Date of this Version
In public discourse, literacy has long been associated with schooling. Talk about literacy crises is often accompanied by calls for better schools and more rigorous curricula, and images of reading and writing are closely connected to school-based or essayist forms of literacy. However, when we widen the lens of what we consider literacy and literate activities, homes, communities, and workplaces become sites for literacy use. It was in fact in these out-of-school contexts, rather than in school-based ones, that many of the major theoretical advances in the study of literacy have been made in the past 25 years. Studies of literacy out-of-school have been pivotal in shaping the field. Indeed, to talk about literacy these days, both in school and out, is to speak of events, practices, activities, ideologies, discourses, and identities, and at times to do so almost unreflectively, since these categories and terminology have become so much a part of our customary ways of thinking in academic domains. Through an exploration of three major theoretical traditions that have launched numerous studies of literacy, we show that in large part this new theoretical vocabulary sprang from examinations of the uses and functions of literacy in contexts other than school.
Date Posted: 09 October 2008