CREATIONAL LITERACY METHODS AND ADULT BASIC EDUCATION
This project evolved from my recognition of the scope of adult literacy education in the United States, and the realization that the nature of some literacy program effects restraint on individual and national potential. For a number of reasons, it appears contemporary American culture has commodified reading and writing skills, replacing their intrinsic value as means of individual enjoyment. Though I appreciate the personal and academic benefits of developed literacy, my literacy great from the profound pleasure derived from reading. The acquisition of skills as an asset is thus a strange concept to me. I began to consider in-depth how specific personal literacy activities influenced my development, and sought to learn more about the ramifications of impeded individual literacy attainment for adults in America. Millions of people, from high-school dropouts to recently widowed grandmothers, seek supplemental literacy education every day. Do these people attain literacy as a pleasurable activity, or as a practical asset?
I had some erroneous assumptions about content choices and primary ideology driving Adult Basic Education (ABE) programs. My expectation was that organizations work to enhance functional abilities in adult learners would employ imaginative, relevant lessons specific to the particular qualities of those students. Adult learners have developed certain learning strategies, proven methods that are individualized and effective. I was certain that reading and writing instruction would seek to effect learners’ autonomous growth, like water on dormant seeds. While looking for facts and figures, I learned about federal legislation and funding directed at adult literacy. However, a literal interpretation of performance requirements tied to that federal funding pushes ABE toward an emphasis on basic, measurable reading and writing skills in order to improve adult learners’ employability and increase their economic participation for the benefit of the national economy, instead of individual, self-determined growth.
I contend that an essential goal of ABE programs should be to enable a process of becoming in their students. By augmenting an ideology centered around adult students with exercises that activate imagination and possibility, a large, employable volume of adult learners transforms into hundreds of thousands of innovative people who are immeasurably beneficial to the economy and to society. What I see as a lack of attention to imagination is the impetus for my proposal to enhance ABE curricula with what I have termed creational literacy.
To initiate this discussion, I further explore my personal assumptions, and define my perspective toward literacy in general. I discuss the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA), which I see as influencing decisions about what skills ABE learners need, and consider the effect of legislative policy on literacy and learning theory. Finally, I suggest an approach toward integrating creational literacy projects with current ABE curricula.