Literacy, Theories of
Margaret T. Stewart
Multiple theories of literacy and schooling explain ways students gain competency in content fields such as language arts, science, mathematics, the arts, and computer technology. Literacy is inherently complex, and definitions range from describing skills, abilities, and knowledge at the individual level to examining social practices and competencies at the functional level to explaining it in terms of political goals and ideological values. Here, literacy means essential knowledge, skills, and abilities in receptive and expressive language processes that include reading, writing, oral language, listening, and thinking. Writing refers both to composition and mechanics (grammar, spelling, punctuation, letter formation). A brief review follows of basic theories explaining the nature of development and learning, representative theories/approaches regarding literacy acquisition, and references to several broader interpretations that include other current literacies. Theories of literacy and schooling rest on assumptions about the nature of development and learning, and many come from the field of ...