Literacy in Action teaching the ABCS of community-based learning
Literacy in Action (LIA) started off its family literacy week celebrations on Wednesday night with a night of games, snacks, and socializing. Started Wednesday night and continuing until Saturday, the local community organization is hosting a series of events meant to highlight the many different ways that it works to promote literacy of all kinds.
“Our mandate is to help people develop and build on nine essential skills” explained Joanna Bateman, Director of LIA, listing those skills as reading, writing, oral communication, numeracy or math skills, critical thinking, computer use, continuous learning, working with others, and the ability to use
documents. “We all have skills to learn and practice.”
Bateman described the family literacy week activities as a platform on which to open up the organization’s headquarters in Lennoxville to the Eastern Townships community. Literacy in Action, she explained, is moving from a model of oneon-one support for English literacy skills to one where that same support is drawn from a broader community. In order to foster community-based teaching and learning, however, the group first needs to strengthen its connection to that community.
Noting that the LIA office on Connolly Street in Lennoxville is not very large, the director said that a series of different activities spread out over a couple of days seemed like the perfect way not just to highlight the diversity of ways that the organization supports learning, but also to have an open house in the small space without overcrowding it.
“I’ve always been really interested in creating learning environments in nonclassroom settings,” Bateman said, explaining that she wants to help break down the stigma in today’s society that exists around people with low literacy skills. “It is important that Literacy in Action is not perceived as a place just for people with low literacy (...) Everyone is a learner and everyone can be a teacher.”
Although the events of this week, including an arts and crafts event, movie night, and storytelling activity, have been more family friendly, LIA’S director pointed out that the organization is specifically funded as a support for adult learners.
“We’re like an after-school program for adults,” Bateman said, explaining that the organization only provides support and no official certification to its users. That being said, however, she pointed out that as many as 6 in 10 English speaking people in the Eastern Townships have low literacy skills and could potentially benefit from the services being offered.
Getting to know those services is a big part of the idea behind the open house activities.
“People might know they need help but then not know how to go out and get it,” the director said, noting that a person who came to visit the organization with a friend to watch a film or play a game is then has an opportunity to learn more about the ways that Literacy in Action might be able to help. Even if the person in question doesn’t have need of the organization’s services, Bateman also pointed out that, being a non-profit and volunteer driven initiative, literacy in action is always looking for new people to help out.
“Without volunteers we don’t have a project,” she said.
Along with the Community Learning Centre (CLC) project, Literacy in Action is one of only two projects in the entire region that receives funding specifically for service to the Anglophone community. Working in partnership with the CLCS, Bateman said that she is working on holding “pop-up literacy centres” throughout the Townships in order to help bring the services of the program to the people who need it, no matter where they are.