UNDERSTANDING LITERACY: GIVING CHILDREN A CHANCE
The Western print environment in which we live is the most complex ever experienced by the human race. It makes an extraordinarily intricate set of demands upon those who interact with it. It necessitates substantial involvement of almost all who live within it. The speedy advent of modern information technology, far from reducing the burden, has added to the complexity. One consequence of the complexity and demand for involvement is that children are, from birth, witnesses to both the existence of print and the relationship between print and people. It would appear somewhat strange given the way that children involve themselves in all aspects of their world if anyone suggested that there was one part of that visible world about which children were totally ignorant. Yet that is precisely what educationalists, both in America and Britain, have done. They have assumed, almost universally, that children are ignorant about the nature and purpose of literacy unless they are 'taught' about it.