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Showing posts from July 3, 2011

literacy: shall we eat the book?

"Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll. And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness. And he said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them." Louis Maggiolo was a French schoolmaster who headed an inquiry, in the 1870s, into the history of schooling and literacy in France. Literacy is a hard item to mold into a statistic: what is it? How do you prove you have it? Maggiolo ended up using the signature as an index of literacy. From the statistical point of view, then, one seeks out documents that have been signed. Testaments. Births. Deaths. And especially marriages. In this inquiry, less attention is paid to an equally interesting sociological fact: the increase in