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Marissa Gutierrez

Literacy practices draft (summary 2)


In this excerpt from David Barton and Mary Hamiltons book, they explain the importance of
literacy practices and how they pertain to the learning process. They also discuss the varying
kinds of literacy found in varying aspects of ones life. With the collective knowledge gained in
all these areas, it proliferates and forms entire communities of exceedingly literate citizens. They
suggest that the degree of influence and power a certain region possesses is based on its level of
overall literacy. The foundation for literacy theory is also summarized by its three main aspects.
Varying types of literacy are also discussed. Whether or not you are computer literate etc. This
is where literacy and learning are most closely associated.
At the end of the chapter they write, We start out from the position that peoples
understanding of literacy is an important aspect of their learning, and that peoples theories guide
their actions. It is here that a study of literacy practices has its most immediate links with
education. (page 14) This link they develop between people being literate and being well
educated is a big part of the chapter. Once somebody is literate then they are considered
educated. Once you are educated you can become successful contributor to your community. In
that regard there were also connections made between highly literate communities and high
levels of success, both socially and economically. There are also differing forms of literacy, such
as personal and professional literacy.
They discuss the more prominent areas of literacy practices as being in a place of
business or at an educational institution. Contemporary life can be analyzed in a simple way
into domains of activity, such as home, school, work-place. It is a useful starting point to
examine the distinct practices in these domains, and then to compare, for example, home and
school, or school and workplace. (page 11) This division in areas of literacy is very important

Marissa Gutierrez

since it distinguishes what kind of communication we use in specific social environments. The
more private literacy practices are not taught in a formal way but adapted through use in ones
personal life. The words and phrases used amongst families and friends differ in all
regions. That is primarily what makes up a regions culture and identity, which is another reason
why strong literacy practices are so vital to society.
Barton and Hamilton also discuss the basic fundamentals of the social theory of literacy,
basically breaking it down into three main parts. These three components, practices, events and
texts, provide the first proposition of a social theory of literacy, that: literacy is best understood
as a set of social practices: these are observable in events which are mediated by written texts.
(page 9) The culmination of all those aspects of literacy form into what we understand as
literacy theory and can guide us to a better understanding of what will lead us to higher levels of
literacy and learning.

Marissa Gutierrez

Works Cited
Barton, David, Mary Hamilton. Literacy Practices. Ethnography Inquiries in Writing.
Southlake: Fountainhead Press, 2010.