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Literacy and Understanding

vvaria's picture

Through the Twitter dialogue, I have formed a few questions and fields of exploration that I find especially intriguing.   Some of these thoughts I know will be added to by the readings, and I am really excited to learn and expand upon my knowledge of these areas.  Literacy, by the dictionary and commonly understood definitions, means reading and writing.  A few people tweeted questioning whether music or math had facets of literacy within them.  I completely think they do.  To me, the definition of literacy has always been broader than simply reading or writing, but I am having a hard time defining what exactly literacy can consist of.  I am especially finding it difficult to distinguish between the ideas of literacy and understanding.  Does being literate mean you understand something?  Does understanding something mean you are literate in it?

I think it is important to note that when discussing language, we often observe different dialects and accents as part of the experience of language.  I think that literacy in different disciplines is like speaking a different dialect; there is some common basis, but without the full skill set, it is hard to completely understand eachother.

Another question that I found interesting was the question regarding how we bridge the gap between the classroom and personal experiences.  What practices in doing this are effective?  How do we balance the two? I wonder if this bridging is always relevant, and is more practical in certain fields of study than others. 


alesnick's picture

literacy as understanding? Teaching as bridging?

Great work beginning to craft and test your own definition of literacy, broadened from "the ability to read and write."  To answer your question, I think "literacy=understanding" needs the addition of other people, of being recognized for this understanding, and also of action -- being able to be heard/have an impact.  I'm interested to see how our Gee reading for tomorrow informs your evolving definition.  Can literacy be defined solely with reference to individuals, or must its definition encompass social and thus political (power-implicated) relationships?

With regard to the challenge, and value, of bridging classroom and personal experiences, what is your own experience of this, and how does it condition your ways of thinking about the question?  Thanks for formulating the issue so clearly.