Q: How is your language literacy apart of your identity?

I am lucky enough to call the great state of New Jersey my home. New Jersey the land of Taylor Ham, subs, and going “down the shore” has been very influential in shaping me into the young woman I am today but when I got to college I quickly had my NJ-language literacy put on the chopping block. If there was a Buzzfeeed list (and there very well might be) of the top conversations you have in college this would be #1. I am referring to the “How Do You Say?” test that often takes place during late night chats in the dorm lounge Freshman year. In those conversations I stand by my use of the term “sub” and “soda” but my Mid-Western peers will not budge with “pop” and “hoagie.” I think those heated conversations happen so often because for most this is the first time our language literacy is the center of attention.

I thought of these terminology conversations when reading the Language Diversity and Learning chapter. The same attachment we, college students, have to our home terminology is similar to the attachment young students have to their home/community languages. I agree with the reading; teachers everywhere need to stop “correcting” Ebonics or ‘Non-Standard English’ and instead incorporate it in lesson plans while teaching code-switching for optional future endeavors. As a class on literacy I wonder if I am the only one who feels indebted to my home state and it’s lingo. Is your language literacy apart of your identity? How so?

Q: Are School Teachers Really Sponsors of Literacy?

Blog for January 19th:

My sister and I always have the same fight. Without fail we habitually  argue about cleaning up. Since I usually helped my sister wash her dishes, clean her room, and tidy up before her friends come over, I expected that she would do the same but that is where I was wrong. My mother usually butted in mid-screaming match and advised that “one should not do for others, expecting anything in return.” After several reoccurring fights and maturing I have found this advice useful but it contradicts Brandt’s theory that sponsors of literacy encourage literate activities to “gain advantage.”

I think this idea of “gain[ing] advantage” and sponsorship does not encompass the job of a teacher. While Brandt list teachers as a main sponsor of literacy I do not think that teachers choose a life of reading/writing instruction for personal gain. As an aspiring teacher I can say that I plan to teach reading/writing for the sole benefit of my deserving students. The barely there money incentives of teaching is definitely not what I am seeking walking into my classroom each day. Frankly even in my future career my mother’s advice pertains, I will teach for students but I do not expect any personal “advantage” from them. So my question is, are school teachers really sponsors of literacy?

Q: School Programs: Writing vs Reading

We have had discussions in class, in which, programs of our schools were brought up that promoted literacy. Reading contests, pizza parties, and accelerated reader were some of the things that were brought up, and I would love to see your opinions on these programs. Did they help you? Did you enjoy them? How did your parents react to them?

Another thing I was wondering about, is the fact that not one of us could remember programs like this for writing. I challenge us to think a little harder and try to remember anything remotely like the things we talked about in class. For my middle school, we had a program that taught us how to write a five paragraph essay while thinking of the writing as the parts of a cheeseburger. If in the end we successfully wrote a “cheeseburger” essay we could be at the cheeseburger party. Any other programs you can think of? If not why do you think reading programs are favored over writing programs in schools?

Dwayne Lowery

In class on Thursday we discussed Brandt’s article, “Sponsors of Literacy,” where we read about Dwayne Lowery’s story.  He worked in a factory for a period of time before he attended a four month training in union organizing and subsequently became a field staff representative for the union.  When he began working, he had an advantage because of his training, but soon after, the companies responded to the union power by hiring lawyers.  The language and process was changing and Lowery fell behind, so he was forced into early retirement.  A recent MA graduate replaced him because of the “high track” literacy that was now required by the job.

In my group, we discussed the problematic nature of Lowery’s situation and we even thought that it might be a disadvantage to the union to replace Lowery with someone new because Lowery had so much more knowledge from working with the union for so long.  It also goes against the ideals of a union, which is to protect workers like Lowery.  Do you think that there’s any way to reconcile the newly required essayist writing skills with Lowery’s experience?  Is there any way that it would have been feasible for Lowery to keep his job?  Do you think that Lowery still could have helped the union even though he didn’t have the “essayist” skills?

Question: How has curiosity affected your literacy?

While reading “Lives on the Boundary” by Rose, he mentioned his story of getting so interested in chemistry so much so that he got the chemistry set and began to learn. This sparked my interest as well as my question of “How has curiosity affected your literacy?” Before we address this question, we have to begin at not everyone can afford to be curious. There are cultures and situations, in particular, financial, in which one’s ability to be curious may be limited. For example, in my family and the environment I was raised in, I was blessed to be in a financially stable situation, but my culture did not allow for curiosity in terms of social events. I was not allowed to go to hang out with friends over night, I wasn’t allowed to go to “parties”, I was also not allowed to consider things that fostered creativity. I was pushed to do more academic pursuits. Considering all of this, “How has curiosity affected your literacy?” I believe being pushed toward the academic side of learning has benefited me in many ways. I took a lot of online classes growing up in math and science and that really fostered that curiosity. I began to enjoy those academic pursuits. In doing so, I think it left me a little socially delinquent. Learning those social cues and “social literacy”, if you will, was a hard transitional period in the first semester of college. What about you? How has your upbringing and moreso your curiosity affected your literacy?

The Economy & Literacy

In the article “Sponsors of Literacy” Deborah Brandt discusses a few cases where literacy has impacted the job market for selected individuals. Through the stories of Dwayne Lowery, Carol White, Sarah Steele, Raymond Branch, and Debora Lopez, we can see how society’s economic prosperity and literacy have a great influence on each other, as they jointly grow together.
Based on this information, how do you think the role of literacy influences the economic development of this country? What variables do you think cause one to succeed in economic literacy and one to fail? Going along with what Brandt states at the end (last paragraph on page 183) do you think we are in pursuit of literacy or that literacy is in pursuit of us? Or do you see it as a combination of the two?

Question: Who were your Sponsors of Literacy?

After reading the article on Sponsors of Literacy, I wondered who my sponsors of literacy were. I thought about my parents for putting me through school and now through college so that one day I can take full care of myself, my teachers for teaching me how to do those things and succeed at them, and society in general for requiring such great skills and assets from me in order to be successful in the future. However, all three groups had their own intentions. My parents in order to raise me well enough to take on the world, my teachers in order to do their jobs and do them well for their own benefit, and society for increasing that class gap and making economic gain through education and training in order for individuals such as myself to become more “literate.”

So, who are your sponsors of literacy? What do you believe were their intentions when they “sponsored” you? Were they good or bad intentions? Who benefited more from this “sponsorship?” What does that sponsor mean to you now? Do you believe that Brandt’s idea of “Sponsors of Literacy” holds true in your life?

I feel as if all of us will have very different experiences, and thus very different answers to this question.

Question: How do individual circumstances change our views?

In the Rose and Akinnaso readings for Tuesday, it is made clear they are ‘different’ from those around them. For Akinnaso, this is explicit. He is one of the most educated people in his entire village–his literacy achievements alone carry enough weight to immediately delegate foreign affairs to his handling. As for Mike Rose, he is the child of semi-literate parents (both have had some schooling, but not past what would generally be a middle school education). Among his classmates, he is at different times a high-track student placed with low-track students, and a student with a partial low-track education placed in the higher track, giving him an outsider’s view of both tracks.

Additionally, both take it upon themselves to continue their education on their own time. Akinnaso orders catalogs from London and goes out of town to find more Shakespeare and atlases. Rose carefully experiments with chemistry sets and other potentially explosive substances out of curiosity, and later joins Mr. MacFarland’s ‘salon’ to further explore avant-garde literature outside of the classroom. Mike Rose is an extremely special case, having been kept on the low-track due to a clerical error, then promoted upon its discovery.

Their education, while opening up further opportunities, both elevates them in society (literacy as a state of grace) and alienates Akinnaso, who begins to question his ancestral customs and is monitored closely by his father.

Because of these collective experiences, these two are somewhat outsiders to their own culture. Their experiences and upbringing similar, but with occasional diverging points. Additionally, all of the research and reports we’ve read in class have come from those elevated and given extreme status due to their education. Because of these achievements, we trust them to accurately represent these dilemmas. None of these reports were directly written by the illiterate.

How does the literacy of these writers effect their ability to evaluate literacy? Are they more likely to stress or down-play the importance of literacy because of this? Also, in the cases of Rose and Akinnaso, do their positions as ‘outsiders’ change the way they view those around them? Do they inadvertently incorporate the myth of literacy into their analyses?

Akinnaso remarks towards the end of his reading that individualism is seemingly a result of read and writing (153). Do you agree with this? How might his unique position in his culture influence this view? Is it consistent with our previous readings?

Question: Sponsors of Literacy

Towards the end of Thursday’s class, we discussed Deborah Brandt’s Sponsors of Literacy and how she specifically defined people/things that sponsor literacy. At the end of her definition she says, “and gain advantage by it in some way.” What type of “advantage” does she mean by this? Is it strictly monetary value or is it more? Then, are there possibilities in where people don’t gain an advantage, but rather do it for other reasons?

Q: Are there literacy stages?

This question is posed in two parts. First, do you think it is possible to categorize literacy as learning stages? In development, there are so many facets of one’s life that are broken down into milestones which should be met in other to prove normal progression. Do you believe that learning to be literate has milestones such as these? Do children develop literacy skills or is each new skill separate from one another. Secondly, if you believe there are stages, what do you find the most crucial to be. Do stages allow for one to decide if someone is literate or not?

Thank you!