Learners with dyslexia provide compelling evidence that the brain was never wired for reading and that very different organisations of the brain are possible. Many would argue (e.g. West) that those with this alternative brain circuitry are likely to be major forces in the coming years. Those brains which seem so ill adapted to conventional education may become powerful engines of insight, innovation and discovery.

I am passionate reader and have no doubts about the contribution of reading to our intellectual, emotional and social development and repertoire.

I am also a very interested observer of the technological changes that are shaping the brains of our young people.

These 2 perspectives are not irreconcilable: a debate about Books v Screen, Print v Video is unproductive. We have the choice about whether to use everything at our disposal to prepare for the formation of what will come next and from which to learn.

The analytical, inferential, perspective-taking, reading brain with all its capacity for human consciousness, and the nimble, multifunctional, multimodal, information-integrative capacities of a digital mind-set do not need to inhabit exclusive realms. (Wolf)

We need to teach our children to switch between different presentations of written language and different modes of analysis. Both are precious. There are multiple pathways to understanding and comprehension – let’s celebrate them.

So, let’s come, once more, to texting. Are all these abbreviations, initialisations, and smiley faces fatally corrupting the English language? Might people forget how to communicate without a keypad?

So much writing – both in and out of school – is for personal use. And here text speak is a wonderful shorthand, especially for those whose formal literacy skills are undeveloped.  Make notes effectively is an essential skill: texting helps young people develop a broader knowledge and understanding of what we mean by ‘key’ or ‘main’ idea.

Apparently you can attain a B in Higher English through text speak alone. So if the content is correct (e.g. ‘2 B or not 2 B’) you get 2 out of 3 marks and lose one mark for poor spelling. And poor spelling is only marked down in English.

Clever text messaging or tweeting can provide proof that relentless word- shortening and a strict character count need not limit linguistic scope and creative expression. (See David Crystal’s book The Gr8 Deb8)

The Don Quixote project is a good and current example. The Twijote project   plans to publish 470-odd pages of the first volume of Cervantes’ novel in around 8,200 tweets. The idea is to show that culture can exist in social media – that it is not just a place for nerds and freaks. English-language literary Twitter projects include selected musings from Samuel Pepys’ 17th century diaries and snippets from the books published in mini-installments by e-mail and on the internet. Penguin has already published Twitterature by Alexander Aciman and Emmett Rensin whose rendering of Oedipus is a contemporary classic:

PARTY IN THEBES!!! Nobody cares I killed that old dude, plus this woman is all over me. Total MILF.

How better to teach summary skills?

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