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Changing Literacy


by Deborah Brandt — 2003

Current discussions about literacy often focus on how economic changes are raising expectations for literacy achievement. The emergence of a so-called knowledge economy or learning economy requires more people to do more things with print. Less attention has been given, however, to how the pressure to produce more literacy affects the contexts in which literacy learning takes place. This article looks at the literacy learning experience of an autoworker turned union representative, a blind computer programmer, two bilingual autodidacts, and a former southern sharecropper raising children in a high-tech university town. It uses the concept of the literacy sponsor to explore their access to learning and their responses to economic and technological change. Their experiences point to some directions for incorporating economic history into thinking about cultural diversity and for using resources in school to address economic turbulence and inequality beyond the school.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 105 Number 2, 2003, p. 245-260
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11119, Date Accessed: 11/22/2017 2:17:59 AM

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About the Author
  • Deborah Brandt
    University of Wisconsin-Madison
    E-mail Author
    DEBORAH BRANDT is a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a researcher with the National Research Center on English Learning and Achievement. She is author of Literacy in American Lives (Cambridge University Press, 2001), which won the 2002 Modern Language Association Mina P. Shaughnessy Prize, recognizing the outstanding research publication on the teaching of English, and the 2003 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Education, an international prize honoring powerful ideas in the arts and sciences.
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