I have been trying to keep up with the reading for my classes, despite the fact that I am out of my element (family emergencies this week have taken me away from teaching and my regular routine) and am struggling to keep up with the assignments for both my classes. My struggle and stress increased a little as I read this blog: http://durandus.com/phaedrus/2008/02/05/programming-the-new-literacy/ and thought about what an uncool grandmother that I am going to be because I can’t program a computer well enough to create games for my grandchildren’s birthdays. In addition, they are likely to tell stories about how illiterate their grandmother is/was. This, after working hard to obtain a college education. I sure hope Mr. Prensky is off the mark on this one.
It is just as likely that I would have lost my cool grandmother status by giving the kids a copy of To Kill A Mockingbird or other piece of great literature long before the computer programming illiteracy issue arose. Part of my definition of literacy includes the ability to read and interpret classic literature as well as basic abilities to write for communication purposes.
Having expressed all of that, now I will add that I can envision a future where knowledge of computer programming languages could be a skill possessed by an elite class, but not to the exclusion of others who have the opportunity, aptitude, and ambition to learn – unless, of course, an effort has been made to lock them out, which is another condition that hearkens back to the Middle Ages also referenced in Prensky’s blog.
Personally, I would like to learn programming languages. But – I took a class in beginning computer programming that involved flow-charts, if-then statements and some other components that I have forgotten now and it was very difficult for me. I hope that doesn’t mean that I am going to be nearly illiterate in a few years. Actually, I think that a person who knows how to use a fairly wide range of computer applications can be considered computer literate. However, I do feel that knowing how to program would be the ultimate in computer literacy.
I wonder if knowing how to fix a computer when assorted problems with the CPU arise is considered a form of computer literacy?