Bill Boyd once more creates a beautiful summary (see another one here); this time of a keynote speech at the National Literacy Conference held in Glasgow last week. I was not there – not being one of the ‘people with influence in Scottish education’ – but Bill gives such a clear exposition of the main points of the talk by Professor David Booth that I almost feel I was.
Here are some points I found particularly resonant:

  • For many students, comprehension has become a question and answer activity with no time to enter into a dialogue with others to construct meaning
  • We need to think again about the definition of  “illiterate” – would it apply to someone who can’t read sheet music? charts? knitting patterns?
  • The disparities between the plugged-in or wireless electronic bedroom and the traditional school contribute to the alienation many students feel about what goes on in their classroom
  • We want to encourage critical thinking in our classrooms, to create situations with the texts we offer that require students to engage in critical and co-operative conversations

I especially like:

  • As teachers and librarians we have magical powers to ensure that young people experience texts that can change their lives in different ways
  • Literacy is a foundation of citizenry in any language, a right of freedom.