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What is the purpose of literacy: An argument for teaching transliteracy

What is the purpose of literacy: An argument for teaching transliteracy

Written by Deanna Mascle
January 30, 2016

There has been a debate raging in my department about the form and function of our Writing I and Writing II classes – those core “composition” courses that all students are required to take. This requirement is a good thing. It is essential that our students learn to be good writers, and readers and thinkers, which is why I have always maintained that these are among the most important classes students take in college. The debate centers on the focus of these classes. Will the classes be research-based or argument-based? What kinds of texts will be read and/or studied to support the writing? Will there be a final exam and what form should it take?

These debates do not focus on the most important question of all. What is the essential purpose of these classes? What is our bottom line? What is the one thing we hope our students will take from these classes? This is where I always begin when designing a class with the goal that every activity and every assignment supports that bottom line goal. For my composition classes that bottom line goal is to change the way my students interact with text. I challenge them (through many activities across several assignments) to delve deeply into texts created by others, write about their ideas as well as the ideas of others in reflective and analytical ways, and engage in interactions with others about the texts that result from that reading and writing. It was only recently that I learned this work is best described as transliteracy. I support this endeavor with a series of interconnected activities and assignments that allow students to pursue questions, ideas, and topics that interest them within the framework of the specific class. Our semester divides into three parts.

Read the full “What is the purpose of literacy: An argument for teaching transliteracy” post on my Metawriting blog at: