Friday, September 26, 2008

Ruminating on literacy 

Literacy is, simply, the ability to read and write.

Functional literacy is the ability to read and writ well enough to function in one's society, for example: filling out job applications, being able to order food from a menu, or understanding a train schedule.

I don't know if there's a term for a higher level of literacy that I've been butting my head against. Higher sciences, the military, and 1334 speak. People do talk of scientific literacy and math literacy.

I wonder if literacy will become stratified like Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences. I wonder if we will think of ourselves as having multiple literacies. I hope not. It's the same skill. And it's just a means to an end - it's a way to acquire knowledge.

Literacy isn't a stopping point. Literacy is when you get dropped into an overwhelming world of books, websites, magazines, job descriptions, computer code, and IM speak, and someone says "go."

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