Wednesday, June 11, 2008

It takes two

There has been a little discussion in class, when attempting to define literacy and “literacies,” about whether or not literacy can be an internal event or does in by nature require an audience, other participants or at least two parties even in the most abstract context of place and time. The quotes I have gathered from the reading may provide some defense to the idea that literacy is not possible in isolation. Larson speaks of literacy as social practices, which require balances of power and social structure to be effective. Heath discusses research into the way children learn to relate to narrative, either active or passive, through their home practices. Home practices, which require the interaction with others. Gee, is discussing “affinity spaces,” paints a scene of a community classroom and Lee describes Bakhtin’s context of utterances being a construct of those who came before us. All of these incidental descriptions are effective events, oppressive or liberating, passive or active, which require others. Literacy, like all learning experiences, does not transpire under a vacuum bell. Even alone, we are not learning creatures in a sealed off environment. I would argue that art can occur in isolation yet, literacy cannot.

1 comment:

Grace Butler said...

I disagree. Art, after all, can also be a literacy. Certain types of art in particular are meant to be true systems of communication, readable by those who are trained in the language.

The authors we have read are interested in literacy as it pertains to communication, collaboration, and learning. They're not really interested in the possibility of an isolated literacy because it has little practical use in the field of education.

I think in a strict sense literacy is a a system used to encode ideas. It's a structured understanding or knowledge. It must be complex, capable of a wide range of thoughts, and able to be accurately read by someone if they are taught how. Such a person does not actually have to exist, however. The mere capability is enough to make it a literacy.