Literacy as: skills, practices or pedagogic subject


Start with an illustrative quote that sets the framework and focus for the piece. That allows you a way into talking about the themes you want to explore.
It doesn’t always fit in. It’s great theory and it’s good. You know, we’ve talked about how to contextualise it and the wheel, all of that.  It was very refreshing. But my mentor, all she’s interested in is, oh, he failed, can we get him back in. Not, ‘Can we develop this individual?’ Can we get him back in? What do you think he failed on? And that’s the environment we’re in. And with the contracts coming up for renewal.

This quote is one of several quotes drawn from interviews, tutorials, reflective statements and classroom discussions that exemplify what Stronach (Stronach, 2002) refers to as the tightrope professionals walk between the economy of performance and the ecology of practice. It is interesting because this is an in service trainee teacher who has worked in literacy teaching for about 10 years.

He is used to the SfL regime with its steers and levers.  He’s clearly engaged and stimulated by the course and the new ideas about literacy he in encountering, but experiences a clear dis/connect between these ideas and approaches and a regime that does not share the aspirations that seems to underpin what he is coming to understand as a trainee.

He ask the question – can we develop him as a trainee. This is not a phrase I have used in sessions or one that I am aware of in the literature.  He also refers to the ‘clock’ exercise as a wheel. The metaphor appears to be one that values a holistic view of literacy learning. That treats literacy as an aspect of the student; there is a hint that teaching is about addressing developmental needs along many planes – not just the skills deficit that emerge from having failed a L1 or L2 test.

He is clear that this is target drive and inked to funding and this creates a specific environment. Note that here it is not the harshness of a penal regime that creates an ‘environment’ but the actions of his mentor.
Yes.  And I refer to the social aspects of literacy […] say that I subscribe to her, her little resume of what adult literacy teaching and writing should be, and she talks about providing a context.  She talks about interaction between the teacher and the learner, and she talks about feedback and she talks about the value of talk, and I must say that I’ve tried to live by those in this exercise. 

This quite is quite different. This tutor is pre-retirement and at the end of a career in school based education has shifted to teaching literacy in adult education. She works in a one-to-one open access workshop. Here she is talking about completing the work required for an assignment. The sense of what she says in is=n stark contrast in as much as she does not articulate any sense of disconnection between what is theoretically sound and what the environment affords. I note with interest that she says ‘what adult literacy should be’. Ads oppose to a more forceful – what it is.  This student is none-the-less immersed in the ideas and experiences no tension in implementing them at all.
ii             Theoretical Framework

Broadly competing theorisations of literacy at the heart of the discussion and the significance these have for the teaching of the diploma course.  Acknowledge that this distinction is inevitably too stark that it does not capture the multiple constructions. More importantly – it is how teachers think and feel about this that forms the basis of this study. These are research or policy based ideas.

a) that trainee teachers will have their own constructions of literacy as a pedagogic subject. I am reminded here of Ellis, that they have not a Venn construct of literacy / pedagogy with a bit in the middle where they overlap as ‘literacy pedagogy’. But actually they have a single construct called literacy that defines the material they draw upon in their teaching

b) that my sense is that they see these constructions as having entirely different domains. These may be commons sense distinctions. That theory and practice are separate. But – there is literacy out of school and literacy in school rather than literacy – articulated in different ways and treated in distinct ways in these domains and the schooled treatment of home literacies creates a difficulty for learners.

Kell and Wilson have suggested that literacy as skills and literacy as social practice do exist in relation to each other. Scottish adult literacy, the wheel; metaphors of literacy.
iii             More direct exposition of these explored: lit review        a) b) & c)

iv            Methods – research participants and sites; data sources & procedures 
(interview protocol); researchers positions; data analysis

v             Research findings:  A)            i.              ii.             B)            i.              ii.             C) etc

vi            Discussion and implications                a) b) & c)
STRONACH, I. 2002. Towards an uncertain politics of professionalism: teacher and nurse identities in flux. Journal of Education Policy, 17, 109.
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