Literacy in Our Families

Hey Everyone,

Due to the fact that everyone was trying to get back this weekend from the holiday my flight got cancelled then delayed… profusely, ergo I was not able to attend class yesterday. Anyway I hope everyone’s Thanksgiving was great! In this post I actually wanted to carry over something I learned over the holiday break.

Every Thanksgiving my mother and I spend a day cooking for our family, and this Thanksgiving my mother let me use her great-grandmothers rolling-pin (I know you’re all jealous). As I was using the rolling-pin my mother decided to tell me the story behind it. I just thought it was a normal cooking utensil, little did I know this rolling-pin was full of illiteracy. This rolling-pin was a wedding gift from my mothers great-grandmothers brother, I hope you all followed that. Anyway, he couldn’t write, but he wanted to some how sign his name on this gift he carved for his sister so he created a symbol for himself. There was an arrow carved in the ends of the rolling-pin, apparently this arrow could be translated as George, but I just thought it was so fascinating that I had this story of sweet illiteracy within my family.

This story made me wonder if anyone else had any stories of direct illiteracy in their family?

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14 Responses to Literacy in Our Families

  1. maria23 says:

    I can’t say that I can cite any specific illiteracy in my family, but I think this story is awesome and really interesting. It reminded me of the Lu article, where she recalls workds taking on new meanings as her literacy grew. I feel the same could be said of pictures, images, and symbols like the one found on this rolling pin. I feel that symbols can have the power to forge identity, without the complication and confusion that can come with the misinterpretation of words. At times it also seems that symbols can do a better job of representing who we are as people. Think about it, not everyone knows the entire Declaration of Independence or what all of it means, but when people look at the American flag, there is a unified understanding around this symbol of our freedom.

    • Natalie says:

      OR is that a type of literacy? If the means of expression is not through reading or writing, does it mean that he was illiterate? Perhaps your mother’s great-grandmother’s brother wasn’t able to use print, but he was able to use other means of representation. The symbol came from somewhere, right? He was literate in wood-carving and I can tell you, I am illiterate in workshop.

      My grandma moved to America from Slovakia with other immigrants and learned English from the people of the streets. She lived in a neighborhood of other immigrants, so she would go to other neighborhoods to hear English from children her age. In school, the teachers could not slow down the pace, so the students had to learn the language faster and on their own. With this forced ambition, they learned to read and write well because their mind was racing towards mastering the language in America. While they were busy learning words in English, they were simultaneously learning proper structure in school.

  2. Jak168 says:

    I don’t have any particular, but I loved the story. It is interesting that people who don’t have literacy skills can come up with such ways to cope.

    The closest thing I can come up with is an example of my grandfather. He was extremely literate in the reading and writing sense. He would have a book read in a few hours. He was always interested in genealogy, so we got him a computer. He pretty much taught himself how to use it, and traced family as far back as you could imagine. It was really quite fascinating when you think about it!