Language and Literacies: Literacy Education

Reading, writing, speaking, and listening are interrelated language processes that help us to comprehend and compose text.  Faculty in the literacy area focus on comprehending and composing from birth through adulthood, across multiple genres (e.g., narrative & expository prose, poetry, performance), in a variety of modes (e.g., written, spoken, digital, visual), and across multiple languages. We are committed to understanding and honoring the diverse literacy repertoires students bring to the classroom and to the world.

Literacy is a process of meaning-making, and at its heart, literacy education is about knowing who our meaning-makers are. In the complex and often complicated lives of students, many different factors may influence their ways of making meaning from any kind of text.  These factors include biological, cognitive, cultural, economic, emotional, gendered, linguistic, psychological, racial, sociological, technological, historical, textual, and many others.  All of these factors influence how easy or how difficult comprehending and composing might be for any given student in any given setting.

Ensuring that children of all ages have the knowledge, skills, and strategies associated with literacy is unquestionably a goal of the literacy area that is shared with families, teachers, school administrators, teacher educators, and policy makers. However, limiting the goals of literacy instruction to technical and testable dimensions lessens the possibility that students will experience literacy as a tool for building fulfilling lives. Literacy education needs to be meaningful for students so that they may expand their intellectual lives, grow their personal relationships, develop a sense of belonging, and experience a sense of agency in determining their futures. At its crux, this is what it means for literacy education to be engaging, equitable, and socially just.

Therefore, faculty in the literacy area are committed to creating cultures of literacy in and out of classrooms that acknowledge, support, respect, and truly love students of all ages for the meaning-makers they are.

Literacy area faculty teach in the undergraduate Elementary Education Program, the Master’s level Secondary English & Language Arts Education Program, and the post-baccalaureate or Master’s level Wisconsin State Reading Teacher & Reading Specialist License Programs.  The literacy area also offers Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Curriculum & Instruction for students interested in the critical exploration of literacy education, both in and out of the classroom, and at all age levels.

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