So Say Us

“past literacy practices have served different national goals, different markets different contracts, different tools, and so forth. It is clear that the k-12 teachers of the United states are being asked to aim for a new standard of literacy for all students and that this new standard, like others from the past, results from a convergence of new insights into texts, new models of learning, and new national needs – – in this case, the new demands of contemporary economic problems and the workplace, the new demands of pluralism and diversity in our democracy and the new demands for new supports for personal growth.” (Myers, p.117)

New literacies emerge over time. I think that to insist upon a type of literacy (the internet, visual, print etc.) is to insist upon a literacy that is already past. I wonder, (without losing the importance of all of these qualities: “the new demands of pluralism and diversity in our democracy and the new demands for new supports for personal growth”), why we must impose our version of what we think it means to be literate. There are numerous ways of knowing/being literate. (Heath) When we as academic literates look about the world and demand that we know how to know better than others (now there is a word), we are making huge assumptions about our ability to predict what is coming down the road. When we do this, it is also to cooperate with and reinforce the demands of the hegemonic structures, which control and oppress all of “the new demands of pluralism and diversity in our democracy and the new demands for new supports for personal growth.” As I said in a comment on another classmate’s blog, I insist (yes, I am aware of the irony here) that there has to be an underlying literacy that is common to all of the literacies as they are elaborated in Myers and others. It is the underlying literacy, how we read anything (from books to people to the world), how we make meaning out of the barrage of symbols we are inundated with everyday, that should be what we try to help our students learn to manage. What that literacy entails, I do not know. I guess it goes back the question in our first class: what does it mean to be a better reader?

5 thoughts on “So Say Us

  1. the history/ELA combo approach was what I wrote about during my undergrad days for my educational philosophy–I love that idea. I think your quote, Kelly, is a great encapsulation of Myers (if that’s even possible). Maybe the underlying literacy is simply using tools to make life better, whether that’s a book or a pen or a fire stick or a spear or whatever.

  2. An integrated curriculum, I think can be effective/affective. James Moffett wrote that English has no content, but rather is a set of processes (reading and writing). My wife teaches fifth grade, she combines history and ELA, reading historical novels and writing about the books and using Data Based Questions (DBQ) where the children use primary sources to draw their own conclusions about the information presented. (Yes with 5th graders.) More later, I have to go to work.

  3. whats up man- not sure where this question lies within your conversation, but just curious what you think about the ‘humanities’ push- of combining english, history and social studies in one? i am sensing a push with the math and sciences to join as well..

  4. I’m not sure about a biological impress, but maybe so? We do make symbols of many diverse materials, which we then make meaning from in a communal way. Perhaps I want a totalizing system, some way to explain it all. Sigh, can one never get away from the desire for a single answer?

  5. I’m no Chomskyian scholar, but this notion of <>an underlying literacy that is common to all of the literacies<> of which you speak sounds a bit like universal grammar. While Chomsky speaks of linguistic structures imprinted on our biology, perhaps you are suggesting structures for perception instead? Perhaps by ‘reading’ dance, art, or music one might be able to get to these structures in a classroom as the baggage of text is absent from those particular forms of communication…

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