Tuesday, June 10, 2008

From the readings it became clear to me that literacy curriculum, or any curriculum for that matter, is a product of its time. Protestantism gave rise to the value that all people, not just priests, should have access to scriptures. Naturally, that gave rise to movable type, typography and mass literacy… the idea of it anyway. This was carried over the Atlantic to the New World. Later, American Republicanism evolved the literacy value to one of utility, service and duty. Further on as American society industrialized, so to the purpose of literacy changed. What was taught, to whom and to what effect and cost has changed with the contemporary values.

This runs counter to the value I personally hold about education in that it is the education that drives culture. So, which is the case? Are we preparing (training?) students for predefined roles and skill sets, or are we opening the door to the universe for them?

Today’s world is one where we are connected globally through media and in many cases at an instant. We are also in a situation where people are more mobile than they have ever been in history. Cultural contexts are as an important an aspect of student learning as any political value now. Students deserve opportunities to understand the different cultural constructs that exist in our society as well as teachers have the responsibility to do the same. However, as much as I believe that our students’ experiences and personal context needs to infuse the classroom, can’t the classroom also infuse their lives with ideas, experiences and culture they’ve never seen? So much emphasis is placed on bringing home life into school. What if, for some students, school is their life? 

It seems to me that social literacies learned at home, literacies learned in school, and literacies required to be learned by the current greater culture are only the beginning. The most literate students are those who learn many literacies across a broad spectrum and know when to use them. These are the students who develop awareness around cultural contexts at the local level, in systems, in our country and at the global level. They know about and understand the cultural constructs that surround us in our everyday lives. They practice inclusivity to consider and include cultural contexts while considering texts in relation to cultural context and influences. Not all of what is included will come from home. Some of it can come from the people they know as teachers.

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