May 1, 2013
Regina Vega, MA
Understanding Literacy in the Classroom
An estimated twenty-two million people each year are added to the adult illiterate population in the United States (The Talking Page, 2007). To define the term “literacy” on its own results in an extremely vague and ambiguous meaning. Literacy often used metaphorically to designate basic competencies and many times the definition becomes misinterpreted. When the term is focused toward educational and classroom settings the definition becomes somewhat easier to interpret. Many individuals define “educational literacy” simply as possessing the ability to read and write, when in fact, “educational literacy” encompasses a much more complex meaning and contains many elements and traits. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines literacy as the, “Ability to identify, understand, interpret, create and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts.” The UNESCO firmly believes that literacy is an important part of a person’s ability to develop knowledge and potential, allowing him or her to reach goals, and participate fully in his or her community and other parts of society (United Nations Educational, 2004). The power of the written word was an uncommon interest during the early 19th century. It was not uncommon to come across individuals who did not have the opportunity to learn to read or write however, for most, education began at the mother’s knee, and almost always included the Bible. Starting in their early years, most children had mastered the art of reading before stepping into a classroom. Illiteracy surveys examined a very fundamental level of reading and writing, therefore literacy rates were as high if not higher than they are today. Currently, literacy is a very different issue, focusing more on functional literacy, which addresses...