Those long-awaited outcomes for Literacy in Scotland's new Curriculum for Excellence are released today by Learning and Teaching Scotland for consultation. At first glance you may be disappointed with what appears to be a rather narrow definition of literacy: no mention of 'new literacies', a phrase that emanates nearly exclusively from my US blog feeds, and no distinct mention of t'Internet or television in the outcomes themselves.
However, it's all there: sense of audience, distinction between information sources, information gathering, information presentation and purpose of writing, seeking regular reading for pleasure of a certain calibre. The real beef comes in the 'Cover Paper', and its definition of 'texts':
novels, short stories, plays, poems, reference texts, the spoken word, charts, maps, graphs and timetables, advertisements, promotional leaflets, comics, newspapers and magazines, CVs, letters and e-mails, films, games and TV programmes, labels, signs and posters, recipes, manuals and instructions, reports and reviews, text messages, blogs and social networking sites, web pages, catalogues and directories.
I don't know any other curriculum (though I'd love to be corrected) that states in black and white that teachers must help their students understand how to read Social Networks, blogs, games, comics - the whole panoply of literature young 21st Century citizens read. It's a great lead for Scotland.
The problems, if there are to be any, will lie in any potential narrow interpretation by teachers, those who feel that they can 'get away with' not looking at how we 'read' SNSs and blogs. Should that happen, then we will be stuck in the 19th Century. Disastrous, potentially. I don't think that will happen, though, having been heartened by the Schools and Skills Minister's statement this morning:
"We teach children how to understand, analyse and communicate using words on paper and rightly so. We're not going to stop that - indeed we want people to be properly equipped with better literacy skills.
"At the same time, of course, we get our news and information more from TV and the internet than from the newspaper. We communicate through email and text messaging and social networking more than writing letters."
I'm proud to have been part of the small but persistent team within Learning and Teaching Scotland who, for the past three years, has been pecking away at the definition of Literacy. But I'm also proud of a burgeoning section of the profession here in Scotland who have taken to the blogosphere and made sure their voice is heard by those writing the curriculum, and that whatever definition of Literacy we come to, that it is one which will stand the test of time.
On that point, these guidelines might fall over in five years' time, when perhaps something even more seductive will have taken the place of SNSs and blogs as we know them. But then, we should be revisiting this curriculum well before then.
Pic: La Loca...