Wednesday, 20 February 2013

You say "condition", I say "continuum."

So #etmchat today was interesting. I am still having problems getting past literacy being a "condition" rather than a "continuum" and it really boils down to semantics, which means.....we're both right? You see, getting down to it linguistically condition has multiple meanings. Doug Belshaw likes #2 on the list of dictionary definitions while I use the word in all it's multiple meanings including 5 b) which is obsolete [and when did that happen?] Now continuum  really does explain exactly how I think of literacy. And perhaps it is because I have a degree that straddles both science and the arts it suits me to think of us being on a sliding scale of literacy, both in the traditional sense of literacy as defined by Doug Belshaw in his blog and the newer, ever expanding digital literacies as discussed over the past few days. And since I seem to disagree with Doug on the use of the word "condition" I also disagree with his definition of "skill" as he has chosen to define it. Not because it is wrong, but because of his choice, again, of  which aspect of the definition to use in defining what a skill is. For me, the acquisition and use of language skills (in all its multiple formats) is the bedrock of literacy. All flows from this. 

Finally, I am taking issue with the idea that we are literate for a purpose. We are literate because we acquire language through social interaction. How many of us actually remember learning how to read or to speak? I don't. I just remember getting in trouble for writing my own sentences and for reading too much in Grade 1. (I didn't like Mrs. Lynch's sentences. She called my mum. I did not get in trouble. I love my mother.) I watched my nephew teach himself to read a few years ago and I will concede it was for a purpose. He wanted to read what and when he wanted to read. There was no "awareness, that you are, indeed, literate" on the part of my nephew. It was a need. So is a 'need' a purpose? So as the old Gershwin song says "you say 'tomato' and I say 'tomato.'

1 comment:

  1. Love your post as usual my dear Karen.
    Tomato, tomatoe ... Imagine that English is my second language How can I survive in a world concerned about picking the exactly right word? Is there any right or wrong, I wonder.
    This post reminds me of a post I wrote about lesson planning and the usual correction about goals, aims, objectives and bla bla but I watched Jeremy Hamer's webinar on the subject and he, himself says "as for me, aims and goals are pretty much the same thing"
    So, as for me "condition" and "continnum" .. I think you understand.
    By the way, I have not even been able to make a gif, but not giving up. Just waiting for my students to come back from holidays and see if they give me a hand.