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perhaps.. what keeps getting in our way .. no?

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wikipedia small





Literacy is traditionally understood as the ability to read and write. The term’s meaning has been expanded to include the ability to use language, numbers, images and other means to understand and use the dominant symbol systems of a culture. The concept of literacy is expanding in OECD countries to include skills to access knowledge through technology and ability to assess complex contexts.

dominant symbol systems of a culture.. huge. are we listening to what that is … today..?

Literacy represents the lifelong, intellectual process of gaining meaning from a critical interpretation of written or printed text. The key to all literacy is reading development, a progression of skills that begins with the ability to understand spoken words and decode written words, and culminates in the deep understanding of text.

? (see Papert article below..)

Reading development involves a range of complex language underpinnings including awareness of speech sounds (phonology), spelling patterns (orthography), word meaning (semantics), grammar (syntax) and patterns of word formation (morphology), all of which provide a necessary platform for reading fluency and comprehension. Once these skills are acquired, the reader can attain full language literacy, which includes the abilities to apply to printed material critical analysis, inference and synthesis; to write with accuracy and coherence; and to use information and insights from text as the basis for informed decisions and creative thought.


The inability to do so is called illiteracy or analphabetism.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines literacy as the “ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society”.


Many policy analysts consider literacy rates as a crucial measure of the value of a region’s human capital. For example, literate people can be more easily trained than illiterate people – and generally have a higher socioeconomic status; thus they enjoy better health and employment prospects. Literacy increases job opportunities and access to higher education.




totally fine if that’s the definition.. but most of the above needn’t be where a person finds value.. or is rated % literate.. today.

here is Papert – not so much ahead of his time – but ahead of all of us. we need to catch up.. whether we use the same words for it (or any words) or not.. no?

[via tweet from Rob]:

obsolete skill set..

The facetious old turn of phrase that identifies schooling with the three Rs — reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic — may express the most obstinate block to change in education. The central role of these “basics” is never discussed; it is considered obvious. Thus the most important consequences of new technologies are not recognized by education policy-makers.


The role of the Rs in elementary education used to be beyond question. How effectively could one teach geography, history, and science to students who could not read? Looking back, we cannot seriously fault these arguments — within their historical context.

But looking forward, we can formulate new arguments beyond the imagination of 19th century thinkers, who could hardly have conjured images of media that would provide modes of accessing and manipulating knowledge radically different than those offered by the Rs. Nor could they have formulated what I see as the deep difference between education past and future: In the past, education adapted the mind to a very restricted set of available media; in the future, it will adapt media to serve the needs and tastes of each individual mind.

facilitating 7 billion curiosities.. as the day.

Admitting the prospect of Knowledge Machines does not imply that people will no longer need to read. But reading will no longer be the unique primary access road to knowledge and learning, and it should therefore no longer be the dominant consideration in the design of School.


Demoting reading from its privileged position in the school curriculum is only one of many consequences of Knowledge Machines. A child who has grown up with the freedom to explore provided by such machines will not sit quietly through the standard curriculum dished out in most schools today. 

suffocating – from the day


What follows from imagining a Knowledge Machine is a certainty that School will either change very radically or simply collapse. It is predictable (though still astonishing) that the Education Establishment cannot see farther than using new technologies to do what it has always done in the past, teach the same curriculum. I have suggested that new media radically change the concept of curriculum by demoting its core elements. But I would go further: The possibility of freely exploring worlds of knowledge calls into question the very idea of an administered curriculum.



I went from article to article and then from book to book following associations. I was playing. But as I played, …

…I built a web of knowledge that could not always be described, even though it came from the medium of print.

as i played…

whimsy matters


When I went to bed I still had not found a direct answer. But by then I knew enough about giraffes to think about the question in an informed way, and to figure out that they probably sleep standing up. My activity followed a pattern very reminiscent of a child at play. And the knowledge I gained was not the collection of propositions I read in the books, but the web of intuitive connections that formed as my mind bounced here and there in a non-linear fashion.

huge – (to convos with Nikhil et al – on basics)


After mastering the Rs, the print medium gave me an “extended immediacy” — a larger world I could explore in a freely interactive spirit. But thanks to an archaic school system, many children lose the taste for immediate exploration long before they acquire the mastery of book skills needed to find that extended immediacy. This is the real tragedy of dropping out. Whether or not they put in the requisite number of years in the classroom, many (or even most) children emerge without the intellectual spark with which all are born.


I see then a pattern of intellectual development that I shall oversimplify by casting it in three distinct phases. The first phase is one of universally successful learning. All children show a passion for interactive exploration of their immediate world. The diversity of possible activity is great enough for different individuals to find their own styles. The third phase is seen in intellectually awake adults. Here too we see a great diversity of styles. But not everyone gets there. The second phase is the narrow and dangerous passage in which many factors conspire to undermine the continuation of phase one. School is often blamed for imposing on children a uniformity that suffocates those who have developed markedly different intellectual styles; much as it used to suffocate left-handed people by forcing them to “write properly”.

The early and massive imposition on children of what I call “letteracy” carries risk not only because it suppresses diversity of style, but because it forces an abrupt break with the modes of learning shared by the first and third phases. New media promise the opportunity to offer a smoother transition to what really deserves to be called “literacy.” Literacy should not mean the ability to decode strings of alphabetic letters. Consider a child who uses a Knowledge Machine to acquire a broad understanding of poetry (spoken), history (perhaps relived in simulations), and art and science (through computer-based labs), and thus draws on this knowledge to conduct a well-informed, highly persuasive campaign to preserve the environment. All this could happen without being letterate. If it does, should we say that the child is illiterate?

literacy, letteracy

The use of the same word to mean both the mechanical ability to read as well as a rich connection with culture is one more reflection of today’s paucity of media. As we enter an age in which diversity of media will allow individuals to choose their own routes to literacy, that dual meaning will pass away. For the next generation or two one must expect literacy to include some letteracy, since our culture’s past is so connected with expression through writing. But even if a truly literate person of the future will be expected to know how to read books as well as understand the major trends in art history or philosophy, via whatever other media become available, it will not follow that learning the letters should be the cornerstone of elementary education.


There are very few school environments in which the idea of the illetterate but literate child is plausible.



Mary Ann – thinking about being literate

deterritorialized spaces that open up via curiosities


essentially basics



oh my math