Yesterday’s urgency, tomorrow’s failure? (I hope not)

I remember the first time I heard this quote from Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock:

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.

Amazing, yes? I ran out to get the book and when I read the copyright date I nearly passed out. He’d been saying this since 1970… and in 2007, it was still incredibly relevant. Also, it was still a concept largely unaddressed by people involved in formal and informal learning environments.

So today when I read the following quotes from Scott McLeod’s blog Dangerously Irrelevant, I knew what I was feeling… sadness, cognitive dissonance, and determination that things must change:

Economically disadvantaged students, who often use the computer for remediation and basic skills, learn to do what the computer tells them, while more affluent students, who use it to learn programming and tool applications, learn to tell the computer what to do. (Neuman, 1991)
Those who cannot claim computers as their own tool for exploring the world never grasp the power of technology… They are controlled by technology as adults – just as drill-and-practice routines controlled them as students. (Pillar, 1992)

These are the inequities that we must destroy as educators, librarians, and lovers of literacy. 21st century literacies are not only found in books, they are also embedded in the habits and actions of the learner.

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