Book Throwing and the Mission of God Part 2

Vanuatu, Tanna, Oral communication, Unity Movement, Tom Richards

Oral Communication: the Unity Movement, Tanna, Vanuatu

Interaction with Don’t Throw the Book at Them by Harry Box

Chapter 1

I was surprised the first time that I supervised ‘homework’ at college by a low and constant whispered murmur. What was it? Was everyone just chatting rather than getting on with their work? Where they collaborating? No, what they were doing was reading aloud to themselves.

Now, I could put that down to the students only just developing literacy skills, like children who have not yet learnt to read silently, and to an extent that may be true in the sense that they are not ‘literacy people.’ But on the other hand, it indicates a difference in the way that they think about ‘text’ and words, and it is this difference that Box discusses in this chapter.

Surely Box is right when he says that ‘…there are many possibilities for misunderstanding and miscommunication between oral and literacy-oriented people’ (p19), and this chapter is foundational to the book in that it seeks to help us to better understand oral (non-book) people. What I will do is summarise the chapter first, and then offer some of my own comments by way of opening a discussion. What I really want to question is the degree to which the difference between oral people and literacy-based people separates us and how we can best think about those differences and (perhaps) similarities. Continue reading