Chapter One: 1920-1950
The narratives of participants included in this chapter range in age from fifty-six to eighty-six years old. From the information provided in these narratives, Scenters-Zapico offers a thorough examination of five emergent literacy ideas: alternative literacy practices, direct and indirect sponsorship, gender bias, bilingualism and biculturalism. Through his analysis and participants’ stories, we learn about the alternative literacy practices most of the participants in this chapter subscribe to such as reading and sharing books, Bibles, magazines, or comics amongst family members or keeping diaries and journals. Evidence of the traditional literacy practices many of the members of this generation took part in could be seen in letters and notes participants of this generation attached to their surveys (see Figure One).
Figure One: Ernesto Payan's Handwritten Note
In terms of acquiring traditional literacy skills, participants stated that they were taught by various family members, showing that they were directly sponsored. However, when technology is mentioned the same family members described as direct sponsors became indirect electronic literacy sponsors. Direct sponsors are those who have a hands-on role in the learning of literate practices, such as teachers, parents, and often times friends, whereas indirect sponsors are those who influence the development of literacy practices in less direct ways such as purchasing a new technology or providing transportation to learners. In addition, strong evidence of gender bias was revealed among those of this generation; women were not perceived as having a role outside of the home and education was considered an opportunity strictly designated for males in some families. Bilingualism and biculturalism are two separate issues also addressed and defined by participants who noted that there was fluidity between borders that is not present today.
Scenter-Zapico’s careful commentary allows readers to begin the process of understanding the multiple literacy acquisition practices of Latino/a participants. Their stories about being bilingual and bicultural are useful for educators on the U.S.-Mexico border as well as others who work with students who face similar acculturation challenges. Additionally, the research gathered in this chapter shows us how economic motivators served to guide those who had been displaced from their jobs to study and learn electronic literacies. The implication is that even members of this generation needed public technology gateways and opportunities to learn, refine, and develop electronic literacies.