Wrapping Up

Trisha used a Wordle of all her posts, which I was also planning on doing.  So, at the risk of repetition of method but at the hope of adding another layer to the discussion started with Trish’s Wordle, here’s mine (I can’t figure out how to embed it, so you’ll just have to follow the link):

I’m not surprised that literacy, technology, reading, and writing are the main terms, but I am perhaps more struck at the others that are roughly the same size as each other but smaller than the key terms of the course: curious, wondering, think, discussion.  When I put those two groups together, I see the former cluster as the topics of the course and the latter cluster as the means, the methodology, for approaching them.  The one word that stands out to me the most in the Wordle is in the upper left corner: though.  I see that word as a pivot point, a hinge in a sentence that signals a change in direction in thinking, which I think is an apt characterization of my engagement with literacy this semester.  I did a “find all” through my posts for “though,” and here is a small sampling:

* I’d like to teach a big novel, though I find myself worried about the students’ attention span.

* I found myself swept up in Selfe’s call for technological literacy (though by the end I increasingly wanted her to define what exactly “paying attention” looks like).

* I’m wondering, though, if my hesitancy to read on a Kindle is more than just a fear of how it would change my comprehension and note-taking and writing.

Throughout all my posts, I see a pattern of making some sort of claim and then second-guessing it or returning to it, rethinking it in light of some other thought, which now, at the end of the semester, is what I’d like to do with my understanding of literacy itself.  I notice that both Justin and Trish’s wrap up posts wrestle with definitions of literacy, which brings us back to the opening activity of our class, that free write where we tried to define literacy.  And my post––and much of my work in this course––seems to be doing the same, curious[ly] wondering and think[ing] via discussion about literacy, technology, reading, and writing.  In my free write on the first day of the course, I contentedly defined literacy through Charles Schuster, who sees it as “the power to be heard,” and I find myself still attached to that idea of literacy because of the agency it entails and the political/social issues it raises with the notion of “power” and “being heard.”  Though now (and here’s my characteristic “though” sentence), I’m not sure that definition works as well for me, because it doesn’t take into account the inherent dynamic between literacy and technology that we’ve been exploring all semester.  And a second reservation: the premium placed on “being heard” is an able-bodied metaphor, and I wonder about those without a physical voice and how they too might be heard and be accounted for in a definition of literacy.  And a third objection: being heard is about the production of discourse (another key idea of the course) but it doesn’t take into account listening, which I believe to be just as important as being heard.

And so, at the end of this semester, I find myself returning again to try to define what literacy is.  I want a definition that takes into account the relationship between technology and literacy, between being heard and listening that doesn’t rely upon some sort of able-bodied metaphor as Schuster’s does.

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3 Responses to Wrapping Up

  1. red says:

    Sorry, Peter!, but you know what they say…the early bird gets the Wordle. I joke. It is a good way to organize your thinking. Great post!

  2. Eyma Runner says:

    Love the pun. Love it!