21 Jan Semi Illiterate teachers – does it matter when future generations of children won’t need to read and write?
I was playing a boardgame at the weekend. The game required players to read out questions and hope their team mates could answer. To make it fair we had mixed age teams from 4-year olds, to 78 year olds. Good family fun. One player was a newly qualified junior school teacher (NQT) in his early 20s. This guy had been a complete star at the family gathering, witty, engaging, kind and a great hit with the little ones and the adults alike.
It was clear from how comfortable and attentive the children were in his company that he is used to being around children and communicating with them. I found myself thinking “I bet he’s a great teacher”.
When he came to read out the question from the game card he struggled. He read determined as debt-err-mind and sycophantic as psychopathic. I was shocked at this level of literacy in an NQT and I wasn’t the only one. It led to a family discussion later in the day and I found myself wondering if children at junior school will need to read and write?
My 78 year old father was resistant to my idea that maybe reading and writing will be obsolete by the time children reach adulthood. He started his repost by commanding Alexa turn the volume down on the background music so we could concentrate on our debate!
We live in an age where electronic translation of the written word is available on all tablets, mobiles and computers. If you can’t read something just ask your gadget to read it to you. This is most useful to me when the email is in a foreign language. I find no effort in reading English, so I don’t use the feature often, however, if I had the reading age of a 7-year-old I might use it for English too.
When I’m driving, I use voice command, but if I can safely handle my phone, I still look up a contact and dial, tap in a text or type up an email. When I consider why I don’t really know. Habit? How long will it be I wonder before my behaviour changes and voice commands becomes default?
I can easily see how reading and writing may be specialist skills with an occasional use in the future in the way that calligraphy and Morse code still exists, but will it be a mainstream method of communication?
This year we have introduce Personal Finance Portal (PFP) for all our clients. This is an electronic interface that allows clients to exchange information with us securely and review the up to date position of their finances anytime day or night. Clients who have grown used to online banking expect to be able to manage all their finances safely, online. I wonder how quickly online banking and finance solutions will rely on typed inputs and visual outputs?
I am in my fifties and see how technology has changed my life. The pace of change has accelerated, and I marvel at how well we human beings adapt. Sometimes the vision of the future is still a little scary though.