Category Archives: Defining Literacy

Literacy Today

When a child first enters school the first thing he learns is how to read.  When I reached third grade I was told it was a necessity to learn how to write cursive because that is how formal papers are written. That whole year, my whole class spent everyday learning a form of writing that I have never again used in my life.  From this example you can take that slowly different forms of reading and writing are becoming extinct due to technology and advancements in language in general.

In school there were classes on penmanship now they are focusing on typing and learning to use a keyboard. Literacy no longer means just reading and writing to survive in today's generation you must also be technologically literate. One could be completely literate and fluent in a language but will not be able to get a job position if they do not know how to work a computer.

The world is advancing fast and the definition is evolving day by day. No longer is it just reading and writing it is having certain skills that are needed to survive in today's world.  This is called contemporary literacy and  includes the other essential skills needed to be literate in the 21st century.




Literacy is defined as the quality or state of being literate, especially the ability to read and write, possession of education, or a person’s knowledge of a particular subject or field.

Although literacy is not limited to reading and writing, they are considered the fundamental building blocks of educations. Learning to read is learning to see. Today’s society requires much more than being able to sound out words; one must be able to interpret text, to see the deeper meaning. Learning to read is learning to communicate. Acquiring basic literacy skills allows us to convey messages to one another, express ourselves, and interact with one another. Literacy in the many forms, allows us to fully understand the world around us, or at least try.

Literacy was limited in the eighteenth century. Those who were fortunate enough to read had a limited source. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) states that in this day and age with some 775 million adults lacking minimum literacy skills, literacy for all thus remains elusive. Today we are exposed to many different forms of literacy whether through physical copies of books or in electronic forms. With that being said, it almost makes sense to take advantage of this privilege. The lack of literacy is often associated with a low quality of life and poor academic progress. According to the American Psychological Association, Children’s initial reading competence is correlated with the home literacy environment; number of books owned and parent distress (Aikens & Barbarin, 2008). In a nationwide study of American kindergarten children, 36 percent of parents in the lowest-income quintile read to their children on a daily basis, compared with 62 percent of parents from the highest-income quintile (Coley, 2002).

Today’s society is changing rapidly and in order to keep up we must improve our literacy skills. Improving these skills whether academic, non-academic, or even of different cultures, we are improving our role in society and in turn how society operates is enhanced as well. In order to thrive in today’s society, we must maintain and even further enhance our literacy skills, whether it is to read, to write, or even to solve problems.

Sources Cited:

American Psychological Association. "Education and Socioeconomic Status." Web. 23 Jan. 2015.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. "Statistics on Literacy." Web. 23 Jan. 2015.

The Rise of Literacy




Late 19th   Century deriving from the English origin, the term” literacy” commenced.  The ability to read and write, the knowledge or competence in a specific area.  Dating as far back as the 5TH   Century literacy was already a part of our society.  As we evolved over time literacy has cultivated, characterized and shaped the world we live in today.  It’s sad to say that many people from our past and present were unable maybe even unwilling to learn how to read/write or embrace the possibilities.  Government (1600’s) passed laws for children to be monitored to ensure their comprehension and understanding on the principles and concepts of both their religion and the laws of this country.  Now literacy classes are offered for both children and adults.  The benefits of literacy are endless in our world.  However, the term encompasses not only one skill set, but two each separate having a wide range of competency. With economic, social along with personal opulence “the sky is the limit”.

The "status dropout rate" represents the percentage of 16- through 24-year-olds who are not enrolled in school and have not earned a high school credential.” U.S Department of Education.


This variation is patterned in part by race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background.  Urban students seemed to drop out of school with average literacy skills behind those of white students and other races.  Looking back on the history and refinement of literacy we have come a long way from our past generations, but still have work to do.  We all know that college graduates have a better chance at receiving a better income and various careers choices than drop outs.  Expressing dismay in the last statements we have to do more, be hand on with our children and lead by example, that both ours and our children’s generations won’t become a statistic.

However, we can rejoice in our literacy accomplishments. President Barak Obama, is the first black man to ever reach presidency in our nation’s history.  We have professors, doctors and lawyers all races with articulacy skills, dedication and the capability to pass on information.  Literacy consisting of two parts both reading and writing we have to consider that there’s a third part being comprehension, that we truly understand the importance of education and become more eager and willing to learn and articulate then “The sky is truly the limitless”.













Defining Literacy

Khouri Moore

Engl 1102: Blog 1

January.23, 2015

Defining Literacy

Literacy can be defined in several different ways. The definition just depends on who you ask. According to google, literacy is simply defined as the ability to read and write but I agree to disagree. I believe that literacy is the ability to understand and master a certain subject or area. This concept is not limited to reading and writing. However, I also believe that reading and writing is the foundation of all other literacies. Take a mechanic for example, I’m pretty sure there is some reading required to complete a task that he/she has to complete but reading may not be their strongest suit. This doesn’t stop them from getting the job done.

People can be literate in many different areas. Think about the math teachers who stumbles over words while reading, or the English professor that cannot perform long division in their heads. They are not illiterate, they just specialize in a certain area of literacy.

Literacy or the state of being literate is very important in my opinion. It makes understanding what goes on in today’s society a lot easier. Which brings me to my next point, new literacies. One of the questions in the prompt was, Are workers who have limited or no textual literacy better at “new” literacies? For me to answer this question, I had to first learn what is meant by “new” literacies. In this case, new literacies refers to new ways literacy is made possible through digital technology. Based off of googles definition, I would have to say no, workers who are out of touch or limited to textual literacies could not be better at new literacies. Technology is a very complicated concept that we have adopted into our lives, and anyone who uses any form of technology knows that reading is a required literacy to have in order to use that certain technology in the right way.

Blog Post unus: Literacy

Literacy is defined by the dictionary as, "The State or condition of being literate."

That begs the question: what is the definition of literate? The dictionary defines literate as, "Able to read and write. Having knowledge or learning. Educated. Cultured."

Literacy is a gift that has waxed and waned with time. Many of us consider literacy as something something special and abundant to us in the 20th and 21s century and rarer in ancient times. In reality, ancient cultures such as the Romans had high literacy rates. If you've ever been to Rome you would understand why they were so literate. It was because they had to be; the written word was all around them on their shops, businesses, signs, temples, and so on. And the Romans brought their written world everywhere they went, which was most of western Europe.

The major event that coincided with massive drops in literacy in the western world was the fall of the Roman Empire.

The destruction of the great Library of Alexandria, resulting in the loss of untold amounts of human knowledge.


What followed the collapse of Rome is what we lovingly refer to as "The Dark Ages," when wars were constant, disease was rampant, and literacy was at an all time low. Only the rich and holy men knew how to read and write. It wasn't really until around the renaisance era and onward that we start to see literacy rates really start to rise again. This coincided with the spread of books, thanks to the printing press, as well as the increase in formal education. People learned how to read in school and then could teach their family how to read as well.

What time taketh away, time giveth back. And we are all fortunate for that.

Sources Cited:

The Reader's Digest Great Encyclopedic Dictionary, including Funk & Wagnalls Standard College Dictionary. Pleasantville, N.Y.: Reader's Digest Association, 1966. 790. Print.

Blog Post #1: A Definition to Literacy

In basic terms, literacy is known to most as just reading and writing, however, it is far more complex. It is an indicator of your intellectual level and means of communication.  Also, as you progress further in strengthening your literacy, you can comprehend different texts and take parts of them to create your own perspectives and meanings of different issues and theories around the world. Literacy has come along way. It is crazy to think, centuries ago, most people knew how to speak, but not how to read or write. Now, reading and writing are top priority and a must.

"But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice."

Imagine if there was not such a thing as literacy. We would not have the Declaration of Independence, which was a written document from our founding fathers giving us freedom to live in the great place called America. We would not have the Constitution, which states our rights as people of America. An influential leader such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would not have been able to compose such a moving speech that caused a nation to realize where it faults lied, how to change them, and the outcomes to come from them. He did not make a simple statement of the issues. He used techniques and metaphors, repetition, personification, and other figurative language to convey his position of the issue at hand. Presidents such as Barack Obama would not have been able to make persuasive speeches to win elections. The oh-so cherished Twilight Saga would not even exist without the authors literacy skills. Importantly enough, take yourself for an example. You would not be able to read a simple word like stop, which is vital if you drive(which most due), because there are a ton all across America. You would not be able read the sign on a cup of coffee that says something caution I’m hot.

Not all people use literacy in the most accurate  way. Terms such as bitch and ass had actual definition( bitch meaning a female dog and ass meaning a donkey). Then some how it strayed from its true meaning.  In a way, it is quite clever to compare some to a profane word, but at the same time it can be inappropriate. Also, texting is a very unique sort of literacy skill. Take the word skater for example. In texting you would type it as sk8, because the number eight has the same pronunciation as ate(the ending of the word skate). Using the number as a replacement allows the person texting to  type faster.

Literacy should not be taken for granted and should be appreciated by all. We have become who we are today thanks to literacy. We should take pride in how far it has taken us. With literacy, you and I have the ability to do almost anything.

Sources Cited:

Martin Luther King Jr.."I Have A Dream". American Rhetoric. Web.  23 Jan. 2015.

Literacy: Successful Communication Through Masses & Time

The traditional approach to defining literacy would in simplest terms be the ability to read and write. In the recent decades we seem to be moving from the traditional definition and more into one that basically states that literacy is the ability to receive and send messages successfully to indicate knowledge and understanding of a specific subject area. There are two definitions that I feel sufficiently define literacy.

“Literacy is not the name for a finite technology, set of skills, or any other ‘thing’. We should recognize, rather, that there are many specific literacies, each compromising an identifiable set of socially constructed practices...” Source: Lankshear, 1987 (1)

“Literacy involves a complex set of abilities to understand and use the dominant symbol systems of a culture for personal and community development at home and at work. The need and demand for these abilities vary in different contexts and societies. In a technological society, the concept is expanding to include digital media in addition to print alphabets and numbers. Individuals must be given learning opportunities to move along a continuum that includes reading, writing, and numeracy in print and digital environments and the critical understanding and decision-making abilities they need in their lives. However a culture defines it, literacy touches every aspect of individual and community life.” Source: The Centre for Literacy,1989, revised in 2014. (2)

I feel that these two definitions are appropriate definitions of literacy considering the age we are currently in. Literacy is now a noun that should be accompanied by an adjective to depict the subject being described. It is a proficient display of knowledge and understanding of a subject. People can consider themselves literate in things such as wine literacy, health literacy, social literacy, etc. We are now realizing that we communicate successfully through other means besides reading and writing, so we should not only be measured on our ability to communicate successfully through those two, but also the other means. People communicate differently based upon the subject matter and their knowledge on it and so their competence level changes with the specific subject.

Illustration Source: Little Boy Teaching Adult A, B, C's on Computer (3)

In addition to literacy being defined by specific areas, I also think that literacy is also something that is measured in levels. Typically adults are on a high reading literacy level than children are. This does not mean the children are illiterate, but simply that they are on a lower level for reading literacy. Today most children have a much high literacy rate in understanding how to operate and use the new devices and applications that are coming out while it may take their parents a longer period of time to figure out how to operate and use them to their optimum ability.

Using the simplified definition of literacy being the ability to receive and send messages successfully, literacy is a necessity. It is want allows us to successfully communicate in receiving, sending or both to people of the past, present, and future times. There are certain types of literacy that should always be preserved such as the ability to read and write/compose since it is a adequate way of gaining knowledge and understanding the events and state of being people of the past went through and why.

Instead of trying to narrow down the definition of literacy to specific subject and ability and I think it is better suited to say in a more generalized tone that literacy is the ability to competently give an indication of knowledge and understanding on (a) specific subject(s). What do you think?

Sources Cited:

(1) Lankshear, C. Unknown. Unknown, 1987. Electronic.

(2) Literacy, The Centre for. What Is Literacy? 1989.

(3) Unknown. Little Boy Teaching Adult A, B, C's on Computer. Unknown.

Defining Literacy with JCook

Defining what literacy is has become a difficult task because a few years ago being literate meant being able to read and write a just enough to get what you need accomplished. According to Ohio Literacy Resource Center, to be considered literate now means being able to read and write on a certain level to solve problems and make decisions in your personal life and your work place. Also, it is important that adults are proficient at math, as well as knowing how to use technology. Just knowing how to read and write is not enough to be considered literate.

I want to touch on the topic of “knowing how to use technology” because I know from personal experiences that every person with a smartphone do not know how to properly work them. In Ivan B article The U.S.A. Loves Smartphones, but only if they’re Expensive he wrote, “nearly 60% of Americans Adults own a smartphone.” This article help prove my theory about Americans having smartphone because its popular and/or expensive not because they are essential to their business life. In the past smartphones were used by corporate Americans who wanted to be able to take their “office” on the go with them. Now statistic shows that 41.6% of smartphone users over the age of 13 owned an iPhone, making it the most popular smartphone in the country. (Ivan, p.1)

Reading this article made me wonder, “if knowing how to use technology is essential to being literate how come 11 million adults in the US have limited literacy when over 60% of American Adults own a smartphone?” Then I started to think about my grandmother who recently got an iPhone 6 Plus and called me over to set up her phone. SET UP HER PHONE! Wow! So I asked my grandmother, “Why did you get this phone?” Her answer was because she wanted to be able to get on Facebook and connect her Candy Crush with her Facebook friends. Here I am thinking why is she paying for all this data but she does not know how to work her phone or compose an email. If we compare my grandmother to the new definition of literacy she would be classified as someone with limited literacy because she do not know how to use technology. That is why we have 11 million adults in the US with limited literacy. They are not taking their time to figure out the use new technology but they are buying it because everyone else has it. So technically, everyone is illiterate in one way or another. The computer geek could possibly be illiterate because without his computer he does not know how to read aloud. He might find himself stuttering or mispronouncing words because his computer has always highlighted words that were used in the wrong tense.

Instead of downloading Candy Crush and other fun games we should download sentence structure games or math solver games. If you asked me I think that technology hinder us to a certain extent. When we go to compose a sentence we have auto-correction and auto spell check. So nobody is really being great scholars and memorizing textual rule of thumbs. Americans have a different mentality then the rest of the world that is why we are so low on the literacy proficiency list. So my question to the class is, “How literate are you? Could a full time college student be considered illiterate because he/she rather stick to the basic literate skill instead of being technology savvy or vice versa?”


Blog Post #1: Defining Literacy

Literacy —”using printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential” (USDE NCES, 2007, p. 246)—is important in academic and non-academic workplaces. A slightly extended definition of literacy is “the knowledge and skills needed by adults, in life and at work, to use information from various texts (e.g., news stories, editorials, manuals, brochures) in various formats (e.g., texts, maps, tables, charts, forms, time tables). [Adults need the] ability to retrieve, compare, integrate, and synthesize information from texts and to make inferences, among other skills” (IES).

In this image, “Digital Natives,” (Cristóbal Cobo Romaní, used here courtesy of a CC license), we see young children learning to use the tools of digital media production and consumption. In media and communication studies, the generations who have grown up with the internet and ubiquitous personal computing are sometimes describes as “digital natives” who intuitively understand how to use and communicate via digital and social media. What do you think of this description? Does everyone have equal access to such tools from an early age? Does simply having access to such tools result in enhanced digital literacy?

Many of us are unaware of the extent of literacy problems in the US and mistakenly assume the US has among the highest literacy rates in the world. While reported statistics vary depending on the survey and organization, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) survey indicates the U.S. ranks “16th out of 23 countries in literacy proficiency, 21st in numeracy proficiency, and 14th in problem solving in technology-rich environments” (Rogers, 2013). Who’s ahead of the US in literacy proficiency? A number of countries, including (in order) Japan, Finland, Netherlands, Australia, Sweden, Norway, Estonia, Belgium, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Canada, Korea, UK, Denmark, and Germany (OECD, p. 29). Continue reading Blog Post #1: Defining Literacy