Modes of Literacy

While reading through the readings this week, I found myself gravitating towards the Sylvia Scribner article and it’s ability to show the messiness that is literacy. The function of literacy and literacy practices not only depends on the social norms of a given culture, but also embodies various power structures and stages of “intellectual development” (21). However, as I was sifting through these ideas, I couldn’t help but questioning how these concepts could be reflected into the classroom. Based on our reedings, where the majority of my questions stem from is finding the differentiation between “institutional literacy” (meaning the basic literacy skills and need to know practices that will help our students advance academically and professionally) and “social literacy” (meaning all of the other literacy practices that allow our students to develop socially and culturally). In my mind, it’s becoming more and more difficult to envision a perfect union between these two ideas, especially in the classroom. I keep asking question like: how would this curriculum be made to suit the needs of the community and society overall? Would personalized classroom curriculum need to be created for each community? How would that work demographically? As our schools become more and more diverse, how do we support the cultures of all of our students? Is there a way for teachers to embody the cultural and social importance of literacy while still giving them the “how to” skills that they will need when applying for a job? Should we even have “literacy standards” that students need to meet every year? Should teachers go through K-12 with the same group of students to build that community of practice?

The more and more I read and observe, the more questions I have. My biggest internal struggle is finding a balance between the needs of the student and the needs of society. Since literacy is social, then how do we help the individual?

However, as I start to look into my thesis and explore the notion of digital literacy, I can’t help but wonder how important the platform in which literacy is shown through is? As our generation pushes further and further into the digital age, and technologies like pen and paper are used less and less, and people are expected to be able to navigate a multitude of digital platforms at a high functioning level, how is this evolving our literary needs/practices/functionality? I’m of course thinking about gaming when I ask these questions. In a virtual world that utilizes visual, written, and spoken literacy techniques, while also engaging players in critical thinking scenarios that embody social and cultural interpretations and identity projection (meaning you are taking on the role of yourself and an ‘other’) while still having the ability to interact in real time with other players, is this method the balance that we are searching for? Could this be a link between “institutional literacy” and “social literacy”?

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