May 07 2010

Blaming the bus

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For more than a decade, Cindy Selfe has been asking us, urging us, pleading with us to pay attention to the deeply embedded ways that technology and literacy are imbricated in the “reproduction or exacerbation of inequities based on race and poverty” (126). Our field has taken up this challenge in a variety of formal ways: we have conferences such as Computers and Writing, and journals such as Computers and Composition, and Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, and we have a host of scholars who are working diligently to understand this problem and shape how we think about moving forward (Hawisher, Hillegoss, Porter, Selber, and Selfe just to name a few). But when we talk about technology and literacy, what we often mean by technology is computers or at least online composing practices that are directly related to computers. There is nothing wrong with this and indeed there is a great deal of important work being done on these matters. But it is not the only work to be done related to matters of technology and literacy.

Recent events in Wake County, North Carolina can point us toward other dimensions of the great literacy and technology debate that might be overlooked if we were to continue to focus exclusively on computer technologies. The debate that has been raging in Wake County over busing students to achieve socio-economic diversity indicates that we need to expand our conversation about technology and literacy to account for other forms of technology, such as the school bus, that matter to literacy, but perhaps in ways that are less evident than computer technologies and the Internet.

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