Digitally native? What about humanly native?

If you’ve read some of my older posts regarding the notion of ‘digital literacy’ or, gasp, ‘digital literacies‘ you may have an inkling as to where my mind may go when it reads the trendy, robot evoking, term ‘digital native’. It goes along the same path as Deven Black’s did in Where Are All the Digital Natives?

Note: this post was edited in 2019 to replace an image with this YouTube video.

Digital Natives. I imagine little robots with faces on computer screens gathered in a classroom, little beings educators have created in order to justify their own love of technology, and with the uncanny result of (sometimes) stripping learners of their humanness as labeling often does.

Personally, I’ve had enough of this talk of ‘digital natives’ and ‘digital literacies’ and ‘essential 21st century skills’ (I’ve had enough for a couple of years, even!). Lately and instead, I find myself rereading and remembering the words of Haim Ginott, Nel Noddings, and others and try to focus on curriculum within a framework of care and kindness as I teach my students both with and without technological tools, as I work with colleagues with different skill sets and comfort levels regarding technological tools as well.

Me as a reader

I read, boy do I read. When I was studying for my BEd I took a class in children’s literature and one of our assignments was a history of ourselves as readers, starting with what our parents read to us. I couldn’t remember my parents reading to me – so much so that I challenged them with it. They both responded, in unison, ‘what are you talking about? One fish, two fish, red fish, blue, fish!

So apparently they did read to me. The thing was, I began to read independently at a very young age and so perhaps the memories of their reading to me go too far back.

Kevin has created a list, 50 things about him as a reader. I’m not sure if I’ll get to 50 things and, as he wrote, perhaps it is a work in progress, our readerliness. But I like the idea of reflecting on myself as a reader, reading is a big part of who I am.

I became a teacher because I wanted to help as many kids as possible become readers. I was inspired by a PBS show, can’t remember the name right now, about a group of friends in elementary school who would solve mysteries, crimes, problems by reading their way through clues. Really. At the time I was a bartender, having completed a BFA in painting and art history 4 years earlier and so my afternoons were free to both watch PBS and ponder my future. At around the same time I visited a friend who was teaching French in Toronto and spent a week doing an art project with her students. That was it, I was hooked on the classroom, so I went back to school.

Writing this makes me think about my current teaching practice. What I do now has very little to do with reading. There is some reading in the French curriculum in Ontario (Core French) but very little. The focus of the program is oral communication and reading is not evaluated at all until grade 4. I became a French teacher because it was the only way for me to get into the Ontario system with its glut of teachers, but I do miss helping students to work with the written word.

Back to me as a reader…

I could keep writing but I need to get myself presentable for work. I’ll be adding to this but for now, what stories do you have about you as a reader?

I need to remember these…

There are times when students say things that make me laugh out loud or sometimes on the inside if they happen to be right in front of me. I’ve lost so many of these over the years in the crowded hemispheres of my teacher brain so I am finally going to start collecting them. I’ve categorized them under KidSpeak so that they don’t get lost in the archives.

Here are a few that I can remember right now.

Last June, when I first started as a French teacher I put out a little pre-test to see what these kids knew. I asked them to translate some common phrases. One was, ‘I am tired’. My 3rd grader replied to only that one with:

fat see gay

Madame, my nose is coming! (kindergarten)

Madame, I want to get changed.
But little boy, it’s almost home time, you don’t need to change.
But madame, I have the squirts. (kindergarten)

When working on beginning reading skills with a struggling reader in the hallway: the written sentence was ‘the mouse crept out of his hole’, the sentence that was read (with great pride, might I add) was ‘the mouse crapt out of his hole’. (grade 2)

When resolving a conflict on the playground, a boy was upset that certain boys were playing with the balls he brought in from home. I explained that if you brought toys from home you had to expect to share them on the playground. He nodded, then asked, ‘Is it ok if I hold my balls on the bus?’ (grade 2)