Monday, January 21, 2013
Two semesters ago, I taught a health major who introduced me to the book "What Happy People Know." I read it, and the author talked about how it's important to define yourself along many different dimensions. Too much faith in one dimension can lead to psychological trauma. For instance, if you ONLY define yourself as a wife, then if you get divorced you will have an especially hard time. That's why it's important to have your identity eggs in many different baskets, so to speak.
So what are the dimensions along which I define myself? I am a yogi and a continual searcher. I am a writer, a data analyst, a scholar. I am an assistant professor trying to get tenure, and gaining confidence with each new publication. I am a teacher. I am a sister, a daughter, a neighbor, a friend, an aunt, and--for the first time in my 30-some-odd-year-old life--a sweetheart. I am a Georgia bulldog, through and through, as well as a Teavana Junkie.
What is literacy to me? Literacy is dialogue. Literacy is not something that happens in an individual mind, but rather it always happens in and through dialogue. This dialogue includes inner dialogues with our past experiences, external dialogues with others, as well as dialogues with the texts we are reading. These dialogues don't work when they feel like monologues. For instance, they don't work when it feels like reading and learning is a one-way street that moves only from the teacher to the student. Instead, literacy and learning work best when many different voices are at the table, with each visibly acknowledged, addressed, and valued.