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Rethinking Literacy

January 26, 2010

Literacy, whatever that may mean, is a priority for educators at every level. Until recently, I interpreted the word ‘literacy’ as it’s meant in the phrase ‘literacy rates,’ meaning the ability to read the written word–at some level of competence determined by those amassing the stats. After some recent readings, I have begun to rethink of fairly limited definition of literacy.

A few days ago, Alex Reid published on his blog, digital digs,an interesting discussion of literacy: what it means, how it’s changing, and what’s changing it. He writes that, much like Stanley Fish’s notion of Interpretative Communities, literacy shifts depending upon the text being read and the reader in a given setting. He goes further to suggest a rising importance for digital literacy in the academy. I couldn’t agree more. In addition to Reid’s thoughts, Mark Sample consistently pushes to expand theories of literature and literacy to include digital texts and digital interpretation.

The future of what is taught in literature/composition classrooms is fairly wide open and, at least for me, pretty exciting. Let’s see what’s going to happen.

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