Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Nineteenth-Century Origins of Our Times (precis)

In Graff’s study The Nineteenth-Century Origins of Our Times we see the different views of teachings and beliefs about the development of history in the 19th century. Graff expands on the views of both the “Optimists” and the “Pessimists” where the Optimists believed the worthiness of the poor and supported a free educational system which allowed the talented succeed, and the Pessimists promoted education for the poor as a way of controlling them where their “desire was to control the lower class, not to assist their advancement” (213). Graff speaks of the illiteracy findings of Soltow and Stevens where they tried to shed some light on illiteracy among whites, primarily seamen, and the reasons for their illiteracy. Their finding showed that those whites who were illiterate were primarily farmers and laborers who reflected a neglect of schooling. The illiteracy rate seems to have decreased with the promotion of reading and the press. At the time the poor were seen as immoral and those who were of superior status feared that if the poor were educated they would cause trouble. As a result, education was seen as a way to teach morality. Morality based literacy was a way for the young to assimilate to the dominion of the literate.
Graff also speaks of the high number of illiteracy among African Americans, primarily a result of slavery. White salve owners feared that like the poor, slaves who were literate would perhaps cause trouble. However, African American did what it took to gain literacy and those who were literate among them would teach one another to read. Not only did they have the white supremacists against them there were also other factors that contributed to slow progress of their advancement like the shortage of teachers and the confusing teaching methods that did nothing but confuse the students. Clearly the education system had mush to work on.
Though the educational views of today are very different than they were a century ago we often come across large numbers in some societies where illiteracy still exists. Even in big cities like Los Angeles, though rare, we come across individuals who have managed to slip through the cracks of the educational system and are fossilized in their learning advancement. It is clear that even today literacy is a form of hierarchy where the financially stable have a better chance of advancement through literacy than the not so fortunate not only because of finance but also because of circumstance.

Precis : Sponsors of Literacy by Deborah Brandt

Precis : Sponsors of Literacy by Deborah Brandt
In the article, Sponsors of Literacy, the author Deborah Brandt explores the functions of literacy in the American society and examines those who are responsible for the spread of literacy to the public, also known as sponsors of literacy. Before Brandt begins her exploration, she states that, “Literacy looms as one of the great engines of profit and competitive advantage in the twentieth century (Brandt 555)”. Therefore, it is clear that in the American culture, literacy is considered as a very valuable asset especially important for economic status as well. That then becomes the reason why Brandt feels the need to explore the different sponsors of literacy in the American culture.

Brandt then begins to explain her research methods which involved over a hundred people born between the years of 1900-1980. The selected were from diverse communities and had to forgo an in-depth interview that questioned their literacy developments throughout life.
There are three key issues that are stated by Brandt as the purpose of the interviews as well…
(1) How , despite ostensible democracy in educational chances, stratification of opportunity continues to organize access and reward in literacy learning
(2) How sponsors contribute to what is called “the literacy crisis,” that is, the perceived gap between rising standards for achievement and people’s ability to meet them
(3) How encounters with literacy sponsors, especially as they are configured at the end of the twentieth century, can be sites for the innovative rerouting of resources into projects of self-development and social change.
The conclusion that the article seems to take is that literacy is developed through different means for every individual. The sponsors of literacy play an important part, but the individual desire of literacy plays an important part as well. For instance, religion or job placement can be highly effective on the level of literacy used by individuals.

Monday, May 18, 2009

(Precis) En Los Dos Idiomas

Marcia Farr initiates her study, En Los Dos Idiomas, by stating the importance of social networks amongst immigrant families and how “they are particularly important for mexicanos because of compadrazo, “the Mexican system of godparent like relationships that function as a reciprocal exchange network to facilitate economic survival and provide emotional and social support” (468).” This strong network of intergenerational relationships provides a means by which traditions can be readily passed on, traditions of which include literacy and its importance.
Marcia introduces the term lirico which refers to the literacy they “picked up” informally from others who used only spoken language. Many of the men in her study state that because of their socio economic situation in Mexico they were unable to attend school consecutively, resulting in very minimal literacy skills, hence their dependence on lirico. Although a very informal form of literacy, lirico is remarkably effective, since most of the individuals in her study are able to cope with everyday literacy matters.
Literacy is an intensely social process which is found in the learning process itself, as

Farr explains “literacy is a social phenomenon in several aspects:
"First, it is a system or tool, created by human beings and passed one from one human being to another. Often it is accomplished though formal schooling, but it is also achieved lirico, informally, as a natural part of (nonschool) life. Second..., literacy is essential in maintaining human relationships…….. Finally, human relationships are crucial in the learning process…. Trust and commitment provide the human base from which learning and teaching are carried out. (475)"
Literacy skills correlate with the number of years of schooling as would be expected, but there are interesting exceptions, all of which have to do with personal motivations to learn and use literacy. As mentioned above, maintaining a human relationship was one of the primary reasons for the growth of literacy amongst this group of individuals studied since most of the women in their lives were still in Mexico, and maintaining that relationship with them “motivated” their knowledge and use of written language.
Literacy was very important and encouraged in this household. Children were encouraged to do bilingual studying and attend extracurricular activities, doctrina (church), where their literacy skills can further unfold. The adults, at times, even pursue personal literacy activities which help advance their own learning, such as taking GED courses or attending the weekly English courses. Literacy activities were interwoven throughout the daily lives of both adults and children.

Precise involving Heath and "Protean Shapes in Literacy Events"

In a chapter entitled, "Protean Shapes in Literacy Events: Ever-Shifting Oral and Literate Events", Shirley Brice Heath contends that it is inaccurate to limit literacy to one continuum. Instead of limiting literacy to fit within the confines of one mold, it is significant to analyze different regions within a society. Analyzing different regions enables one to take in resources available to a region to enable their literacy. For instance, an all-Black community utilizes their oral tradition which enables them to be active participants within both their community and across the globe. Brice utilizes authors such as Heath who wrote about this all-Black community, Tracton, to prove her point.
Many societal members of Tracton make sufficient money. Indeed, the income that Tracton residents bring in is often comparable to many who posses college degrees. Differing from those holding college degrees, many Tracton communes work in mills. Rather than focusing their literacy on defining it as an ability to write, Tracton people uphold oral tradition as being vital to their definition of literacy. Often times, Tracton people read about current events; for instance, and then relate these events to other societal members. Thus, a "literacy event" takes place (445). Heath makes a case for a varying definition of literacy which should be determined on where a group of people is located and what resources are available.
Heath brings up a different point. Literacy shall not be limited to one continuum. This black-community reminds me of people such as the bus mechanic in Dr. Boland's family and our conversation in class about people's desire to go to college. Some people have different interests in life. Indeed, they may prioritize engaging with other people over engaging in texts to inherit information. In essence, it is not fair nor is it possible to confine people to a continuum because one's level of literacy may differ in one area such as the oral tradition; yet, it could be strong in the book sense of literacy.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Language Negotiations (Auto week 6)

Over the course of a few days I noticed that language negotiations can go undetected by the beholder unless someone points them out. Personally I’ve never really paid much attention to the ways I use and alter language up until I read the guidelines for this assignment. I found that it was much easier to point out those negotiations of someone else than the ones I personally made. When answering the phone at work or even when answering a personal call from an unknown caller, I noticed that people including myself tend to sound more proper. For example, I would normally answer my cell phone with a “yes?” if I know the caller. However at work or when answering an unknown call I feel obligated to say “hello, Colton Middle School”. If at work the call is not for me I would ask “may I please ask who’s calling?”, yet if it were on my cell phone I would probably just ask “who’s this?”. Sometimes making the transition from one to another can be so abrupt that I forget which environment I’m in, hence answering my cell phone with a “Colton Middle School” instead of a simple “hello”. The caller, usually a friend, finds it hysterical.
As I reflect on my language negotiations, I think of the times I’ve had to attend job interviews where the way I normally speak goes out the window and out comes my proper and intellectual alter ego. When trying to impress someone of power [job interview] I normally stay away from slang or any type of non proper speech. I make my best attempt to sound sophisticated and educated and even when I don’t quite have an answer to a question I try to sound as if I did.
Language negotiations also occur in written language. Such negotiations are usually more noticeable in text messaging where everything is usually abbreviated or in slang. The emails I send are usually altered as well. Emails to professors and my school principal would usually be more refined than the ones I would send to friends and family. Everyone makes alterations that are suited to fit into the environment in which we are, whether it be consciously or not.

Anne's Autobiographical Essay # 6

Language negotiations that I make daily, that I hardly notice that I make correspond with my place of work. Discourse within the workplace is very contrary to that which I partake in, with my co-workers. Setting the scene, I work at Olive Garden. In the middle of the restaurant, an employee goes in doors which lead to an "alley." This "alley" serves as a place to obtain one's drinks, food items, and products for the restaurant. The kitchen is also within the alley. Typically, a discourse is more professional in dealing with people that one is serving. This is the case so that the clients will come back, tell other people, and so that they have an enjoyable experience. When a person speaks with their colleagues, they will not implement this tool of filtering.
An intuitive writing experience, in which I noticed a need for a shift within my writing, is the precise. I took a step back and noticed that I implemented a great deal of transitions. Not only did I fundamentally incorporate institutionalized grammar and punctuation, but I wrought my text so that it sounds like I have more authority. When a person reads my writing I want them to be able to pose the question so what? In essence, as a critical writer who provides a text for critical readers, I want the reader to be able to understand the message that I am trying to convey. In essence, journal writing differs significantly from that relating to academics.

Anne's Precise for May 11th

Gee brings up social situations throughout her text. Indeed, she argues that, language that one utilizes should be appropriate within their given social setting. Thus, Gee defines what literacy studies ought to encompass. Along the same lines, if one is to identify what language is, it is not so much grammar as it is, how one uses the grammar in a particular social setting. Since language is often coupled with grammar, it is relevant to come up with a new term-"social practices." Furthermore, to couple social practices with a new word all together that identifies what people who study literacy do to determine whether people are literate, we have "Dialect"(526). Gee stresses that "Discourse" is significant because it is defined as how one contextually uses language.
How one attains a "Discourse" has to do with linguistics, which is defined by Gee to be, a "body of knowledge"(527). Lingusitics strech from how one learns their native tongue to all settings involving language, that are contrary to institutionalized instruction. Gee ascertains that anyone is capable of acquiring linguistics; i.e, acquiring linguistics from family members, social circle, etc. However, not everyone can be a linguist. For instance, one must know how to act, think, value and talk in social settings where it is difficult to have the where-with-all in which to do so, if one lacks the familiarity of the institution. Extending "Discourse" to incorporate women and minorities, one comes to find out that they have the disadvantage. Case in point, Gee argues that to attain a Discourse, one must often be involved with it and put aside any values, etc. that one has accumulated in their home. Gee goes on to define a few more terms such as, "sympathetic fallacy," this term pertains to nature. For instance one may tell a story, such as the 5-year-old did in Gee's work, then they will incorporate nature into their story. The incorporating is relevant because, it coincides at the same time as particular events. To take something away from Gee's work, she ascertains that literacy is accumulated from one's home setting.
Typically, one accumulates an ability to be successful in discourse environments, other than their home, this is determined by their status. Indeed, if one goes into a church, institution, etc. and carries on well, in conversation with those around them, it is because of the events that have taken place in their home. Gee's text and arguments fit in perfectly with how one acquires their language. One first acquires their language based on adult interaction. Hence, one is able to act, speak, value, think well based upon an influx of both their home-based, and schooling environments.