Roadkill on the Information Superhighway

, Deborah Lambert, Leave a comment

Charlotte Allen reminded readers on that when you hear the words “for the 21st century” in conjunction with an educational topic, “you know it’s time to run for cover.”

Here’s why: During a recent conference of English teachers in San Francisco, a report released by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) suggested that teachers should “quit emphasizing essays and formal papers” . . .and “bring 21st-century writing habits into the classroom.”

Allen noted that as recently as five years ago, this would have meant “blogging, e-mailing, and setting up your own website.” Now it means “texting, twittering and Facebook.”

Emory University professor Mark Bauerlein pointed out in a recent blog that these 21st century communications forms require no research and aren’t graded. Moreover, the NCTE “aims to ennoble leisure writing, to set it on the same level as academic writing,” he said.

Bauerlein’s comments prompted a response from Kathleen Yancy, a Florida State University professor who “scolded Bauerlein for daring to ‘privilege…writing to adults’ as more valuable than writing to peers’ [sic].” She suggested that schools create “new pedagogies” that would accommodate the latest in texting and Facebook page-updating.”

Deborah Lambert writes the Squeaky Chalk column for Accuracy in Academia.