Our research suggests that the lack of education related to literacy is problematic, and the situation is exacerbated in the field of education.
– Barbara R. Jones-Kavalier and Suzanne L. Flannigan
My last post was a bit of an experiment.
I had an idea of what I wanted to say. When I’d written out the text, though, it didn’t say enough.
I tried adding more words, but that turned out making the text say less.
I tried changing the words, but it turned out they were working pretty hard to say what I wanted them to say.
It occurred to me that pictures might help. From time to time, images have helped communicate what I’m trying to say in a post.
I looked around Creative Commons, but couldn’t quite find what I needed.
This led me to the drawing option in Google Apps. I was able to create rudimentary versions of the images my words couldn’t stretch themselves to cover.
When I tried to embed the images, they didn’t quite fit. The post still seemed flat. I wanted it to say more.
I needed to write in video. I needed image, sound and words to work together to say more than what I was able to say in text alone.
This has me thinking about the kind of message creation called for in classrooms. The as I’ve been thinking about recently, the essay is the coin of the realm. Should it be?
In attempting to make images, texts and audio work together, I needed to pull together understandings of message and meaning well beyond putting sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into some sort of cogent narrative.
What’s more, I still needed that narrative to make it all work. I still wrote the post. Even more importantly, what I put together wasn’t very good. It did what I asked it to do, but it could be so much better. The room for revision in fifty different directions makes me want to jump back in and try. When I was in my online program last year, I couldn’t figure out why this kind of composition wasn’t a part of the courses. We were people learning together who would never be in the same physical space. The easiest thing to do would be to construct an environment that allowed us to be people with each other and build learning artifacts that actually spoke to who we were.
This is the type of writing we should be teaching. Not forsaking traditional texts, but folding them, extending them, and reconnoitering them into what they can be.
Students’ writings want to say more. We should let them.