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By David J. Cieslak,  Arizona Daily Wildcat, February 19, 1998

Literacy needs new definition, prof. says

A UA language, reading and culture regents professor yesterday called for an end to attacks on public schools and the way many people define literacy.

Goodman gave the Building Academic Community speaker series lecture titled "Defining Yourself as Literate in the 21st Century" to about 100 people yesterday in Gallagher Theatre. "Illiteracy is used as an attack tool against civilization and the educational system, including teachers," she said.

 Goodman said many societal aspects can control children's minds. "There are strong forces which aim to control school and learning," she said. Goodman, who said technology impacts education, added that literacy is multifaceted - people who can read medicine labels are considered literate.

Literacy should become a cultural activity instead of just a school activity, Goodman said in an interview Monday. She defined a literate person as one with a particular ability to "function in a society with written language to the degree that they need for their own personal use." Linguistics Department Head Richard Oehrle agreed with Goodman, adding that literacy is a "personal accomplishment." "Literacy is very important because it opens the way to things you cannot do without writing," he said. Goodman and Oehrle agreed that an increase in electronic communication will help, not hinder, a literate society. "Technology might change some of the issues," Goodman said. "How can we use computers without reading?" Although Oehrle said Monday electronic communication "will extend and enhance literacy," not everyone at yesterday's speech agreed. Psychology senior Danielle DeMailo said computers will decrease the need for literacy. "Programmers will make learning techniques so user-friendly that it will decrease our use for literacy," she said. Goodman said people should not believe the myth that one must read novels to be considered literate. After encouraging people to "wander and wonder," she said children who read at home typically have higher exam scores. "People think that reading only takes place in school, and I hate that."

Sent by Steve Goss Arizona Parents for Traditional Education http://www.theriver.com/Public/tucson_parents_edu_forum/