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Literacy and the Politics of Education Summary Essay

In the article, “Literacy and the Politics of Education,” author C. H. Knoblauch touches on a deeper understanding about the concept of literacy. His perspective conveys that literacy is much more than what society usually perceives it as; just reading and writing. Clearly laid out in his essay are four notable types of literacy which are: functional literacy, cultural literacy, critical literacy, and personal growth literacy. Knoblauch chose this subject in order to express his frustration on societies and their lack of motivation to excel being literate.

He feels that America is becoming more illiterate since the development of new technology. Not that more Americans are forgetting how to read and write, but that more are failing to use literacy as a means of enriching themselves and furthering themselves through life. The most prevalent form of literacy, especially in the United States, is functional literacy. It exists not as an art, not to paint a picture, or to express emotions. Functional literacy is, in all scenarios, a technical basis of reading and writing; just enough to get by in life. Functionalists will read what concerns them.

And they certainly only write what they must, whether it is a legal document or sending a simple email. It is the literacy that exists in the very basic everyday functions for people. Cultural Literacy is just as the title suggests. It is literacy that is dependent on the individual or groups of individuals. It is passed down from generation to generation. The idea is that people rate literacy with judgment values free of influence from any government. This could most purely be portrayed as an American farming family, living far from the nearest town or city.

The children are home-schooled so now the parents’ literacy is passed to the children. But more than that, the literacy passed also “includes the awareness of the cultural heritage. ” (Knoblauch) The third type of literacy noted is called critical literacy. This type stems from the Marxist theory, and is also deemed as a negative in our American society. It is the type of literacy that motivates people to urge for change in their current society. It refutes dominant organizations, and urges that all people have equal opportunities.

The final form of literacy, the personal growth belief, states that language is a tool to communicate the greater inner power of the human mind. This type of literacy is connected to the way humans develop cognitive thinking. It thrives on achievement and power. This type of literacy argues for the sake of literacy itself. It wants individuals to embrace literacy and let their minds wander into their own imaginations. In conclusion, literacy indeed takes many forms. “Literacy is one of those mischievous subjects. ”(Knoblauch).


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