Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Aural literacy as a 21st century skill

Visual literacy has been highly stressed alongside information, technological, media, and cultural literacy as a component of 21st century skills which today's students need to learn. Our modern society, as reflected in our educational methods, is highly biased towards the visual, as society has transitioned from relying on oral tradition to almost solely on written records. Just as people who are deaf rely heavily on their visual perceptions of the world, and those who are blind focus more on their aural perceptions, if our educational environments are one sided, students will not fully develop both visual and aural literacy. As teachers, I believe that if we are truly trying to diversify our instruction both for variety and to meet the needs of diverse learners, we must also diversify how we represent information to students (instruction), and how we expect students to rely information to us (assessment). This means that we should use music, conversation, and oral forms of assessment in our teaching, hand-in-hand visual representations of learning. Furthermore, aural literacy may be added to visual, information, and media literacy in the list of 21st century skills. Advertisers do not just use colors to encourage consumers to buy their products; they use sounds and music to affect consumers' emotions and actions, and students need to be aware of this. Teachers can use technology to help them become aware of and gain mastery over their aural environment, by giving students opportunities to use technology to create their own projects that incorporate sound effects and music, and encouraging them to think about how the aural choices they make in these projects affect the overall effect of the project.This fascinating article delves into this issue as it relates to teaching music to students. Aural literacy is not just related to music however; it encompasses a wide range of skills of interpreting what students hear - this includes hearing the music in a TV commercial, listening to a teacher or a classmate, or walking around a bustling city, interpreting what they are hearing, and decide what is relevant and what is not.

Image: Flickr by horrigans

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