century Literacy, and the new definitions adopted by the American National Council of the Teachers of English.

Their new definition of literacy requires students to:

  • Develop proficiency with the tools of technology
  • Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally
  • Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes
  • Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information
  • Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts
  • Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments.
Their rationale for this makes for interesting and thought-provoking reading, and it's not very long! I wonder how much of this is considered in the New Zealand National Literacy and Numeracy assessments, currently being rolled out with much fanfare at polytechs around the country?

The article reminds me that definitions of literacy amongst our students are probably rather old fashioned. As a result, we run the risk of assuming that, because they meet outdated definitions of literacy, our students are able to cope with the much more challenging literacies of the 21st century.


  1. Thanks great find and thanks for sharing. I will file away and use it soemday. I wonder what this means for my field in health promotion where we are concerned with 'health literacy'.

  2. The last course I completed as part of my MTAD at USQ I explored New Literacies and Multimodal Texts and here is my Critical Reflection on New Literacies The one that interests me the most is the technological litercay and how educators can develop and master it so they can promote and integrate it in their teaching practice.

  3. Whoah! this is so interesting. You're absolutely right. We get stuck in the "what we've always done" model because it used to work... but we're insufficiently flexible, and 'literate' ourselves to adapt to the changes that your summary lists (speaking personally of course). - Katherine