Reading Work: Literacies in the New Workplace

Reading Work: Literacies in the New Workplace

Reading Work: Literacies in the New Workplace

Reading Work: Literacies in the New Workplace

Synopsis

Combines collaborative studies of "literacies in use" in four workplace settings with analysis, relevant theory, and discussion of what can be learned from the research. Focuses on how people make sense of texts at work.

Excerpt

This book is about understanding the meanings of literacies at work. Reading without a search for meanings is a contradiction in terms. So, too, is doing workplace literacy education without focusing on how people make sense of texts at work.

Yet often, that is exactly what workplace educators are asked to do. We are hired to teach the use of workplace documents and charts with a narrow focus on skills, rather than to educate for understanding and inclusion in the meanings of workplace life. In Reading Work we try to explore what might be missing from the familiar skills approach to literacy and workplace education. We think there is a better way. And we believe we are not alone.

For all these reasons, this book is also about bridging the divide between theory and practice in the field of workplace education. It attempts to strengthen the ties between recent social practice theories of literacy and the everyday events and dilemmas of education in the workplace. We argue that literacies at work can only be understood like threads in a tapestry. To see what they are, what they do and what they mean, we need to explore the patterns in the whole cloth, to discover the big picture. Ethnographic research is the tool that lets us do this, and stories are our principal means to share what we have learned.

We are a group of five workplace educators and academics who call ourselves the In-Sites Research Group. Our collaborative work process throughout the research and writing of this book is reflected in the listing of our names alphabetically as co-authors. We have worked together for nearly 5 years, learning many more, and sometimes different, things than we anticipated when we began. We have learned about . . .

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