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Brevity doesn't automatically lead to superficiality. If this was so, then poetry would automatically be more shallow than prose. I've seen students use Twitter effectively. It can generate a quality dialogue and help students learn to be more careful with their words. It helps with summarizing information and learning to be more concise. Will it save education? No. Should it replace writing longer pieces? No. Is it a great way to engage in meaningful conversation and learn to use words wisely? Yep.
I don't like the term "graphic novel," because it is a different medium altogether. Do I let students read graphic novels during silent reading time? Absolutely not. Do I allow them to use graphic novels when they must find the internal conflict of a character? You bet. Just as I let them read magazine articles with low and high visual material. The same is true of print versus online text. If the standard involves analyzing internal monologue of a character, a graphic novel is great. If the standard is about characterization, it can be decent as well. Many graphic novels require deep thought. True, they aren't ideal for visualization, but they can lead to critical thinking, philosophical inquiry and a deeper conceptual understanding of a particular topic. Hence the Jerzey Shore analogy is a little off (though not entirely - the medium shaped the notion of "reality tv") The point is that students need to think critically both about the work and about the medium. I don't want graphic novels to replace novels. However, I do want students reading various types of texts through the use of several types of media. The goal should be a blended approach that helps all students master the standards.
Teaching is a social-civic venture and guided by social rather than economic norms. When we try to comodify something that is inherently social and democratic, we shift to economic norms. With this, we get economic values guiding everything from instruction and assessment to school culture and leadership. To me, that's a dangerous place to be.
When I read the first few chapters of Acts, I notice how often they participated in social justice and taking care of the poor. They didn't build structures or raise money for building funds. They helped the poor, the orphan and the widows.
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Oct 23, 2010