Merriam-Webster defines literacy as the ability to read and write. The term may also refer to familiarity with literature and to a basic level of education obtained through the written word(Merriam-Webster, 2012). Most people have absolutely no idea what it means to be literate; what tribulations had to be endured in order for reading and writing to be extended to common individuals. Literacy was hoarded by priests, monks, and scholars during the Dark ages. It wasn’t until the invention of the Gutenberg press that written words were widely disseminated, ushering in the Reconnaissance Age. Two thousand years ago, a scholar would’ve been someone who could repeat history using the spoken word. So many transformations have taken place that the term literacy has followed suit. To read and write now encompasses the ability to operate a PC or Mac, use a word processor, and conduct internet searches. My past involves typical literacy education; pencils, pens, paper, chalkboards, etc. But it has crossed over into a newer technical form. My literacy journey started like any other American child born in 1983. I began by seeing and hearing the English language used around me. We all learn some form of communication literacy prior to formal schooling. However, school is where the journey really begins, and mine all started inside the illustrious Missouri public school system. In pre-school and kindergarten, I learned words using flash cards and a chalkboard. The teacher would send me home with new words every week to learn. Not only did I have to know the word, I had to know how to use it appropriately by the end of the week. Early on, I was taught spelling, pronunciation, and how to read/write the English language. At that time, the most effective technology for school was the overhead projector; every classroom had one. Moreover, let’s not forget about the trusty chalkboard. My school utilized those as well. I often wonder if my literacy would be higher today if information technology had come around just ten years earlier. My elementary school did have some computers. We had the old IBM “green screens.” At that time, word processing hadn’t been released so about the only thing they were good for was Oregon Trail. I didn’t know it then, but those dinosaur computers we used would be the building blocks for education and learning all around the world in a very short time.
As a young person I conducted the majority of my research with encyclopedias. My school just loved essays and the only way to do the research from home was with the help of a trusty old encyclopedia. Currently, the use of encyclopedias is all but prohibited. It’s not that research couldn’t be done with an encyclopedia; however, the work isn’t citable. Encyclopedias are no longer credible sources of information. That seems a little daunting considering the majority of all the research I did was with encyclopedias. In fact, I still own a set. It is no longer current, but that doesn’t mean the information is wrong. Ironically, almost the only source which is considered substantial is the internet.
In eighth grade, my school required me to take a typing course. I learned proper typing technique; they even nursed me to 40 words per minute. At the time, I did not understand why I was learning such a remedial task as typing. Why would I? We still had plenty of pencils and paper; I had no clue we were going to enter into an age of technology. Looking back, I should have taken that class more seriously; hindsight is 20/20 I guess. I spent the majority of that class looking for ways to get onto the internet. The only thing I could accomplish was to gain access to a word processing game.
Once in high school, the only advancement in learning technology was the change from chalkboards to Whiteboards. We still used the overhead projectors, though. My high school did have more computers but they were all located in the library and you had to pay to use them. It is safe to...
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