Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Literacies between Kultur und Bildung #RedMIL2018
Firstly he talked about his own background, starting as a school librarian in France (professeur documentaliste). He decided to do a PhD whilst he was a teacher librarian, having seen the information problems that the students had. He began this PhD when "web 2.0" was becoming important, so he felt that this new media meant that information literacy couldn't be the same as in the 1980s, but needed to be more ambitious. Thus for his PhD he used culture de l'information as the term for the concept he was investigating.
Le Deuff referred to the Groupe de recherche sur les cultures et la didactique de l'information which he had formed with others (consisting of teacher librarians, teachers and researchers), 10 years ago. This was still investigating issues to do with literacies and learning.
Le Deuff said how a colleague had dubbed him "le literatiologue" because of his interest in literacy, and he noted that this exact concept was relatively new in France, and not so well known. There were difficulties around translating "literacy" and "literate".
Now his interests focused on a number of areas: digital humanities (e.g. Humanlit project) - see also his book; Digital health literacy (following his project with older people); Paul Otlet (the pioneer information scientist); the epistemology of information science; and documentation / documentality /hyperdocumentation.
Turning to definition of terms and identification of concepts, he still preferred "culture de l'information". In this context, "culture" conveys the complexity of the concept, and he prefers this to the term "Media and Information Literacy" which seems to him a more institutional terms, and also one that does not translate ideally into French. Le Deuff also identified the issue that media literacy is assumed by some by some to be the same as news literacy. He noted that the term "Transliteracy" was also interesting, but was sometimes misunderstood and more difficult to work with when talking to teachers, librarians etc. For him the "trans" aspect was most important, that one is working across media, from printed books to digital literacy, possibly making a connection between old and new forms of communication.
Le Deuff went on to explore the term "didactics" (the literal translation from the French), which he distinguished from pedagogy. Underlying the concept are the important questions: what do we want to teach and how do we want to teach?
Turning specifically to information literacy, Le Deuff put forward three versions of IL: IL for economy (as in Zurkowski's idea); IL for citizenship; IL and libraries (originating in a North American context, and in the 1980s, and - Le Deuff felt - connecting with the idea of IL for economy).
Looking at the title to his talk, Le Deuff defined the German terms Kultur (which does translate as culture - including ways of life, nationality etc.) and Bildung (which means development, learning things over time, I would add that it does get used in some contexts in which in English you would say "education"). He proposed that Kultur could be seen as more collectivist, and Bildung as something more individual. That led to the idea that you needed some foundation or tools, but also to understand for yourself: Le Deuff also floated the idea that we needed eine neue Aufklarung (which could be translated as a new enlightenment). I asked about this idea afterwards, and he referred back to Kant's idea of the citizen being able to read and write, and so now we need to think about what it means to be a reading-and-writing citizen now, with both a technical and intellectual perspective. He also referred to the idea of the "state of majority".
Finally, Le Deuff returned to the idea of digital humanities, the need to study literacies with a sense of perspective and the past (rather than just focusing on the current changes) and the connections between ancient practices and current ones, so that we could find a better way to develop a curriculum for literacies.