chapter  1
20 Pages

Theory and Practice in the Development of Advanced Literacy

Literacy is often talked about as if it were an attribute of a person (she is liter­ ate) ; or, on the other hand, as something that someone has or doesn’t have (he has functional literacy). But in today’s complex world, literacy means far more than learning to read and write in order to accomplish particular discrete tasks. Contin­ ual changes in technology and society mean that literacy tasks are themselves al­ ways changing, calling for skills in handling technical, bureaucratic, and abstract language; often simultaneously requiring that people get meaning from print, vi­

sual, electronic, and other kinds of media. In this context of change, literacy can­ not be thought of as something that is achieved once and for all. We need to understand literacy as a process of meaning-making that continuously evolves both in society and in the individual. This book contributes to such an understand­ ing by focusing on advanced literacy contexts where meaning-making depends on control of a range of semiotic resources as well as on an understanding of social and linguistic expectations for participation in those contexts.