Literacy is Heavy

Let’s be honest; literacy is a heavy word. If you asked 20 people around you what literacy is, I bet they would say the ability to read. However, literacy is so much more than that. I can’t really stress how much deeper literacy goes, but I suppose I’ll try.

On the surface, literacy is the ability to read. To be literate, you must recognize symbols as letters, associate those symbols with a sound and combine the sounds together to form a word that we understand. And our brains do that in milliseconds!

As I stated, that’s just the surface. Literacy is the ability to process, and master, information. How health literate are you? Many health professionals would say the general public isn’t very health literate. We must be able to ingest fitness/nutritional/physical health information, understand what it means, and utilize that information in our lives.

What about financial literacy? I had a friend (who is in possession of multiple college degrees) vent on Facebook about knowing nothing about complicated mortgages, loans, and investments. I consider this friend of mine to have multiple intelligences, but financial literacy isn’t one of them. She needed help figuring out her 401k.

Additionally, there is tech literacy (basic operations of technology), and cultural literacy (understanding and respecting other cultures). See? Literacy is much deeper than you having the ability to read this blog.

Courtney Keating, Education Coordinator

Courtney Keating, Education Coordinator

In the office, there is a lot of talk about the stigma of illiteracy. I’ve heard, first hand, many people say, “Gggrrrrrr! Can’t that idiot read??” It saddens me, because there is a pretty decent chance that they can’t. That phrase also infuriates me because of the negative association with stupidity and illiteracy. When my friend reached out on Facebook about the confusing language of her 401k, no one made fun of her. No one said, “Seriously??! You don’t know what a Roth IRA is?” This was a skill she needed help. Just as our students need improvement in a skill. Today, I’d like you to think about a skill you aren’t a master. Now, answer the question, “Am I dumb because I don’t know this?” The answer is no. The answer is always no.

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