Marking Up The Margins

Literacy is technically defined as the ability to read and write. However, literacy is a much wider, more complex concept that has existed before the invention of paper. Literacy has to do with communication; effective communication. Literacy is the ability to clearly comprehend what someone else is trying to express and properly articulate one’s own thoughts.


The Origin of Literacy

Wendell Berry feels that in order to know a language that expresses the truth about the world as we see it, “we must know something of the roots and resources of our language.”(1972) The origin of every single language is in its oral tradition and the very first stories of every culture began in the oral tradition. This is also the origin of literacy.

Social transmission was an important goal for elders in traditional societies. It was essential to communicate moral values and cultural norms to the younger generation…

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The Mere Imparting of Information is not Education

Marking Up The Margins

“The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”

                         -Mark Twain

This is a Reading Response to Wendell Berry’s “In Defense of Literacy”

This essay seems to be Berry’s response to the relative prominence that the “practical” fields get over the languages in the current education system.

Berry initially highlights the apparent absurdity of a defense for literacy in a society where almost everyone goes to school but the widespread prominence of “published illiteracies of the certified educated” makes it necessary.

Berry is mortified by the fact that languages in the modern education system are only taught as “ornaments.” As a necessity for learning other more “practical” fields and not for their own sake. He laments the fact that while a language is taught in school, linguistic literacy is not…

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