Me & Gunther Go to the Beach

So, I’m reading Literacy in the New Media Age by Gunther Kress and today we went to the beach. I’ve never taken theories to the beach, especially not theories of semiotics. But we shared a lovely 20 pages or so before I felt I needed some time to digest what I’d read. I’m not sure I’m at home in the arguments he’s building about new theories of literacy, but even as I puzzle that out, this statement has struck a chord:

When I came to understand for myself, some 25 years ago, that [the relation between speech and writing] had much to do with social power and the maintenance of social groups, I made a decision to make my own writing closer to the ‘rhythms’ of informal speech than to those of formal academic writing. I wanted to make my writing indicate solidarity with a wider group of readers with a more general professional interest rather than solidarity with a small and elite group of my academic peers.

One of my personal goals is to become more adept at framing my opinions– of which I have many 😉 — in a broader context, of philosophy, history, educational theory (yes, Arne Duncan, theory), etc. Kress’s comment reminds me of my hope that that writing about ideas can be meaningful to a broad audience, specifically, to teachers, parents, other leaders in our public schools.

The idea that teachers need to be public intellectuals has never seemed more important than it does today.  I think John Dewey was one of the first to articulate this idea; Henry Giroux and many others have also raised this idea. (I am woefully bad at linking names with important ideas.) My hope is that my own writing might offer teachers a few more tools to argue against “the nightmare that is the present” (Pinar, 2004).

More links:

Gunther Kress, “Reading Images: Multimodality, Representation and New Media” 

References

Kress, G. R. (2003). Literacy in the new media age. Literacies. NY: Routledge.

Pinar, W. (2004). What is curriculum theory? Mahwah  N.J.: L. Erlbaum Associates.

Image: by jenny.k via Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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