Literacy and Liberty

Investigative Project: Literacy Across Cultures
Posted by: , November 18, 2018, 11:43 pm
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Guiding Questions:

  1. What are some of the literacy requirements for “non-western” nations and cultures?
  2. What are some of the different ways that literacy can be defined as?
  3. What was the impact of imperialism and forced assimilation on the literacy of other cultures?

The concept of literacy is an ever-changing entity. Its various interpretations allow for seemingly endless confusion and disparity when defining it across cultures. Nations have different understandings of literacy and what they determine as necessary for one to identify themselves as a literate individual. In the United States, literacy is defined as: the ability to read, write, and understand the information that one is taking in. However, in other countries such as Brazil, Israel, and Kenya it is defined slightly differently. For example, the Brazilian Geographical and Statistics Institute determines that literacy is a title for those who have “completed four grades of schooling.” Israel defines literacy as “the ability to acquire the essential knowledge and skills that enable individuals to actively participate in all the activities for which reading, and writing are needed.” The Kenyan government simply states that anyone who reports that they are able to read and write is considered literate. The different laws and requirements surrounding the literacy between nations and their respective cultures is significant because it sets the standard for the ways in which people carry out their daily lives.








Vocabulary Poem Blog
Posted by: , November 16, 2018, 12:49 am
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I am not confident this posted yesterday, I don’t think I was logged in!!


Running out of all of my time

In circles I race to finish before bedtime

Running faster to beat opponents

Foot races have too many components


You can practice your speed twice a day

But it won’t keep your busyness at bay

You always dash from function to function

To skip would cause you severe compunction


Stretching yourself ever so thin

Even more things you want to begin

Stretching your muscles preparing to race

Not many chances left to get a good place


Am I running out of time to run?

Too late of a start after hearing the gun

Am I racing others or just my own clock?

I find myself in such a mental deadlock

Investigative Project
Posted by: , November 7, 2018, 12:38 pm
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At the beginning of the semester we discussed what literacy can be defined as. One of the definitions we found was the ability to read, write, and understand. I am interested in researching how literacy is defined across cultures. Every culture has different traditions and ways that they do things.  If we found there to be so many interpretations of literacy within our own culture and understanding, there must be so many other ways to define it. Going off of that, I want to look into the different ways one’s literacy is utilized in cultures that don’t use or don’t often use a written language. During the exploration period of the world’s history, the European countries brought their particular type of literacy and traditions surrounding reading and writing etc to other places around the world that already had their own type of literacy and traditions. The colonized places were required to assimilate and take on the culture of the colonizing. This meshing of cultures created a large combination of traditions and understandings of the usages of literacy.  It would also be interesting to research the significance that literacy has had throughout history and the ways in which it impacted the development of countries and the power dynamic within such nations.

Memorial Hall
Posted by: , October 3, 2018, 3:59 pm
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We began our journey at Dickinson College in Memorial Hall in Old West. At the time, I did not realize that there was more to that room than simply the place where we literally signed into the college. Last Friday I was helping my sister deliver the newspapers for the Dickinsonian; one of the places she needed to go to drop the papers off at was Old West. We had time to spare, and she knew her way around the building, so with her guidance we went exploring. Memorial Hall is aptly named because it is home to many memorials on campus. Among others, there is a 9/11 memorial and a Vietnam War memorial. They commemorate the tragedies that occurred, but also give representation to the members of the Dickinson community who were a part of them. Even though it was only my sister and I walking around the room and reading the plaques, we still hardly seemed to take a breath out of the desire to keep as quiet as possible in such a solemn space. It was almost a surreal experience to read about how many Dickinson individuals were involved in those events. I can hardly imagine members of my class leaving to take part in military or be found within those tragedies and for them not to return. It would be somewhat odd to recognize the names of classmates, carved into a memorial, forever to be looked at and venerated for their loss. In “Native Guard” by Natasha Tretheway, there is a sonnet which states that the names of the soldiers will be written down in history. The following sonnet contradicts that, saying that only some names will be remembered. Memorial Hall in Old West ensures that the names of the Dickinson students and faculty who were a part of those events are forever remembered.

Almost Ambidextrous
Posted by: , September 20, 2018, 5:41 pm
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I cannot pinpoint my exact age when I picture the first moment in my memory connecting to reading or writing. In my mind’s eye I can imagine precisely where I am standing, almost like watching an old video, in front of the off-white colored refrigerator rearranging magnetic letters to form simple words. I do not recall what words I had yet learned to form, but I know that the magnets were red and slightly peeling from the usage of two sisters before me.

Once I learned to read small things, I frantically tried to absorb everything that I possibly could. I had two older sisters who were both fairly competent readers by that point, and they used to enjoy taunting me about my own inadequate skills. One of my most favorite activities was reading to the family dog. I thought that she was the most captivated listener and I would read to her whenever I was able. I used to take great pleasure in riding in the car and shouting the names of all the street signs that I could read as loud as I could. I quickly was given the moniker “bookworm” and I absolutely loved it.

My experience with learning to write involved somewhat more of a “love/hate” relationship than that of reading. I identify as almost ambidextrous. I say almost because I was raised right-handed but do many activities with my left. The Catholic pre-school that I went to when I was aged three and four years apparently believed that none of the children should learn to write with anything but their right hand. That is why, when I began to show signs of that sinful left-handed dominance, I was forced to switch hands. As a result of this discomfort with writing early on, I had great difficulty forming letters and grasping how to write as quickly as my peers. To this day, I still hold my chosen writing implement in a bizarre position which resembles that of a child who has never written before. Moreover, my handwriting I have been told, is as close to “chicken scratch” as could be.

Reading a Map
Posted by: , September 5, 2018, 2:51 pm
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I seldom make generalized statements about myself, and I am always trying to become better at everything that I do. Nonetheless, the one thing that I can guarantee will never change is my horrible sense of direction. When I have a schedule that I must follow, it is extremely difficult for me to arrive on time unless I know exactly to where I must go. To ease my anxiety about becoming quickly lost and confused while navigating this, not even particularly large, campus, I downloaded the Dickinson app onto my cell phone. One of the features within this application includes a campus map. Using this app, I am able to search for specific buildings within several different sections of campus. For example, if one needs to locate Kaufman, one simply must type its name into the search bar and a map will appear. Despite the usefulness of this map, I find myself easily misreading the instructions and becoming more lost than I ever had been at the beginning. It is therefore necessary for me to put down my electronic map and actually ask someone to point me in the direction of my intended destination. When I inevitably get myself lost despite my usage of a map, I find it somewhat amusing (once I have found my way). An important form that literacy takes is one’s ability to read and understand a map. I am a seemingly literate individual; however, if I was to be put into a situation where my life and wellbeing depended on my ability to read a map, I would be deemed nearly entirely illiterate.