The search for the holy grail of literacy : post literacy jouneys, destinations and unmapped possibilities
chapterposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 authored by Bernadette Walker-GibbsBernadette Walker-Gibbs
This paper explores issues associated with the maze of debates currently in circulation around visual literacy. It is particularly focused on the idea that most notions of visual literacy centre around the belief that it is something that can be acquired - or a quest to be undertaken - and I liken this quest to the search for the 'mythical' Holy Grail. The journey is mythical in the sense that we don't know whether visual literacy exists and if it does we're not sure how to get there or what it will do for us; we've just heard that it's out there somewhere and that it's supposed to be worth looking for. This paper is influenced by my argument that the search for visual literacy will remain a mythical quest as long as we insist on prescriptive definitions that suggest one end point to this journey. I have argued in this paper that if we are to take seriously the various pressures associated with the perceived need to produce visually literate school children, then we have to begin to construct the notion of what I have termed post-Literacy, that owes a lot to post-structural/postmodern contexts and accounts for the different needs of children in the so called information age. What is suggested is that we should acknowledge the complexities of visual literacy, and that television can serve as an example through which we can determine the multiplicities of the social and cultural worlds in which we engage with contemporary understandings of media in the developed world.