Our world today is transforming at a rapid pace, and schooling needs to somehow keep up with these changes. However, it seems like schooling has been falling behind in the race of progress. How do we keep school relevant to the ever changing times?
Keeping up with the pace of our world is nearly impossible for the education system, but all we can do and should do is try. A theory in which education is adopting in order to keep up with our transforming world is the theory of multiliteracy. Literacy education has traditionally been regarded as strictly reading and writing, but the meaning of literacy has changed with the advancement of technology, the internet, and smartphones. Literacy can be visual, physical, artistic, and so much more.
Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzis explain that “with these new communication practices, new literacies have emerged. And these new literacies are embodied in new social practices – ways of working in new or transformed forms of employment, new ways of participating as a citizen in public spaces, and even perhaps, new forms of identity an personality” (Pg. 3). The article highlights how literacy education has changed because of the changes from old capitalism, or old economy to new capitalism, or the new economy of the world. Education was built and structured based on the society of the 19th century, which has caused some problems in our education system today. Sir Ken Robinson, a world-renowned education expert, eloquently explains the issues in education today based on traditional concepts of what it means to be intelligent in this video.
At 4:26. Robinson explains how children at this time are growing up in the most “intensely stimulating period in the history of the earth”. We expect children to be completely focused in school when their brains are constantly stimulated by computers, phones, music, video games, and so much more. How can we expect their full attention when our curriculums are unimodal and try to confine children to one mold? Cope and Kalantzis explain this phenomenon stating how education now is ultimately disappointing students because the old concepts of literacy do not support the interactive and technological world we live in. “Whatever the path, schooling in general and literacy pedagogy in particular, cannot afford to ignore the trajectories of change” (Cope & Kalantzis, pg 9). If we ignore these changes, we are setting our students up to fail in the future. Our classrooms need to mimic the interactive and engaging world children now live in.
So how do we create multiliteracy friendly curriculums?
Dousay describes that multiliteracy can be developed through design activities, that challenge students to problem solve and use technology as cognitive tools to create meaning and analyze new information. The two specific activities Dousay describes are digital stories and comics.
Digital storytelling and comic books are such an engaging, fun way to allow students to show their knowledge through multiple forms. Education is all about differentiating instruction and allowing students to have multiple opportunities to show their knowledge through their strengths, whether it be art, music, or personal narrative. By using these activities in your classroom, students are taking ownership of their learning. They are responsible for creating their own projects, engaging in critical thinking, and learning in a comprehensive way rather than one confined question and answer.
By accepting multiliteracies in the classroom, students can develop into diverse, creative learners. As a teacher, you must embrace the changes that the world will see. Without change, there is no progress, and without progress, there is no learning. Accept your students as they are, accept the lives they lead, and accept that all students will have different abilities. If you make sure these abilities are celebrated, you will help students become active learners for the rest of their lives.