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Literally Unbelievable and the New Literacy

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by

Caleb Stokes

on 11 August 2016

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Transcript of Literally Unbelievable and the New Literacy

The Goals of the Course:
The New Literacy

The main focus of ENG III is to teach skills that will be important to your success in college...
your eligibility in the workplace...
...and, most importantly, your happiness as a human being.
But to be honest, I'm not sure what's more important to teach: how to do things or how NOT to do things.
"The Onion" is a FAKE newspaper. They only publish fictional news stories as a way to joke about current events. It's like "The Daily Show" in print.
Let's consider an example of what I'm talking about.
"Literally Unbelievable" is a website that collects the Facebook status updates of people that don't understand that stories from "The Onion" and other joke sites
(such as Clickhole)
are fake.
Let's play a game. I call it "Would you believe?" If a friend came up to you in the hallway and said some of the following things...
WOULD YOU BELIEVE....
Al-Queda wants the US transportation department to build better roads so it can bomb nicer targets? And they sent a press release telling them so?
To increase gun safety, companies made a gun
that's too slippery to hold?
Parents are seeking legal permission to euthanize their children because they text too much?
President Obama was utilizing public funds to buy everyone in America a parrot?
Every child in America was held back a year in school AT THE SAME TIME?
The US should be ashamed of it's ranking among other countries in the alphabet?
Thousands of American teenagers are making
weapons-grade uranium in their basements
and selling it to terrorists?
The actor Nicholas Cage is actually a giant robotic puppet operated by a tiny actor living inside it?
So, this site is good for a laugh if you're having a bad day...
...until you realize that most of the people on "Literally Unbelievable" are adults...
...adults that can vote, run for office, own businesses, and are otherwise able to help determine...
...national law, foreign policy, and the state of the economy.
So here is what I think every morning before coming into work:
THE WORLD DOES NOT NEED MORE PEOPLE LIKE THOSE ON "LITERALLY UNBELIEVABLE." IN FACT, IT CAN'T SURVIVE THEM.
The people on literallyunbelievable.org are not illiterate; they are
alliterate.
They can understand written text
but rarely choose to do so.
They think reading is about a physical action
(my eyes got to the end = I’m done!) rather than understanding.
They not only have trouble communicating effectively,
they are embarrassingly bad at it.
Their tendency to disengage makes them seem like self-centered, dense, and unlikable people, whether that is true or not.
Regardless of what you think about the idea that the purpose of education is to go to college, get a job, make money, raise a family, etc...
...there is still a lot this course has to offer you.
Here's my
THESIS STATEMENT
:
A person living as an alliterate is not realizing their best self, professionally
or
ethically
In many ways, education
is a PREREQUISITE for morality.
Permit me to explain that statement using something called the "Witch Allegory."
In order to make the "right" choice, one needs access to it. You have to know that choice is available, and finding it is an act of education.
Choice is always involved, but literacy makes it possible to become a better overall human being.
In short, we have "English" class...
--because it allows you to practice processing and questioning information,
--those skills are essential to understanding what is really in your self-interest,
-- and it helps keep members of society from being self-destructive.
This is more important than ever before because...
Your generation reads more text per day than any other in human history.
Your generation publishes more text in a lifetime than any other generation in human history.
To read at grade level (which means progressing fast enough to be functionally literate by the time you reach adulthood), your generation has to read an average of two grade levels higher than your parents did.
It is more important for your generation to be literate than at any point in human history.
To prevent alliteracy, we must…

--Read a wide variety of texts on a consistent basis
--Check our own understanding of what has been read
--Check our understanding against others through discussion
--Identify what words mean
--Identify what each author wanted readers to understand
--Be aware of the changing world around us
--Create our own texts worthy of the above considerations
If we can manage those objectives, we will reap the added benefits of…
--College readiness
--Eligibility for employment
--Cultural literacy (the ability to hold an informed and interesting conversation)
--Spoken and written communication skills
--Not appearing to be a self-centered, dense, or unlikable person.
This means they aren't bad at reading and writing; they just avoid it whenever possible.
Full transcript