Friday, January 29, 2010

Reading and Writing in the 21st Century

Tomorrow morning I will give a presentation to the Texas Alliance of Accredited Private Schools on the very lofty and all-encompassing topic that I repeat as the title of this blog. I hope to raise some questions and stir some discussion about how our students actually go about the business of reading and writing as they learn. I will ask some very simple questions.

What's the difference between reading a paperback copy of Jane Eyre, a digital text of the novel, or the digital text of the novel marked up in Diigo and shared with "friends" on Facebook? What's the difference between writing a standard critical analysis of the novel on a word processor and sharing ideas about the novel (with hyperlinks, images, and comments) in a blog? I ultimately ask, partly rhetorically and partly probing for deeper answers, why do we still teach in just one way with these developments in mind. How are we serving our students? What do we owe them as they negotiate these new tools on their own?

I still have a stack of paperback books by my bedside (and a pen to mark them up), but I am also excited by the possibilities for reading and writing suggested by the new iPad. I don't have to settle for just one, do I?