Monday, November 9, 2009

Synthesis thing of Gee and Barton.. x2!

Barton and Gee focus their essays mainly on how literacy affects the individual in the outside world. While both authros believe that literacy is more than just reading and writing, they each have their different methods of separating the two.
Gee has two essays explaining his theory: "Literacy, Discourse, and Linguistics" and "What is Literacy?". I would like to start explaining "What is Literacy?" first. In this essay, Gee focuses on his theory of the "discourse". He writes a discourse is "a socially accepted association among ways of using language, of thinking, and of acting that can be used to identify oneself as a member of a socially meaningful group or 'social network.'" The discourse serves as one's "identity kit" which helps the individual fit into a certain group. Of course, one can be a member of several discourses. Gee goes on to explain how discourses affect the individual, and how many discourses can lead towards some conflict and confusion. Gee goes into elaborate detail of his discourse theory to, in my opinion, help him push another opinion onto his readers. Through his examples of acquisition versus learning, Gee forms a hypothesis about learning literacy in schools. Because he favors the acquisition method over learning, Gee states that, in order to properly teach literacy, different strategies must be adopted. According to this author, reading is not the only subject in literacy, and many children are being left behind with the "learning" approach. Gee's other article pays more attention to the discourse groups one is a part of. His example of the man who walks into a bar and speaks "bar language" to his friend is the prime example of this theory.
Barton splits literacy into three parts: registers, genres, and discourses. Registers are described as "different ways of talking in different situations". Genres are similar to the genres we think of when we think of movies, books, and so on. Finally, discourses differ in how the language is used.
Gee's pieces interested me the most this week. Oh, and I find it very useful that Gee gave us his definition of literacy!! Here it is: "Literacy is control of secondary uses of language." There is only one thing that upsets me about one of his so-called facts. It is kind of off topic, but I have noticed it in many of our readings. Like on page 22 of the "What is Literacy?" article, Gee mentions mainstream students. For some reason, the author groups rich, mainstream students as always being smart and successful, while the poor, minority families are thought to have horrible grades and a poor grasp on education. I do not understand why a poor student can't be just as smart as a rich one. For me, less privileged students have the ability to be just as successful, and just because a student is poor, does not mean he or she should be grouped up with the less smart students. That's all!

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