Tiffany Jeffery
Literate Schools
Published in
4 min readSep 5, 2017


Literacy in Today’s Society

Literacy involves students having the ability to interpret and understand content from various context. It is defined by Merriam-Webster as the quality or state of being literate. The word literate is defined by Webster as being able to read and write, and having knowledge or competence. These definitions give a general view of how literacy can be interpreted, but there is a vast amount of ways that literacy can be achieved. Webster also documented that the first known use of literacy was in 1880. Historically, literacy was viewed as possessing the ability to read words on a page because of it’s limited amount of resources available at the time. If teachers view literacy in a traditional way, and use these beliefs as a guideline for their expectations in the classroom, today’s learners will be limited to learning a small amount of information. Teachers have the responsibility to create an environment that supports literacy, and they are also responsible for providing opportunities that engage students to developing their literacy skills.

During the 1880s people did not have access to the amount of information that is available today. During those times people were limited to gaining knowledge with the use of only books and newspapers. Richard Brown writer of the article “Looking at History” explained how technology changed the amount of information that that people were able to access. He stated in this article that “The spread of reading skills was aided by the technology of printing in the 1830s and 1840s with the steam-driven printing press.” Without some of these advantages that were made during this time- period people would not have access to any information that would develop their literacy skills. Students now are not limited to the access of a small amount of information. These limitations decrease the various opportunities that will promote students to achieve literacy. Literacy now involves reading print, interpreting paintings, pictures and drawings, and even understanding and decoding song lyrics.

Teachers need to be aware of the importance of providing an environment that challenges students to engage into various forms of learning that will help them achieve literacy. This can be achieved by not limiting students to reading and learning from printed materials and text books, but also providing other resources that they can gain knowledge from. Teachers can engage students by incorporating digital resources, pictures, and even videos into their lessons. Using a variety of context will enhance their learning, and increase their literacy. In this modern society, students are not limited to only using printed books and newspapers. Today’s students are able to learn with the use of multi- media files, social media sites, audio books, and even online news sites to gain information. To ensure that teachers gain and keep students interest, teachers must incorporate these various resources within their lessons, and provide opportunities for these resources to be used within the classroom.

The way literacy is viewed has changed drastically over the years. Students are now able to learn a vast amount of information from various formats. Teachers have the responsibility to provide opportunities for students to engage in these different formats throughout their learning process. The incorporation of classroom activities, projects, and lessons that promotes students to pull information from various resources allows students to gain a complete understanding of the content that is being taught. It is important for students to learn to expand their thinking, and learn to adopt new ways of retrieving information. There is a plethora of information that is available at our finger tips, and student in this society need to know how to retrieve information.

The way people view literacy has changed due to the amount of resources now available to our society. We can no longer judge literacy based on a student having the ability to read and write due to the amount of information that is available to us. Literacy should now be viewed and judge on students possessing the ability to read, interpret, and understand information from various context. Students are not limited anymore to gain knowledge by using only textbooks and newspapers in the classroom to increase their learning. They are now able to gain knowledge from books, newspapers, online articles, pictures, videos, and even audio books. Now that this vast amount of information is available, we can no longer view literacy in a traditional way. Students and teachers are no longer engaging in traditional learning and teachings. Therefore, we as educators can no longer view literacy in a traditional manner as well.


Merriam-Webster. 2017.

Brown, Richard. Looking at History. “Literacy.” 2007.