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Review of Literature on Multicultural Literarture - Dissertation Example

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Review of Literature on Multicultural Literacy. Review of Literature on Multicultural Literacy. There has been a long history in the United States of gradually becoming aware of the great cultural diversity that exists across the country and even more gradually realizing the implications of this for teaching in schools…
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Review of Literature on Multicultural Literarture

Download file to see previous pages... A very good introduction to the issues involved in multicultural literacy is provided by Carol D. Lee in her book Culture, Literacy and Learning: Taking Blook in the Whirlwind (Lee, 2007). The second part of the title is taken from a poem by Gwendolyn Brooks which advocates living and flourishing in a maelstrom of contradictory forces and this metaphor is used to illuminate the many pressures that children in some ethnic groups, and especially African Americans, experience when they are growing up. Lee argues for definitions that go beyond simple categorizations: “To analyse group membership in ways that take history and cultural practices into account, ethnicity is a more powerful and universal concept than race. Ethnicity takes into account history, identity, practices and beliefs.” (Lee, 2007, 11) This implies that educators must have a deep knowledge of their subject but also of the routine practices that go on outside the school gates, in families and among peer groups. If the experiences that the learner has in school are unrelated to the outside experiences, then many opportunities for learning are lost. Prior knowledge cannot be tapped into, and students are likely to have poor recollection of what they learn, and be unable to apply it in any realistic context. There is also likely to be a lack of motivation because the relevance of school learning is will be perceived as low. This means that a fundamental task of the teacher is to make sure that there is overlap between the world outside and the world of classroom learning. Programs like “Funds of knowledge” which bring in a diverse range of adults from the community, or the “Cultural Modeling Framework” which adds a focus on youth behaviour and “the very different demands of subject matter learning.” (Lee, 2007,11) Lee homes in on the type of assessments used, and describes interventions in a school with a high proportion of African American learners. Factors like time limiting reading tasks are found to be counter-productive, and exercises such as reading and then talking are suggested as a better way of establishing how the reader engages with a text and makes sense of it than formal writing. Dialogue with the teacher is important, in order to bridge the gap between everyday language and reasoning, and the styles and standards expected in the academic setting. The book concludes that “displays of competence depend a lot on how competence is both defined and assessed … we privilege particular kinds of displays as evidence of processes of internalization…” The implications of these insights for literacy are that teachers must seek a variety of ways of linking academic reasoning with everyday experiences, and must appreciate different learner styles, for example valuing the quiet learner who may be “inwardly attentive in ways that are difficult to assess.” (Lee, 2007, 174) Flores-Duenas (2004) discusses similar issues and presents a case study of four Latina(o) students illustrating the need to provide reading materials and discussion opportunities which validate the experience of a wide range of students and not just white European American students. The article is prefaced with a very interesting first person narrative ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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