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ckenward's picture

I was having a conversation with one of my friends who is currently taking an ASL (American Sign Language) class at UPenn.  She was telling me about a talk she has to go to and our discussion really got me thinking about some of the themes in this class.  

First, she introduced me to the word "co-equality" which according to Webster's online dictionary means "the state of being equal."  However when she was referring to it in relation to her ASL class it was a bit more specific to context.  This is something we've been talking about a lot in expanding our definitions of literacy; the idea that one can be literate (or equal) in one context does not mean they are literate (or equal) in all contexts and situations.  My friend pointed out to me that the deaf community is one of the few disability communities which is expected to almost completely assimlate into "normal" society.  I say community because the deaf community has their own language and in many ways culture (whereas most other disabilities do not) but it is widely ignored by the hearing community as a whole.  I'm not trying to make a statment about whether this is good or bad, it is simply reality.  It is relevant to this class because as we're thinking about different kinds of literacies and different contexts, I think it is a really good example of how language goes beyond the ability to read and write.  

If anyone is interested in going to the talk at UPenn, here is a link to the description and such:

On a different note, I'm having a lot of fun playing with the new ipad.  That being said, you might notice that there are two "breaks" in this entry - that would be me not knowing what to do when I press the wrong thing and something happens.  So I'm still figuring it out.  I would definitely be interested in knowing though if there was a difference in people's adept-ness as using the new ipads if they're coming from using a Mac or PC.  I personally use a PC and feel like there might be some things which would be similar to a Mac that I'm not aware of - but I don't know if that is an assumption I shouldn't be making.  Also on a technology note, I was thinking a lot about the video we saw in class with the baby playing with the magazine.  My first thought after seeing that video was "Are we setting up future generations for feeling bored by books by introducing them to such interactive toys?"  It was a scary thought to me because I loved books and playing dress-up with my sister and playing all the imaginary games that we did as children and I definitely would not want future generations to be denied those imaginary games because of our ipads.  That being said, upon further thought I think that ipads (and other tablets) have a lot of potential for children.  I think that a baby being stimulated by a tablet might be developmentally positive and does not necessarily mean that the baby won't love books in the future.  Other thoughts?


alesnick's picture

deaf culture and thinking about interaction

Thanks for the strong connection with your friend's study of ASL and deaf culture.  There is a rich literature about how the deaf community has defined itself and how literacy forms a core of that.  In fact, I used to use two articles about this in the course!  Do keep us posted if you go to the talk.  I wonder how the deaf community is organized in Ghana!  

Re: your concerns about ipads displacing books and dress-ups, I hear you.  My daughters did a lot of imaginative play and read a lot of books (then and now) . . . I often celebrate this as one of the chief goodnesses of their childhoods.  Thinking back, sometimes computers (they didn't have laptops then) played a role in the play: printing out materials for "playing school" or making a label for a home-made perfume.  So I wonder if the tech can be embedded in the play, rather than replacing it.

Also, I really don't know what it means to kids that something be interactive: is pushing buttons and swiping screens so interesting as "activity?'  I studied 18th century British lit in college and was dazzled by the idea that in that time/place, people thought novels were truly dangerous -- that they could erode the moral fabric of a nation.