ERIC Number: ED222698
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Mar
Reference Count: 0
Through the Looking Glass: Literacy as Perceived by Illiterate Adults.
A qualitative study examined the way in which literacy is perceived by illiterate adults. To identify the perceptions of illiterate adults toward literacy, researchers conducted in-depth unstructured interviews with 40 illiterate native English speaking adults living in a northeastern urban area. Half the members of the study sample are currently participating in local literacy programs. While the illiterate adults interviewed all agreed that it would be nice to know how to read and write, some of those surveyed feared that the development of literacy skills and the subsequent increase in independence that literacy brings may entail losing one's place in the fabric of social life that exists in largely illiterate subcultures. A positive sense of community, with illiteracy as one of the factors contributing to it, often combines with negative images of literate people as individuals who lack common sense, thus leading many illiterate adults to desire literacy skills only instrumentally. At least in the present study sample, illiteracy is viewed as a continuum. On the one end, it is most positively tied to one's place in the community. On the other end, however, it is identified as a degrading lack in the eyes of the larger society. (MN)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (New York, NY, March 19-23, 1982).