chapter  15
20 Pages

Examining and Influencing Contexts for Intentional Literacy Learning

As we teeter on the edge of the 21st century, “the quality of thinking,” which is the centerpiece of this volume, has become the centerpiece of school-reform dialogue. The literacy domain is a fitting one in which to illustrate the prominent issues and nature of this dialogue. Literacy has typically been associated with the ability to read and write; in fact, reading was initially valued principally for mastery of a very limited set of prescribed religious texts (Resnick & Resnick, 1977). It was not until the 1920s that the emphasis on reading for the purpose of deriving meaning from text emerged as an aspiration for reading instruction. With each decade since, the agenda attending literacy instruction has been redefined to include increasingly lofty goals. Today, the goals of reading and writing instruction include: “high literacy” or the pursuit of learning that is beyond that of adapting to the goals of the prevailing culture (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1987) and “critical literacy” or the ability to use reading and writing to exceed the demands that are associated with minimum competency (McGinley & Tierney, 1989).