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Maddy's Journal 3: What it means to be literate...

maddybeckmann's picture

In preparation for our upcoming paper, I have been thinking about literacy: what is means to be literate, different types of literacy, how we “gain literacy” and how our family life and experiences are intertwined with our literacy. Last summer, I worked for the United Way in Tucson and was asked to write a piece for an online journal about financial literacy and the support that the United Way offered. When I was asked to write the article about something of which I was not literate. Of course, I took the assignment with no complaints or questions because I felt that I should know and my ego kept me from admitting I had no idea about financial literacy. I myself am not financially literate. However, I am pretty technology literate which allowed me to research online about financial literacy. I used one form of my literacy to understand another. Now thinking back and reflecting on this experience, I wonder how many types of literacy there are. Are they endless? Can you be literate in music or dancing? Can one be literate in cleaning or cooking? Where is literacy different than having a knowledge of something?


maddybeckmann's picture

Knowledge is defined as...

Knowledge is defined as... "the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association". Knowledge in the strict definition has much to do with experience. However, I think literacy has a lot to do with experience as well. I think technological and financial literacy are learned through experience.  It is difficult also because I think there are lots of types of knowledge. Knowledge of your religion, knowledge of political science, of cooking etc. I think literacy allows you to gain knowledge. I wrote in my paper that literacy allows us to open the world of what we can learn. But once again more questions than answers...

maddybeckmann's picture

literacy vs. knowledge

I agree. I think literacies can reach across discourses and offer a way to connect, but also to create boundaries. However, I am having a hard time distinguishing between k knowing something and having that in common with someone versus being literate in something. Do you think knowledge and literacy are the same? 

alesnick's picture

What is knowledge?

I think this question, whether knowledge and literacy are the same, is great.  Answering it depends on defining knowledge.  Is knowledge is socially shared belief, then it's not the same as literacy, but rather, I think, both a precondition and a byproduct of literacy.  If knowledge is a way to participate, then maybe it is the same.  What do you think?

lesaluna12's picture

Are the types of literacies endless?

This is me responding to your particular question on the types of literacies being endless,

I think you bring up a good point, I had never thought about it that way and I think you're right. I think maybe there are endless types of literacy because as you grow up depending on what you do and learn you create your own form of literacy that expands and reshapes itself to be whatever you need it to be at that moment. For instance, say you're playing an instrument, at that moment youwould be focusing on reading the notes or say, you want to learn or speak American sign language, you would then be reading the hand signs shown to you. I believe that the ways of learning literacy are endless and that's what makes literacy great because if you can't communicate with someone in one way, you have several other ways to do it.