Flooded with Thoughts on Literacy While Bailing out in Calgary (2013)

In this paper, the author discusses the lessons about literacy she acquired while cleaning up after the disastrous flooding in Alberta in the summer of 2013.

She had been attending an international symposium where she gave a presentation on the implications of using test scores in international surveys to determine who is productive and who is unproductive, raising the issue of how literacy is increasingly being valued as a workforce skill and not as an aspect of broader and more complex daily life.

The author flew home to Calgary, eager to write about all she had learned at the conference. Instead, her family was evacuated after the nearby river flooded, and she found herself unable to think about her writing.

During the first two weeks following the flood, information flowed freely among friends and neighbours about such topics as bailing water out of houses, preventing mould, and finding disaster relief. Back at work, students talked about how they experienced the Calgary floods.

Like the author, those people learned what to do through engaging with others. Text was definitely part of this state of emergency, but they learned how to get and use information from multiple sources and in multiple ways.

Without knowing the literacy levels of the hundreds of people helping each other in the community, the author witnessed over and over again that the ability to understand and use information from texts is a social practice, not an isolated act. Literacy, like water, is fluid and uncontainable.

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2014-04-09
APA citation
Audrey Gardner. Flooded with Thoughts on Literacy While Bailing out in Calgary 2013. Web. 13 Aug. 2020 <http://en.copian.ca/library/research/bowvalley/flooded_with_thoughts/flooded_with_thoughts.pdf>
Audrey Gardner (2013). Flooded with Thoughts on Literacy While Bailing out in Calgary. Retrieved August 13, 2020, from http://en.copian.ca/library/research/bowvalley/flooded_with_thoughts/flooded_with_thoughts.pdf
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