Posted on February 4, 2019
If you really think about it, literacy sounds like a boring word. It’s one of those words that are thrown into adult discussions; the ones that kids dread and fall asleep on. Ironically, it is because we are literate that we understand what is happening around us, through media, family and friends, and our knowledge on topics. As we age, we are expected to transform our basic literacy to do more difficult tasks, which is shown in the excerpts of Alex Reid, Yang Huang, and Mike Rose. They don’t attempt to redefine the word literacy; they are adding more depth and responsibility to it. As a whole, it shows the true meaning of this word.
In Reid’s “Why Blog”, he uses literacy in its purest form: the ability to read and write. Instead of using literacy to express themselves or do a task, he focuses more on how to hone our literacy skills. By utilizing a blog instead of traditional classroom writing assignments, it gives more freedom to writers, which gives motivation to them as they now don’t have as much restrictions and can write to “write” and not write for merely a grade. Furthermore, because of this, we are able to absorb the essences of writing more easily, leading to a more productive session. Only by strengthening the fundamentals are we allowed to branch out on this word.
Next, in “Why I Write in English” by Yang Huang, each section title represents a way that she sees and expresses herself. Examples include “(Not) Writing in Mandarin”, and “Writing Like A Foreigner”. She adds to the fact that literacy isn’t just reading and writing, but the language you write in and the way you present information and opinions. The reason she wrote in English rather than Chinese, even though at the time Chinese literature was such a hot commodity, was due to her homeland being more restrictive in terms of censorship. It’s ironic because she is able to express and say more through her secondary language rather than her primary. In addition, she can be more direct about topics. “I blogged on a site in mainland China, using metaphor, satire…to elude censorship.” This was when she wrote in Chinese, having to indirectly express her feelings, which destroys the purpose of writing. Writing in English, she can comfortably tell her stories. In other words, it is like traveling to a place. There may be many routes and one might have obstacles. In this case, the problematic route is writing in Chinese. With that obstacle being censorship, her points may never get delivered across.
Rose’s “Blue-Collar Brilliance” probably shows the most dynamic use of literacy. So far, we have seen literacy used when we want to write, but we haven’t seen it permeate our daily life. However, in this article, we see how labor and service workers, who are often seen using their hands and body more than their brain, combine the two into what we know as multitasking. “Blue-Collar Brilliance” takes what’s presented about literacy and puts it into use on the big stage: reality. The paragraph in the article that starts with “Like anyone who is effective at physical work, my mother learned to work smart, as she put it, to make every move count.” Is perhaps the most important one of the reading. Literacy isn’t always writing five-page essays or reading scholarly articles; reading a ten-page paper and a three-paragraph paper is the same if one gets the same information from it. By practicing and trying new things, we hope to be more literate in what we are trying to do. Nobody can improve if they don’t adapt to their environment.
A common point in literacy all three pieces make is the notion that literacy is an ever-changing term. There’s always more to be added on, and most importantly, there’s always something to learn from it. For example, literacy used to only be the ability to read or write. Now it extends to math, problem solving skills, basics of technology, and how to effectively communicate all these skills in everyday life.