This course has been an amazing opportunity to consider the works of J.Bolter and Walter ONG among many other theorists/authors that we have been exposed to through our course readings. It has been really nice to interact with the other students as everyone has brought so much depth to the learning community and has openly shared their thoughts and reflections. We have challenged each other’s points of views and ideas. There is still so much to learn about and to read and comment on. I look forward to having a chance to continue to contribute and share thoughts and ideas with my colleagues/instructors in the weeks to come. Thank you for creating such a remarkable learning community. This has been the best class in the MET program.
Throughout this course I have found Walter Ong’s work to be particularly of interest as I work in a predominantly oral-aural culture literally in the middle of Arabian Desert in the Middle East. The majority of students are of Bedouin origin and for centuries have embraced the traditions associated with the desert peoples of the emirate of Abu Dhabi. As part of an educational reform initiative set forth by the government, the ministry has formed the Abu Dhabi Educational Council. To educate the young girls in the region, they have brought in Western teachers for the first time to teach in remote regions of the United Arab Emirates. Ong explains how the technology of writing, more than any other technology, has “transformed the human consciousness” (Ong, 2002, p.71). Within the culture of the school, where I teach English 12, writing has never been emphasized in the classroom as the foundation of the English language. Interestingly, interactive writing spaces such as weblogs and wikis are of interest to the students. This shows that things have evolved and the author/reader relationship is at work in today’s technological world with feedback being sought from the student. Here the students can be open as the finality of the text is less obvious and the role of the writer and reader are interchangeable. As a teacher here, perhaps I can somewhat side with Plato’s objection to writing as it has a tendency to destroy the memory and cannot defend itself as easily as the spoken word. Further to this argument, we may be concerned with present day technologies for these students who can barely spell basic words correctly and punctuate a sentence but are using spell check and ‘bbm’ related lingo which they make a part of their daily communications. I agree with Leibowitz (1999) in his citing of a professor that the work on a word processor lacks manual revision, fine-tuning, texture and depth of thought. According to school wide testing the majority of students in our school are visual-spatial learners who think in pictures rather than words. Perhaps, Bolters implication that technology is creating the ‘visual age’ of communication is correct as a pre-existing characteristic of society suggests that 60-72 percent of the population consists of visual-spatial learners that think in pictures rather than words. Ong proposes that technologies such as writing, “enrich the human psyche” (Ong, 2002, p.82), but I think this definitely debatable. I believe that writing text allows one to release thought in a different way. For a culture that is predominantly oral and is shifting towards a writing culture, I think they should not be so fast to rely on technology before learning the basics with pen and paper and the associated thought processes involved that take place in the mind. In a culture that is oral-aural words do not sufficiently take the place of facial expressions, intention and body language. A relationship of conflict and challenge is implied within the oral-aural culture and the written culture as they overlap at a fast pace due to the world becoming reliant upon digital and visual technologies; this relationship parallels that of the visual image and the printed word.
Bolter, David, Jay. (2001). Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print. Mahwah, New Jersey, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.
Leibowitz, W.R., (1999). Technology transforms writing and the teaching of writing, Chronicle of Higher Education, Information Technology (Nov 26, 1999). Retrieved on November 25, 2010 from http://chronicle.com/section/Home/433
Ong, Walter J. (2002). Orality and Literacy. New York: Routledge