ERIC Number: ED417373
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1996-Mar
Rethinking Literacy Studies: From the Past to the Present.
Reviewing the research literature in literacy studies demands patience to deconstruct the multilayered meanings of the concept of literacy. Literacy is a loaded term that is also embedded in myths associated with social and economic progress, political democracy, social and educational mobility, and the development of cognitive skills. Graff (1995) reminds readers that literacy has historically represented and continues to represent different things to people. Scribner (1988) "unpackages literacy" by using the metaphors of "adaptation,""power," and "state of grace"--if students' literacy skills are at level they are in the adaptive mode, below level and they have fallen from grace, and above level they attain power or status. Viewed as an abstract set of decontextualized skills, literacy contributes to the creation of the "deficit" model in educational and social systems. This model has been applied in many remedial reading and writing programs at all educational levels. Ironically, attempts to teach literacy skills in the schools often restricts literacy development because of educators' lack of knowledge and awareness of the interweaving of social, cultural, and oral literacy contexts of language use and identity. Students' language use in other contexts dramatically conflicts with school discourse and many students fail to acquire higher literacy skills. "Multiliteracies" must be studied in many contexts to better understand their role in instruction and curriculum development. There is a pressing need to define and recognize "non-schooled" literacies associated with different mediums and tools, including the technological, visual, and mathematical, and literacies associated with using information technology. (Contains 58 references.) (NKA)
Descriptors: Concept Formation, Educational History, Elementary Secondary Education, Higher Education, Language Usage, Literacy, Metaphors, Models, Student Needs
Thirty-three selected papers from this conference are available on the "Literacy Online" Web site: http://www.literacyonline.org
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the World Conference on Literacy (Philadelphia, PA, March 12-15, 1996). For other papers from this conference, see CE 075 168, 171, 173, 180, 183 and CS 012 996, CS 013 000.