Why do we place so much value on reading, writing and arithmetic?
We have created a cultural imperialism through our schooling systems that applies focusses our skills and abilities on 2 forms of communication – that which is described in words, and that which is described in numbers.
This limits our expressive capabilities, our receptive capacity and our ability to interpret and interact with the world around us. We have focussed society on letters and numbers, and pushed every other form of literacy to the margins.
It occured to me that we live in a world where everything is rewritable (some things more easily so than others) and in the future everything should be “Delivered in Beta”, in order to make this clear and reduce the barriers to development and modification. But to rewrite the physical world, we need to be Physically Literate – to be able to read in an object not just what is intended of it, but what it can also be used for (it’s subtext), just like a word can positioned in a different place to extend or alter it’s meaning, the same is possible for physical forms, objects and materials.
I then began to think to myself, if we are extending literacy there are numerous other forms of literacy that many of us are culturally lacking.
In the below context, i’m using the Unesco’s interpretation of literacy, but replacing printed and written materials with alternative mediums of communication – “the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, compute and use printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society.”
Other examples of literacy: Musical literacy, Emotional Literacy, Visual Literacy, Verbal Literacy, Haptic Literacy, Self Literacy, Political Literacy, Contextual Literacy, Media Literacy
You may argue that these things are subjects that are covered later on in life. My argument here is that by placing importance of one type of literacy in the first place we limit our own cultural growth and development. Our shared literacy affects greatly our shared language and how we communicate, it influences the way we see the world as it influences the tools we use to communicate and what we communicate. It shapes our collective culture and perception.
It is time for us to extend our cultural foundations, and extend our manner of expression and communication. If we all have the ability to “read and write” the world around us, then the world will be our wiki and our collective will shall emerge as Utopia.
This prose, like everything else is unfinished. It will remain (like myself) a work in progress. Feel free to add, amend, and expand, but please link back to me so I can continue to be a part of the dialogue.