Who Controls Literacy?
The upper class control the literacies used in society because their money controls the way society functions. People accept this and focus their lives on learning how to understand the forms of literacy used by the upper class. Businesses are built around this and schools force these literacies on students. Things like proper grammar are defined by money. An author would not write a book that does not use proper grammar because no one would buy it. The way people view things and respond to them in business, newspapers and in other mainstream media sources is to please the wealthy who ultimately pay their bills. The forms of literacy used by the upper class are not useless, far from it but, society should not be restricted to using these forms of literacies.
Literacies used and enforced by the upper class is not always the best way for something to be. Kyle Wiens writes in I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar “Yes, language is constantly changing, but that doesn’t make grammar unimportant. Good grammar is credibility, especially on the internet.” Kyle Wiens proves that business owners use and follow this specific form of literacy. There are two reasons why people are so focused on acting the way the upper class has been. Reason one is that straying from the mainstream structure of doing business would not make business owners money. Reason two is that the mainstream way of conducting business is the only way people have been taught.
The root of this issue does not begin when people open their first business or write their first book. The root of the issue begins in the earliest stages of school. From kindergarten through 12th grade the majority of people are taught the same way using the same systems. The reason being is that change is hard to accept and the way people seem to be doing things seems like it is working. Hundreds of years ago the only people in school were the wealthy. They believed they were being taught correctly and the way they were taught should be the way other people should be taught. In Chapter 2 of the Pedagogy of the Oppressed it says “In the banking concept of education, knowledge is a gift bestowed by those who consider themselves knowledgeable upon those whom they consider to know nothing.” Essentially this goes back to the wealthy believing they were most knowledgeable and their ways of education will be the way of education for the middle and lower class.
In schools thinking and learning outside of the box is sometimes not accepted and those who do think outside the box are ostracized. In I Just Want to Be Average it says “But mostly the teachers had no idea how to engage the imaginations of us kids who were settling at the bottom of the pond.” Teachers bore students with pythagorean's theorem something we will never use unless we become mathematicians and the time spent learning these sort of things is wasted. Why people do what they do and why certain things happen is not taught but should be. The upper class force these ways of learning on anyone and everyone. To get into college you must follow the structure that has been laid out by the upper class. To get a job people must go to college again following the structure and literacies of the upper class.
Once someone has gone through all of the education and has learned all of the literacies of the upper class they have a chance at being a successful. Still being successful requires someone to know how to act in certain situations. One day during the week I was in Antwerp I met a friend of my Dad’s, It was during the middle of the week. It was a cool fall day, I had filled what time I had by myself wandering the streets of the foreign European city. The sun began to slowly set along the horizon and I took at my phone to call my Dad. The screen felt cold against my warm fingers. After a few short rings my Dad picked up.
“Dad it’s Eli, it’s getting late when can we go to dinner.” I had not eaten much that day, I had to pay for my own lunches so I was incredibly frugal.
“I’m on my way back to the hotel, we are going to dinner with a few mathematicians.”
“Okay I’ll start walking back now, bye.”
“Bye Eli.” Excited to meet my Dad’s friends I rushed back to the hotel. A few minutes later I was with my Dad and his friends on our way to dinner. There were 5 of us, my Dad, Me, and three mathematicians, Marcy, Leonid, and Amnon. Leonid presented in a strange way. He made little eye contact, he was not wearing nice clothing and he seemed a little unfriendly. As the night went on one thing became very clear. Leonid was unquestionably smart. Later when my Dad and I said goodnight to everyone I asked if Leonid was successful. He was not, he was thrown under the bus time and time again. Most mathematicians have a lot of resources to work with and like my Dad do not have to pay themselves to go to conferences in foreign places. Leonid was different, he had no resources because no one wanted to work with him. His life had become ten times harder because he did not know how to present himself in society that is defined as presentable. Due to this math is potentially missing breakthroughs because someone who is a genius is undervalued and underutilized.The upper class dictates what is presentable and what literacies should be used. Because of this society is missing potential breakthroughs and huge steps forward in society.