Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory

2017 Edition
| Editors: Michael A. Peters

Literacies, An Introduction

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-287-588-4_531



Literacy, as a singular noun, has come to represent traditional understandings of reading and writing alphabetic text. Though this definition continues to help educators and policy makers standardize and determine quantifiable literacy rates and levels, there are other components to meaning making, including but not limited to a variety of other modes (visual, spatial, object-oriented, embodied, aural, and oral), and the pragmatics of context, experience, and history. These additions to, and sometimes substitutes for, alphabetic literacy not only extend what it means to be literate but also impact the ways students take up alphabetic literacy. When students enter a classroom, they bring with them a host of home, school, and community experiences that inform their understanding of academic material, social interaction, and cultural norms.

Twenty years ago, the New London Group (1996) took issue with conventional literacy...

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  1. New London Group. (1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. Harvard Educational Review, 66, 60–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Street, B. V. (1999). Literacy and social change: The significance of social context in the development of literacy programmes. In D. A. Wagner (Ed.), Future of literacy in a changing world (pp. 55–72). Cresskill: Hampton Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department. of Curriculum and InstructionSt. John’s UniversityQueensUSA
  2. 2.University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignChampaignUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • William Cope
    • 1
  • Mary Kalantzis
    • 2
  • Sandra Schamroth Abrams
    • 3
  1. 1.University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignChampaignUSA
  2. 2.University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignChampaignUSA
  3. 3.Dept. of Curriculum and InstructionSt. John's UniversityQueensUSA