Literacy is a variable topic in education, one that has shifted and expanded over the years: with an unprecedented expansion since the 1980s, in parallel with the evolution of computers and digital technologies.
Mainstream education has focused on reading, writing, and numeracy for centuries, but in the 21st century, this has changed dramatically. Curriculum and pedagogy studies have revealed that the learner of today requires literacy
in several dimensions beyond these standard three.
Educational statistics and research also support the need for culturally-sensitive and appropriate literacy strategies for First Nations children, youth and adults. For too long, literacy has been viewed through a mainstream lens, which does not always fit with First Nations needs and comfort. More and more initiatives encourage the inclusion of traditional languages, arts, knowledge, and awareness as critical literacy skills needed by First Nations people in the 21st century. This is coupled with other new literacies, such as digital, visual, global and cultural literacy.
Although the number of literacy models that exist are extensive and sometimes confusing, researchers agree on a few key principles:
☉ Parental involvement in literacy initiatives is invaluable - the younger the child, the higher the value
☉ First Nations children need instruction and literacy development in their own traditional language just as much as the mainstream language.
☉ Orality is a traditional literacy skill that has endured since time immemorial in First Nations communities and continues to be an important one. Children should be encouraged to both listen to
and tell stories and express themselves orally from a young age.
☉ Connecting with Elders can help children and adults develop traditional literacies.