Literacy and Me

Do you ever feel embraced by print material the way the woman in the first picture does? Do you ever feel "read less, know more?"

Some of us come to literacy work because we love reading and writing. In tutor training at literacy programs, when we ask the question, "Why do you want to be a literacy tutor?" many reflect upon their own positive experiences reading and writing. I am one of those people. Once I learned to read, I became the kind of reader who transports herself to other worlds through reading. Reading is still a primary way I learn and writing is a primary way I express learning.

For those of us who enjoy "reading for pleasure" working in a literacy program where reading, for some, will always be a challenge, can be an awakening. For some literacy learners, working within this reality means developing "read less, know more" strategies to navigate a world that is as print-reliant as ours.

This is one of the differences that some literacy workers work across.

"Read less, know more" is similar to "speak less, get more" strategies we teach in ESL classses. If an ESL student working at a beginner level is ill, we do not tell him that he must wait until he is in level 7 before he can see a specialist. We work with him to find ways that he can access the information, resources and services he needs without speaking English (for example: finding a doctor who speaks a language in which he is fluent or using a translator).

When we teach ESL Literacy sometimes we are working with students to develop reading and writing skills and sometimes, in "read less, know more" mode, we are working with students on speaking and listening without using print and helping them develop non-reading strategies for dealing with the print material that will come into their lives (for example: how to identify what is important and what goes in the recycling bin, how to get information from the important stuff).

• What does literacy open up?
• What does it obscure?

a poem with slides by Barbara Adler

from Community Season 3 Episode 5: Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps