Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Life-long Literacy

Question: When do we stop learning to be literate?

Comment: When we are dead—and maybe (hopefully), not then. RayS.

Answer: “We must recognize literate activity as always on a lifelong continuum, from birth to death, and extending across generations. Only when the age continuum is recognized in full can we sufficiently appreciate the active and changing of literate lives.” P. 603.

Comment: I always knew that learning to write was a life-long learning experience. With each new format, and each new writing situation, I knew I would be learning to write all over again.

My most recent change in literate practice came when I purchased a Kindle from I had already rejected the scrolling of print on a computer screen. Someone once said that human beings had rejected the scroll in favor of pages long ago. Scrolling made me uncomfortable, unable to do the kind of skimming and scanning I used to uncover ideas quickly.

But with Kindle, as with other E-readers, I could turn pages. Again, however, the medium of the E-reader made skimming and scanning and jumping from page to page, from beginning to end and back again difficult with the Kindle. I also found highlighting clumsy and time consuming. With a book, I could quickly jump from topic sentence to topic sentence, from paragraph on a page to a paragraph in the next page easily, and I could jot notes in the margin with speed and ease.

What I discovered, however, was that the E-reader was perfect when I was not searching for new ideas, but re-reading the books I had already read. I found myself turning page after page of Sarah Orne Jewett’s A Country Doctor that I had read long ago, relaxed, savoring the ideas, the description, the story telling.

So I have adjusted. Whereas I almost never re-read a book that was a physical book, with the Kindle I am now re-reading Dickens, Twain, and even “Bitter Bierce,” relaxed and reflective. With new books, I continue searching for ideas by skimming, scanning, first paragraph, last paragraph, topic sentences, etc. for ideas. It’s also how I read my professional journals. But every day I take time to peruse in relaxed fashion books that I have read in the past. I learned at age 76 to change my practices in literacy. RayS.

Title: “Resisting Age Bias in Digital Literacy Research.” Lauren Marshall Bowen. College Composition and Communication (July 2011), 586-607.

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