Hi there tout la gang,

We don't have much to say about research in practice at the Café right now

but we are talking policy and practice over here now: Literacy Enquirers.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

what can we count?

Here is a poem by a tutor from St. Christopher House Adult Literacy Program.

Anniversary Literacy Poem

How do we love thee, St. Christopher House Literacy Program,
can we count the ways?
Take thirty years of group and individual classes (in the evenings, along with the days)
times the number of completed grammar exercises
then subtract the mistakes that we made:
Do you arrive at the number that quantifies a literacy protégé?

Literacy and . . .
numeracy, of course, that’s what this is all about
Learn the basic functions, count and conquer!
. . . the job maket, that is. And then shuffle us out?

Or should we take a different approach to our equation
starting with the people in the organization
Fran, Judi and Joanna, divining the perfect combination of learners, tutors, kids, activities and inspiration on any given night.
We can even take it right down to the number, if you like,
of pens, pencils, and computers used to enlight-

-en us to a new and better understanding
an accounting of our programming
without the messiness of sentiment, aesthetics or creativity
showing up in the assessments of our ability.
Dollars and scores keep us going—those are the measures that impress.
Even though such external parameters don’t, for us, convey success.

Tenses, agreements, plurals, to the exponential amount of words we’ve learned
Do we add or divide by the people we’ve met, the pages we’ve turned?
Squared up with the compositions: poems, stories, essays and reports
the letters we’ve written to favourite authors, and interest groups of all sorts

And must we keep with the hard work only? Or can we count the parties too?
One every month or so – New Year’s, birthdays, the summer bbq –
And how about special projects – the Tree Tour, workshops, the Link, to name a few,
does this make us eligible for a little more dough to get us through

next class, next week, next tutor orientation,
next group meeting, next time we gather to critique the state of the nation
and other important topics: the Beckhams, Angelina and Brad,
the TTC cuts, crime, health, family, landlords, and whatever else we’ve had
to discuss – most eloquently, by the way – and write about as well.
We do good work here,
so how about stop treating literacy like something we’ve got to sell?

perhaps it’s time to test your literacy skills by asking: how
much do you recognize here?
This isn’t just any poem, after all,
It’s an adaptation of one by Shakespeare.
You know, the famous bard who,
some four centuries before our program was mounted
taught us that literacy isn’t something that can be counted.

1 comment:

Nancy said...


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