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Is Literacy REALLY Enough? (or What the HELL is it, anyways?)

 “…using printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential.” This is probably what we might call Traditional Literacy (or what Lankshear & Knobel call the “text paradigm”):Functional Literacy, Prose Literacy or Document Literacy. However, when we look at what UNESCO has to say, we see another component and another "additional literacy":
“…the four strands of language - reading, writing, speaking and listening.” The Scottish Government agrees – and introduces us to yet another literacy:
Is it enough to help children and adults to achieve literacy if this simply means they read only sufficiently well to be seduced by advertisers and tabloid newspapers? Brian Cox (1998) - Literacy Is Not Enough: Essays on the Importance of Reading This Critical Literacy is “critical” (sorry about that) – it touches on a whole range of abilities. As parents and teachers, abilities that we would love to see in all our kids. Tell me if you disagree:
  1. Socio-economic Literacy

  2. Social Literacy

  3. Mathematical Literacy (Numeracy was not “good” enough)

  4. Scientific Literacy

  5. Academic Literacy And this is where we also see the “real” mushrooming:

  1. Literacy as a goal is necessary, but far from sufficient!

  2. Technology is everywhere, it is getting easier to use and it can help us learn more – faster than ever before!

  3. This technology is creating a "new breed of kid" – the Digital Native! And, before you could say “where’s my delete key?” – it happened:

  1. ...there are multiple worlds and multiple ways of knowing (or habits of minds)

  2. ...information can be presented in multi-modal formats (with technology - graphics plus sound plus print)

  3. ...there are numerous literacy genres (e.g., fiction, nonfiction), situations (e.g., literacy at home vs. in school) and practices (e.g., using and assessing multiple sources of information or “inter-textuality”) Let’s just start talking about “Mulitiple Literacies” – and have it done with it! Mmmm, that makes sense, too…

  1. What is important is how literacies “converge” to allow us to “do” something effectively.

  2. It is when we see the “convergence of literacies” to “make or do” things that we talk of “fluency”…

  3. ...and it is fluency that brings forth rewards, recognition and success in today’s world. Not to be outdone, there were a few other guys who wanted to do what the Multiple Literacy bods had done – but under the label of “Learnacy” (Damn that Claxton bloke):

  1. the ability of “knowing what to do, when you don’t know what to do” …did not really clash with the idea of Multiple Literacies or even the 21st Centuries Fluencies. They “worked” really well together – for teachers, students and (even) parents! What really baked the noodle of many (more traditional) educators, however, was when Claxton told them:

  1. Learning is LEARNABLE – we have a duty to “teach” it!OMG! What are we going to do with the curriculum, the classroom…the tests?