Literacy practices

Barton and Hamilton make six claims about literacy and literacy practices in their brief essay (an essay, that has had wide influence as scholars and practitioners have rethought how literacy functions in a wide range of contests). They include the following:

Literacy is best understood as a set of social practices; these can be inferred from events which are mediated by written texts.

There are different literacies associated with different domains of life.

Literacy practices are patterned by social institutions and power relationships, and some literacies are more dominant, visible and influential than others.

Literacy practices are purposeful and embedded in broader social goals and cultural practices.

Literacy is historically situated.

Literacy practices change and new ones are frequently acquired through processes of informal learning and sense making.

For this week’s dialogue, choose one of these six claims (taken from the chart on page two of their essay) and explore how it is or is not exemplified by your first workshop experiences and understanding of the writers you are working with.

Literacy sponsors

In Literacy in American Lives (fyi: we read the essay that preceded the book), Deborah Brandt defines “sponsors” in the following ways:

“…any agents, local or distant, concrete or abstract, who enable, support, teach, and model, as well as recruit, regulate, suppress, or withhold, literacy—and gain advantage by it in some way…. Sponsors set the terms for access to literacy and wield powerful incentives for compliance and loyalty. Sponsors are delivery systems for the economies of literacy, the means by which these forces present themselves to—and through—individual learners.” (19)

Consider the issue of “sponsoring” discussed by Deborah Brandt in light of your upcoming community literacy work. Tobi’s essay on women’s writing workshops offers one example of the complexities of sponsoring literacy behind bars.

What might it mean to sponsor the literacy of a writer/learner at your site? What implications can you anticipate? How might your own literacy be sponsored by the writers/learners you’ll work with?

Musing about community literacy

Welcome to the CLC!

Through these dialogues we hope to bounce ideas around each other, coming to a fuller understanding of community literacy and how it “opens up a unique space where intercultural partners can inquire into and deliberate about problems, working toward both personal and public change.” (Higgins, Long and Flower — in your reading for this week!)

That sounds important right now…

In this first blog post, spend some time reflecting on the purposes and intentions of literacy and community literacy outlined by the essay by Flower/Higgins/Long. As you compose your post, consider these questions: How are you defining community literacy? What problems and possibilities are raised when literate acts are considered in community contexts? What do you anticipate being the biggest challenge at your community site? The biggest reward?

Post your response of 400-500 words by August 25 — and look back at it occasionally over the weeks before the NEXT meeting to see what responses you might like to add. Check the “Notify me of new comments via email” to be sure you are aware when other interns are responding.

This is experimental — we have not done interactive posts before — and we hope that it will bring a deeper collaboration to the group. THANKS!