All About literacy

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Literacy History and Functional Literacy

Literacy standards were traditionally measured by the abilities to read, write, and perform arithmetic. Literacy has been extended in the current meaning to include an individual's ability to use language, numbers, pictures, machines, and other fundamental means to learn, interact, acquire valuable information, and use a culture's dominant symbol systems (Smythe, 2017).

Literacy has advanced from an emphasis on an entity to a wider sense that encompasses the whole population. Literacy history offers important insight into social, cultural, and technological transition. One of the events that had a significant impact on the history of literacy was the Functional literacy and the Experimental World Literacy Program (the 1960s—1970s). During this period, campaigns for mass literacy were abandoned and replaced with human capital models for education.

Interrelationship between literacy and development was emphasized during the world congress in Tehran. The concept of functional literacy came to being in that, literacy should prepare an individual for a social, civic and economic role that goes beyond the normal teaching of reading and writing. In 1978, UNESCO's General Conference adopted a definition of functional literacy – still in use today which states: 'A person is functionally literate who can engage in all those activities in which literacy is required for effective functioning of his group and community and also for enabling him to continue to use reading, writing and calculation for his own and the community's development. (Easton, 2002)

The Significance of Functional Literacy

The significance of functional literacy in the current world is that it has increased innovative-activity level, which provides opportunities for modernization, development, and economic growth globally. It has also significantly reduced regional disparities in terms of healthcare, trade, and infrastructure, gender equity since this form of literacy cuts across various social cultural and technological aspects which are constantly evolving.

Multiliteracies and Pedagogy

Multiliteracies is an approach to literacy theory and pedology which highlights two key aspects of literacy: expression and representation of linguistics in multimodal forms and linguistic diversity. The term was developed in response to two significant global changes; increased cultural diversity due to global movement and emerging technologies of communication example the internet. A pedagogy of multiliteracies includes a balanced classroom design of Situated Practice, Overt Instruction, Critical Framing and Transformed Practice (Kern, 2000).

Students need to draw on their own experiences and semiotic literacy practices to represent and communicate meaning. As a teacher I will incorporate the concept of situated practice while teaching to ensure the students can relate the concept to what is happening in the real world taking into account their varied linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

I will also incorporate the use of critical framing while teaching to ensure that students can question what is considered the norm in the society or what has been published initially. This will involve both cognitive and social dimensions and it will help the students diversify their learning. The third concept that I will incorporate in my teaching is overt instruction. This is critical since the students will understand what is being taught instead of rote memorization.

Powerful Literacy and Critical Thinking

In the case of powerful literacy, the student should not only understand a concept, but he or she should also be able to analyze it critically. As a teacher, I will make sure that I create topics that are interesting to the students, do extensive research on the subject at hand; hence the students will be able to demonstrate creative and critical thinking. I will also encourage the students to research on various issues and come up with new solutions or better literature. The students can source the information from the internet and other articles but they should not practice plagiarism. This will ensure the students value problem analysis, problem solving and criticism and become powerfully literate and not functionally literate.


Easton, P. (2002). History and Spread of Literacy. Paris Press.

Fenlon, A., McNabb, J., & Pidlypchak, H. . (2010). Developing meaningful literacy routines for students with multiple disabilities. Teaching Exceptional Children,.

Kern, R. (2000). This approach highlights two key aspects of literacy: Linguistic Diversity, and Multimodal Forms of Linguistic Expression and Representation. . New York: Oxford University Press.

Smythe, S. (2017). What Is Literac?Exploring Literacy In Everyday Life.

October 25, 2022

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