Harvey J. Graff provides a history of literacy as it has been regarded by educators since the 1800’s. I find it interesting that for all the emphasis many educators placed on literacy as a part of morality, literacy itself was not always (or even very often) their goal. Why, I wonder, might this be? How could people see the value in something but not strive to achieve it? If only as a means to an end, I would have thought that the fostering of literacy would have been a sincere goal since the very first observation that it led to greater good for individuals and society as a whole.
While I do recognize that “good of society” is subjective and that with there have been plenty of racist reasons to suppress literacy among whole groups of people, I still struggle with the idea that even today literacy is not universally appreciated as a valuable asset.