SECTION 1 - A FRAMEWORK FOR CURRICULUM AND MATERIALS DEVELOPMENT
... labour sees the worker as a full human being whose life exists beyond the job - a human being who also has a range of roles in their family, union, community and society.
It is important to distinguish labour's conception of literacy from corporate conceptions of literacy for workers. As far as corporations are concerned, worker literacy is defined in the context of corporate goals regarding productivity and profits. Where the production process, and more recently, the participatory management process, requires workers to use literacy skills to follow instructions, say, or fill out reports, then corporations may be interested in worker literacy.... This corporate conception of literacy is a narrow one. It is based on a limited understanding of the worker and of the worker's need for literacy in terms of his/her role as a cog in a work
Unions know that a worker's need for literacy is much more extensive than the requirements of their current job. In a changing economy and workplace, it is obvious that we also need literacy skills to equip us for new jobs or for further training or education. But, unlike the corporate view, labour sees the worker as a full human being whose life exists beyond the job - a human being who also has a range of roles in their family, union, community and society. Literacy is required for these roles, too.
...the literacy skills required to be an active and engaged citizen - or union member - often far surpass in complexity the literacy skills needed on many jobs.
Yet, even in our roles outside the workplace, the fact that we are workers colours our experience in significant ways. We know how working conditions - pay, hours, health and safety, benefits or lack of them - affect all aspects of a worker's life. Our jobs have an impact, for example, on where we live, the shape and texture of our family life, how we spend our leisure time and with whom, the quality of our communities and natural environment, and the services to which we have access. As the Sweet Honey and the Rock song Footnote* goes, "We take more than a paycheck to our loved ones and families." We take home, also, particular stresses and challenges. Thus, being a worker affects not only how we live but also how we understand our lives, and the perspective we bring to social issues. Our experience as workers has implications for how we engage as citizens and the concerns and hopes we bring to our participation in public life. So workers also need literacy for participating in democratic institutions. Indeed, the literacy skills required to be an active and engaged citizen - or union member - often far surpass in complexity the literacy skills needed on many jobs.
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* Ysaye Maria Barnwell, "More than a Paycheck"