Day 14:Literacy for Life


It is too easy to see literacy as a domain of words, a discreet procession of phonology¹, orthography² and semantics³ and while each of these is important, they are but tools for a greater purpose. To use a cliché sometimes we miss the wood for the trees. The UNESCO definition of someone who is ‘literate’ is, to paraphrase, one who is able to participate fully in their community and wider society. We forget this at our peril in schools. Students should not just ‘do’ a subject since subjects are at best artificial administrative divisions within a wider educational process. If so then an educated student, when they go into the wider world, if they are truly literate, can go beyond language, numbers and images to a deep understanding of the underlying cultural morés of society and in the present climate this is the greatest challenge facing all of us.

Graham Macleod @mcdhsb

Phonology¹ is the study of the sound system of languages

An Orthography² is a set of conventions for how to write a language. It includes rules of spelling, hyphenation, capitalization, word breaks, emphasis, and punctuation.

Semantics³ the branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning.desktop_literacy_image


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