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  • Writer's pictureRon Budd

What are the Prerequisites of 21st Century Literacy?

Updated: Sep 28, 2023

In addition to skills, teachers need the tools to adequately develop the much-needed skills of modern literacy.


If a person wants to adequately consider 21st Century Literacy and what it takes to make a student 21st century literate, an obvious question regarding prerequisites arises. Firstly, how does a teacher prepare a student to be 21st century literate? Remember, a prerequisite is "a thing that is required as a prior condition for something else to happen or exist "(Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 2021). If the teacher aims to bring a student to the point where they can be 21st century literate, a few skills must be cultivated within the student. Most experts put creativity, collaborative ability, critical thinking, and communication as the most important skills needed to be 21st century literate. I happen to agree. However, looking past these necessities, another question arises of a more practical nature. It's a question that all stakeholders must address.


That question is, “What are the material prerequisites of 21st century literacy?” I think the answer is obvious. The material prerequisites of 21st century literacy are access to the technologies that provide the medium. Those technologies are smartphones, laptops, and desktops. All of the aforementioned items are essential for 21st century literacy. Not only in terms of education but also in terms of participation within the resulting 21st century digital community that exists as a result of such modicums of communication. Without access to these 'tools,' the student's education is incomplete. This is because the teacher and student need the means to adequately initiate , engage and complete the process of 21st century literacy education.

Experts agree technology intergration and access is paramount to a 21st century literacy education. . According to the U.S. Departmant of education, "Technology (in the classroom)... ushers in fundamental structural changes that can be integral to achieving significant improvements in productivity" (2021). So, “How should the teacher and student acquire and access these technologies?” Should the government purchase these articles if the parents are not able to? Is it someone else’s responsibility to provide these articles of modern literacy for teachers to utilize? We must reach a consensus on these issues. Our community (albeit currently and tumultuously fractured) needs to begin to confront these issues before some opportunistic demagogue uses conundrum to fan the flames of our nation’s current state of disunity and ideological conflict. So, with that, allow me the initial opportunity to address a more precise and simple question. “Should the school provide public access to the needed technologies?” My answer to that question is, they already do. Albeit limited, schools and public institutions like libraries provide free access to computers. Unfortunately, smartphones and laptops are and probably will remain an unavailable resource provided by schools.


Yet, it can’t be argued that a student without access to a laptop or a smartphone finds themselves at a disadvantage to other students possessing the complementary pair. For our own peace of mind, we all must accept the concept of limited personal and public efficacy. I know that phrase sounds daunting and even a bit “full,” but with a deeper understanding of the term, I think you will begin to understand. Limited personal public efficacy is the concept that defines the plight of the modern informed citizen. It is a state of being that all of us, regardless of political inclination, perpetually exist in. We as individuals have limited time and resources. And our usage of these accessories of human existence efficiently is curtailed within the spaces in which we inhabit. This then gives birth to the age-old question

concerning how to best apply our time and resources. It is up to the citizen to target their time and resources, whether collectively or individually, where they see fit or in whatever form their conscious directs. This is the only way (in my opinion) we can, as a rational and lovingly conscientious society, allow ourselves to promote public welfare. We should not be compelled by the government or institutions. In our hurting and broken sometimes broken world there will always be needs and the needy. Unfortunayly, the need always needs and it will never be satiated (excuse the pun). We must attempt to heal the world as best and as effectively as we can. Also worth remembering is the fact that decay and growth exist side by side. Life exists with death, and so we work to invigorate life, all the while helping those within our sphere of influence, something which is truly born of a global perspective with and accentuated by a pragmatic and folkish plan of action.

Teacher training and the providing the necessary tools for effective instructional design takes time, and time is money. Finding a source of revenue is always an issue that must be addressed. It is usually something reserved for the parents and the budget director. Truly a foible of any educational institution. However, I will leave that issue at that...


prerequisite. 2011. In Merriam-Webster.com.

Retrieved Feb 23, 2021, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hacker.


U.S. Department of Education (2021), Use of Technology in Teaching and Learning. Retrivieved February 9, 2021 from https://www.ed.gov/oii-news/use-technology-teaching-and-learning.



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