While I do not enjoy doing end-of-the-term reflections, but I at least know that they are an important learning tool. That being said, I will say that this semester’s work has certainly opened my mind up to the varied ways in which literacy permeates every facet of society. As I prepare to reenter the education profession, I feel that my experiences in this course will give me a new insight into what my students need in order to succeed in the wider world.
One particular study that still intrigues me, and whose title and author escape me at the moment, is the one concerning whether or not students become better readers and writers if their own teachers are identified as strong in those respects. Thinking back to my own experiences in the classroom, I could tell that those teachers I did have who at least appeared to be good readers and writers certainly gave me more motivation to perform at a higher standard than I would teachers who did not appear as such. Even amongst teaching colleagues I could see the same results. With experiences such as these, it’s no wonder that I find myself at the end of this term more in the social camp of literacy development.
I will be honest, but prior to coming into graduate school I had little knowledge, or desire to learn, about work place literacies. As the standards I was drilled with during my undergraduate were so focused on preparing students for college, I felt that the same approach would be good enough for those students entering the work place. With what I know now, I can see just how wrong I was, and especially how damaging my approach may have been to my students. During my student-teaching term I had the opportunity to teach in a “Fiction & Novels” course, which was the second-semester of the “non-college bound/non-college prep” track—which I lovingly compared to the Sweat Hogs from Welcome Back, Kotter. If I had known more about workplaces literacies, I would have done more to validate their identities as readers and writers instead of simply writing them off as the “slack course.” If put into a similar situation in the future, I would do more to integrate skills that could be useful in the workplace, but not at the expense of helping my students become well-rounded people through reading literature.
I guess that is the reading & writing connection—that they permeate every aspect of our society to the point where they go for granted.