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Friday, October 23, 2009

After Heath 



The other day I tweeted this quote, which captures an idea which has become very popular. But does written representation actually enjoy that privilege? In many ways literacy is a rather limiting description, all too often associated with schooled practices, skills and drills, and quite basic competences. Yet for many of us the idea of events and practices frees us from that trap. Heath was instrumental in showing that a strict distinction between the oral and the literate doesn't really capture our relationship to texts. Understanding the social is 'integral to participants' interactions and interpretive processes' (1982:50). In other words meaning-making doesn't happen in isolation. So any text could work in that way, whether in writing or any other modality. The only privileges that writing enjoys are those that are directly related to power structures in the job market, in business and the legal system (to name but a few). We need to give learners access to those privileges, whilst building a curriculum that takes an informed view of everday communication.

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