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Educ 404 - Literacy and Identity

An exploration of the possibilities for identity work in literacy events.
by

Cynthia Nilsson

on 1 February 2013

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Transcript of Educ 404 - Literacy and Identity

..."literacy learning [may fail] because of a mismatch between the culture of the students, and the culture of the school."
- Pirbhai-Illich, 2010) What literacy activities and materials are available for student identity work? Identity Cultural Identity French took precedence over other languages..
Even more so than course content? Linguistic Identity Gender Identity Sexual Identity Arabic Class! - one class a week
- missing regular class
- separate for boys and girls Discussing cultural and
religious issues These are for you...not you. Most protagonists in film and literature
are white males There is a focus on cultural sensitivity in schools But it's off balance Those other guys Non-dominant culture...but no special treatment The biggest minority For example: The Arabic speaking and/or Muslim children Culture! Language! Gender! Sexuality! So own it! - use the classic film and literature you have to work with... ...but appropriate it - change what you need to until it's YOURS! ...get to go to... of minorities: - a general sense of community and healthy discourse - a lot of focus on immigrant challenges - and whatever you are...you're Canadian! Literacy and So what? Implications, recommendations, and cautions - identity work needs to be explicit to be effective - most materials still grant to priority to white male Western perspectives - sensitivity for one group or one type of identity can leave others left out Who decides what is gender appropriate? Critical Literacy “Critical literacy for social action provides the means to equip students to interpret texts and to demonstrate how these texts perpetuate or create systems of dominance and unequal power relations in society.” Gender Roles “Identity work is part of critical literacy instruction.” “Critical literacy also provides students with opportunities for questioning, reflecting, analyzing, and synthesizing how their identities and the world are in texts.” "Sometimes I want to give my opinion, but I don't know how..." A better situation in English-Language schools..? What happens when someone doesn't fit the norm? “The CTF [Canadian Teacher’s Federation] found that males made up an extremely small percentage of the teaching force in the kindergarten to grade three range.” The higher the grade, the more acceptable it was to have male teachers in the classrooms, especially in “masculine” subjects like science and math. Books with a strong female protagonist? Meaningful student-teacher bonds and respectful atmosphere seemed to allow for sexual identity expression however... This meant that even where sexual identity exploration was accepted, it was not embraced

There were many aspects that were explicitly part of the schools' cultures such as community citizenship through fund-raising, linguistic/cultural diversity, academic excellence...sexuality remained part of the null curriculum. Hidden Curriculum? What we Observed: Materials for sexual identity work were scarce to non-existent at the elementary and junior high level Attitudes towards sexual diversity among faculty ranged from malaise to matter-of-fact openness In some cases, there was active discouragement against identity exploration In the most open schools: “...[O]ur taste in popular culture is not innate but learned from the culture around us. And, like all the culture around us, what we learn, both online and in the face-to-face world, is influenced by social constructions of identity such as gender, ethnicity, and class.”
(Williams, 2008) (Pribhai-Illich, 2010) - "...reading and writing offer distinct opportunities for connecting our minds and hearts to those around us"... So let's make those
connections! (Williams, 2008) - Everybody stand up
- Sit down if you're non-caucasian - Sit down if you're female If you're still standing,
congratulations, 85% percent of our materials for
literacy are for you! Maybe there are some girls
- or all girls.

Maybe they're modern,
maybe they're mixed race,
maybe they're in a board room.

What do you relate to? (Edelsky & Cherland as cited in Pribhai-Illich, 2010) (Pribhai-Illich, 2010) Competitiveness = Masculine?
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