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5.1: Understanding Literacy

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    When you first learn to read, you learn to decode or simply to make sense of the symbols you see. When you first learn to write, you learn to use those symbols to communicate on a very basic level. We call this ability to read and write literacy. Literacy is also diverse, especially since we all come from different backgrounds with many different experiences that shape our knowledge base.

    For example, one person may be literate when it comes to reading a car’s technical manual – essentially, they’ll know what it’s trying to say. On the flipside, another person may look at a car’s technical manual and not have any background knowledge about automobile mechanics. Without that developed background knowledge, understanding the technical manual may be a challenging task.

    At some point, basic level literacy simply doesn’t cut it. As you continue to learn, you move beyond those basics into more complex literacy.


    Homework 5: Literacy

    Read and annotate the Essay for Homework 5, written by Sherman Alexie in which he discusses his experience learning to read. It serves as an example of literacy and how his knowledge base grew. Answer the following questions in complete sentences and paragraphs.

    1. Compare and contrast some of the ways Alexie developed literacy with the ways you have developed literacy.
    2. Summarize an episode in your life where you (or someone close to you) were impacted by literacy level and then explain the consequence from that experience.
    3. Reflecting on what you wrote for questions 1 and 2, what can you conclude about the importance of literacy in everyday life?

    This page titled 5.1: Understanding Literacy is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Amee Schmidt & Donald Winter.

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