What Does Literacy Mean Today?

Traditionally, the term literacy has been uses to describe the ability to read and write. However, as our world changes and develops, the forms and functions of literacy have evolved with it. In today’s world, social forces such as the rapid emergence of the internet, economic competition, migration and immigration, and the state of the planet all contribute to a reconceptulized idea of what literacy is. Reading itself is not comprehension, and children need to have sustenance beyond reading as it is not enough if they do not know what to do with the words. Students need to be able to go beyond reading and writing to understand the world, be equipped with the skills to survive in today’s changing society and become global citizens.

One of the major ways our society has changed is the abundant amount of information now available through the invention of new technologies. To get through this new text-saturated culture, we need to teach children critical literacy. Critical thinkers and media literate persons actively analyze to uncover underlying messages and biases presented in all forms of texts, media, images, and so on. This notion of an ‘acquired skepticism’ encourages students to establish a disposition towards a text, and not merely take it at face value. We have created a difficult world for children to live in, so we must prepare them to navigate through the excess information available to them, and critically analyze everything they are exposed to.

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