Gee and Me

In Literacy, Discourse, and Linguistics: Introduction , James Paul Gee talks about how our Primary and Secondary Discourses shape who we are. I then related this to literacy narratives that myself, and my peers have written. However, I wanted to take this concept deeper, so I asked the question: How can Literacy save a life? In my last post I explained this question and then dissected it, explaining that the way you interpret the meaning of “saving a life” could bring you to many different conclusions to this answer. However, for now I will attempt to use Gee, and his use of Discourse to support and complicate my question. Gee states “Our primary Discourse constitutes our original and home-based sense of identity”. I think this is an interesting point relating to my question because if one’s primary discourse either supports or doesn’t support their literacy, I think it can effect how we perceive literacy in the future. For example, if a child is raised in an environment that positively promotes reading and learning literacy, they will most likely associate literacy with positive emotions and feelings later in life. Compared to a child who is raised in an environment that shames or doesn’t support literacy, they will most likely have negative opinions towards reading and writing, throughout their entire life. This difference in primary Discourse can mean a world of difference in the effectiveness of literacy being able to “save a life”. With this said, Gee also states that one can only move from one discourse to another through an apprenticeship. Respectively, I think this is true from a literacy standpoint. As I was reading through my peers literacy narratives, I found that students who had been defeated by literacy at a young age, had trouble and negative relationships with literacy in school as they got older. But, all it took was one good teacher or “mentor” to change their minds on literacy, and in turn they were able to enter the Discourse of positive feelings towards literacy.


One thought on “Gee and Me”

  1. Teagen,
    Very interesting connections here. You’ve explained that primary Discourse can “…effect how we perceive literacy in the future.” Can you take it one step further and link how we perceive literacy to how we perceive our lives? This would link Gee back to your question of can literacy save a life?

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