Reviews, Views and Adventures in Content Creation

Friday, August 13, 2010

What's 21st Century Literacy?

Once again, I'm reading and hearing opinions that the current generation in the U.S. will be the least read of any in recent history.  Generally, the argument suggests that the flood of technology and the world of 140-character tweets are making kids growing up in contemporary America are unable to maintain an attention span long enough to allow for the responsible accumulation of knowledge.

On the other hand, I would suggest that the current generation will be one of the most well-informed, best prepared generations to function in a diverse world society. Teens accumulate information faster and more efficiently than any generation before them;  they're absorbing information through multiple sources simultaneously - redefining the meaning of multi-tasking to an extreme.

I wonder if it's fair to call them the least read.  They certainly read differently - but are they really reading less?  Are internet-savvy kids growing in less-literate homes in fact more exposed to reading than their equivalents a couple of generations ago?  The teens today are the same kids that read through thousands of pages of Harry Potter over the last ten years - a series that flew in the face of the same assumptions floating around ten years ago.

Teens, of course, need to learn to responsibly process information - that's a function of quality education - which in turn demands teachers savvy enough to interpret the voice of this generation.  That's always a challenge, I would expect, but never more than today as communications technology surges ahead.

I still recall the doomsayers who condemned my own generation for our bad handwriting and excessive exposure to television.  Regardless of the predictions, I don't think we destroyed the world (yet!) .

The current generation will seem to read less in a traditional - but they'll absorb so much more.


  1. There is a certain irony that "the TV generation" is complaining that kids these days don't read anything. Yes, they read differently, but they read.

  2. Exactly - I wonder if this generation, if fact, reads more than ours....