How Socialization Affects Literacy Acquisition
Heath in her article “What no Bed Time Story Means,” explores a number of issues that serve to prove that similar to other aspects of life, one’s culture and the environment within which they have been raised, significantly affect their ability to take up and understand new information. Essentially, she argues that different societies or groups of individuals instill different practices of taking up information and of reading and speaking beyond what common analysts seem to suggest exist. Heath asserts that the environment within which one is raised significantly affects their academic capabilities and future abilities, more so when it comes to reading and writing. Heath posits that various communities adopt various literacy events that may serve to better prepare their pre-school children compared to other communities that fail to do so. In this respect, and in an attempt to highlight the differing approaches between various communities, Heath opts to highlight literacy practices amongst communities from Maintown, Trackton and Roadville, which seem to provide strikingly different patterns of language socialization and language use. These differences Heath asserts extend to even how the children adapt and adjust to school. These assertions, therefore, serve to highlight how the differing processes of socialization may serve to grossly influence the children’s ability and excellence towards literacy acquisition.
The first community Heath highlights, is Maintown, where literacy practices start from an age as early as 6 months, with the main focus and intention behind these practices being establishing a particular culture of taking up information that encourages making inferences from surroundings as well as the real world and books they are provided with. The focus is therefore, less on the acquisition of writing skills, but more on reading skills, and an ability to creatively interpret and expound on the read material. In order to assist with the construction of knowledge for such children, certain explanations, associations and labeling procedures are usually provided to these children, furthering their ability to competently relate new information to old information. The fact that parents within these communities normally emphasize and encourage engagement in fiction or narratives, serves to ensure that children are therefore, encourages to infer different meanings to a given reading, beyond what can be inferred at the first reading. They are then encouraged to associate characters and situations they read about to real life situations, leading to not just creative, but also practical minds. Similarly, children in Roadville are raised with particular focus being concentrated on improvements on their ability to read. In particular, literacy practices put emphasis on the learning of letters of the alphabet and seemingly make no further attempt to encourage extension of the learning practices outside literacy events. This ends up handicapping the students, as they indeed gain competitive reading and writing skills at a tender age, but do not develop a clear approach to taking up new information and associating it with old or practical surroundings. The fact that the literacy events are not related interdependently and in a sustained manner is further evident from the inferences made by Heath regarding Roadville community. In the case of the third community; Trackton, no literacy practices or events are evident from Heath’s description, implying that indeed in this case, there are usually no deliberate attempts made to assist children in taking up information. In fact, Heath even goes as far as to claim that in most cases, time that would have otherwise been allocated towards literacy events is usually allocated to various other social events. It is seemingly only in cases where children display their inquisitiveness and eagerness to learn, or having learnt a particular aspect that reinforcement is usually forthcoming.
The approach that fits best with that I observed within my community and specifically within my family, was that employed in Roadville. Similar to the practice described by Heath, the greatest focus in our family was on learning to read and write. Of utmost importance in this regard, was learning the letters of the alphabet. Most of the initial literacy events in my early life, therefore, focused mainly on the learning of the 26 letters of the alphabet and on their pronunciation. As such, I was able to gain proficiency in reading and writing from a fairly tender pre-school age. A situation that was greatly beneficial at the initial stages of school, where focus would mostly be on spelling, pronunciation, reading and writing. However, unlike is the case in Maintown, there were no attempts made to help me make further associations between what I was reading and real life situations, a finding which I must confess has been in retrospect, did hinder my ability for effective learning. Indeed looking at the effects of the approach adopted by the community from Maintown, had I been brought up within a similar culture, my levels of creativity and ability to practically interpret new information would have been significantly different. As such, it is my belief that the approach adopted by the Maintown community, would indeed be the best approach to adopt for my children in the future, as it not only creates reading and writing proficiency, but it also creates a clear culture that can be used when taking up new information or knowledge.