Request PDF on ResearchGate | Literacy and democracy | It is argued that literacy and democracy interact in dynamic reciprocity. Their mutual influences may. UGOT Challenges, Expression of Interests. Literacy and Democracy. Anna Lyngfelt, Associate Professor. Department of Swedish, University of Gothenburg. It is argued that literacy and democracy interact in dynamic reciprocity. Their mutual influences may be either positive or negative: they are negative when.
Benjamin Franklin, when asked after the Constitutional Convention whether the delegates had created a republic or a monarchy, reportedly replied: He probably meant that democracy would be hard work, that citizenship is a challenge. Most conceptions of citizenship include some variation on the following: We have to learn to do these things.
We also need to know the meaning of democracy. We need familiarity with writers such as Plato, Locke, Rousseau, Tocqueville and Dewey; with works such as the Constitution and the Federalist Papers; with significant speeches such as by Lincoln and Roosevelt ; and some acquaintance with writers critical of democracy or advocating different approaches such as Machiavelli, Hobbes, or Marx.
How do we gain this education to understand democracy and citizenship? For most of us, through our formal education, through reading we do at school.
After our formal schooling, we read newspapers and magazines and books to keep up with current events and to learn about candidates and the issues, and to participate in choosing candidates.
Granted, we can also learn about current politics through listening to candidates and news shows and friends, but the skill of reading is certainly an important one for democracy. When children fail to develop into competent readers and when they become adults without literacy skills, democracy is challenged.
Connection between literacy and democracy is real
As Franklin said, it makes it hard to keep it. On any issue and in any election, there are diverse and contradictory positions.
Politics, he points out, involves an endless conversation to work out differences. No issue is resolved for good and most times we have to settle for less than we want. An unwillingness to listen to others and to share in a conversation about our differences puts democracy at risk. The alternative to democracy is having policy and decisions dictated to us, without benefit of a voice in the decisions.
So, if we want to keep a democracy we must find ways for the conversation to continue. In the coming presidential election, we all have issues that are important to us. For some, immigration policy is paramount, for others health care or programs for the poor or terrorism or climate change. Havelock that the alphabetic script was the key to western democratic developments.
Although she agrees with those historians who think that literacy was widespread in Ancient Athens, Missiou goes one step further by seeking to explain how and why literacy promoted democracy.
Chapter One explores how the reorganization of the demes and tribes in the early fifth century might have promoted the use of writing among the Athenians.
Contrary to the view that the large size and predominantly agricultural nature of Attica formed obstacles to mass literacy, Missiou argues that the tribal organization of Attica, based on democratic principles of political equality and fairness, facilitated the use of writing: Important matters such as the enlistment of demesmen and the conscription of soldiers, Missiou argues, could not have depended solely on oral transmission, but must have relied on the use of the written word, which was more permanent and accurate.
In short, Missiou demonstrates how the use of writing and the effective functioning of the political entities mutually facilitated each other. Chapter Two, on the institution of ostracism, examines the role of writing in the actual procedures by which Athenian politicians were ostracized. Noting the practical difficulties in counting the large number of votes a minimum of 6, votes were required and in determining the identity of the person named in the cases of duplicate names i.
The question of whether ostracism reflected widespread or limited literacy is treated in the next Chapter. Chapter Four looks at public decrees in the Classical period. Missiou cites examples in which simple writing, consisting of brief inscriptions, little more than a name such as lists of demesmen, horoi, and coinswas used in the service of the polis, before moving on to public decrees passed by the demos in the first half of the fifth century.
She shifts our attention away from the traditional scholarly focus on stone inscriptions to texts inscribed on wooden tablets leleukomena grammateiasuggesting that such tablets were perhaps more widely used in Athenian administration than we think.
Connection between literacy and democracy is real | Newberry Observer
The final Chapter tackles the controversial questions of the social status and literacy levels of the Athenians serving in the boule. Missiou argues that members of the Council of Five Hundred must have been drawn from all sectors of Athenian society, including the thetes, the fourth Solonian property class, and that service in the Council required ordinary Athenians to perform literate tasks themselves despite the presence of officials and minor functionaries charged especially with writing and recording e.
The Athenians might have acquired and practised the skill of writing in such contexts as, she suggests, home-schooling and informal apprenticeship in the boule itself; the desire to participate actively in the democratic institutions would also provide incentive for councillors to acquaint themselves with the use of writing. The contentions in this study are very similar to those in C.