February 1st, 2012
10:10 AM ET

My View: Are electronic media making us less (or more) literate?

Courtesy Pomona College by Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Special to CNN

Editor’s Note: Kathleen Fitzpatrick is director of scholarly communication at the Modern Language Association.  She is the author of "Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy" and author of the blog Planned Obsolescence.

"U kno wat i mean?"

You might think that text messaging with a young person today would be enough to make an English professor scream - and particularly an English professor who now works for the Modern Language Association, that keeper of the rules of English style. The kids today can't write, you've surely heard it said, and new technologies are to blame.

I've got nearly 20 years of experience in the classroom, though, and I'm the director of scholarly communication at the Modern Language Association, and I don't agree with that popular wisdom for two reasons. First, the English language has never been a stable, fixed thing. English has been in a constant state of change over the course of centuries, and new communication technologies have always inspired playful inventiveness in their users.

And second, there isn't anything new in today's anxiety about the effects that new media forms will have on us. Plato reported in 360 B.C., for instance, that Socrates was concerned about the "forgetfulness" that the technology of writing would produce in the souls of those who learned it, and numerous scholars in the 15th and 16th centuries expressed worries about the changes that would result from the wide dissemination of texts made possible by print.

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Filed under: At Home • Issues • Technology • Voices
Black History Month – Background and Resources
February 1st, 2012
07:15 AM ET

Black History Month – Background and Resources

By Schools of Thought Editors, CNN

(CNN) In the early 20th century, there were almost no mentions of the contributions of African-Americans in U.S. history textbooks. That is what inspired historian and educator Dr. Carter G. Woodson to start “Negro History Week” in 1926. Woodson choose the month of February for this focus because it was the birth month of two leaders who fought to end slavery: Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized the expanded observance as “Black History Month”, calling upon Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

Each year, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the organization started by Woodson in 1915, designates the theme for Black History Month. This year’s theme is “Black Women in American Culture and History”. The theme was chosen, because, as it states on the ASALH website, “To gain an understanding of the history of African American women is to broaden our understanding of a people and the American nation.”

CNN Student News will feature special show segments focusing on Black History throughout the month. The following is a partial list of Black History Web resources for teachers and parents. Click on the title to go to that site.

CNN Student News Black History Month: Learning Activities

Library of Congress: African American History Month

Smithsonian Education: Black History Month

National Park Service: African American History

National Endowment for the Humanities: Black History Month

National Archives: Black History resources

U.S. Census Bureau: Black History Month 2012

Association for the Study of African American Life and History

Morehouse College: Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection

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Filed under: History • Practice • Resources