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...OR IS IT?

The word literacy has been
traditionally perceived by many
as the ability to read, write and
understand. However, there is
a lot more to literacy than the
acquisition of these skills. In
time, the word ‘literacy’ has
taken a whole new set of
Actually, it was only after processes. According to
reading the assigned articles Lankshear “literacy does not
for this course that the refer to a specific skill or
meaning of literacy has technology. It is an umbrella
changed for me. I now term covering a vast range of
perceive literacy as a very actual reading and writing
broad term under which there practices” (1989, p.167).
are many subheadings which
include several reading,
writing and comprehension
processes. Embedded in 3
Culture and cultural awareness are
two of the key words that must be
considered in literacy. For example,
due to the cultural differences of
students, the communicative
language approach is used as the
bases for the selected teaching
strategies. These approaches provide
opportunities for ESL students to
engage in interactive, fun and
practical activities that foster
communication. For example,
language components are taught
through drama, storytelling and
games. Consequently, in such
supportive and relaxing experiences,
the students acquire a greater sense
of confidence in using the targeted
language (Coelho, 2004).

... is everywhere
It is like opening up a can of the following...
- It is the association of curriculum, which is usually thought of as a physical
document, to conversation which is an action. The WHAT and the HOW of
the current school curriculum allow other elements such as social and cultural
understanding, to influence a child’s representation of his/her world.
(Applebee, A. 1996, pg. 3).
- In America, there is an increase in “black underclass isolated from the
nation’s economic and social mainstream” (Garland et al., 1988, p. 60.)
- The education system is one of the contributors to this ballooning
socioeconomic issue among the underclass. One of the main problems is
that schools are just not meeting the needs of black youths, instead “they are
fostering naive literacy” (Lankshear, 1989 p.175).
- This is another hidden side of literacy that plays a major role in the
explanation of how literacy is geared to a privilege few. This argument is
supported by Cummins (1989) and Finn who have identified one of the
solutions to this problem as the “need to increase [underclass] students’
powers of critical thinking and higher-order cognitive skills” (1999, pg, 126).

Over the last several decades, in and Such a pedagogical and curricular
across a wide variety of disciplines approach seems to be the better way
there has been a massive ‘social turn’ to enhance literacy skills. Literacy can
away from a focus on individual no longer be defined as an ability to
behavior (e.g. the behaviorism of the read, write and understand. There is a
first half of the twentieth century and definite link between literacy and social
individual minds (e.g. the cognitivism and cultural interaction. For example,
of the middle part of the century) from an early age a child needs
toward a focus on social and cultural language in order to make his/her
interaction (J. Gee, 2000). desires known.

I Am
I’m from “Run, Jane, Run;
See how Jane runs”,
That precious book, in my early years, that highlighted more action words than any other.
I am from Stone Soup the folk tale that everyone truly enjoyed
Although silly, unrealistic and highly cultural, it sure was a pleasure to read.
I’m from Shakespeare in all its glory
The plays, the essays, the discussions, the frustration
My high school years were unforgettable
“The world is a stage and we are the actors”
“Oh, Juliet, where art thou”?
My favorite, to my surprise was Macbeth –
“Fair is foul and foul is fair”
“High school! That is a step on which I must fall down or else o’erleap”.
Then came those tiresome and sleepless nights, yet enjoyable
Without a doubt, university was a blast!
From electives to core subjects, from Piaget to Research Methods.
Although many years have passed, I have now found myself walking the same path.
June , 2009

Applebee, A. (1996). “Curriculum as Conversation: Transforming Traditions of
Teaching and Learning”. American Journal of Education, 105, p.108-112.
Coelho, E. (2004). Adding English: A Guide to Teaching in Multilingual Classrooms,
Toronto: Pippin Publishing Corporation.
Cummins, J. (1989), The sanitized curriculum: Educational disempowerment in
a nation at risk. Richness in Writing: Empowering ESL Students: New York:
Longman, pg. 19-38.
Finn, Patrick (1999), Literacy with an Attitude: Educating Working-Class
Children in their Own Self-Interest, SUNY Press, Albany.
Garland, S., Therrien, L., & Hammonds, K. (1988), Why the underclass can’t get out from
under. Business Week, New York: McGraw Hill.
Gee, J., (2000), The new literacy studies: From “socially situated ‘to the work of the
social. Situated Literacies: Routledge
Lankshear, C. (1989). Reading and Writing Wrongs: Literacy and the underclass.
Language and Education. Vol. 3, No. 3.
Rowan, L., Knobel, M., Bigum, C., Lankshear, C., (2002) Mindsets matter: an
overview of major literacy worldviews: Boys, Literacies and Schooling . Open
University Press. Selected Prose 1966-78. Retrieved on June
15, 2009.