Literacy Practices Inventory and Essay
In our societies, there are so many factors that tend to bring people together and this is why a community is not restricted by geographical elements but also by religion, ethnic origins, culture, preferences like sexual orientation, resources, happiness and lifestyle.
So many times, these will be the defining standards that will be used even by the media in referring to a particular group of people. For instance, one will hear about: the Indian community, the gay community, the catholic community, the banking community and etc. The fact that individuals stay in the same neighborhood does not necessarily mean that they have anything in common.
It is how they relate with one another that become the important aspects in forming a community. With the advent of technology and the Internet, the concept of a community becomes effective irrespective of the members’ physical locations because they are not limited by the mode of communication or transportation. The values treasured by a certain group of people could also be what bind them together. Values such as beliefs, solidarity and commitment could be the cohesive factor behind a community.
Literacy practices are therefore greatly affected by the different communities because the same values that shape a community are likely to frame their literacy practices. When we talk about literacy practices, we are simply referring to what individuals, societies and the general public all do with literacy; which is the writing and reading aspects of learning and acquiring knowledge.
Literacy practices involve values, attitudes, feelings, and social relationships. They involve the different concepts that communities have about literacy; that is, reading, writing and the conversations they hold about it and how they generally make sense of it.
The Campus Community
The campus community is very broad and made up of various smaller communities, which are in one way or another interrelated. In this particular case, we shall focus on two main categories under which these minor communities fall. Many of these groups are formed by either out of interest or default. Those that fall in the default bracket are those based on factors like religion, ethnic origins and academic specialty. The individuals in these communities do not actually choose to be members, but are predisposed.
The main focus in this report will highlight groups that are formed with a particular intention for example Christian Union which will target Christians, the basketball club which will have the basketball fans in mind, the cookery class whose main enthusiasts will be those interested in cooking. Some of these communities however, are not the ones that people are acclimatized with. In no way should literacy practices of such groups be disregarded or considered as mediocre and inconsequential.
The Gang Band
In this report we will try to understand one such community. Let us try not to judge too fast, the word gangster alone brings a lot of prejudicial ideas to mind. The society has often viewed gangsters as a social affiliation of young people who are seldom seen as meaningful members of the society. They are never viewed as people who are simply trying to express their beliefs, ideals and interests.
The Gang Band is a group that is formed by members you may not expect. These members are probably out to engage in street fights, drug related battles, exchange a lot of gun fire and think of anything else that is villainy and outright act of resistance by a youth; to whatever is morally acceptable by the society. They will also be classified as gangsters based on their physical appearances; tattoos, heavy makeup, body piercings, crazy hair styles and fashions.
This community of gangsters I have not met. They are different and you just have to attend one of their fortnightly scheduled meetings to understand this. They may have similar facades to what you would expect a gangster to look like, but will undeniably amaze you with the different ways they are trying to make their voices heard. They will design everything from their books: cars, homes and clothing with graffiti.
They embrace a certain literacy practice no matter how much the community frowns upon it. They have been marginalized and probably do not even understand that they have a form of literacy practice. If this practice were channeled appropriately, and accepted by the society that has all along been frowning upon it, it could become very productive. They have successfully used many literacy practices as means for changing the society’s assumptions and mentality towards gangsters.
The Gang Band Website
The crew has designed a website where they talk about who they really are, what their mission and vision is and also what activities they are involved in. Through their website they use graffiti to change the attitudes and perceptions of people about gangsters. They offer services such as: vehicle body designs according to individual’s taste, wall painting for kindergartens, T-shirt and other clothing art works.
They also use this art to design catchy advertisement flyers and brochures. While offering the services, they profess that all this is what they really consider as a useful form of graffiti and art as opposed to inappropriate painting of public facilities. A percentage of the proceeds from their work go to charity work for helping orphanages, juvenile convicts and supporting youths with drug addiction problems. This is a form of literacy practice because it involves reading and writing, although it is mainly graphical.
Every fortnight, this group meets to discuss how their projects are impacting on their society, how they are progressing and welcome new ideas. They read out any new ideas that have been presented online through their website and also update a blog that is managed by a few members and also write their opinions on any issues raised by their audience. This way they maintain a social relationship with the public and still stand by their values and attitudes which are not always embraced by all and sundry.
Sometimes, what it takes to reach out to others is something that will catch the eye. Their tracts are definitely eye catching, very graphic and explicit; it is very easy to understand the tracts information. Sometimes it is not always about joining a book club and reading not less than two books weekly.
Reading is just one of the means of remaining informed, passing time or appreciating a particular form of writing. And this is what these pamphlets and brochures that are distributed by the crew aim for; that is to have an effective audience. A picture speaks a thousand words.
There is no better way to reach out to many people, than to showcase what you are all about, what exactly you stand for, your opinions and ideas. They use this form of literacy practices as a way of being expressive and an effective communication tool. These youth are using this method of literacy practices to be part of the society and take a social position in the community.
All one has to do is take a look at the various designs on T-shirts, caps, cars, walls, buildings, book covers, crockery and cutlery, badges, all designed by members of this gang band. They all speak for themselves with very informative, rich and uplifting messages and in this way their voices are heard, loud and clear.
Sales of these items have been the source of funds that have supported many of the charitable organizations in the community. They have also improved on the appearance and architecture of so many condemned structures in the community through their graffiti, including also, painting walls and ceilings of kindergartens and improving the learning environment for young kids.
|Literacy Practice||Source Of Practice||Practice Location|
|The Gang Band website||Social Network Website||Website|
|Bi-weekly meetings||Invitation from a member of the group||Campus Art lecture hall|
|Tracts||Campus Notice board||Group headquarters which is a garage in one of the member’s homes|
|Annual Conventions||Interview of members of the group||Location is not permanent, but keeps changing from one venue to another|
|Artifacts||Collection of a range of artifacts||These are on display in the groups’ headquarters|
|Observation||They wear some of the T-shirts they have designed, carry some of the book covers they have made and even drive some cars that have graffiti all over.|
The Gang Band has definitely claimed a place in society and taken a social position in the world. The fact remains that gangsters are living within and among societies and should be accepted by all means.
Notwithstanding, gang bands generally speaking, are exposed to marginalization in societies; this is because societies have biases against gang bands. Literacy practices need to be challenged and broadened to accept both conventional and unconventional pedagogies that illustrate that literacy at the end of the day embraces the main idea of reading and writing; which brings cohesion in our communities.
What matters is how these practices at the end of the day will impact on our community and how they will promote the culture of reading and writing. Different people will embrace the reading and writing culture in different ways and the sooner we accept other alternative styles, the sooner we will be able to involve a larger audience into appreciating the various forms of literacy practices that our communities have to offer.
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