Literacy Narratives

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Literacy Narratives
Literacy is not simply knowing how to read and write a particular script but applying this knowledge for specific purposes in specific contexts of use.” Sylvia Scribner and Michael Cole (The Psychology of Literacy 236)
"Too often, definitions of literacy are simplistic, referring generally to the ability to read and write as isolated activities. These definitions often do not take into account the complexities of the context in which literacy acts take place." Jacqueline Jones Royster ("Black Women Writers" 227)
For your first essay, write a literacy narrative that re-tells and analyzes/interprets one important literacy moment that has made a difference in your life.
A literacy moment is an event, incident, or experience you remember that speaks to you now – as you live in the present and imagine the future – about your literacy.
An example of a literacy moment is the famous incident when Helen Keller, blind and deaf, first comes to understand the concept of language as Anne Sullivan pumps water into Helen’s hands while signing “w-a-t-e-r”. This becomes an important moment that Keller reflects on again and again. For Mike Rose, a teacher who wrote a book called Lives on the Boundary, an important literacy moment is when his test scores are mixed up with someone else’s and he is put in the lowest level classes at his school. As he looks back on this moment to describe and interpret it, he reads (interprets) it as part of his identity as a teacher, as a symbol of the problems with testing, as a way he connects with his students “on the boundary.” If, for example, Rose hadn’t become a teacher, he might have remembered this moment differently.
For your work on this paper, it’s important for you to recognize that the literacy moment you choose and how you choose to discuss it is a choice driven in part because of who you are and what matters to you as a thinker and learner. It’s also a choice driven in part by how you define literacy.
Nuts and bolts of the assignment:

  • Focus on one moment; don’t write a chronological account of your literacy.

  • Don’t just re-tell; make sure that you re-tell and analyze/interpret the moment. A way to check this is to go through and identify where you re-tell/describe and where you interpret/analyze.

  • How you re-tell and interpret that moment will help you determine your focus.

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