3-06-12 Goldie’s response to
Kathleen Blake Yancey’s
“Literacy Demands of Entering the University”

Kathleen B. Yancey speaks of five themes that enable educators to speak more about what they know about literacy and the demands that it places on students and about how the definition of literacy is changing (258). I will address only Theme One.
In Theme One Processes and Novice-ship, Yancey quotes Bartholomae as saying that a student’s first literacy demand is to invent a university culture and then to locate him or herself inside that culture (262). When I first read what he suggested, my first response was
“What? No such thing. That doesn’t make any sense. Culture? University?” Then I reread it a couple more times for clarity. And it began to make a little more sense.
Although he states that the culture “requires an elaborated writing process focused
on the construction of academic texts, I wondered how the student was going to invent this university for him or herself.
In Theme One, I was expecting to read a formula for creating this invention. Since students will be new to the university, how will they know what to do? I could be mistaken, but I did not see any suggestions on how a person should create this university for him or herself. But my question to Mr. Bartholomae is how do you they create something that they are not familiar with?
First year college can be overwhelming. All their lives they have only known a K12 academic life with surroundings that have been created for them. They have been given a curriculum with direct instructions on how to become proficient in English Language Arts and other content areas.
Finally, I wonder who will help guide these students’ first literacy demands. I am not speaking of the ones who constistently score well on the written portion of standardized test, but rather the ones who did not score very well and are entering college (four-year or community) for the first time.