As I am taking two classes, and find common threads between them, I decided this week I would blog about the face of literacy and the influx of technology. This previous week my other class, a reading one, asked us to share an image of someone using literacy in technology on Blackboard. Fresh home from work the other day, my daughter (who is on spring break), was sitting at her laptop chatting on Facebook. I ran right off with my assignment in mind to retrieve my camera (my phone doesn’t have this level of technology). Seconds later I had several shots of her using literacy and technology. Her reaction though surprised me as she asked why what she was doing fit the requirements of my task. So I sat down with my English major, who is also an editor on the school newspaper, and resisted shaking her. Facebook is definitely a popular use of technology, and a form of literacy as we have discussed in class.
Today, on another similar thread, I was riding with my husband on an errand when he made a reference to reading The Blind Side. If he had suggested we bungee jump off the Empire State building I could not have been more surprised. You see the key background information you need, besides his fear of heights, includes that the only book I’ve ever seen him read is Howard Stern’s Private Parts. This being one of the few books I won’t read, my sister gave it to him for Christmas one year wrapped in brown paper, with her own title of choice, Fine Literature. Truly I don’t even know if he finished Stern’s book, but today I stared at him in shock and said, “You’re reading what?” “Sure,” he replied and then justified, “It was free.” I am a bit of a cheapskate so I was sure he felt he needed to justify the cost of buying a book I knew he’d never finish, but I was still stuck on, “You’re reading…” He expanded, “I got it on the Kindle, when I fly I’ve been reading it.” Wow. I sat stupefied still, knowing that given a plane flight, he’d never open a book, but apparently he’d open a Kindle.
Enter this afternoon, tax season. So I’m reading screen after screen on my H&R Block At Home tax software, thinking that doing the taxes is getting easier each year I use this software. I submit it, super, it’s done. I do my daughter’s return, she’s getting some cash back, super, and it’s done. I start my son’s and still in my tracks. He’s a college graduate, living at home, who we still feed. Oops, I need to go back and un-claim him on our form which has already been submitted. What a literacy nightmare! Going backwards, trying to understand how to undo something I did with such confidence. My blood pressure rises, my husband swears he will do it next year, I curse, I do worse, and I finally break down and call the 800 number. While my husband, who worries about my blood pressure, talks to someone with no confidence at H&R Block, I continue to curse and stumble through the software. Finally finding what I need I proceed while my husband falsely tells a stranger how helpful he has been? It’s now (sort of) done.
So the face of literacy is changing so much that my English major daughter doesn’t recognize it when she uses it, my husband is now reading a book, and my over confidence in my abilities has been knocked down a few pegs. All of this technology scares me to some degree when I think of those without technology in our society, or those who cannot access it due to their reading level. I fear we are soon going to be leaving behind a whole level of our population. Even in my high school classroom the students are leaving me behind (their cell phones are far beyond mine). We are urged to teach with technology, but fight over limited lab space, but that is a rant for another day. Today I’m just going to worry about those that are being left out of literacy because they cannot access technology… sort of like how we won’t be able to read the Declaration of Independence someday because we’ve stopped teaching cursive.