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Scientific Literacy

As our regular listeners know, at Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of literacies. These include traditional literacies like reading and writing. But we also expand our conception of literacy into a wide range of other disciplines. It’s easy to understand that to be literate in a specific discipline you need to understand the conventions and skills related to that area. For example, some of the more fundamental skills in science is the ability to ask and answer questions. So, in order to be scientifically literate, one needs to be able to develop the curiosity to be the kind of questioner a scientist is. But scientific literacy goes well beyond forming the skills in order to do good science. It is also about having the ability to consume science. A person who is literate in science is also one who is able to think critically about scientific issues. Being able to read about a scientific discovery in a newspaper and then judge and assess the validity of the conclusions the information offers, is one way a person shows he or she is scientifically literate.  This kind of application implies then, that a person is informed about scientific issues when they can evaluate the quality of information and the sources that generate it and those that report it, and can come to their own conclusions so as to make their own personal arguments. This kind of literacy engagement extends oneself beyond personal concerns to participate in the broader conversations of a community. Being able to critically look at the world around us and generate new knowledge from our experiences, is essentially what being literate means for all disciplines. Particularly when we consider disciplines like science which impact so much of what we do. Being able to be a critical consumer not only helps us engage in that particular discipline, but it also enables us to be socially responsible contributors to the significant conversations of our day. As you listen to our show and my thoughts here, we hope you’ll consider that literacy is more than what you thought it might be.  

By Rachel Wadham, Host of WORLDS AWAITING 

Check out these links for more information about scientific literacy:


At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.

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