|Traditional literacy can
be defined as simply the ability to read and write according to dictionary.com offers. As a junior attending
Georgia Southern University, I completely agreed with this definition
until Fall 2004 when I enrolled in Compostion Studies and began
reading different prose that gave different insights to what literacy
literate affects how most are treated in everyday life and the business
Although literacy is being
re-defined everyday, its meaning and the stigma that comes along with
being illiterate is still important. For example, some feel that
people are on a lower level of the totem pole versus others that may be
literate when using the definition "the abillity to read, write, and
speak English, and compute amd solve
problems at the levels of proficiency necessary to function on the job
and in society...," according to the West Virgina Adult Basic Education
Web site. Being literate affects how most of us are treated in
everyday life and in the business world. However, with traditional
being replaced by "new literacies," students of the next generation
should be exposed to classes teaching the new literacies.
able to recover forms of
representation in the form of which it appears..."
According to William Kist , a journalist from the Journal of
Adolescent & Adult Literacy, throughout the 1990s the exploring of new literacies began.
These new literacies forced us to broaden the prior definition of literacy
and allow students to be able to "read a poem, an equation, a painting,
a novel, or a contract...be able to recover meaning from the form of
representation in which it appears." But how can we as a society ensure
generations to come will possess these skills?
Kist designed a classroom on "new literacy" in action. This plan
consisted of two classrooms that would allow students to "critically
construct meaning from all sorts of texts", incorporating the benefits
of having a teacher form each realm of the arts. During this
research period many students had different opinions about the
experience of a "new literacy" class but the overall consensus was that this type of learning was beneficial.
|Gary said, "this assignment allowed us to get into the dephts of his mind.
Everything has a connection. Like Beethoven was trying to
illustrate something through his music. It was written down,
which illustrates writing, which is English."
states, "I've learned...what colors mean...abstract meanings of
things...Now I see so much more than I saw before."
For example, the new literacy
ties human thinking and symbol systems. One particular assignment
allowed students to construct a monument that could not be figurative
to Dr. Suess' nature.
Ralph, Burt, and John felt that the students' ability to be good
consumers of information has risen since the
experience of the "new literacy" classroom. Another noted benefit
of the "new literacy" includes collaborative learning. Some of
the students felt that this type of learning taught social skills,
stating that "it takes more to work in this kind of enviroment, than to
sit there and let the teacher preach." Kist's research suggests that team
teaching allowed students to comprehend different methods
quicker. Obtaining the information and understanding is easier
when there are three teachers to help, with each teacher coming from a
different view point.
C. Herste, journalist from Voices From the
Middle, says that "
instead of one literacy, there are multiple literacies." I feel
that these multiple literacies are on the rise. Herste also
questions the benefits of the traditional definition of literacy, with
his implied asnswer being no one; he, too, suggests that students have a
classroom of "new literacy." He leaves the reader with his final
thought: "What kind of lives do we want to to live and what kind of
people do we want to be?"
|What kind of lives do we want and
what kind of people do we want to be?
Leaving the students of the next generation with the traditional
definition of literacy would cause them to be left behind in this
everchanging society because of the seeming acceptance of the
"new classroom." The new concepts that are being introduced
better prepare them to use their minds fully and completely. The
"new classrooms" call for a higher level of thinking that includes
analyzing, representation, and collaborative learning.