What does it mean to be literate today?
According to UNESCO, literacy is a continuum of learning and proficiency in reading, writing, and using numbers throughout life and is part of a large set of skills, which include digital skills, media literacy, education for sustainable development and global citizenship as well as job-specific skills. Literacy skills themselves are expanding and evolving as people engage more and more with information and learning through digital technology. Thus, being literate in today extends the traditional concept of reading and writing. In the digital age, literacy includes a range of skills and competencies that are essential for individuals to navigate and participate effectively in society.
Reading and writing skills are still fundamental to personal development and self-expression. Reading skills allow people to gain knowledge from writing, whether printed text or digital text. Writing skills allow people to communicate ideas, persuade others, and convey information effectively. People will use these skills throughout their life and are fundamental to other literacy skills.
Media literacy is the ability to analyze, evaluate, and understand a media source, whether it’s a well-known newspaper, a cable news program, or a Facebook post. It helps us build our understanding of the role of the media in society and teaches us to ask the critical questions necessary for a democratic society. As Matthew demonstrated in his video, media literacy, enables people to think critically about information and the use of digital tools, and it helps people to make informed choices and see both sides of messages.
Numeracy is the ability to understand and work with numbers effectively. I remember the course, EC&I 830, I took last year, there is a debate about “Should Schools Teach Skills That Can Be Easily Carried Out by Technology?” Basic numeracy is one of the skills that could be replaced by technology. However, students should still need to have the ability to interpret data and detect errors. These skills cannot be replaced by technology. In addition, numeracy is used in many real-world scenarios, such as personal finance, grocery shopping and healthcare. This would require students to have numeracy skills to interpret data from everyday life.
Cultural literacy is a new concept when I search for media literacy. It is the ability to understand and appreciate the similarities and differences in the customs, values, and beliefs of one’s own culture and the culture of others. It involves familiarity with common references, symbols and values within the culture. During the last group discussion, we were asked to review two commercials about a beer company. I feel I need to have cultural literacy skills to understand the commercials. For example, the commercials represent Canadian culture and identity to be a Canadian. As a newcomer, I came to Canada 9 years ago. I need to have the ability to understand and integrate Canadian culture, the differences between Chinese culture and Canadian culture, and diversity. My dominant culture has shifted from Chinese culture to Canadian culture. I experienced a journey of cultural integration and adaptation in Canada. However, sometimes I still feel it is hard to fit into Canadian culture, such as understanding these beer commercials, Canadian humour, and so on. Adapting to Canadian culture is a transformative and rewarding experience, and it requires me to have cultural literacy skills.
I’ve just mentioned a few literacy skills in today’s world, but I believe there are more skills we need to acquire in order to be considered fully literate today.