Literacy education: "about being in the world"
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Over about 4,000 years, the teaching of reading and writing has been recruited into contrasting, even contradictory agendas. These agendas, from the mundane to the sublime, are all readily recognizable today. Historical accounts (e.g. Fischer 2001, Thomas 2009) show us literacy education in the service of managing debts and credits; inculcating novices into sects and elites; maintaining threatened cultural and linguistic heritages; enforcing the standardization of those heritages in the “building” of nations; providing a trained, trainable citizenry in times of rapid change; provoking, legitimizing, and channelling intergroup distrust; preparing citizens for willing engagement in autocracy, democracy, and revolution – in short, in the service of control and liberation, knowledge and mystification, solidarity and discord. Historians show us literacy accelerating and inhibiting large and small transformations of personal, domestic, community, civil, and vocational life, from prehistory to now (Kaestle and Radway 2009, McKitterick 1990). The scale and depth of these transformations has been such that they have sometimes been misread as being directly and solely caused by developments in literacy technologies (Graff 2010).
The Routledge Companion to English Studies
English and Literacy Curriculum and Pedagogy (excl. LOTE, ESL and TESOL)