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ERIC Number: ED438556
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1998
Pages: 12
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Beyond Instrumental Literacy: Discourse Ethics and Literacy Education.
Endres, Benjamin J.
Literacy education concerns itself with assessing student needs and determining the appropriate methods for meeting them, without considering the ethical framework in which those "needs" find meaning. This paper argues that a notion of reflective communication, based on Jurgen Habermas's theory of "Discourse," provides an alternative ideal for literacy education that avoids reduction to political or economic function while taking into account profound social differences. Discourse highlights a fundamental dimension of language that is undeveloped in current literacy practices: the cognitive and emotive ability to consciously reflect on validity claims and adopt unfamiliar perspectives. Discourse also provides an ideal that both identifies the pragmatic function that literacy plays in social life and distances it from any determinate social function, allowing it to be made meaningful for learners at different educational levels and with different social backgrounds. Considered are both Paulo Freire's laying the groundwork for the discussion of literacy as a practice that helps give meaning to human existence and George Herbert Mead's alternative conception of meaning that understands language as product of social interaction. The paper hopes to clarify what is intrinsically valuable about literacy education, even in contexts that seem to be dominated by economic considerations, and thus give teachers and learners an increased sense of importance in their work. Contains 24 notes. (NKA)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A