DOI: 10.58680/rte20031791 ISSN: 0034-527X

At Last: Words in Action: Rethinking Workplace Literacy

Mike Rose
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics

We live in a time of the celebration of high technology and symbolic analysis, even predictions of the end of common work, yet physical work, work of body and hand, surrounds us, makes everyday life possible. For about six years now, I have been involved in a research project exploring the thought it takes to do physical work, the cognitive processes involved in various blue collar and service occupations like waitressing, hairstyling, plumbing, welding, industrial assembly, and the like. The study has led me to consider the way we categorize occupations, define intelligence, and think about learning and schooling. Of particular interest to readers of RTE will be my findings in the realm of literacy and numeracy. A number of people have already done important research on job-related literacy. What follows is in line with their research, though I would like to use it to help us reconsider some of the traditional ways we define and discuss written language, numbers, and graphics.