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Overall, the definition of functional literacy changed from being able to sign one’s name to word decoding to reading for new information (Resnick and Resnick, 1977); see Box 6.1.In the early 1900s, the challenge of providing mass education was seen by many as analogous to mass production in factories.
It was not until the mid to late 1800s that writing began to be taught on a mass level in most European countries, and school children began to be asked to compose their own written texts.
Even then, writing instruction was largely aimed at giving children the capacity to closely imitate very simple text forms.
Doing history involves the construction and evaluation of historical documents (see, e.g., Wineberg, 1996).
Doing science includes such activities as testing theories Colonists were literate enough if they could sign their name, or even an X, on deeds.
Currently, that kind of “extraction literacy,” revolutionary in 1914, looks meager.
Finding out who, what, when, where or how simply does not yield the inferences, questions, or ideas we now think of as defining full or “higher literacy.” The idea of a classroom where young women, poor and minority students, and learning disabled students read (not recite) and write about (not copy) Shakespeare or Steinbeck is a radical and hopeful departure from the long-running conception of literacy as serviceable skills for the many and generative, reflective reading and writing for the few (Wolf, 1988:1).Learning theory does not provide a simple recipe for designing effective learning environments; similarly, physics constrains but does not dictate how to build a bridge (e.g., Simon, 1969).Nevertheless, new developments in the science of learning raise important questions about the design of learning environments—questions that suggest the value of rethinking what is taught, how it is taught, and how it is assessed.The emulation of factory efficiency fostered the development of standardized tests for measurement of the “product,” of clerical work by teachers to keep records of costs and progress (often at the expense of teaching), and of “management” of teaching by central district authorities who had little knowledge of educational practice or philosophy (Callahan, 1962).In short, the factory model affected the design of curriculum, instruction, and assessment in schools.On this page you will find four examples of how the essay could have been written. In this chapter we discuss implications of new knowledge about learning for the design of learning environments, especially schools.It was not until the 1930s that the idea emerged of primary school students expressing themselves in writing (Alcorta, 1994; Schneuwly, 1994).As in writing, it was not until relatively recently that analysis and interpretation of what is read became an expectation of skilled reading by all school children.Today, students need to understand the current state of their knowledge and to build on it, improve it, and make decisions in the face of uncertainty (Talbert and Mc Laughlin, 1993).These two notions of knowledge were identified by John Dewey (1916) as “records” of previous cultural accomplishments and engagement in active processes as represented by the phrase “to do.” For example, doing mathematics involves solving problems, abstracting, inventing, proving (see, e.g., Romberg, 1983).