How important is literacy?? This particular question is one of major debate that has surrounded our Australian education system and society in general of recent times. But before I baffle you with the importance of literacy, we first need to have an understanding of what it is and what it means. If I asked you what you thought the meaning of literacy or literacy teaching is, I’m sure your answer would be ‘simply the process of learning to read and write’. As a pre service teacher I would award that answer a mark of 3/10! The definition of literacy especially in today’s society is comprised of many elements. Its not just the process of learning to read and write, but moreso as stated by Kellnar and Share (2005) it “involves gaining the skill and knowledge to read, interpret, and produce certain types of texts and artifacts and to gain the intellectual tools and capacities to fully participate in one’s culture and society” (pp. 369). I would like to reiterate the part about fully participating in ones society. With the every growing era of technological revolution, and the heavy emphasis and influence of the media in today’s society, the term multiliteracies has become important. Multiliteracies now takes into account the many differing ways that we now communicate and moves away from the dominate thought of literacy as reading and writing.

As mentioned, the media has a major influence over everyone in today’s society. Thus it is vitally important that media literacy is taught to students in schools. Media literacy involves the interpretation of many verbal and visual images that we take in daily from television, newspapers, computers, magazines and varies other forms of media and advertising. As a pre service teacher I’m aware that “we must prepare young people for living in a world of powerful images, words and sounds.” UNESCO, 1982

For more on media literacies I thoroughly recommend reading “Expanding the definition of media literacy” by Bill Walsh which can be accessed from the link below.

Definition of Media Literacy

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