Literacy - Taking Part in the Dominant Culture

Literacy is a complex set of abilities needed to understand and use the dominant symbol systems of a culture – alphabets, numbers, visual icons - for personal and community development. The nature of these abilities, and the demand for them, vary from one context to another.
In a technological society, literacy extends beyond the functional skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening to include multiple literacies such as visual, media and information literacy.
The Centre for Literacy of Quebec

A person is literate if s/he can both read and write a short simple statement describing his/her everyday life.

I'm not crazy about those definitions, but they came to mind when I saw a learner posting a quick message on someone's Facebook wall. So did the definition of literacy as "the ability to partake in the dominant culture."

That same day, they emailed me a delightfully typical rant about poor customer service.
...but my phone is broke i call the phone they came to my home two [times] and they have to call in the morning too again too i hate some people who don't do thing right the frist time not the two and three to come to my home...

Maybe that's the definition of literacy: the ability to join the rest of us in writing rants about the phone company.

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On another note, I learned today that Little Town on the Prairie is pitched at a more difficult reading level than The Long Winter, The Shores of Silver Lake or Little House. A reader told me, "Laura's blind, eh, and she talks a lot about God and like his plan and the bible, and she uses a lot of big words, and I don't really understand what they mean, so its a harder book."

Well, yes, if she's writing a teleological hermeneutics of redemptive suffering, it's probably a harder book. And I'd dare say we're moving beyond the dominant culture here. Bigger words, subtleties, less narrative (and narrative is always an aid to comprehension)....

I guess it can take that title off my list of easier reading trade fiction.

1 comment:

harris said...

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