What Does “Fully Literate” Mean

This week we’ve been asked to respond to what we think it means to be literate in today’s world. Also, what that it means to be “fully” literate in digital, media, physical, and/or math, for example. It is a loaded question, but after reading a few length articles, I will give my opinion on it. I am a math guy, so I will lean into math and preface it by saying that I think what goes for math applies to digital, media, and physical.

What does it mean to mean to be math literate? In the article Quantitative Literacy and Mathematical Competencies, they outline that “mathematical literacy” is defined by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) as:

“The capacity to identify, to understand, and to engage in mathematics and to make well-founded judgments about the role that mathematics plays, as needed for an individual’s current

and future life, occupational life, social life with peers and relatives, and life as a constructive,

concerned and reflective citizen. (OECD 2000)”

I apologize for quoting a wordy article at you to start the blog post. It is important to understand that math literacy is not just a term in the education sector. It is recognized throughout a variety of sectors and professions.

Mathematical literacy is the goal we want to achieve with students as they become lifelong learners and competent adults. As a teacher, my goal is to provide the students with the foundational understanding of Mathematics and help them understand where it can be applied throughout their life. Math talks, word problems, and cross-curricular content help explore where math can benefit them in their lives.

The above categories (digital, media, physical, and mathematical literacy) can be viewed through the same lens. I can not have the pressure on myself as an educator to be a one-person army in creating full literacy. However, I can view myself as a piece of the puzzle. I can lay down some fundamental understanding. Then utilizing stories and posing open-ended questions, the students will start to build that “full” literacy.

“Full Literacy” does not happen without a bit of questioning and push back. There is a discover-for-yourself aspect that the students need to learn. As educators, we can let students explore many subjects in a controlled environment. When students begin to question and form their own conclusions off our teaching, we can see that they are on the road to becoming fully literate.

Applying those practices in a controlled environment to having them formulate perfectly in life does take some failures. Many of the life lessons that we pass down to young people are failures we have experienced. When we were young, someone older shared their experience, and we did not listen and made the same mistakes, I’m sure. Becoming fully literate in many categories will come with teaching, exploration, failures, and an understanding incorporated into everyday life.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy week to read my blog. I hope you’re having a good week!


5 thoughts on “What Does “Fully Literate” Mean

  1. I often wonder if we can ever be fully literate at something. I mean, I am a literate person in the English language, but there is so much that I don’t know, from definitions to certain parts of speech and so on. I mean, I am functionally literate, but am I fully literate? Absolutely not. Maybe I am looking at it in too much depth, but I cannot say that I think I am fully literate in anything. I think the word literate is such a deep-rooted word that encompasses so much, that even if I strived to learn everything inside and out, I don’t think I would ever be 100% at it.


    • I appreciate this insight. Perhaps someone with a growth mindset and is always expanding their learning in an area, then absolutely full literate seems like an impossible goal. Also, it is not one that you’d want to reach because you’d always be expanding your knowledge in that area! With that thought though then the task almost seems daunting because you can never reach the end!!


  2. I love that you talked about failures. I totally agree! And sometimes it feels like it falls on our shoulders to form those fully literate students, but it comes from the village, not the individual. And oftentimes there will be failures along the way, but also many “wins” that will make it all worthwhile. I also liked that you brought in the math literacy aspect as well… there are so many pieces to the word literacy, it no longer fits into the definition in the dictionary. Simply reading and writing is not the only piece of literacy. Critical thought and examination are quickly becoming the norm in literacy / digital literacy. Great post! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting post Durston! I agree being fully literate in today’s world is not an easy task. The technological tools are upgrading and there is N number of new tools which are available on daily basis… We as teachers have to test them, try them before using them in classrooms. Also, there are times when kids are more tech-friendly or they know more about a particular app than us… So, yes being fully literate is crucial and as you said, I also agree that “becoming fully literate in many categories will come with teaching, exploration, failures, and an understanding incorporated into everyday life.”


  4. Pingback: Summary of Learning #ECI832 | McKenna's Corner

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