Reflecting On Culture Wars In Adult Literacy Education: Exploring Critical Issues In “Contested Ground” (2000)

While the theories of New Literacy Studies are being applied in teaching, they have had much less currency at the level of educational systems and policies - institutions, funding, and accountability. Such a shift in the understanding of literacy means that ‘performance' is defined differently and requires a different approach to accountability. One's perspective on what is good performance in adult education, and what should be measured, depends on one's context and position. Learners' perspectives on what is a successful program may not be the same as policymakers' perspectives. Learners may want a program that treats them with respect, allows them to feel successful, provides them with the learning opportunities they want, and supports the results that are important to them, whether they are a credential or the ability to read to their children. Policymakers may not care about any of the process, but want a program that gets people into jobs.
Educators, rooted in the kindergarten-through-higher-education tradition, may care most about credentials. As Juliet Merrifield maintains in "Contested Ground: Performance Accountability in Adult Basic Education", the concept of functional literacy should be laid to rest. The concept is flawed. Its definition is arbitrary, its measurement is problematic, and the phenomenon of "functioning in life" cannot readily be equated with literacy. Adults with limited literacy skills should be credited with the skills and knowledge that they do have. Educators should start to build on and extend this knowledge and skill, based on the needs, desires, and interests of the adult learners, rather than dwelling on measuring how "functional" a learner is or needs to become, according to standardized tests.

For a copy of this report, contact : Literacy Volunteers of Greater Hartford, 30 Arbor Street, Hartford, CT 06106 USA, E-mail : Gdemetrion@Juno.com

Get resource
Subjects: 
Added: 
2000-01-01
APA citation
George Demetrion. Reflecting On Culture Wars In Adult Literacy Education: Exploring Critical Issues In “Contested Ground” 2000. Web. 2 Mar. 2021 <http://en.copian.ca/library/research/cultrwar/cultrwar.pdf>
George Demetrion (2000). Reflecting On Culture Wars In Adult Literacy Education: Exploring Critical Issues In “Contested Ground”. Retrieved March 2, 2021, from http://en.copian.ca/library/research/cultrwar/cultrwar.pdf
© 2021 Copian Library