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Down with the written word!

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By Shoo Raynerchildren’s author and illustrator

What are the literacy skills that children need to survive in a modern world, and are we preparing children well enough for life in and beyond the school? Shoo Rayner raises some challenging questions.

Why do we teach children to read and write? What is it all for? Why would they want to waste their time on such an old-fashioned system of communication as reading and writing?

I’ve heard rumours that Literacy is about to be re-designated as English. About time too! English can go the same way as Latin, then Literacy can get on with teaching the real skills of communication.

I prefer to call these skills Modern Literacy. They include video editing, animation, camera skills, presentation skills, sound recording, image manipulation, web programming, drama and talking. These skills are not extramural fun – they are core skills of the future.

But how can these skills be taught?

To start with, how about teaching children how to use Adobe® Photoshop® in preference to Microsoft® Word™? If a picture says a thousand words, why bother writing an essay when all you need is a couple of well-chosen pictures? Let children learn how to search stock photo collections and choose the right picture for the job.

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