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ERIC Number: ED341031
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1991-Nov-2
Pages: 10
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Literacy in Contexts: Perspectives from Society. Critique of "The New Literacy."
Bruckerhoff, Charles E.
John Willinsky's two concerns in his book "The New Literacy: Redefining Reading and Writing in the Schools" are: (1) to make school children's reading and writing into a process-oriented and productive enterprise; and (2) to change the teacher's practice from passive/autocratic to active/democratic. However, the book: (1) expects teachers and other educators to uncritically abandon past beliefs and practices in favor of the new classroom discourse; (2) harbors some faulty ideas, such as its dualistic, either/or philosophy; (3) is tied to determinism, certainty, and millenialism; (4) does not deal with the ways in which reading and writing are instruments of misinformation and propaganda; (5) gives too little attention to the question of how to teach a child to read; (6) portrays the New Literacy is in opposition to one dominant force, namely conservatism; and (7) has problems with mechanics and style. Willinsky's populist definition of literacy is "vulgar pragmatism." The index is a catalogue of names with only six topical entries, and Willinsky uses a mixture of literacy metaphors, producing ambiguity and confusion. Willinsky's New Literacy may be the New Creed, but it is not education. Small as the movement may be, the urge to spread sublime literacy throughout the world imitates past and present crusades for democracy, Christianity, communism, and every other universal, totalizing system. (RS)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Book/Product Reviews
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A