Chapter Two: 1951-1966
Through these stories, Scenters-Zapico discusses three new terms he coined to help understand the intricacies of literate practices articulated by members of this generation: cubbyhole gateways, micro-tear zones, and self-sponsorship. Participants remarked that they primarily learned traditional literacy skills from members of previous generations, as noted by participants in Chapter One. However, there was a marked difference in the acquisition of electronic literacy skills. Participants received such skills primarily in two ways, through cubbyhole gateways and/or self-sponsorship. Scenters-Zapico defines “cubbyhole gateways” as low-paying jobs that often require participants to learn and use technologies they never imagined they could competently use before (58). An example might be a minimum wage cashier job. Furthermore, he contends that once a person attains a level of literacy with a particular technology, they will have the confidence to learn new electronic literacies. In articulating the importance of self-sponsorship, Scenters-Zapico points out that, “unlike past traditional literacies, whereby a family member or teacher helped a learner read and write, we discover with electronic literacies that learners must overwhelmingly teach themselves” (59). Also identified was the presence of what Scenters-Zapico calls “micro-tear zones” in which participants revealed the long-term positive or negative effects that sponsors had on their literacy growth (59). Other issues discussed in this chapter include the recognition of a digital divide between those who had access to technologies due to socioeconomic status and those who did not, and gender bias in more traditional families. As noted, some participants noted more access to new technologies like home computers. This is significant because it helps illustrate the connection between access to technologies and electronic literacies Scentors-Zapico points to in this chapter.
In addition to learning how members of this generation acquired traditional and electronic literacies, the commentary from Scenters-Zapico combined with the narratives help readers understand the influence of negative and positive micro-tear zones, which are often subtle and private. As teachers, it is important we become aware of these of these moments and the power they have, , so that we don’t inadvertently hinder the learning experiences of our students. Employers might consider this advice as well and work to foster positive micro-tear zones. Students should also be aware of how micro-tear zones affect them, so that they are more apt to work through them as they occur.