Running head: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE LITERATE IN A DISCIPLINE 1

What Does It Mean To Be Literate In A Discipline

Brent Werts

Clemson University

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Abstract

If a person is to be literate in a discipline, then that person must be able to read write, speak, reason, investigate, communicate, integrate and problem solve in that particular discipline. The person must be able to use the language and tools connected with that discipline to become effectively literate in that discipline. When one becomes effectively literate in the discipline, they will then be able to apply this knowledge to the world.

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If a person is to be literate in a discipline, then one has to be able to read, write, speak, reason, investigate, communicate, integrate and problem solve in that discipline. The person must be able to use the language and tools associated with that discipline to be considered literate. Disciplines of importance are mathematics, English, science and history. These are the essential disciplines that students must master in order to continue to advance in education and life.

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Mathematical literacy is a one’s capacity to understand the role of math in the world. It is the ability to use numbers to help solve world problems. Mathematical literacy includes understanding the language used in mathematics for example, addition, subtractions, sum and difference. It is important to be able to do simple mathematical problems in the mind, instead of using calculators or other tools to achieve answers. It is important that students have the ability to read, write and verbalize mathematical explanations. Students also must understand the connection of mathematics and the world. For example, mathematics is used in cooking with recipes, carpentry and nursing. By teaching the importance of mathematical interactions in the world it will motivate students to learn. It is especially important now “with the increase in STEM fields and careers on the rise, students should understand how their math abilities can translate into careers if they pursue their interests” (Blake, 2015).

English literacy is one’s capacity to understand reading, writing, explaining, putting together sentences, spelling and vocabulary to communicate. It means reading a book and the ability to explain your thoughts on the book. One must have reading, vocabulary and an understanding of the parts of speech to do this effectively. Creative writing can be a tool to help students learn and develop self-expression and critical thinking. Students can be encouraged to write poems

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE LITERATE IN A DISCIPLINE

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and stories to develop this literacy. It is important to communicate the human experience “where will we be as a nation if we graduate a generation of young people who can write an academic paper on the Civil War, but have no power to convey the human experience” (Wallace-Segall, 2012).

Science literacy is understanding science concepts, methodology, observations and theories to explain natural phenomena. Students must also be able to communicate in scientific language and interpret evidence to be literate in this discipline. For example if students are learning about hurricanes and tornados, pictures and videos can be used to show the cause and effect these natural phenomena have on the world. It is by learning scientific skills that students can then use these skills to understand the real world. In The Right to Literacy in Secondary Schools Creating A Culture Of Thinking by Suzanne Plaut, a teacher named Jeff encourages his students to question everything. He encourages them to “observe the world, try to make sense of it by considering what they already know ( their background knowledge), ask questions, seek to interpret evidence, discuss their ideas and hypotheses with peers, write to explore new understandings and read to compare their ideas with those of other scientists” (Plaut, 2009).

History literacy is the understanding of ideas, beliefs and values of past people and what influenced them. This can be achieved by studying resources and evidence gathered by historians and archeologists. This can include government documents, oral histories, artifacts, movies, photographs, art work, charts, maps and journal articles. It is by learning from the past that will guide the future. If students study World War II and how Hitler and the Nazis were intent on erasing Jews from existence, (the Holocaust), then they can develop an understanding of genocide and how horrible it is. “The destruction of European Jews at the hands of the Nazis,

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is at once an outrage that seems explicable in terms of National Socialism and anti-Semitisim and also a trauma that silences explanation and pulls at notions of what can be explained and translated and understood” (Stewart, 1997). It is by understanding and comprehending the mistakes and achievements of the past that will guide the future. It is by understanding different cultures, their beliefs and values that we can communicate and understand each other, as we are now a global society with interaction and exchange of ideas. It is this global society that has “pressed governments and corporations to improve human rights policies, including the treatment of women and children, labor conditions and environmental standards” (Stearns, 2013).

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There are so many ways to share knowledge with students in the classroom. Smart boards allow for teachers to share notes, pictures and documents. Ipad tablets given to every student allow for interaction and feedback, interactive game apps can give students a fun way to learn and a classroom website can be used to upload notes and assignments. It is by integrating various tools that captures student’s attention and interest that allows for learning and the education of the next generation. It is when one becomes literate in these disciplines they can then apply that knowledge to the world.

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Blake, C. (2015, January 13). Math Literacy Defined: Why it matters? Retrieved September 28, 2017, from http://online.cune.edu/defining-math-literacy/

Plaut, S. (2009). The Right To Literacy In Secondary Schools Creating A Culture of Thinking. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Stearns, P. N. (2013). World history in brief: major patterns of change and continuity. Boston: Pearson.

Stewart, C., & Fritzsche, P. (Eds.). (1997). Imaging the Twentieth Century Exploring the odd passages and side doors of our collective memory. Urbana-Champaign, IL: University of Illnois Press.

Wallace-Segall, R. (2012, October 4). A Passionate, Unapologic Plea for Creative Writing in Schools. Retrieved September 28, 2017, from https://www.theatlantic.com/

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