Literacy and information
The words of the Bullock Report also had a prescient ring in relation to the reading and writing of information. The Report argued that dealing efficiently with information should be recognised as one of the major problems in modern society (DES, 1975, p. 95).
The subsequent growth in information and communications technology adds further support to the Report's suggestions for educational practice. Individuals need not only to cope with information efficiently but to organise their own use of it. This involves several interrelated processes: identifying information needs; knowing where relevant sources are and how to access them; using appropriate criteria to judge their value; and selecting the limited number of sources which suit individuals best. In this way, individuals are more consciously able to cope with the demands of the 'information age'.
Literacy education has more recently been influenced by studies of the different genres in which non-fiction texts are written. Drawing upon earlier work by Gunther Kress (1982) and Michael Halliday (1985), a number of Australian writers have developed theories which have linked different kinds of texts to the social purposes they fulfil (e.g. Martin, 1989). Learning to read and write in particular genres is linked to certain realms of social interaction, influence and power (Cope and Kalantzis, 1993, p. 7).
Moreover, low literacy attainment may not only disadvantage individuals. It can influence the national economy as a whole.