I can’t remember back to the days I first learned to read and write but, I do remember my connection to books as a child. I remember that I used to be punished when I was 8-9 years old by having to read entire novels in one week’s time. I still remember the books: Robinson Crusoe, The Swiss Family Robinson, White Fang, The Jungle Book, Huck Finn, and Tom Sawyer. I got the general idea of what the books were about but I never really took in what I was reading. The books were old and smelled like the 60s, it was distracting to me. Later, I ended up liking all of those stories when I was in middle school (mostly because I had then see them as films). I also remember taking part in this school summer reading program in 5th grade. We had to log 100 reading hours over the summer and we would get a free ticket to Six Flags. I remember being really excited about that at the time.
Prior to this course, I always considered literacy as being able to read and write a language in the most general sense. When looking at literacy from that perspective, I feel I became very literate once I got in my mid 20’s. At this time, I had already taken many linguistics classes and I had learned to speak, read, and write in 5 languages. I then was able to see how the languages all linked up and meanings to words I had always just repeated, I could actually see the root and hidden context of where it came from. I felt everything I thought I knew about language was changing. Now seeing words like “understand” gained heavy meaning, and it was like seeing society from above. I try to encourage others to learn as many languages as possible; some things go right over our heads because no language alone is deep enough to explain the human experience. The thing I take away from my upbringing is that the more perspectives you have, the more angles you have to think about, then the more well-rounded and literate you will be. When I teach, I try to get my students to look at everything from as many perspectives as they can and to play devil’s advocate with themselves to pull out the truth in their reasoning. Chess is another thing that I believe helps increase literacy, in the sense of understanding concepts more abstractly. Analyzing patterns, anticipating new structures, and running through all the different approaches can really strengthen the mind in all ways related to learning. Learning to play chess well is something that can apply to so many disciplines of education and occurrences in life. I think it should be introduced at the elementary level, where it could greatly expand the children’s ability to see and understand their vision.