ERIC Number: ED257114
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-Nov-17
Reference Count: 0
Toward a Definition of Literacy.
A number of issues must be considered if those in the profession are to construct a theoretically and pedagogically sound definition of literacy as a word and a concept. The profession agrees that literacy is the encoding and decoding of meaning, but there is little agreement on the term "meaning." Sociolinguists define literacy as a cluster of linguistic, psychological, and social skills that rely on the conventions of the alphabet and of print, but also on purpose, difficulty, and interest. Other problems in defining the term are the differences and the relationships between the skills required for reading and those required for writing, and the question of permanence, or retention, of these skills. Literacy is distinct from mastery of the standard dialect, and it is not schooling, cognition, or merely "reading." Neither is it the same as culture. What seems to emerge from these distinctions, however, is a connection between literacy and culture. Among the cultural determinants of literacy are religion, economics, and politics. Only by searching the maze of relationships among humans and their cultures can the profession move toward a definition of literacy. (HTH)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Teachers; Practitioners
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Council of Teachers of English (74th, Detroit, MI, November 16-21, 1984). For related documents see CS 208 960-961.