Archive for June, 2011

Free Jazz and Democratic Communication

Posted by nicholaspelafas on June 29, 2011

I lifted this conversation between Jacques Derrida (philosopher) and Ornette Coleman (Jazz musician) from a post over at  The Liberator Blog. (

The entire conversation is fascinating for a variety of reasons, but Coleman makes some very interesting points that relate to literacy.  In the same vein as Sun Ra and John Coltrane, Ornette looks at music as a language and the ability to relate to music as a form of literacy or way to create meaning.  He says:

“I’m trying to express a concept according to which you can translate on thing into another.  I think that sound has a much more democratic relationship to information, because you don’t need an alphabet to understand music.”

This incredibly deep statement is important in that it reminds us that music and art represent some of the most core multiliteracy skills that humans have, and perhaps it would be possible to imagine alternate configurations of new literacies outside of speech and the written word.

At its core, literacy is about constructing meanings that relate information and deepen the complexity of one’s understanding of a given topic or subject.  By stating that music can be a more democratic conduit for information exchange, we can be more open to the idea that the way we create meaning is related to the project of creating a more equitable society.  It also suggests that words, and traditional forms of literacy (particularly considering when this dialogue took place) are tied to a power structure that can limit the ways people are able to construct meaning.  The question then becomes, do new literacies sufficiently liberate us from the power structures that plague the old literacies?  And, in what ways does moving away from music and art in schools hinder students’ capacity to adapt and develop new literacies?

more excerpts from the discussion after the jump and the .pdf of the original conversation can be found here……


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Multiliteracies Defined

Posted by tricialauter on June 29, 2011

 In 1996, the New London Group presented an article in the Harvard Educational Review detailing a shift in teaching literacy. A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures documents the discussion of leading educational theorists in their attempt to negotiate the rapidly changing social environment of which students and teachers live with the act of teaching literacy. They suggest that teaching literacy must change; be adapted, transformed, to meet the evolving needs of students. Students who are living in a more globalized, connected, and technological world.

The authors argue that literacy instruction must accommodate changing lives: working lives, public lives, and private lives. Literacy instruction must take into account multiple “modes of meaning making” as well as linguistic and cultural diversity. They state that “literacy educators and students must see themselves as active participants in social change, as learners and students who can be active designers-makers-of social futures.”

Thus, this blog is designed to bring together multiple pathways to information-multiple modes of meaning-about multiliteracies and the imminent shift in literacy instruction throughout the world. The current status of this shift will be explored, as well as the implications for teachers and students. Through news articles, videos, academic articles, wikis, pictures, and discussion, we will demonstrate the need for a change in the way that literacy is thought of and taught within the classroom-a multiliteracy revolution.

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