Literacy is a concept that has proved to be more complex and dynamic which has continually been defined and interpreted in multiple ways. People’s understanding of what it means to be literate or illiterate has been based on academic research, national contexts, institutional agendas, the cultural beliefs and values, and personal experiences (Street 205). Today literacy has evolved from simply changes in individual to a more complex view encompassed on the broader social context. Literacy is today viewed as more than just basic cognitive skills, to using these skills through practices and activities that contribute to the social and economic development of society.
In his speech, Dana Gioia, the chairman of the National Endowment for Arts says that
America is creating a generation where children are reading less well than their parents. He furthers say that because they do less well in school, they do less well in the job market hence doing less well economically. He explains that most of the people that can’t read and write end up unemployed and most of them end up in criminal justice. Giving American’s prison demography regarding literacy level, Dana says that only 3% have reached the proficiency level of reading and writing. This statistic clearly shows that literacy level encompasses the individual social and economic practices which are linked to individual’s skills. Achieving these skills involves doing well in school to gain the ability to compute and perform at levels that are sufficient to do well on the job and in the society. Lacking this ability makes one’s functionality illiterate which poses serious social and economic consequences for the society. Illiteracy, therefore, leads to reduced family income and consequently poverty. At a global perspective, high level of functional illiteracy cause employers to lose a competitive edge, and in particular, at this time when markets are expanding globally. Functional illiteracy is therefore not only an individual’s concern but everyone’ concern in the society.
Literacy is a learning process which determines how individual conduct themselves. People engaged in a learning process are more likely to engage in positive behaviors than their counterparts. People that read tend to exercise more play sports more engage in civic organizations among other developmental functions like charity events. People that are in constant process of developing themselves tend to engage in these positive behaviors more than twice who do not do any sort of thing that improves themselves (Tyner 96). This is evident in real life situation of the poorest American people. According to the speech by Dana Gioia, among the poorest people in America that read do more charity and volunteer works twice the level of people who don’t read. Dana explains this by saying that, “when you read, when you engage in arts, it awakens something inside of you that does two things. The first is that it increases the sense of your destiny, and secondly it makes the lives of other people more real to you. It creates s a high sense of yourself as an individual”. Literacy is the act of learning either through reading novels, or writing views or even viewing educative film because they make one to imagine, meditate and understand the inner lives of other people and this is what translates to their positive behavior that impact the community and themselves. Literacy is nothing fundamentally found in people but it is the process of creating a connection with other people.
Literacy is the ability to communicate and contact oneself well which leads to empowerment. In the world today, literacy skills are needed to enable an individual to function well in all areas of his or her personal, political and economic life. With the introduction of new forms of communicating and acquiring information through technology, literacy involves acquiring these forms. In order to progress with the ICT world, literacy involves developing reading and good communication skills that can enable one to navigate texts, express themselves well and develop argumentative styles that make them opinionated people (Tyner 102). People with good communication skills will post strong arguments on various topics on different communication technological platforms including social media and press conferences. These skills are evident in their days to day communication in real social settings. These people will gain more followers, loyalties and fans as compared to people that post senseless and mostly offensive comments that are not any helpful. Good communication skills empower people that is why you find the famous and successful people with high levels of literacy skills. They know and understand that how they conduct themselves matters.
Literacy today is beyond the basic reading and writing skills that people used to define it.It has expanded to social, political and economic contexts. The fact is, it all starts with the primary education levels, where children gain basic skills and if they do well in school, they upgrade to be better-positioned people in the society. People can fail to gain these skills at younger levels, and some of them develop an individual learning process at their adult life which enables them understand and put into practice the developmental activities of the society. This gives them a good position in the society as well. Literacy is therefore linked up to the traits of an individual which determines his or her destiny in life.
Gioia Dana: Why Reading Matters.2008
Street, Brian V. Social literacies: Critical approaches to literacy in
development, ethnography, and education. Routledge, 2014.
Tyner, Kathleen. Literacy in a digital world: Teaching and learning in the age of
information. Routledge, 2014.