Cultural Approach To Literacy

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1. Introduction
Traditionally literacy was looked at as the ability to write and read (mental phenomenon) (Gee & Handford 2014 p.372). Therefore an individual was considered literate when he/she can read and write. However, in the 1980s, a number of scholars from different disciplines began to critique the traditional view of literacy as the “ability to write and read”. These scholars argued for a social and cultural approach to literacy, in what is known as the New Literacy Studies, commonly known as the NLS. The NLS’s case was supported by a number of scholars such as Scollons and Scollons, Shirley Brice Heath and Brian Street, who also argued for a socio-cultural approach to literacy (Gee & Handford 2014 p.372). Therefore, social institutions
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For example, an Individual’s discourse pattern reflect values, attitudes and social views about the world. According to Prinsloo and Baynham (2013, p.246) the Scollons further emphasises that these reality sets are connected to “modern consciousness”. Therefore, reality sets are influenced by the learning and experience with others who are in the same particular group. Children acquire these reality sets at an early age. The Scollons did a study of the discourse patterns and world views of the Athabaskans (Canada) and compared them with that of American Society (English speakers). The Scollons point out that the Athabaskans a high degree of respect for the individual thus they prefer to avoid conversation, on the other hand English speakers feel that the main way to get to know someone’s point of view is through conversation with them (Gee and Handford 2014,p.375). However, Prinsloo and Baynham (2013,p.247) emphasises that not all English speakers speak only from the point of view of modern consciousness and not all Athabaskans speak only from the point of view of bush…show more content…
The NLS opposed a traditional psychological approach to literacy and argued for a sociocultural approach which has proved to be productive in understanding literacy. The New Literacies Studies carried over from the NLS’s argument about written language to new digital technologies. The NLS’s case gained momentum and was supported by the work of Heath, the Scollons and Street. There is no doubt that the contributions of these scholars set an interdisciplinary research into literacy as historical, Socio-Cultural and having different effects in particular settings. Therefore the ‘what and how’ of literacy continue to challenge scholars, researchers and
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