Literacy in the Workplace and in Learning Essay

Pages: 5 (2017 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Teaching

Literacy in the Workplace and in Learning

Literacy is an essential tool for those in the workforce. Without the ability to read (which allows one to comprehend), and without the ability to write (which allows one to organize thoughts in a coherent manner), knowledge of important matters cannot be passed on from individual to individual. This paper will discuss the ways in which writing/reading/literacy has affected my ability to work and learn, and it will also examine why literacy should be stressed as an important factor of the workplace.

Let me begin by describing my own experience with reading and writing -- which I will then relate to my work experience. When I first began my higher education, I was quickly made aware of an entirely new world -- a literary world -- where innumerable works were piled one atop another, creating a mountain of words and research that seemed to stretch on forever. I could hardly fathom the significance of such a mountain of information: the few criminal justice papers I read seemed to be centered on experiences other writers had had dealing with systems and stats -- numbers and percentages: percentages of crime; percentages of felonies and misdemeanors. What was the point of all these percentages?

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The focus was on how to try to prevent crimes -- how to help those who had committed crimes -- how to help people from becoming victims. There was, in the great mountain of research -- a point: deeper understanding. There was, under that hill of research, a practicality: social improvement. Here was movement towards identity -- wholeness, reflection, awareness.

Essay on Literacy in the Workplace and in Learning Assignment

My educational career had been one in which I learned to write only when I had to do so. I had written nursing notes for the sake of documentation of patients' medical issues; I had written to help with the continuity of care -- for legal issues if they had ever arisen. During my time as a medic in the Navy, writing was part of the job -- an essential element of the position of care, of covering one's steps, of always leaving a paper trail. Procedure was, in other words, by the book. I had become aware of one aspect of that book through my association with it at work: it was an impersonal association -- a letter of the law association. What I had failed to appreciate was the spirit of the book: I failed to let it serve in my own progression towards identity -- towards wholeness.

Yet, I did become aware of one thing: such care and concern as are shown in the Navy could not be possible if it were not for "the book," which is what everyone in the medical community must learn for the place to operate orderly and efficiently. Now how could one go "by the book" if there were no literacy, no ability to read, no ability to write? The great store of medical knowledge and procedure is part of a code within that "book." To read and know and work according to that book is the height of responsibility. What I discovered in college was that every discipline has "a book." By such books, knowledge is gained, passed on, retrieved, and added to. As Kellogg says, "If you want to be hailed as a Realtor, you had better learn to write well" (6). Kellogg's assertion could be extended: if you want to hailed as anything, you had better learn to write well: for it is up to us to write the books of tomorrow.

The truth is that every career necessitates the ability to write, speak, think, create, communicate, and interpret. Without these skills, which one learns through literacy, through reading, through writing, one puts himself at a serious disadvantage. To extend Kellogg's analogy even further: how can one expect to sell houses in today's social media market if he cannot even bring himself to know, understand, and communicate within that market? Does he think drawing abstract pictures of houses in the sand will effect his commission? Far from it!

Again, Kellogg's point could be illustrated in the classroom setting: as we learn in the workforce to go "by the book," we learn in the classroom how to "write the book" when that time becomes necessary. The act of writing is as important as the act of reading -- both not only allow for the transference of knowledge, they also facilitate a kind of social congealing: "The salient point is that the writing process always unfolds socially, in response to various interlocutors including the class itself, and that the assignment sequences…seek to acknowledge that sociality in a variety of ways" (Kellogg 14). Thus, a class on literacy would find us practicing context memos, rough drafts, peer reviews, response letters, and unit reflections -- illustrating the process by which the books we learn from have come to be written, so that we may go on to do such writing ourselves.

Deborah Brandt indicates the value that the written word possesses for those who wish to learn and pass on what they learn; for those who wish to work and pass on how to work: "More and more people are expected to know how to labor with written symbols as our tools" (47) because written symbols help explain the mystery of the rebus -- and help shape ourselves as well. As Brandt indicates elsewhere, the very act of writing is a kind of mystery in itself: to some it is nothing more than the practice of penmanship; to others it is the ability to creatively use letters to illustrate an idea (Brandt 100). The challenge that faces many people today is the challenge of expanding one's ability to be literate -- and to establish identity. The effectiveness with which one uses words is a tool that will not rust, that will not decay, that will not become outdated -- unless it is neglected. All things that are not used or put into practice tend to deteriorate over time: how true for literacy no less than for metal left out in the rain?

Reading and writing, therefore, while an important aspect of study and work, are not to be thought of as restricted solely to the academic or professional life. On the contrary, they are tools that can be strengthened in recreation too -- as tools that can help shape our identities: "When we are not working, we are encouraged to traffic in written symbols as part of leisure life" (Brandt 47). The reaction of some to such a notion, however, is revulsion: many have learned to hate literacy because of bad experiences in school: they view it as work not as recreation. This is an important fact to remember for educators, as Brandt admits: "If we are going to understand better what literacy instruction represents to students…and how it sometimes, inexplicably, can go awry, it is especially important to know about the settings in which the knowledge of reading and writing have come to them" (113). By associating literacy with improvement of self and with the establishment of identity (by, for example, learning language as handed down to us through the classics -- as Shakespeare himself did in his small school in Stratford-upon-Avon), we can associate better the act of reading and writing with acts of recreation: of entertainment and enlightenment -- the tools for the formation and polishing of identity.

What I learned at the very outset of my college career was the importance and value of reading and writing. Despite the fact that I write only when I have to, I have not failed to notice the degree to which I fail to produce: in a policing class in the spring semester of 2011, I created a plan to deal with the deep budget cuts by the city: I set it down in memo format because this was the easiest way I could imagine to put down my ideas. I realized, however, that there existed a substantial gap between what I knew in my head and what I was relaying on paper. What people might have gleaned from my memo might not have been all that I had to offer. Why was I limiting myself by a desire to be inexpressive? Truth be told -- I had not thoroughly mastered the art of communication: I wanted to give and receive information in bullets -- in excerpts -- in marginal notes -- in fractions. This appeared to me to be the most simple, the most basic, the most agreeable mode of communication -- but as Kellogg observes, giving information in bullets is just the beginning of communication: literacy allows us to do much more (14).

Literacy is more than the ability to simplify: "in the knowledge economy, wealth is created by generating and leveraging knowledge" ("Writing for a Living" 118). What this means is that it is sometimes to one's advantage to communicate in a way that sparks imagination. Problem solving memos that… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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