NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
PDF on ERIC Download full text
ERIC Number: EJ1081865
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 9
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1522-7502
Exporting the "Violence of Literacy": Education According to UNESCO and the World Bank
Hurlbert, Claude; Mason, Anestine Hector
Composition Forum, v16 Fall 2006
In her groundbreaking book, "The Violence of Literacy", the relevance of which has not diminished in the twelve years since its publication, J. Elspeth Stuckey argues that despite the best intentions of teachers, literacy is largely a tool of oppression rather than liberation. Learning to write, Stuckey argues, does too little to guarantee economic success for students of color other than white. Literacy is a promise in default--a default whose result points to the violence at the heart of economic and social arrangements. As Stuckey explains, "Literacy, like communication, is a matter of access, a matter of opportunity, a matter of economic security--a total matter. The violence of literacy is the violence of the milieu it comes from, promises, recapitulates. It is attached inextricably to the world of food, shelter, and human equality. When literacy harbors violence, the society harbors violence" (94). In writing the article the author's hope to convince literacy educators to rededicate themselves to paying attention to the promises being made on their behalf: including what these promises are, how they are defaulted on, and what the terrible consequences of these defaults mean. In this article the author's argue that literacy educators need to give careful consideration to how the United Nations is committing, through the work of its Specialized Agencies, UNESCO and The World Bank, violence on a global scale. In the case of the World Bank, its eradicate illiteracy policies exclusively promote business literacy while attacking diversity of thought and expression, academic freedom, and teacher knowledge and security. The curricula it disseminates abroad do not value local knowledge, expertise, culture or discursive forms. And its commitment to eliminating teachers' unions and traditional protections for teachers, such as tenure, is a threat to the forms of academic freedom that make education possible. Citizens of the United States bear unique responsibility. Yet in many conversations with literacy educators from around the country the author's find that the profession, while caring and concerned, still, as a whole, needs to develop its understanding of the history and tragic effects of this problem. In this article, the authors try to address this problem with information, suggest some positions and actions that might be taken, and offer hope that indeed things can change.
Association of Teachers of Advanced Composition. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A