How does the emerging view on literacy relates to my previous conceptions?

I would hope to have an ‘emerging’ view of almost anything I come across that is worth looking at. After a first session with Prof. Portante and the reading of 2 articles (Heath, bedtime stories, 2001 and The New London Group, A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: designing social futures, 1996) some of my views have been confirmed. Literacy takes always place in a context. Literacy acts upon the context as the context acts on literacy. (Street, 2003 confirms this). Portante & Max, 2008 define literacy practices as ‘cultural ways in which individuals use texts as tools to transform themselves, their contexts, as well as the cultural tools and practices available to them.’ How does this happen? How do texts transform us, how do they shape and transform our contexts? What are some cultural tools and practices available to us?

By beginning to find relevant answers to these questions seems an appropriate starting strategy during my studies. My interest lies also in how we make choices, as to why we engage in certain literacy practices? What criteria could guide our decision to engage in certain practices but not in others, considering the ever-growing jungle of available multiliteracies?

Jean-Marie Nau, ma-multilearn: Article Review : Literacy – Reading the Word & the World, Paulo Freire & Donaldo Macedo, 1987

I may as well write a few lines about this article that I’ve just read, in order to remember some main points and new ideas that I came across.

Emancipatory literacy that includes 2 dimensions: first, students become literate about their histories, experiences and the culture of their immediate environments, and second, they appropriate codes and cultures of the dominant spheres so that they can transcend their own environments.

The article takes the form of a dialogue between the 2 authors, a question and answer session.

Other concepts include consciousness, subjectivity, social objectivity, radical pedagogy.

Author mentioned: Henry Giroux.

When carrying out literacy work or when understanding literacy, ‘reading of the word cannot be divorced from reading the world. Reading the world and learning how to write the word so one can later read it are preceded by learning how to write the world, that is, having the experiences of changing the world and touching the world. (p.49)’

Richard Johnson’s definition of culture, p. 51. Cultural processes are intimately connected with social relations, culture involves power, culture is neither autonomous nor an externally determined field, but a site of social differences and struggles.

Social classes exist and their presence is contradictory p.52.

‘I think all of us ultimately speak the same language (in the abstract sense) and express ourselves in different ways. P.53.

Keywords: power and dominant discourse, competing discourses, creativity, Pierre Bourdieu.

1989, JP Gee, Orality and Literacy: From the Savage Mind to Ways With Words

I found a short summary of this article:

Reviews anthropological studies and demonstrates how the term "literate" has replaced the term "civilized" and how literacy is currently used to distinguish between different social groups in modern, technological societies. Discusses how teachers of English are actually teaching a set of oral and written social practices associated with the standard dialect of English. (FMW)

1.5.2010 Reflections on: Doing ethnography, David Walsh, in Seale, C. 2004 Researching society and culture, London, Sage.

I was so pleased to read at last a clearly written paper on ‘doing ethnography’. It encouraged me a lot do focus my research project on a small multilingual and multicultural community in Luxembourg. This paper has given me a clearer picture on a number of practical and theoretical issues:

‘any attempt to judge other societies as inferior or superior … is condemned as ethnocentric.’

‘this attitude was to lead to the view, amongst some, that rationality itself was simply a value position promoted by Western societies.’

this reflection on rationality asks for a clarification on the concept of human nature. Here a quote from Bahá’í Writings: ‘Regarding your questions: the rational faculty is a manifestation of the power of the soul.’ (ocean search: rational soul) (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 509)

‘some very interesting deconstructions of ethnographic writing .. emphasize that ethnographers are story-tellers.’

‘the social and cultural world must be the ground and reference for ethnographic writing.’

‘in the process of research itself that research problems come to be formulated and studied. … theory is often generated rather than solely tested.’ (p.228 more to follow)

As a final note, I’m quite overwhelmed by the richness of material and ways to view literacy and literacies.


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