chapter  1
20 Pages

Turning to Literacy

Literacy was harnessed to support the refuted 'great-divide' theory of social anthropologists which divided primitive and modern people according to their mental abilities, pre-logical/logical, concrete/abstract, pre-literate/literate. S. Scribner and M. Cole conducted research on the Vai in Liberia in which they were unable to show that literacy produced cognitive gains. Literacy has always been dictated by the developments of technology: papyrus, parchment, quills, pencils, paper, pens, typewriters, and computers. School literacy is seen as a neutral technology and a decontextualised set of skills; what Street calls the 'autonomous' model of literacy. Critical literacy practitioners began working with computer and information literacy and with media literacy, the latter interfacing with the fields of cultural studies, including popular culture, and media studies. Anne Haas Dyson has shown how characters, images and ideas from popular culture loom large in children's imaginations and permeate their textual productions.