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Literacy means something different to every individual. The experiences that one gains throughout the course of their lives shapes their understanding of the term and allows room for interpretation. I think that literacy in America has a different impact upon our understanding than if we were to be taught in any other country.  American schools tend to standardize education by use of tests and other such assignments that are scored based on how well you can regurgitate information that is necessary. With things like “No Child Left Behind” and these tests there is not room for creativity and expanding upon our knowledge because of a need to have only a basic understanding taught. There are people today who believe that literacy is a “science” that can be seen as something that “can be stable, easily quantifiable, and measurable piece of knowledge that can be applied to communities” (page 7, Elements of Literacy). I on the other hand, oppose this as I do not believe that it is something so easily categorized. Literacy is shaped by our culture. It is a part of our way of life. It is something that is built up and expanded upon and shaped by the events around us. In our society, being able to read and write is considered as just the beginning of a basic understanding of literacy. We then have the option of furthering our education and branching out unlike other, less fortunate nations. It provides us a sense of power over our surroundings through words that we previously had no access to. In some third world cultures, the skills of reading and writing are less important compared to other pressing needs. They just need enough to live their lives, such as the ability to read prices and labels. To be able to read well enough to know how much money you will make is considered a valuable trade skill in those areas and all that they deem necessary to know. Very different outcomes can occur depending on where the question of literacy is raised and the nature of the tasks one needs to accomplish Literacy can be used as a tool in adapting to what society tosses towards you; it could allow for higher levels of socio-economic power; it could even be thought of as a “state of grace” where one is more cultured and more civilized. In conclusion, no matter where you are in the world literacy is something that is necessary to be learned, however there is no one set justifiable way to learn and so you must find it your own way.