Literate or Culturally Literate Essay

Literate or Culturally Literate Essay

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To be successful in the world today literacy is vital. But what is the definition of Literacy? According to Merriam Webster it is “the quality or state of being literate”, but can it also be expanded and redefined as Culturally Literate “the ability to understand and appreciate the similarities and differences in the customs, values, and beliefs of one’s own culture the cultures of others? This essay will utilize the writings of Fishman, Mary Ann Zehr, and Jean Piaget to compare the definition of literacy by mainstream society to that of the Amish culture.
Literacy by mainstream society standards includes having the freedom to choose what to read and write, and the use of critical thinking to evaluate what has been read. But it can also be defined, as in the Amish culture, as being culturally literate by the standards of your own culture.
Typically to be considered literate one must possess the ability to read, write and comprehend what has been read. But what if within your culture the ability to read, write and comprehend only extends to being able to read a recipe, or to read correspondence from distant family members, or to be able to comprehend the latest farming tip in The Dairy? To the Amish reading and writing are only a small part of the definition of literacy, they are not nearly as important as the ability to plant crops and tend to animals, or prepare a meal for a large family. To be literate in the Amish culture, one needs to be literate enough to read the hymnals during church services, to correspond by writing traditional Amish letters, and to read the Bible (Fishman). But, to be literate in the Amish culture also means as an Amish man, he would also need to know when to plant his crops, what to plan...


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...elieve to be success, they trade within our community, they learn just enough to coexist on the fringes of our society, but generally don’t seek to become the next CEO of General Motors. By comparison, how successful would the typical mainstream man or woman with an MBA be trying to exist within the Amish culture? Literacy is vital to success, but it is being culturally literate, by the standards of your own culture that is by far, the determining factor in those successes.






Works Cited

From Literacies: 1. Becoming Literate: A Lesson from the Amish Andrea Fishman
Other Sources: 2. -- Amish Literacy: What and How It Means by Andrea Fishman Sep 1989
3. Zehr, Mary Ann. Amish Teaching Is Diverse, Author Discovers. Education Week 26.14 (2006): 11.Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 30 Sept. 2010.
4. Piaget, Jean The Origins of Intelligence in Children

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