History of Literacy and Essential Skills

Beyond the Book: Learning from our History

The concept and practice of adult literacy has evolved over the years in response to cultural, economic, social and technological pressures.

In as recently as the 1960s, what mattered in most industrial jobs was physical endurance. Bosses or supervisors would give a new employee a tool, tell them what job needed to be done and that employee would be considered hired and trained. There were no instructions regarding technique, reports to write on the computer, health and safety forms to fill out or training manuals to consult.

Today this is not the case. The skills needed to be successful in the workplace – any workplace – have changed over time as our society has become more knowledge-based and technologically-advanced.
Several years ago, Essential Skills Ontario (as the Ontario Literacy Coalition) saw a gap in the history books: there were none written about literacy’s long and varied history.

Beyond the Book: Learning From Our History
Published by Essential Skills Ontario, Beyond the Book is an important documentation of adult literacy as a historical movement. It takes a critical look at literacy from the 19th century and continues its storytelling to include present-day programming in Ontario. It celebrates the past, present and future of lifelong learning.