"The whole movement of life is learning" (Krishnamurti). "To be an act of knowing, then, the adult literacy process must engage the learners in the constant problematizing of their existential situations" (Freire). "Once you learn to read, you will be forever free" (Douglass). "I can learn anything I have the desire to learn" (White, S.G.).

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Taking the Time

"We don't take the time to meet one to one with others, to hear their interests and dreams and fears, to understand why people do what they do or don't do what they don't do." (Gecan, M., All Real Living is Meeting, Going Public, p. 21)

I couldn't help but pause as I read this statement.  This class has really done so much for me in terms of realizing the importance of taking the time to slow down and really pay attention.  Pay attention to the world around us, the world we may not know, and perhaps the world of someone else's meaning.  Text can be so powerful, and sometimes it is important to really step back, or perhaps step inside, to see if we are truly achieving what we hope.  When I began my project this semester, I truly began looking at the course and text I chose because I wanted to know why people "don't do what they don't do".  I wanted to gain a more comprehensive view of how people view the course, it content, its comprehension and what it represents. 

I began my journey by first reading the policy and online content with a more critical lens.  What I discovered was language that I'd read before, but was truly seeing perhaps for the first time.  Both forms of text were riddled with a feeling of power and language that conveyed fear.  Fear that was hoped to drive compliance; but was perhaps overlooked in its ability to also create the resistance encountered. I was also surprised to learn, as an employee, how much the training really didn't cover. 

We are held accountable for the knowledge of all that the policy includes, and yet the training only highlighted what the creator found to be of value.  There was so much that I had honestly forgotten (or perhaps had not seen); how many others are there potentially that are also unaware? 

Enlightened by what I had already discovered on my own, I was surprised by how much more insight the interviews provided.  I entered into each of these interviews with the assumption that all would be open and honest with me regarding the subject matter.  Each person that I interviewed one-on-one appeared to be very candid during the interviews and provided great insights as to how people struggled with digital literacy, literacy in the traditional sense, time insufficiencies for completion, and the effect that terms like "corporate" and "just get it done" really had on the true learning and completions that were taking place (or not taking place). My small focus group participants proved the most interesting of all perhaps however; not so much in terms of our topic but on a more personal level.  While the information gleaned from this particular interview was helpful in terms of my study, I was also provided a window into how I myself may be perceived by others within my organization.  During the interview one of the participants responded to a question with, "I'd rather not say" for instance, and I in truth was absolutely shocked.  I have known them both for quite some time and use to work very closely with them.  So to have one convey such mistrust (?) really caught me off guard.  I can only help but wonder now in how many ways one's position truly impacts the many things that go on within our workplace.  How power, or fear by association, can color so much of our world; often more than perhaps we even realize.

So as I conclude this semester, I can't help but feel as if I have only begun to graze the surface of this study regarding whether or not stated goals can be met through online training methods.  My opinion may have forever been changed as to whether or not completions (or lack of) can truly only be attributed to the illiteracies or struggles as defined by the traditional sense.  I have realized the importance of asking oneself; is it comprehension or awareness of where to go and find the information they may need that we seek to instill?  Because the answer to such a simple question can greatly influence the best choice in a course's delivery method and/or content.  I also consider a difference in understanding of online literacy in general; too many words on the screen can water down focus and perhaps comprehension.  So to ensure true learning when using this method, perhaps it's best to keep it short and sweet.

"We begin by covering some familiar territory in addressing the language and literacy barriers that discourage involvement, interest and engagement with the training in the classroom, but then we push further by examining the social practices of literacy outside the classroom that present quite a different picture.  The contradictions between literacy use promoted in idealized training sessions and literacy use on the floor are dramatic and offer convincing evidence for adopting a complex, socially situated view of literacy." (Belfiore, Defoe, Folinsbee, Hunter, Jackson, 2004, p. 196)

1 comment:

  1. Holly, I think you sum it up with the idea of "slowing down and really pay attention." For instance, the tension that you felt when that one respondent said (s)he would "rather not say" might have been one of the most TELLING responses you received altogether! It was honest, suggested a layered complexity that extended beyond the literacy event itself and caused you to be shocked. How great is that! You guys have been an amazing class, and we've gotten further into this stuff that ever before. So I hope you all don't beat yourself up because you didn't always get to the bottom of things! What's most important is to appreciate how difficult (and interesting!) it is getting to the cultural level...


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