What is Literacy Again?

In tracking my own literacies I noticed a few things. First, I’m not as connected to my phone or laptop as other students in other classes or around myself can be. However, I tend to use technology as my main facet of academic literacy to guide me through my day and schedule for whatever task or necessitated need of use that comes along the way. There were a number of other small, minute habits of literacy I noticed, such as relating to major and commonplace interests with others, but technology and mediums of technology in hand with a certain aspect of multimodality was what struck out to me the most about my own personal practices, and led me to what else I came to think of literacies as a whole for academia.

My biggest takeaway from Swed is on autonomous and ideological versions of literacy. There’s a lot he says about their contrasting meanings and how I suppose infinite literacy can be when it can be easy to think as literacy being something completely finite and equally limited.  I could ramble some more about their definitions and add some broad, thorough-reaching examples to give competence to their dichotomy, but I would rather be straight match precise thought with concision of language.

With this class, I am enrolled in Eng 534 with Peter Kittle. One topic surmised Thursday night was of personas in games, as in the character of the audience you are building your game, both before and after. Professor Kittle had us give credence to this postulate of thought by imagining possible students in who they would be before and after our classes in accordance with our curriculum to who we hoped they would be later on in development.

Here is where I made this connection with Swed’s article. My group’s imaged student at the beginning of our class had these number of issues that are commonplace  in young adults: question of identity, issues regarding self-esteem, lack of belonging and a certain parallel of general angst.  The autonomous model of literacy he mentions is broad, and very defined, but only to one set standard that everyone else must adhere to, or are otherwise considered illiterate. The second, ideological model is more interpersonal and varying among majorities. One person not matching another’s caliber or specificity of literacy does not make aforementioned other person illiterate.

As future English Ed teacher’s, our curriculum and time will be meant to help shape these students, especially with academic literacy, which there is a lot of debate within at the moment from No Child Left Behind to literacy comprehension. Being that no one of our students will be completely the same and that their interests will differ, so will their literacies as well as our according response in fostering their academic literacies as well as their own personal merit of character. The game, the content of our classrooms shouldn’t be to the standards of reading Faulkner and Joyce just because we considered their literary works to be ‘classics’ if they have no interest to even do the reading anyway. Certainly assigning redundant grammatical worksheets when they have been proven to have no long-term effect on student retention of said content has no purpose, either.

In accordance with engaging mediums of technology, there have to better ways to connect and gear students toward learning, and wanting to learn. Using curriculum to shape their varying different literacies, whether it is through graphic novels, contemporary young adult fiction, apps that change grammar to a new schema of auditory learning variation, computer programing/ coding, v-logs, directing short films, creative writing, educational games, journalism, after school clubs/groups, and so forth to develop unique, inquisitive and vibrant student populaces.

One student with autism or ADHD will differ in their given ability of aptitude or level of comfort of to other students in the given options and curriculum. Another student may not care for essays and classical literature, but has an interest reading and blogging on issues relevant to their own selves. What if this hypothetical high school has a school newspaper? Maybe instead of another five page essay a student who had the want could become have their own column and become engaged as a journalist. Or even more broad, why are so many students falling behind in reading comprehension? Is it that the broad majority of students have their own shortcomings in their literacies, or is it more of an academic oversight of how existing tests choose to deem a student literate/ illiterate?

There is a lot more to these type of questions, but that is the view I drew from Swed with his point of multiple literacies in my own applicaiton- that typical academia tries to fit a broad, large number of students into boxes with either right or wrong, yes or no criteria on competence prorated by large quantum’s of averaged and medium data with overlapping standards of curriculum similar to an autonomous model that does not always reach or meet with the ideological literacies of the individuals l students themselves.

  2 comments for “What is Literacy Again?

  1. kjaxon
    January 28, 2017 at 11:35 am

    Austin, I really appreciated reading the connections between Kittle’s class and ours. I do believe that literacy and identity are intertwined much like game play. As I mentioned in class, this is why I get frustrated when adults criticize adolescent literacies: critiquing choices of literacies means we also critique the person.

    I also appreciate how broad your definition of literacy is and your attention to multimodal literacies: “Using curriculum to shape their varying different literacies, whether it is through graphic novels, contemporary young adult fiction, apps that change grammar to a new schema of auditory learning variation, computer programing/ coding, v-logs, directing short films, creative writing, educational games, journalism, after school clubs/groups, and so forth to develop unique, inquisitive and vibrant student populaces.” We’ll spend a lot of time this semester thinking about multimodal composing.

    Glad you’re in the class with us. Thanks for your insights here and during class on Wednesday.
    Kim

  2. Ginamarie Wallace
    January 29, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    Austin,

    I really like the connections you made between your group’s specific example in English 534 and the Szwed piece and the fact that individual students will always have varying literacies; just because these various literacies are different does not make one student more literate over the next. I also really appreciate what you discuss in terms of grammar as far as pedagogy because pointing out a student’s mistakes is not proven to help them learn or to help them then have better grammar in their future assignments (in fact, many times it actually hinders them from learning). I think that this distraction with being literate in grammar rules or other constructs also connects with what Szwed is examining in terms of instructors being able to have their students “interpret and test” the social functions of their everyday reading and writing (422).

    -Ginamarie

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