Thursday, August 07, 2003

Semiotic Domains and Student Mastery (What Video Games ch. 2)
Gee introduces the concept of different literacies, and how print reading is not the only, or perhaps even the correct, way to think about literacy. In the context of this site, he's exactly right. We are trying to build an open platform for all types of history; yet I am most interested in a fairly narrow domain of history.

We looked at Caroline Kennedy's A Patriot's Handbook. What mastery of a semiotic domain does it take to really appreciate and savor the works in that book?

The first question on a sample Ohio Proficiency Test asked students to match a particular totem pole design with the Native tribe it represented. This is a piece of knowledge totally unrelated to the domain of Ms. Kennedy's book. Is it still a critical piece of knowledge that Ohio students and their teachers should by law be accountable for?

Similarly, we recently looked at the timeline on Britannica Student Encyclopedia. In it, the composition of the Veda and the poetry of Lesbos and Ptahhotep are covered, as are the domestication of dogs, cats, pigs, sheep, and pidgeons as major events. There is, however, no mention at all of the Hebrews or their literature (or even the temple). Can a person be a minimalist citizen without more of that?

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