The New Literacy
Reading, writing, and arithmetic no longer guarantee students a place in the workforce. A different skill set is in high demand.
They blog, download music and videos, and while away the hours in online chat rooms. But how good are today's students at interpreting the words and images they encounter in our increasingly tech-driven world? How well can they communicate in multimedia formats what they are learning in the classroom?
On this day in 1951, J.D. Salinger's (books by this author) The Catcher in the Rye was published.
From The Writer's Almanac from American Public Media
Salinger worked on it over a period of ten years, in between writing stories for magazines like the New Yorker. At one point, he had a 90—page version of the novel accepted for publication, but he thought it wasn't good enough and continued to revise and add bits and pieces. The Catcher in the Rye is about a sixteen-year-old troublemaker named Holden Caulfield. He runs away from Pencey Prep School a few days before Christmas Break. He wants to head west to California, and live a quiet life in a log cabin, away from all the "phonies." At one point, Holden says, "I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around-nobody big, I mean-except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff—I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all." The Catcher in the Rye got bad reviews when it was first released. A New York Times critic parodied the style of Holden Caulfield in his review, writing, "This Salinger, he's a short—story guy. And he knows how to write about kids. [But] he should have cut out a lot about all these jerks and all that crumby school. They depress me. They really do." Thirty years after its publication, The Catcher in the Rye was both the most banned book in America and the second most frequently taught book in public schools. The book has sold over 60 million copies around the world.
Today is Henry David Thoreau's birthday.
Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail. In the midst of this chopping sea of civilized life, such are the clouds and storms and quicksands and thousand-and-one items to be allowed for, that a man has to live, if he would not founder and go to the bottom and not make his port at all, by dead reckoning, and he must be a great calculator indeed who succeeds. Simplify, simplify. - From Walden, 1854