Thursday, February 28, 2008

The End of Literacy . . .

The End of Literacy . . .

articles, opinions and comments about literacy and reading habits that have appeared since Howard Gardner's column in the Washington Post (Feb 17 2008)

The End of Literacy? Don't Stop Reading. by Howard Gardner
Washington Post, February 17, 2008

What will happen to reading and writing in our time?

Could the doomsayers be right? Computers, they maintain, are destroying literacy.

The signs -- students' declining reading scores, the drop in leisure reading to just minutes a week, the fact that half the adult population reads no books in a year -- are all pointing to the day when a literate American culture becomes a distant memory. By contract, optimists foresee the Internet ushering in a new, vibrant participatory culture of words. Will they carry the day?

Maybe neither. Let me suggest a third possibility: Literacy -- or an ensemble of literacies -- will continue to thrive, but in forms and formats we can't yet envision. READ ON

~ a reaction from:The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance

Mr. Gardner's essay is well worth reading, but how long it has been since he has spent any time in public elementary or secondary schools? A challenge for Mr. Gardner-- spend a month working with young people in Worcester,Massachusetts, or in East Cleveland, Ohio, or even any middle class/working class neighborhood public school across the country to see where our nation truly is concerning reading, writing, and education-- to see the state of actual school buildings, school libraries, and public libraries in many parts of our nation. Have a conversation with a real group of kids, ask them what they read, how much they read, when they read anything at all. And then see if he would draw the same conclusions. READ ON

~ issue of schools, school libraries and budget cuts {just a few}

Austin: Libraries short on money, books: Austin school librarians making do with old and moldy books, aging collections.
Modesto: Modesto City’s plan to eliminate junior high school librarians is irrational - Stephan Krashen
California: The Governor plans to cut $5 billion from education over the next 18 months because of the budget crisis. I suggest we accomplish some of this by dumping the High School Exit Exam - Stephen Krashen
South Carolina: Improving the K-12 system is not enough; the greatest oppurtunity lies within adult education.

~ the value of The Big Read or One City, One Book events

Jim Henley’s Los Angeles Times (2/25/08) column: Big Read or Big Waste?
Stephen Krashen’s comment: The Big Read is a bad solution that addresses the wrong problem

a bit of a mashup, catchup sort of post which will end with 2 Gardner titles

Five Minds for the Future
Harvard Business School Press 2007
~ outlines the specific cognitive abilities that will be sought and cultivated by leaders in the years ahead.

Howard Gardner Under Fire
Edited by Jeffrey Schaler, Open Court Press 2006
~ leading experts who disagree with Gardner on specific issues explain their reasons, with no holds barred, and Gardner replies cogently and pungently to each one of them.

Read On @ Your Local Library: CalCat or WorldCat

Monday, February 11, 2008

Children of the Code: Update

Children of the Code:
'The Code and the Challenge of Learning to Read It'
A Social Education Project & Documentary Series

February 10, 2008 - Update: Chapter 5b

Ye First Millennium Bug: The Roots of Confusion
~ it's easy to forget that the system we have learned is a system that is based on a series of accidents that result in layers of complexity" - Dr. Thomas Cable, Co-author: A History of the English Language

Latin Roots
~ The clergy begins to write English using the letters/sounds of Latin
French Rules
~ French displaces English as the official language of England
The King’s English
~ Henry V resurrects English writing
The Chancery Scribes
~ The King's scribes forge the roots of modern English
The First Millennium Bug
~ The fall of phoneticism, the rise of complexity, and the roots of confusion
The Great Vowel Shift
~ Massive shifts in pronunciation add further confusion
Casting Spells
~ The printing press standardizes the unstable writing system

“Ye First Millennium Bug” picks up where “A Brief History of the Code: Part 1” left off. This chapter sketches the story of the emergence and standardization of written English.
The history of the English code is an amazing story of historical accidents, negligence, elitism, and, in the words of Dr. Thomas Cable, “No one minding the store”.
..."the accident of the printing press, which in England served to freeze spelling in the fifteenth century so you have these bizarre spellings." - Dr. Malcolm Richardson, Chair, Department of English, LSU

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