Discussions about 21st Century Literature

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What is ’21st Century Literature’? This is one of the first questions I want to ask my students in Literature class, and I can’t wait to hear their ideas on this topic.

As a teacher, I have struggled with this definition because ‘literacy’ has changed SO much with the advent of the Internet crashing into our classrooms. When I was a student (which now seems like ancient times but I am not THAT old), this class offered insights on great books and authors. It was treated almost like a book club, except you had to write book reports!

Now, this is different. Our students still read books – even if they are on multiple devices and the words can be read to them. But the idea of “literacy” should embrace so much more in the 21st Century! We now want to teach our students how to navigate the Internet and read multiple forms of content. Therefore, English teachers need to teach them how to trust reliable sources of information and develop critical thinking skills about their acceptance of ‘truth’. While we laugh at the television commercial that states “it was on the Internet, so it must be true”, how many of us have fallen prey to this?

So, I began my year with this question to the students and I witnessed their struggle with it.  And it was a relevant conversation because they were invested in the definition of ‘literacy’ so they were invested in their own education.  I want them to explore the walls of this domain to see how far reaching and wide this topic is – this will enable me to open their minds to all forms of information as ‘literacy’ and teach the important skills for our 21st Century student.

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