It is so easy for us to say that literacy is the most powerful tool at our disposal to give us freedom of speech, freedom of action and freedom of life. It is more complicated a question to ask what is literacy. In this age of technological advancement, the questions of literacy is continually expanding. From doing the most medial tasks, to trying to convince a nation that the words that are being expressed can be converted to action, the way we use literacy continually develops. We can no longer see literacy as being literate, or illiterate, but must look upon literacy as a way of expression through not only words and writing, but all other avenues of media that are at our disposal. I will look at how literacy gives us freedom in a globalised world through the understanding of different cultures, the use of technology and the literacy tools at our disposal.
As Nakamura (2002, p. 64) expressed, “Globalisation is neither the convergence of westernisation nor Americanisation.” What this means is that we must look broader than just Western Europe, or the United States to see what globalisation is, and if we want to have true freedom, we must then understand and work with the cultures that surround us. Victoria is an example with its “thriving multicultural society. Our population hails from over 230 nations, speaks 180 languages and dialects and follows more than 116 religions” (Department of Education and Early Childhood, 2009). With the ease of travel, and vastness of communication we can no longer live in a monolingual and monocultural society. The world is rapidly changing and multifaceted. With this rapid change, the 1
opportunity arises to educate our students to be a part of this change. It is impossible to have a full understanding of all these different cultures, let alone the differences in culture within this. The task would be made even more impossible without the help of literacy, in its many forms.
So what is Literacy exactly? Long have the days past that literacy can be expressed beyond simple printed literacy. There have so many forums of literacy to express ourselves, and we can use these different forums to express different purposes and in different context. Literacy can be expressed by reading the newspaper from print or online, listening to the newspaper on the internet and watching stories interactively. We can use literacy to express our views on news stories in so many different ways. We can create blogs and wiki’s so that we not only express our viewpoint, but expect to be critically analised by people we will never meet, let alone know. We can express this viewpoint in our own web sites, that can be viewed by milllions, or by text on social networks such as Facebook (2010), a social network with a population of over 400 million users. We can also use literacy to express ourselves by video and publish our work on sites such as youtube which has over 120 million US members alone. Jarboe (2009) also states that over twenty hours of video information is published every minute of the day. These figures are immense compared to exposure of literature that we have been used to in the past. These vast figures also show that today, literacy is a far easier skill to appreciate and have than before and we can use literacy to give us freedom.
Even today we measure literacy skills on how well we read and write. As previously stated, there are so many ways that we can use literacy to express ourselves and hence enjoy freedom that method of testing of literacy is far outdated. Every second year the Australian education system tests our students in grade 5, year 7 and year 9 for their literacy and numeracy skills in a national competency test known as AIMS testing. The results of these tests are published and presented to the public via a website, http://www.myschool.edu.au/. To me this is an absolute contradiction in terms. How can be test...