Thursday, 4 October 2012

Are we Creating a Culture of Sofalising?

Sofalising - communicating socially using technology.

As I was enjoying a holiday coffee in the beautiful small town of Oxford, I came upon this term in the August Next magazine. It is a term I had not yet come across but the idea has been batted around for a while. The fear is that future generations will be incapable of verbal communication, preferring to talk through their fingers.

I know that many schools are placing a huge emphasis back onto oral language, as we know that good oral language is the backbone to good written language ability.

I think their may be two reasons for this "slip" in oral language ability:

1) The discussions I have had around this, in particular the school I was previously working in and with another teacher from a different low socio-economic school, identified the need as coming from lack of experiences. This is true. I think as life gets busier, the purse strings are pulled a little more and expectations become more demanding, it is harder for parents to find opportunities to spend quality time sharing a variety of experiences with their children (and maybe lack of imagination....).

2) Children are spending more time indoors using technology instead of being outdoors playing with/visiting neighbours and socialising with every Tom, Dick and Harry as the run errands. Now I'm not saying this is a bad thing. Life has evolved. Change is normal. The reality is that children are growing up with the entire world in their very own living rooms and they are using social media platforms daily.

So where does this leave us? Some would say that it is imperative we get the children out of the house. Easier said than done. I believe a balance of social skills needs to be taught to students, both online and in a real life social context.

When I completed my studies in Linguistics, one of my biggest takeaways was that language (as with most other things) evolves. Old English is practically indecipherable - but that is what our modern English is based on. Our language continues to evolve (not so long ago google was not a verb and the word 'versus' did not exist as it used by many children today). Oral language trends in schools can be delayed, but probably not halted. Children may lose the ability to socialise exactly as we know it. Does it necessarily have to be a bad thing?

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