Presentation Title

21st Century Literacy and the Rhetoric of Science: A Re-Evaluation of the Concept of Literacy

Location

Room 1002

Type of Presentation

Individual paper/presentation (20 minute presentation)

Target Audience

Higher Education

Abstract

While a liberal education is arguably just as important as it ever was (Nussbaum, 1997), all higher education students need to be proficient in a new 21st century literacy. This new literacy includes traditional literacy skills, such as reading, writing, and arguing, and also new literacy skills, such as critical thinking and scientific reasoning (NCTE, 2008; Wagner, 2008; Grubb, 2003, p. 3). Like older forms, the new literacy requires both the "effective use" of language and "large amounts of specific information" that are deemed important by existing curriculums (Hirsch, 1988, pp. 2-3). But 21st century literacy also includes training students in the concept and methods of science, which are developed and practiced in the research university.

Higher education students need to learn both specific knowledge, and also how knowledge is actively created, especially how the most reliable knowledge is made by scientists. Thus, students should be exposed to not just one, but both of the traditional scientific methodologies because they have both become the primary tools of the knowledge economy. Students need an understanding of both qualitative (Cushman, Kintgen, Kroll, & Rose, 2001) and quantitative literacy (Paulos, 2001; Steen, 2001; Steen, 2004). But in order to do this, students must first be introduced to the research university and scientific disciplines. Only then will they be able to concretely grasp how knowledge is created and refined through the scientific process.

21st century literacy must also include political literacy (Gale, 1994; Gutmann, 1987; NTFCLDE, 2012). Students need background knowledge and training to become engaged citizens capable of fostering the public good. Students should understand the links between literacy, public schooling, democracy, and political freedom. In-depth political literacy requires specific knowledge of local and national political institutions and historical contexts, which are beyond the scope of this book. Students need to understand the importance of debating contested knowledge in public spheres, which is the cornerstone of liberal democracy. But students need to also understand that increased knowledge is the foundation for responsible public policy and political freedom. Rhetoric needs to be de-emphasized so that students can focus more on creating, evaluating, and communicating knowledge.

21st century literacy is a collection of many higher order skills. Students need to be able to critically evaluate the reliability of diverse sources of knowledge in order to construct knowledge with scientific methods. Composition students need a much more rigorous and practical curriculum that teaches both thinking as well as writing skills. The traditional “rhetorical analysis” approach that is the corner stone of the composition field is not appropriate for 21st century higher education. This theoretical approach lacks intellectual rigor and analytical precision. Rhetoric needs to be de-emphasized so that students can focus more on creating, evaluating, and communicating knowledge, which is the domain of science. Therefore, my proposal will articulate a “rhetoric of science” as the foundation of 21st century literacy. This new rhetoric also entails openly arguing with diverse publics to explain and prove the truth, not just cultural values and opinions. But these 21st century skills are built on the foundation of traditional literacy: reading, writing, and basic mathematics. Knowledge is the essential first step to good communication and effective action. Truth has to be actively constructed by critical thinkers through meticulous and rigorous scientific methods. And this truth needs to be effectively communicated to diverse audiences through arguments in order to direct collective action to solve real-world problems.

I will present a coherent, interdisciplinary framework that represents one possible way to rethink literacy to meet the diverse demands of higher education in the 21st century.

Presentation Description

21st century literacy is a collection of many higher order skills. Students need to be able to critically evaluate the reliability of diverse sources of knowledge in order to construct knowledge with scientific methods. Composition students need a much more rigorous and practical curriculum that teaches both thinking as well as writing skills.

Keywords

Literacy, Critical Thinking, Science

Publication Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

Share

COinS
 
Sep 30th, 1:15 PM Sep 30th, 2:30 PM

21st Century Literacy and the Rhetoric of Science: A Re-Evaluation of the Concept of Literacy

Room 1002

While a liberal education is arguably just as important as it ever was (Nussbaum, 1997), all higher education students need to be proficient in a new 21st century literacy. This new literacy includes traditional literacy skills, such as reading, writing, and arguing, and also new literacy skills, such as critical thinking and scientific reasoning (NCTE, 2008; Wagner, 2008; Grubb, 2003, p. 3). Like older forms, the new literacy requires both the "effective use" of language and "large amounts of specific information" that are deemed important by existing curriculums (Hirsch, 1988, pp. 2-3). But 21st century literacy also includes training students in the concept and methods of science, which are developed and practiced in the research university.

Higher education students need to learn both specific knowledge, and also how knowledge is actively created, especially how the most reliable knowledge is made by scientists. Thus, students should be exposed to not just one, but both of the traditional scientific methodologies because they have both become the primary tools of the knowledge economy. Students need an understanding of both qualitative (Cushman, Kintgen, Kroll, & Rose, 2001) and quantitative literacy (Paulos, 2001; Steen, 2001; Steen, 2004). But in order to do this, students must first be introduced to the research university and scientific disciplines. Only then will they be able to concretely grasp how knowledge is created and refined through the scientific process.

21st century literacy must also include political literacy (Gale, 1994; Gutmann, 1987; NTFCLDE, 2012). Students need background knowledge and training to become engaged citizens capable of fostering the public good. Students should understand the links between literacy, public schooling, democracy, and political freedom. In-depth political literacy requires specific knowledge of local and national political institutions and historical contexts, which are beyond the scope of this book. Students need to understand the importance of debating contested knowledge in public spheres, which is the cornerstone of liberal democracy. But students need to also understand that increased knowledge is the foundation for responsible public policy and political freedom. Rhetoric needs to be de-emphasized so that students can focus more on creating, evaluating, and communicating knowledge.

21st century literacy is a collection of many higher order skills. Students need to be able to critically evaluate the reliability of diverse sources of knowledge in order to construct knowledge with scientific methods. Composition students need a much more rigorous and practical curriculum that teaches both thinking as well as writing skills. The traditional “rhetorical analysis” approach that is the corner stone of the composition field is not appropriate for 21st century higher education. This theoretical approach lacks intellectual rigor and analytical precision. Rhetoric needs to be de-emphasized so that students can focus more on creating, evaluating, and communicating knowledge, which is the domain of science. Therefore, my proposal will articulate a “rhetoric of science” as the foundation of 21st century literacy. This new rhetoric also entails openly arguing with diverse publics to explain and prove the truth, not just cultural values and opinions. But these 21st century skills are built on the foundation of traditional literacy: reading, writing, and basic mathematics. Knowledge is the essential first step to good communication and effective action. Truth has to be actively constructed by critical thinkers through meticulous and rigorous scientific methods. And this truth needs to be effectively communicated to diverse audiences through arguments in order to direct collective action to solve real-world problems.

I will present a coherent, interdisciplinary framework that represents one possible way to rethink literacy to meet the diverse demands of higher education in the 21st century.