Literacy and Fluency

“My concern with Clark’s argument is that she puts ‘digital literacy’ to the sword, replacing it with ‘fluency’. This is problematic on two fronts. Firstly, the concept of literacy is not fixed. Secondly, we are better considering the plurality of digital literacies.”

https://readwriterespond.com/2018/04/digital-literacies/

Literacy is one of those words that has changed meaning during my lifetime. Or, to be more exact, it has taken on new meanings and even a dominant new meaning in Western culture.

Literacy is not fixed, but it does originate with being able to understand and use language. For language learning, fluency is one of the skills (along with developing language inputs, outputs, and things like vocabulary, grammar, syntax) that make up what it means to be literate. Nation calls it one of the four strands.

I probably wouldn’t replace literacy with fluency either, as literacy encases fluency. In it’s very basic sense, fluency is about speed.

The plurality of literacies is happening based on how the word is used all over the place. And with Belshaw’s list, I still wonder if this is a list of literacies, elements, incidences, competencies, skills, themes, or something else.

It’s worth thinking if there’s now very specific literacties, such as Adobe CC literacy, LMS Literacy, Browser Literacy, Media Literacy, Riding the Train in Tokyo Literacy. All of these are systems that require knowledge of meaning inputs and outputs, elements of function and position, and at a certain speed.

Is this what literacy means now? To understand, know and be able to use a specific culture or system?

If this is the case, the idea of fluency become very interesting. Fluency may be desired within one literacy (except when it’s too big of a system, see facebook), and between literacies it may not be desired. We need perplexity to learn, to apply knowledge in ways that are not conventional, not prescriptive, and below the surface of fluency.

More: Dana Boyd on Media Literacy

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One thought on “Literacy and Fluency

  1. Thank you so much Glen for the comment, it has left has really left me thinking about some of the complexities associated with such a topic. I agree with your point about fluency being a part of literacy.

    I probably wouldn’t replace literacy with fluency either, as literacy encases fluency. In it’s very basic sense, fluency is about speed.

    Here I am reminded of the ‘CAFE’ menu I have used to support comprehension in the past.

    I also liked your point of the plurality of literacies.

    It’s worth thinking if there’s now very specific literacties, such as Adobe CC literacy, LMS Literacy, Browser Literacy, Media Literacy, Riding the Train in Tokyo Literacy. All of these are systems that require knowledge of meaning inputs and outputs, elements of function and position, and at a certain speed.

    Belshaw touches on other literacies in his discussion of ‘web literacy‘. However, I get confused as it why this too is not encased by ‘digital literacies’. I would be interested in what he would have to say about that.

    I guess though that what matters most is that ‘literacies’ whatever that actually means is in part a process and the discuss here and on Twitter is all just a part of a wider dialogue that is so important.

    Like

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