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Philosophy of Literacy Essay

One thing I will never forget in my Life is the miles I walked to School. I can still remember those muddy and dusty roads I walked just to get to School. Sometimes I have to Stay all day without food and water not just because I wasn’t hungry or thirsty but because my parents had no money to buy them. I did not only walk to school but I did walk without shoes or slippers on. Walking was very normal because we had no cars. There was absolutely no means of transportation. I was just 4 years old when I started walking to School.

I had always admired my teachers and all the people who could read and write. I just loved the way they talked to people. I enjoyed listening to them. School to me was a source of Hope that my life will change and it did changed my life. Without me going to school, I would have still been in Africa or may be dead. I was able to get a scholarship from Africa through my school to the United States and here am I living the dreams of my life. So if I can walk about 6 miles on those muddy and dusty roads just to get to school each day, anyone can go to School if they really want to.

Defining literacy in our changing world is not easy. Several years ago, being literate meant being able to read and write a little. Now, being literate means being able to read and write at a level to be successful in today’s world and also being proficient at math, knowing how to use technology, and knowing how to solve problems and make decisions. To me, the power of literacy lies not only in the ability to read and write, but rather in an individual’s capacity to put those skills to work in shaping the course of his or her own life.

There are basically three kinds of literacy I know. The first one is called Functional literacy which refers to the ability to read and write well enough to understand basic written information such as Newspaper headlines, Job application forms and Signs. Functional literacy incorporates reading materials that relate directly to community development and to teaching applicable or useful life skills. This to me is the most important of all the kinds of Literacy. The second one is Cultural Literacy.

Cultural literacy is the ability to engage with a culture not only as a result of rote learning like the technicalities of the language, customs and so on; but also as a result of a deeper understanding of the idioms and informal content of that culture. Although literature, language and history are useful means of gaining a deeper understanding of a culture, these alone are not sufficient if one wants to attain a state of cultural literacy: it is equally, important to be able to converse using the common-day phrases and cultural references that are used by natives of that culture.

One common example of this is the US comedy series “The Simpsons”. Someone who has no cultural literacy regarding the US would have trouble understanding many of the jokes, while if the show suddenly made lots of jokes about Chinese culture, for example, many in the US audience would be equally perplexed. Another example is that when the US was trying to persuade France to support its cause in the War of Independence in the 18th century, many learned diplomats were sent to Paris, but were unsuccessful.

Benjamin Franklin was eventually sent and although he did not know the French language very well, Franklin had an understanding of French culture and he was successful in his mission. The last kind of literacy is Critical Literacy. Critical literacy is not culture specific. It is associated with a broad range of ideas and perspectives rather than with one viewpoint. Critical literacy refers to the ability to recognize the social essence of literacy, understand the fundamentally political nature of literacy and to be able to figure out the agenda of the writer or a text.

Literacy is an important indicator of development and status. It provides access to information necessary for growth and decent living. It also provides an account of the socio-economic condition of an individual and his/her family. On the other hand, illiteracy stands for ignorance, defeatism, frustration and lack of aspiration. Literacy and education generate hope, aspiration and ability to move forward. Without you being a functional literate, you won’t be able to know about what is going on around you. Life will be miserable and fustrating.

Imagine a driver who doesn’t understand the rules and laws of the road. You will not be able to look for a job for yourself because you don’t even know where to look for it. Literacy in my opinion, involves more than just being able to read a string of letters and understand its meaning. However, a literate person must also be able to recreate those letters from memory and string them along in such a way that meaning is conveyed accurately and efficiently. This ability to write is just as essential to the definition of literacy as the ability to read is.

Without it, a person’s freedom is impinged upon; a person is left exposed to realities created by others without having the ability to refute them; much less the ability to create a new one. Again, in my opinion, a person without the ability to write is nothing more than an answering machine – a receiver of messages without the power to create his/her own recorded message. Literacy is very important in our society today. To me those who can read Shakespeare’s books are the same as those who can read a simple website. A literate remains a literate. Imagine living in a country where the President can neither read nor write.

I here by mean that, if you are not literate, you are indirectly punished because you can’t occupy important positions of responsibility. No one would trust your judgment. It is better to be the kind of person everyone likes to listen to when you talk, rather than to be the kind of person who has nothing to say and even if you have something to say, no one will like to listen to you. I’m convinced it is time everyone starts to go to school to be able read and write. You can change your life and live the dreams of your life. If I could walk 6 miles each day to School, you can do it.


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