A New Epoch in Literacy: The Advent of a World of Writing

Here —see kathleenblakeyancey.wordpress.com–I’m going to talk a little about my NCTE presidential address. Here is the blurb:

“Time to Leave the Ranch and Head for the 21st Century”:

Notes toward a Vocabulary and Set of Practices for a New Epoch in Literacy


Historically, the NCTE Presidential Address provides us, each year, with an opportunity to think about literacy, learning, and teaching-and the ways they intersect. Sometimes, we use that opportunity to think about what literacy means to us not only as teachers, but also as literate persons. Other times, we think about literacy in the context of our students, especially in terms of what they show us about literacy and meaning-making. And still other times, we think about literacy in larger historical contexts. This year, it seems to me, is the moment for thinking historically. For when it comes to literacy, we are, I believe, located in a particularly auspicious moment, for two reasons at least. One: as I write this preview, educational policy is in the midst of potential change: it is more apparent than ever that, as one headline put it, not only have thousands of single children been left behind by recent policies, but so also have entire schools-indeed, given the domination of tests, perhaps an entire generation of children has been left behind. As this observation becomes more widely shared, we may have an opportunity to reclaim a generation jeopardized by high-stakes testing. Two: as I write this preview, Barak Obama has just secured the Democratic nomination, and a key constituency for him is that of students. More than at any time in the last forty years, students are politically engaged. Correction: they are more than engaged; they are participating. And that participation extends to communicating: as I write this preview, students, teachers, and citizens of all kinds here and around the world are communicating more than ever-to real audiences, for real purposes, and in new forms and emerging genres, in these processes developing a new language and set of literacy practices building on, extending, and in some ways talking back to earlier practices. In short, we are entering a new epoch in literacy. In this Presidential talk and multi-media presentation, I’ll consider what this new epoch means for all of us who care about students, schools, and literacy itself.


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