Sponsors of Literacy Essay Draft 3
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Obeid 1 Sarah Obeid Professor Jan Rieman ENGL 1103 September 17, 2010 My Path to Literacy After having read and analyzed the pieces written by Sherman Alexie and Malcolm X, I have a better understanding of my own literacy history. The real definition of literacy is not just having the ability to read and write; rather it is more than that. Literacy is being able to use reading and writing in a variety of subjects and to express ones ideas and opinions. Literacy, in fact, is having the basic skills of reading and writing to develop higher level skills to function in society and communicate in all different forms in conversation, as well as writing. I spoke with my parents and my friends about their literacy history, which made it easier for me to remember what my own history was like. My beginning steps in learning to read and write started when I was a little girl at the age of three and four. I continued to learn to read and write in the early years of elementary school. Once I entered middle school and high school, my literacy skills advanced. Ever since then, my literacy learning began to shape and improve, eventually bringing me to where I am today. At the ages of three and four, I attended United Faith Christian Academy. While I was at this academy, I used books with the letter of the alphabet on each page. There was also a picture of something that started with that letter. This technique put me on the track to learn to read and write. I colored pictures of certain things with the word of that picture to help identify it. This made it easier to help me remember the word. My memories of literacy at this time in my life are Obeid 2
somewhat blurry and I cannot remember every aspect of how I learned to read and write. I was always excited and overwhelmed when I was able to read the word correctly with my mother. I enjoyed reading at this time because I would always teach my stuffed animals how to read and I would use the chalkboard my mother got me to teach the animals how to read and write. At the ages of five through twelve, I attended NCA, Northside Christian Academy. In kindergarten, we read easy books with very few words on each page. In first and second grade, we learned how to write in cursive and started using textbooks, which of course were suited for our grade. By the start of the year of first grade, I started reading books like The Boxcar Children pretty quickly. My mother bought me The Boxcar Children at the school book fair that year. The other students and I were always given plenty of access to computer labs and two libraries. We were given all the necessary materials, such as paper and writing utensils, to carry out our reading and writing assignments. I even remember in elementary school, we had a weekly computer class and we would play games and write letters to our parents or anyone else in our families in order to improve our literacy skills. I only realized this as I was looking back and recalling memories about this time in my life. At the time, I did not feel limited because I was young and did not really realize I was being discouraged to read other types of literacys. Now that I am more educated and much older, I see that it would have been helpful to have read other things that did not have Christian perspective. I was put right into this Christian school as a little child and just sort of went with the flow of how things went there and did what I was supposed to.
At this time, as I was still a little girl, my parents every other night or so would read a book with me and point out certain words I had trouble remembering. Sometimes, my mother would even point at pictures to help me understand what I was reading. My mother bought me a small chalkboard with chalk included within a slider compartment. She and I would practice words and I would have to say them and read them aloud to her. Both of my parents, however, pushed me to read and write constantly. Heck, my father even sent me to an Islamic School on Sundays where I learned to read and write very basic beginning Arabic. All their support and efforts to motivate me to read and write is still greatly appreciated. My initial literacy sponsor, as mentioned before, is Northside Christian Academy. I was taught how to basically read and write at Northside Christian Academy. However, a lot of our books were religion based and we as students were restricted as to what we could read. Anything relating to or using witchcraft, magic, or anything vulgar or profane was not allowed. The school wanted us to read books that always included a Christian perspective. A lot of our writing had to be based on Gods teachings or good values because it was a Christian school. My family chose this school for me, so I should have expected to read and write things like this; however it would have been helpful to read other books, which were more open minded in their ideas and more focused on worldly issues. Fantasy fiction, such as Harry Potter and Twilight, was not allowed. Our literacy learning was limited here. The libraries only carried particular books that they believe were good and right for us students to read. Later, Davidson IB became my next sponsor of literacy. During my Davidson IB Middle school years, I was able to read anything I wanted or whatever interested me. Since it was an IB Obeid 4
school, the students were given greater access to a wide range of books. We also had plenty of options to choose from when we were required to read for class. Our literacy learning provided me with all kinds of opportunities. I felt like I was able to understand different people, different problems of the world, different faiths, everyday life, the good and bad. Since the books were not focused just on religion, I felt I could express a stronger opinion about something confidently, without worrying about offending someone. It definitely allowed me to have more diverse choices in what I read and wrote. The access to literacy at Davidson IB was most certainly above adequate because IB students had to read more than the average student. Everything the other IB students and I chose or were required to read covered a broad IB spectrum, encompassing things like Health and Social Education, Environment, Human Ingenuity, how we learn, and Community. . Being able to read books about everything you could possibly imagine was such a nice feeling. I felt that being able to read all different types of genres and literacys, would bring me to learn even more and discover things I never knew before. IB was good program and sponsor for me because the entire program allowed me to explore any type of literacy. It encouraged this for all students. When I read something I enjoyed, my writing also improved. The freedom that came with attending Davidson I, in my opinion, mainly brought me to who I am today. I realized I was missing out on so much when I was limited to books with only a Christian perspective, not that that is a bad thing. Throughout my high school years at North Mecklenburg, I was able to read anything I wanted on my own time, however the books assigned to us were not always what I wanted to read. This dissuaded me from reading because the books were very difficult sometimes to understand and took time away from me to read books that I enjoy. The books assigned to us Obeid 5
were all classics, some of which were okay, and some of which were quite boring and disinteresting. Although I was not always a fan of reading such books, I still learned quite a lot from them, whether it was from my own understanding of them or from class discussions. I realized that these books contained life morals, diverse themes, and lessons. My teachers in high school had students do assignments where we had to take what we read and write an analysis paper on it. Whether I liked it or not, reading the books in high school certainly helped me become a better writer and forced me to think deeper about specific things. At this time, since I was so busy, I did not really read for fun often. I read the Twilight series though. I chose to read magazines and maybe some political articles here and there. I never actually had much time to read a good amount of books. As of today, because of the literacy history I had, starting with Pre-K and ending with high school, I now have the ability to better understand and interpret any kind of knowledge or information that I come across on a daily basis. It keeps me connected with my friends here and overseas, keeps me informed about the world, allows me to acquire opportunities that an illiterate person could never obtain, and so much more. By having strong literacy skills, I am more open to new ideas and willing to listen to what others have to say, as well. Literacy is a significant thing to have because we as humans need the proper knowledge to make the right decisions that could affect my life or the world. Without any sort of literacy skills, I think it would be quite difficult to do just about anything.