Cultural Literacy

Appreciating mores, beliefs, and customs

Definition and Debate

Culture is a shared language that includes visual symbols as well as words, histories, myths, and points of reference from a shared environment.

People who are culturally literate are able to recognize, understand, and appreciate the relationships between a people, their signifiers, and the signified referents.

People who are not culturally literate may struggle to find meaning in references from various cultural media sources.

In multi-cultural societies such as the United States, attempts to teach "cultural literacy" have sparked controversy over who has the right to define "the canon of culture", and what people, symbols, and works of literature gain inclusion.

Proponents of cultural literacy in education, however, insist that a common base of knowledge, and a common set of referents is essential to improving communication skills, and reading comprehension.