chapter  13
Becoming expert: literacy and sense making
Pages 16

While literacy is used for collective goals as described in the previous chapter, it is also a resource that people, both as individuals and as members of groups, can draw on to make sense of events in their own lives. This has been a strong emergent theme in our data. Sense making is motivated by the search for meaning and problem solving, either in a short-term, instrumental way or in a longer-term exploration of patterns in life-events of a broader, more philosophical kind. We found this theme expressed in our data in a number of quite different ways. Literacies are used to solve the practical problems which arise unpredictably in everyday life. They are used as a transformative tool to promote or to cope with personal change. Literacies are used to satisfy people’s desires for information and explanation; to pursue leisure interests and enthusiasms; as a means of gaining control over their environment; and to create or maintain a sense of time and place. In this chapter we identify some of these different forms of sense making in people’s lives. We then bring them together in a discussion of the vernacular knowledge which people are drawing upon and extending as they develop local expertise.