What does Literacy actually mean?
Language and literacy are of personal, social and economic importance. Our ability to use language lies at the centre of the development and expression of our emotions, our thinking, our learning and our sense of personal identity. Language is itself a key aspect of our culture. Through language, children and young people can gain access to the literary heritage of humanity and develop their appreciation of the richness and breadth of Scotland’s literary heritage. Children and young people encounter, enjoy and learn from the diversity of language used in their homes, their communities, by the media and by their peers.
Literacy is fundamental to all areas of learning, as it unlocks access to the wider curriculum. Being literate increases opportunities for the individual in all aspects of life;
“Literacy isn’t just about reading, writing, and comprehension. It’s about culture, professionalism, and social outlook.”
― Taylor Ellwood.
Literacy is more than just a book…
As an English teacher, I am besotted with all things to do with reading and so for a long time, I had assumed literacy was ‘just’ an English kind of a thing. However, with the Curriculum for Excellence, the Scottish Government wish to make literacy within schools more about being able to read successfully in all subjects, not just in English. What I mean by this is that pupils are expected to understand the terminology used in Computing as well as in Science and Art, indeed across all subjects. By working actively to support our pupils and their families to strengthen their literacy levels, we can help promote the development of critical and creative thinking as well as competence in listening and talking, reading, writing and the personal, interpersonal and team-working skills which are so important in life and in the world of work. It is also every department’s responsibility to ensure they include the Literacy benchmarks within their subject teaching.
Whatever the sector, whatever the subject area, young people will be:
- engaged in talking together to deepen their learning and thinking
- working together to prepare for reading unfamiliar texts
- reading a wide range of texts to gather and analyse information for a range of purposes
- writing clear explanations
- communicating information or opinions.
“Literacy is a right, not a privilege.”
― Story Shares
How do we measure Literacy?
The Literacy and English framework opens with a set of statements that describe the kinds of activity which all children and young people should experience throughout their learning, to nurture their skills and knowledge in literacy and language. Teachers will use them, alongside the more detailed experiences and outcomes, in planning for learning and teaching.
The statements of experiences and outcomes themselves include both literacy and English statements and emphasise that learning is an active process: for example, the outcomes stress making notes, rather than the passive activity implied by taking notes. Experiences represent important continuing aspects of learning such as exploring and enjoying text, and outcomes describe stages in the development of skills and understanding.
Throughout education, effective learning and teaching in literacy and English will involve a skilful mix of appropriate approaches including:
- the use of relevant, real-life and enjoyable contexts which build upon children and young people’s own experiences
- effective direct and interactive teaching
- a balance of spontaneous play and planned activities
- harnessing the motivational benefits of following children and young people’s interests throughresponsive planning
- collaborative working and independent thinking and learning
- making meaningful links for learners across different curriculum areas
- building on the principles of Assessment is for Learning
- frequent opportunities to communicate in a wide range of contexts, for relevant purposes and for realaudiences within and beyond places of learning
- the development of problem-solving skills and approaches
- the appropriate and effective use of ICT.
“No skill is more crucial to the future of a child than literacy.”
― Los Angeles Times