Thoughts on Literacy

My perspective on literacy has evolved through the years. It has been shaped by my travels and heavily influenced by linguists studied in my linguistic courses. I once viewed literacy as most traditional prescriptivist. I attribute this to my schooling where grammar, syntax, and “standard English” were held as the only standards acceptable. Every year the number of students in my class who did not know “standard English” increased and instead of working with these students, the schools gave up and began to think that their teachers were ineffective in their teaching methods. None of that made sense to me back then. I knew there was something not right about the situation but my knowledge was limited and I kept it to myself. Since then I took some linguistics courses and was introduced the brilliant Noam Chomsky, a descriptivist. Chomsky opened my mind up to what literacy was and what it was not. I learned about language acquisition and went to Maastricht, Netherlands to learn more about language acquisitions and work with English Language Learners at the United World Colleges of Maastricht. Through these practices I came to understand and accept that literacy is not something we can contain. Literacy is not a set of structured, prescribed rules. Literacy is many things and it will continue to evolve. It is not bound my language in many ways. It is exciting to see the way in which media literacy has created a global community when our societies have moved further away from community. Literacy will continue to change. Will everyone’s thoughts on literacy evolve to catch up with the constantly changing, always exciting, literacy?

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