How might an understanding of the possible differences in the thought processes exhibited in oral and literate cultures inform teaching practices at all levels (especially the practices used in teaching young children who are preliterate, as well as adults who have not yet attained basic literacy)?
Ong (2002) did not consider non-literate groups like preliterate children or illiterate adults living in a literate society when he described the differences in memory, thought, language etc. between oral and literate cultures. Children who are preliterate are capable of abstract thought and theorizing (Chandler, 2000) as long as it is presented to them at a level that they can understand. Older children and adults are able to think more deeply about abstract concepts but I think this is more due to development than literacy. Piaget said children begin to reason and think logically at 11 during the formal operational stage (Campbell, 2006). Not only do children mature naturally into these higher thought processes but teachers and parents help them to develop.
Campbell, R. (2006). Jean Piaget’s genetic epistemology: Appreciation and critique. Retrieved from: http://hubcap.clemson.edu/~campber/piaget.html
Chandler, D. (2000). Biases of the ear and eye. Retrieved from: http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/litoral/litoral1.html
Ong, W. J. (2002). Orality and literacy: The technologizing of the word. London: Routledge.