Literacy: How is The Word Used?

literacy scrabble

Through my research for the presentation for this class, I noticed something that kind of surprised me. The word ‘literacy’ is chiefly used as either a base-line for competency or as a marker for what is lacking. It’s really interesting that while it has been obvious for a long time that public school systems are graduating students who are “competent” enough to achieve whatever standards have been put in place, many of those students lack “Literacy” – the ability to function in and understand the world.

Perhaps public school systems should revisit their use of the word literacy itself. If public school systems (for the most part) merely define literacy as a base-line for competency or the achievement of a passing score on a multitude of standardized tests, how exactly is it that they hope to produce well-rounded students who are prepared to live in and understand the world?

Knowledge is important. Learning about the past, learning scientific facts and theories, mathematical equations and formulas are important and help to create a well-rounded knowledge base. However, public school systems must begin to realize that individual literacies contribute to Literacy.

Passing a test proving that one possesses individual literacies does not prove that one is literate.

One Comment

  • Michael R says:

    Oddly enough , I haven’t been able yet to find a single mentioning of the term ‘literacy’ within the subject of my topic. Oddly enough I don’t think that literacy in our sense was a very big aim of the Third Reich (my topic). Instead they were looking for kids and members of society to be well versed in the tools of industry, war, and science (for merely military reasons). Literacy was very much a means to an end, and it’s interesting to see how definitions of literacy change so rapidly between different cultures and time periods in history.

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