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Convocation celebrates literacy

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Dr. Janice Pilgreen, associate professor of English, delivered the Fall Convocation speech September 7 in Founder's Hall Auditorium. Her speech, dealing with the importance of cultural literacy, was titled "How to Recognize Boo Radley Moments." Boo Radley is a character in "To Kill A Mockingbird." Pilgreen made reference to the Alamo as an example of the difference between popular mythology and historical fact. / photo by Jen Newman

Dr. Janice Pilgreen, associate professor of English, delivered the Fall Convocation speech September 7 in Founder’s Hall Auditorium. Her speech, dealing with the importance of cultural literacy, was titled “How to Recognize Boo Radley Moments.” Boo Radley is a character in “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Pilgreen made reference to the Alamo as an example of the difference between popular mythology and historical fact. / photo by Jen Newman

by Tom Galaraga
Managing Editor

Janice Pilgreen redefined the term “literacy,” and expanded on its traditional definition, at this year’s convocation, held Sept. 7 in Founders Hall.

Pilgreen’s speech, “How to Recognize Boo Radley Moments,” focused on literacy as a fundamental understanding of specific topics, and the desire to find the truth.

Boo Radley Moments, according to Pilgreen, are examples of awkwardness and confusion based on either simple misunderstanding or lack of knowledge or truth, and to recognize these moments is to be part of what she refers to as the Literacy Club.

Boo Radley moments, she said, are present in many aspects of daily life and can range from a simple lack of reading and comprehension skills, to a more socially misunderstood form of communication such as graffiti. If people begin to understand that there are many ways to communicate, they may become more tolerant of the various styles.

“It was interesting to show the different areas, and how literacy in a certain area can help you understand a certain field of knowledge,” said senior journalism and history major Michael Anklin. “It’s literacy, it’s understanding things, staying critical and that definitely adds to understanding things.”

Pilgreen gave examples of the importance of literacy in several disciplines, including psychology and history. She addressed urban legends which, she said, are possible distortions of the truth.

By addressing a lack of “literacy” or understanding, Pilgreen challenged listeners to think more critically of each decision and situation that they may face.

“I think it helps you think outside of the nine dots, (it) helps you see things in a different context that you may have never seen it in before,” said Robert Hansen, associate professor of education and chair of the school counseling program. “I think that sometimes we are too myopic, that we only see things a certain way. We have tunnel vision. I think the more you read (and) the more you write, it opens more vistas for you.”

While stressing the importance of a good education, Pilgreen also challenged listeners to look for more than the obvious.

Senior criminology major Cameron Hurst believed Pilgreen’s theme demonstrated the importance of education, and “show(ed) how reading branches off into all of the other departments.”

Pilgreen also addressed students’ responsibilities as members of the Literacy Club and urged them take full advantage of their educations. She closed with, “Welcome to the University of La Verne, welcome to the Literacy Club.”

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