Lynne Truss would love this one. The above picture of a notice is implicit (more about that later).
A few days ago I was fascinated by a series of posts on workplace literacy, notably by Tony Karrer and another by Michele Martin.
I suggested in a comment on Michele’s post that there was a real danger of the invention of ‘digital’ bourgeoisie - an artificial set of digital protocols and practices that is more likely to exclude than include those who are not 'in the know’.
My point was that it has taken around 4000 years of human existence for reading and writing to get to where they’re at today. Perhaps we should first reflect on the practices associated with workplace literacy (never mind the digital bit) over the last 100 years or so before diving into looking at changing people’s attitude/skill/awareness on this one.
Michele made a good point “that if we don’t begin engaging in discussions like this about the skills that are needed and ways to develop and use those skills, we’re going to be in a world of hurt. I’m not sure that we can afford to take 100 years to figure things out.” Her worry “is that we won’t do that and we’ll end up behind the 8-ball!”
I must admit that I agree with her, but I feel that we are behind the 8-ball already.
Tony supported Michele suggesting that workplace literacy should be opened to the early majority “not by dictating, but by suggesting what the opportunities are. Studies of PIM show that this is all highly personal (at least subjectively).”
While I agree in part with what Michele and Tony are saying, I don’t agree with the moving-right-along attitude to progress for it rarely actually establishes true progress. It simply moves on to ground that’s new to some.
I’m also aware that it is a postmodern trend to discard history - it’s rarely looked back on for its usefulness. Yesterday is history in some postmodern arenas. If we were to follow to its logical conclusion what Jacques Derrida was saying, we would be scrapping the very idea of writing - anything, digital or otherwise. Derrida was a dyed-in-the-wool postmodernist.
Society should be just as capable of learning from its mistakes as a young pianist new to the piano. Perhaps the reason society has learnt so little from its past mistakes is because of a reluctance to stop, study and think about the implications of past mistakes in terms of what can be learnt from them.
The moving-right-along now-faster-than-ever attitude was used in Physics for the last 75 years while Niel Bohr’s theories and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle marked time as Science attempted to pursue logically related avenues. We now believe that Bohr and Heisenberg were wrong in their fundamental assumptions, but only because no-one dared to look back - for nearly a century! The silencing voice of authority.
Derek Wenmoth very recently posted photographs of the notices that were displayed by the venue hosts to identify the room used at a working group convened by the New Zealand Ministry of Education focusing on Multiple Literacies. The Day 1 notice heads this posting and the corrected sign that appeared on Day 2 is shown directly above.
Derek points out that “the sign serves as a useful reminder that we mustn't forget the conventions of traditional writing!!!!! (The thing that makes the sign doubly amusing is that it is printed on paper and taped to the front of an LCD screen which is normally used to display notices like this.”
Derek states my point exactly. His observations bear out what I say about the implications of past mistakes.
Let’s get back to the drawing board, or in this case, the Board Room!