Humans have always been creating new communication technologies and new literacies to help us share our narratives in an effort to be understood by the world, to understand ourselves, and to understand the world. With each new technology comes the risk of being misunderstood, misinterpreted by the world and ourselves. Sometimes we fear that we will become less literate, less able to communicate our “truths”, when we are confronted with new ways of communicating (Turkle, 2012).
However, this course has taught me to be more critically literate and to realize that in sharing our narratives with each other, our narratives become “reader constructed” (Peters & Lankshear, 1996, p.68). When we read, see, listen to, or watch others’ narratives, we become part of the narrative, we bring ourselves, our histories, values, expectations and assumptions to the narrative and all of these things change how we understand the narrative and also change the narrative. In sharing our narratives and participating in each other’s narratives, we become interconnected. Freire (1998) states,
This dialectical movement of thought is exemplified perfectly in the analysis of a concrete, existential, “coded” situation. Its “decoding” requires moving from the abstract to the concrete; this requires moving from the part to the whole and then returning to the parts; this in turn requires that the Subject recognize himself in the object ( the coded concrete existential situation) and recognize the object as a situation in which he finds himself, together with other subjects.
We become part of the narratives that we read and we inhabit them with all of the others that read them as well. In this way, the literature that we read (view, listen to) brings us together; we are interconnected in our experiencing of the narratives.
This course has taught me that interconnection through narratives can happen in many different ways, in many different literary places. I will admit that as an English teacher I had thought of narrative as happening in books, through words and pictures, and I realize now that I carried with me a fear of our new technological literary spaces taking away from our narratives. But in reading other students’ experiences with digital texts and the plethora of ideas shared with respect to digital storytelling, I see that these new digital literary spaces open up so many opportunities for us to understand the world, and be understood by the world. Bryan and Levine (2008) state,
Stories now are open-ended, branching, hyperlinked, cross-media, participatory, exploratory, and unpredictable. And they are told in new ways: Web 2.0 storytelling picks up these new types of stories and runs with them, accelerating the pace of creation and participation while revealing new directions for narratives to flow.
The idea of participating in the stories as audience members relates to the idea of texts becoming even more “reader constructed”. These “new literacies” simply make us more aware of our role and our responsibilities, as audience members, in participating in the texts that we “read”. It also makes us more aware of the power we wield as authors creating works that others will not simply passively accept, but will actively participate and contribute to. Now, more than ever before, we have the power to tell our own narratives and participate in the narratives of the world. The presentations made me aware that to truly be considered literate and to truly teach our students to be literate, we need to teach them holistically. Literacy is more than “code breaking” (Freebody & Luke, 1990). We need to be literate in all areas of our lives, socially, critically, with media, with tools, and in nature. Paulo Freire (1987) stated, “”To be literate is not to be free, it is to be present and active in the struggle for reclaiming one’s voice, history, and future” (p. 7). In my future practice, I plan to teach my students to be literate in all areas of their life, so they can “read the world” (Freire & Macedo, 1987). It is exciting to recognize the power that new literacy narratives have to bring us together and the role they have in our growth as individuals and as parts of the interconnected world.
Bryan, A., Levine, A. (2008) Storytelling: Emergence of a new genre. Retrieved from http://digitalstorytelling.umwblogs.org/files/2010/01/web2.0_storytelling.pdf
Freebody, P. & Luke, A. ( 1990) Literacies programs: Debates and demands in cultural context. Prospect: An Australian Journal of TESOL, 5 (3), pp. 7-16.
Freire, P. & Macedo, D. ( 1987). Reading the word and the world. Florence,USA: Routledge.
Freire, P. (1998) Pedagogy of the oppressed. In Flinders, D. & Thornton, S. (Eds.) The curriculum studies reader. New York, NY: RoutledgeFalmer, pp. 147-154.
Peters, M. & Lankshear, C. (1996). Critical literacy and digital texts. Educational Theory, 46 (1), pp.51-70.
Turkle, S. (2012, April). Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone? [Video file]. Retrieved from: http://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together.html