Literacy as the space between thought and text

With this, I suggest a view of literacy that is seen in different ways by different people. Partly because they have different desires, aspirations, projects that they wish to pursue and literacy becomes part of that endeavour.

So – when teachers talk about language and about literacy, they are familiar with different ideas about literacy

·         literacy as a series of individually possessed skills – grammar, punctuation, spelling – that is either correct or incorrect and to learn it – writers need to acquire through practice the rules

·         literacy as one resources amongst a whole series of communicative repertoires shared within communities – so – graphically (here I echo an idea about learning)  

There is possibly a third construction. (to be fair there are several (Rassool, 2009)

·         literacy as a pedagogic subject – a subject that is taught – that leans towards skills but is perhaps something distinct

This is now descending into my own blur and it is time for me to pause and come back to this tomorrow:

teachers of literacy may view literacy as a slightly different entity depending on where this literacy is located. They nay view it in their class in own way. They may view it in the lives of learners outside of their class in another way, they may view it in their own person lives in a different way altogether that may not connect to any of these other views of literacy.

This may sound confusing because I am confused and not sure of my ground or what (if anything) I’m trying to say.

But I’m pushing towards a stronger distinction then  perspective.

This is more than being daughter, wife, teacher, sister, friend or on-line participant in different places but a central narrated self – that the space between thought and text – has a different being in these places. Being is the wrong word because in hints at consciousness.

The perceptions of literacy – what it means to be literate – is fundamentally different in these places. More – literacy has a different set of boundaries in these places. The connections between thought and text are different in these places. Again – literacy is embedded in a different set of relationship sand what is required changes. One construction is able to accommodate variance; the other aspires to monolithic status.

If literacy is ‘space’ then it is what happens within that space that defines it. It is how this ‘space’ connects to other ‘spaces’ that needs to be explored. Including how it is experienced, perceived, constructed in its various spaces.  

The idea I am grasping for – of course I echo my literacy heroines – is ‘affect’ the idea of literacy in these different places as an ‘affect’ and outcome of a series of ‘socio-material relationships’ the produce a specific outcome. This of course – is too much hand-holding – and so I push it – how do teachers produce these different affects in their pedagogy, in their practice and their engagements with policy.

Well – I think I have a question.


RASSOOL, N. 2009. Chapter 1, Literacy: In search of a paradigm. In:SOLER, J., FLETCHER-CAMPBELL, F. & REID, G. (eds.) Understanding Difficulties in Literacy Development: Issues and Concepts. London: Sage Publications Ltd.
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