It used to be that “literacy education” only referred to helping people to read and write words. In the 1980s, listening, speaking, viewing, and representing were added to the mix as equally important ways of expressing ourselves and understanding others.
By the 1990s, theorists were beginning to discuss “multiple literacies,” that is, the many ways that people use to make meaning of their worlds. This definition included not only print literacy, but also the visual and performing arts and digital literacy.
Using a multiple literacies perspective has characterized all of my teaching experiences. Sometimes, becoming a better reader and writer means using the other literacies to help us. And sometimes, we can abandon print literacy altogether in favor of other ways of reading and writing our worlds.