At first, I understood literacy as the ability of a human being to read or write. That is why I believe literacy plays a key role in liberating people from ignorance. When a person is ignorant, he/she lacks the knowledge or information, which limits their intellectual capacity. However, a person who is literate is knowledgeable about various issues and can make informed choices or decisions based on logical reasoning and not impulse.
Literacy, in my opinion, is also a means of attaining freedom or empowerment. When we consider the writings of some of the great thinkers during the European enlightenment period, such as Kant and Hegel, we realize that illiteracy was one of the things that were used to justify the treatment of slaves during the period of slavery as primitive and less than human. Indeed, the capacity of a human to attain freedom was determined by their literacy level. Consequently, this was used to differentiate humans from animals. Humans’ capacity to think, read, and write differentiates them from animals.
However, my view of literacy has changed over time. For instance, I realized that even before the invention of reading and writing, there existed people who could not read or write but were knowledgeable in many other ways. They could have an inherent flair for different spheres of life. This, too, could be referred to as literacy. In addition, we have people who are very knowledgeable in particular fields without the benefit of acquiring a formal education. For example, before the invention of hospitals, people skilled in traditional healing methods and drugs could treat various diseases even though they did not go to medical school. I have come to accept this as literacy because going to school, and learning is not the only way a person can acquire knowledge and skills.
Another way my view of literacy has changed is in my perception of literacy as an empowering tool or a key to attaining freedom for humans. I have come to understand that literacy is a double-edged sword that cuts both ways meaning that it could be both empowering and enslaving. For example, there is a certain knowledge that is burdensome or enslaving to the person who acquires it. If a person who has long been suffering from an illness is eventually diagnosed and gets to know what is ailing them, then the knowledge is liberating. However, when this person goes on to learn that their disease has no cure, that knowledge is enslaved because they start to feel the burden of their hopeless situation. Therefore, literacy should be assessed carefully as to whether it is empowering or enslaving to a person. Additionally, some people misuse their literacy power to abuse others by capitalizing on their ignorance or feeling superior to others simply because they know something that the other person is oblivious to.
Given that my definition of literacy has changed and expanded over time, my production of texts has also changed to reflect this. For instance, when I write texts, I do not just develop one-sided characters, but I build characters that are all round. My characters reflect the reality of life. They are not superhuman, nor do they possess perfection, but they have their flaws and encounter challenges that they confront just like normal humans. They also reflect personalities from all lifestyles, experiences, social classes, and educational levels. In addition, I give them voices to be heard to tell their story from their perspective.
My invention, arrangement, and revision strategies have also evolved to reflect my new position on literacy. Because I view my writing as a communication and development process, I usually start my writing with an idea. During the invention process, I usually prepare by researching thoroughly on my subject before embarking on writing. I have to understand my topic, limit my subject by narrowing it to a manageable size, and gather and organize my ideas until I formulate a thesis statement.
During the arrangement stage, I decide how to clearly arrange my ideas so that the flow of my writing is logical and coherent. Finally, when it comes to the writing and revision stage, I begin by writing my thoughts and ideas without letting grammar interfere with the first draft. Later, when I write my second or third draft, I make corrections by considering the logic and clarity of my ideas and how I express myself. During revision, I also prepare a checklist that I use so that I can move systematically in the whole essay. I check my thesis statement, body paragraphs, sentences, spelling, and punctuation, among other grammatical errors.
My writing style has also evolved to reflect the goal of my writing. For example, depending on whether my goal is to persuade, entertain, or inform, I vary my style from conversational, businesslike, or technical to reflect my personal expression of the subject I am discussing. My attitude towards writing has changed positively. I now enjoy seeing my idea take a life of its own and become a creative work. Furthermore, my knowledge and skills in writing have improved such that coming up with my piece of writing is not as challenging as it was initially. Right now, I define myself as a writer who focuses on creating a piece of literature that reflects the complexity of the society we inhabit.