Traditional vs. Progressive Education
First, I think it’s important to highlight the evolution of education and how it has changed throughout the decades. I also want to emphasis how the world is moving forward to change the viewpoints of education and how teachers are teaching subjects, specifically literacy. Education is not how it used to be with the old, traditional ways of conducting spelling tests and memorizing math formulas. It goes a lot deeper than that. Critical thinking is a main component of learning because teachers are focused to give students ownership for their own learning.
In the chart below, it illustrates the differences that are present in progressive education compared to the old, traditional format of teaching. One thing that I want to point out is the fact that progressive instruction is more active and personalized, which benefits each student rather than focusing on the class as a whole.
There are many differences when it comes to school now and school back then. Specifically, in today’s society, education is focused more on making sure that all students’ needs are being met. It has more of a community-based atmosphere and the teacher and students work together to collaborate and learn through different medias and apply different learning styles within the classroom. Each child is going to be unique with the way that they learn, so it is important for the teacher to make sure that all learners are being represented in the classroom. This is extremely important in an inclusive classroom where there is a diverse group of learners. Back in the day, schools and teachers did not concentrate on the different needs of the students that were in a classroom because the students that did not fit within the classroom were segregated into a different special education classroom. The traditional versus progressive movement isn’t just in education. When you look other aspects, like families, family dynamics has changed just as much as education has.
In the book, Seeing All Kids As Readers, chapter one opens up by introducing a family and the struggles that they have been facing for their son, Isaac. Isaac, who has Down syndrome, is beginning his first day at an inclusive elementary school. He was previously enrolled at a segregated, self-contained special education classroom. His parent initially enrolled Isaac at this segregated school because they were not informed about the possibilities that could help Isaac. From my experiences, I think the most important thing that I have learned is making sure as a future educator to advocate for all of my students. This is important because children deserve to be successful in and out of the classroom and it is up to the teacher to guide their students to success.
Multiliteracies in a classroom
Second, I want to share what multiliteracies is and its importance and impact that it has on literacy. I believe that literacy IS NOT just one component, but now it is many components. Every thing is literacy and literacy can be taught in multiple forms known as multiliteracies.
Below is a video that I found that gives a brief overview of what multiliteracies is because it is a fairly new concept that has been developed over the last decade. It helped me understand more on the different kinds of literacy that are presented in classrooms now.
After watching and reading about multiliteracies and multimodality these words come to my mind:
When I think about all of these words, I believe that students are able to learn more through these new, different techniques.
- Students are able to engage and collaborate with one another.
- Students are able to be creative and use their imagination within the classroom.
- Students are able to interact with one another and share their different opinions.
- Students are able to make connections.
- Students are able to communicate their thoughts and ideas.
- Students are exposed to diversity in the classroom.
- Students are able to learn from one another instead of just from the teacher.
- Students are able to do so much more than they are told they can do.
- Students are capable of anything that they put their mind to.
This is just a shortened list of the many possibilities that can be created in an atmosphere that accepts diverse learners and multiple learning possibilities.
So what is multiliteracies in words?
Well, multiliteracies is an approach that pays close attention to the linguistic diversity in a classroom and uses multiple forms of expression and representation. In our classrooms, there is a diverse population of students that come with different backgrounds and interests. Through the multiliteracies approach, teachers are able to connect with each student by concentrating on their specific linguistic skills and strengths. Some students are going to prefer different forms to others, but that’s due to the student’s strengths and weaknesses and what they feel comfortable doing.
Cope & Kalantzis state that “the multiliteracies approach suggests a pedagogy for active citizenship, centered on learners as agents in their own knowledge processes, capable of contributing their own as well as negotiating the differences between one community and the next” (p. 7).
Each student can learn literacy through different opportunities based upon their interests and strengths. It is true that in today’s world, we are focused around technology. Technology should be incorporated throughout learning because of the amount of exposure that students get with technology.
I really enjoyed browsing through the Multiliteracies Project and the Interactive Stories. They are great resources for teachers to use in their classrooms. The Multiliteracies Project has many ideas that teachers can use for different subjects. I think that incorporating these ideas within a classroom will allow teachers to use different practices of engagement, representation, and expression throughout their lessons. These practices are known as the Universal Design of Learning (UDL) Principles. These principles acknowledge the vase diversity of learners within classrooms and promote teachers to use different ways to motivate their students and present the information in multiple forms. Using the multiple forms connects with the multiliteracies strategy. I think that the Interactive Stories give a powerful message because the stories are very personal and engaging. They allow the students to connect to the person’s story and think deeper about the impact that it left on the person.
Overall, multiliteracies and multimodality IS important in the classroom. It is a connection between the classroom and reality because of all the forms of media that is present in today’s world. Having this type of learning in a classroom can gain the students’ interests more than it ever did before. I do not believe in just literacy as just being able to read and write. It is so much more than that and that is what others need to recognize.