Multiple Literacies--Nannies, Discourse, and Code Switching?
A few weeks ago I wrote about how, to me, literacy felt more integral to a universal "childhood" than any other label imaginable, since literacy, to me, so far, is about learning to communicate, express ideas, and _participate_ in society. I've combined personal thoughts, class readings, and class discussions to (for the time being) produce one definition of literacy: "literacy is the ability to communicate and participate in a given social order with either inherent or experiential fluency.”
This week, in another context, someone brought up the theory of multiple intelligences. It made me wonder whether or not there's a theory of multiple literacies, and it made me feel as though whether or not there's a label for it, it certainly exists, right? Sometimes we talk about our one, monolithic childhood, but in reality, for many (all?) people, "childhood" is broken down into many sub-categories. I grew up under the guidance of not only my parents, but also many different nannies, and so learning to behave one way with my nannies and another way with my parents came instinctively to me, and it can be seen as perhaps a form of code-switching. I remember the first time a nanny blatantly told me not to do something. I was six and I think I was coloring on unopened mail and the nanny snatched the markers out of my hands and said, “No! Stop! Don't do that!” In true white, middle-class teaching and parenting techniques, my parents always set rules using “we” as the subject, and they always explained their logic (i.e. “Emma, we don’t stand on chairs—we could hurt ourselves!”). Doesn't this compare well to Delpit's scissor example?
As the child of both parents and nannies from decidedly different backgrounds and day-to-day realities, I grew up with one foot in two literacies, and, due to code-switching, I was able to navigate between the “concerted cultivation” of my parents and the “natural growth” of my nannies. This “bilingualism” in the two discourses ultimately, I think, gave me tools to function in both literacies/discourses/realities.
Sometimes we talk about literacies in the singular ("literacy") but if there are infinately many literacies can we ourselves be bi-literate? Or ourselves be a part of many different literacies? Or am I confusing "literacies" and "discourses" here? Is childhood a literacy and are your realities with your nannies vs. parents two separate discourses?