goodbye 2007; hello ongoing misunderstanding of literacy...

according to jack miller, president of central connecticut state university, the level literateness across the nation's cities can be measured by focusing on "six key indicators of literacy: newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, educational attainment, and Internet resources." he has made the results of this annual study, begun in 2003, available for public consumption; a story that is no doubt the focus of public curiosity and, in the case of minneapolis, chest thumping.

as someone who believes in and engages a broader view of literacy than is found within the bounded terms listed above, i find myself at once amused and exhausted. can all of the work being conducted under the auspices of new literacies be for naught? can the virtual "miles" of literate engagement being enacted and performed across online and offline spaces be reduced miller's "internet" variable that he describes thusly:
1. Number of library Internet connection per 10,000 library service population
2. Number of Internet book orders per capita
3. Number of unique visitors per capita to a city’s internet version newspaper
4. Number of webpage views per capita to a city’s internet version newspaper
further distressing is the characterization of miller's results in an article in USA Today:
Miller's findings echo those in a National Endowment for the Arts report last month. The NEA focused on reading for pleasure, but both the NEA and Miller conclude that even as more Americans are earning high school and college degrees, reading is declining.
so, despite the plethora of evidence - empirical and otherwise - that we, as a national and international population, are engaging in immeasurably more multimodal and multiliterate communicative practices, the public perception is actually moving in the opposite direction. im reminded of one emphasis that was resonant at the anthro meetings in d.c. regarding the urgent call for educational researchers to enter the public policy debates and discourses. im starting to feel the urgency, and recall a similar plea made to senior scholars at nctear 2007 to take time to write editorials, sit on curriculum committees, and (eek!) participate in developing better and more accurate forms of assessment when it comes to making sense of the varied and complicated ways that youth are making sense of the worlds they navigate and negotiate daily.

of course, this could all just be rantings of someone whose two 'home' cities are not represented in miller's top 10...

happy new year :)

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