War, social media and the urgent need to update how we teach English

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The war in Ukraine is being explained as the initial social media war, even as “the TikTok war.” Memes, tweets, videos and weblog posts converse the two vital details and propaganda, potentially modifying the program of record. This highlights the worth of agile and important social media use.

English in schools, in distinction, continue to focuses on reading publications and composing examination essays. In spite of mentions of media in the Australian Curriculum for English, the analyze of electronic creating by using social media is not prioritized in senior assessment or national large-stakes screening. This solution looks increasingly out of touch with modern interaction.

Meme-ification is a element of media coverage of the Ukraine war. This new term describes the explosion of common people today developing shareable, and possibly influential, digital written content.

Any person with a smartphone and online accessibility can participate in a war that is staying fought both on the ground and on digital platforms. And this written content commonly references other popular electronic society. For case in point, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is portrayed as Captain Ukraine by photoshopping his head on to Marvel’s Captain America’s human body and tweeting this picture.

English training for our age

This “producing” contributes to narratives and debates about heroism, military services morale, fan fiction and U.S. cultural imperialism. This sort of quick, vibrant and worldwide conversation demands to be the foundation of study in English.

The skill to critically eat and strategically create social media is very important to the well being of democracies. But creating for social media posts and impressive platforms this sort of as Twitter, TikTok and Facebook is not central to how we educate English.

College students will need to be equipped to make memes, compose rolling news weblogs and deliver electronic news podcasts, all for networked audiences. They need to identify aims, invent principles, manipulate photos, combine diverse media, compose powerful textual content and respect copyright law. This is impactful and purposeful writing to accomplish affect in the globe.

Investigation initiatives this sort of as the Digital Self Portrait undertaking display how students can make vivid new kinds of “writing” that discover tensions concerning their have digitally wealthy life and classic literacies.

Digital creating is generally collaborative, and a current Australian Training Exploration Firm assessment recommends much more collaborative producing in lecture rooms. Group companies this sort of as Produce4Change are producing this achievable by connecting youth to publish alongside one another utilizing digital media by using private, communal and moderated web-sites on mainstream platforms.

Our method is outdated

Still education’s significant-stakes assessment regimes do not benefit these forms of writing. Unfortunately, the Nationwide Evaluation Program—Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) has narrowed the varieties of producing taught in schools even even further. Just one sample NAPLAN producing job says, basically, “Right here is a photo of a box. Compose a tale about it.”

This strategy requires to improve so students are working towards the forms of writing and communication that are significant in present day planet. This will support citizens of the potential to participate absolutely in workplaces and, most importantly, in democracies.

The Australian government, by means of the Australian Research Council, has regarded this and funded a new study into the worth of contemporary composing in instruction. This is by a Discovery Early Vocation Investigation Award (DECRA) titled Training digital producing in secondary English. This job will discover how instructors can conceptualize and enact the instructing of serious-planet writing.

It is really not a option of classics or digital producing

Of system, finding out the classics stays important, as does mastering essential capabilities. Zelenskyy himself quoted Hamlet in a modern handle to the British parliament. So this is not an both/or predicament, but what electronic creating specialist Professor Troy Hicks calls “the two/and.” We can examine both equally Hamlet as a play and how other media quote its most important character in highly effective means.

Students can on their own discover generating strategic literary references in their individual social media posts and interventions. The study of rhetoric (argument and persuasion) and aesthetics (cultural price) demands to involve assorted media for modern day relevance.

Human conflicts, projects, imaginings and achievements are now taking place in new varieties. The devastating theater of war actively playing out in Ukraine and online has offered “a masterclass in concept.”

If a key purpose of Australia’s compulsory literacy schooling is to “make confident communicators, imaginative thinkers and knowledgeable citizens” then college students require to find out to converse in the modes of contemporary culture. They require to love the engagement and discovering that arrives from taking part in truly crucial dialogs and cases, even if just in safeguarded classroom and faculty-based mostly variations of these.

Social media use possibly the two threatens and supports democracy. However media training stays devalued in the English curriculum and classroom, mostly in favor of reproducing print literature types and essays.

It is time for English to join the 21st century and embrace all the various and digital usually means of conversation that are part of our lives now. Our freedom and futures count on it.


Social media’s effect in an English language classroom


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Hafidah Rosyid

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