Situated Language and Learning: A Critique of Traditional Schooling (Literacies)

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Situated language and learning: A critique of traditional schooling. Abstract Why do poor and minority students under-perform in school? Fingerprint computer game. Video Games. Computer Games. Taylor and Francis.

Taylor and Francis, Gee, J , Situated language and learning: A critique of traditional schooling. Baker, Eva L. Ryan and L. Beach, Richard W. Black, P. McCormick, M. James, and D. Bransford, John D. Brown, and Rodney R. Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education.

Washington D. Stephen Wilson. Cetina, Karin Knorr. Common Core State Standards Initiative. Darling-Hammond, Linda and George H. Etkina, Eugenia, Jose P.

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Flanagan, Dawn P. Hoboken NJ: Wiley. Fuhrman, Susan H. Gee, James Paul. London: Routledge. Gottfredson, Linda S. Government Accountability Office. Mainstream norms in traditional sociolinguistics have been based on male speakers; she was looking not just at a different social category, women speakers, but at a marginalised group within this. Like Eckert, she used ethnography and argued that through focusing on language, not in isolation but as part of social practice, she could capture something of the complex relationship between broader social structures and individual agency, ideology and identity, norms and interactions.

The studies discussed thus far in section 3 have begun to build up a picture of the ways in which individual and group identity are both expressed and also constructed through dialogue. In this sense, then, identity is not fixed and unitary. Different kinds of identities may be tried out, and negotiated, in different contexts, within different discourse communities and communities of practice.


There is also often a sense of struggle, as people try to create a sense of themselves against dominant forms and institutional expectations. In this part we look at research which draws on the ideas of the Russian theorist Mikhail Bakhtin and his associates in what has been called the Bakhtin circle, who conceptualise language itself as a site of struggle.

Bakhtinian ideas have made a key contribution to post-structuralist notions of discourse, and its relationship with identity. First, Bakhtin sees language as involving a constant, dynamic tension between centripetal and centrifugal forces. Centripetal forces produce authoritative discourses which are relatively fixed and inflexible in meaning, for example established bodies of knowledge and religious orthodoxies. These forces, however, are always interpenetrated by centrifugal forces leading to the diversification of language, and the fragmentation of cultural and political institutions.

Situated language and learning: A critique of traditional schooling — Arizona State University

Finding a voice implies taking up a particular ideological position within the struggle between centripetal and centrifugal forces. In school, this struggle is often played out between the centripetal forces of the school institutional authority and the official curriculum, and the centrifugal forces of personal and community experience and the day-to-day concerns of the students. Sola and Bennett , in their study of Puerto Rican students on a junior high school programme in East Harlem, found that the students struggled between the centripetal instructional school discourse with its fixed curriculum goals and knowledge, and the more interactive, contemporaneous discourse of their local community.

School discourse for these students was closely associated with the dominant societal forces which were responsible for the political and economic marginalisation of their own families. Entering into the official discourse was therefore not a neutral act. It could mean participating in the very practices which marginalised their own community and its discourse. She did this through building community discourse styles into her classroom teaching, thus harnessing both centripetal and centrifugal forces.

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The second key Bakhtinian idea is the concept of heteroglossia. Bakhtin argues that when we speak we use words which are already saturated with ideological meaning, in relation to the centripetal and centrifugal forces described above. He describes the struggle for voice as follows:. Prior to this moment of appropriation, the word does not exist in a neutral and impersonal language We shall be exploring this idea more fully in the next reading. Bakhtin sees meanings as emerging not from an individual utterance, but, sometimes provisionally and ambiguously, through the position of the utterance within a particular chain of communication.

The utterance is itself a response, explicit or implicit, to other utterances, either in the current conversation or in the past. And every utterance is always shaped in anticipation of its own possible responses in the future.

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The shape and meaning of an utterance is thus dialogically orientated in two directions, towards the past and towards the future. Specific words and phrases may also invoke links with other conversations, or with particular discourses. There is therefore another layer of intertextual connections which contribute to the nuances of meaning in the utterance. For each word of the utterance that we are in the process of understanding, we, as it were, lay down a set of our own answering words In essence, meaning belongs to a word in its position between speakers; that is, meaning is realised only in the process of active, responsive, understanding It is like an electric spark that occurs only when two different terminals are hooked together.

Learning outcomes

Intertextuality , that is, a relation invoked explicitly or implicitly between one text spoken, written, visual or multimodal and another, has long been of interest to literary theorists and researchers in the media. Media texts such as film, television and advertisements have provided obvious rich sites for the analysis of intertextual play e. Cook, ; Meinhof and Smith, Intertextuality is now increasingly seen as an intrinsic part of meaning-making in discourse more generally. This involved children reading and writing about themselves, their families, their community and their cultural history.

The programme aimed, like the teacher reported by Sola and Bennett from their research in East Harlem, to enable students to bring their own community voices and discourse into the classroom.

Intentional Teaching: Supporting Literacy

The research involved classroom observation and interviews with the children, which informed the analysis of their writing. Kamberelis and Scott give two examples of writing by fourth grade students to illustrate their findings. We shall look in detail at one of these examples. What makes you identify these particular points? Kamberelis and Scott set out the writing in numbered lines to clarify their analysis. You may have felt that there were a number of places where Lisa seemed to be taking up a particular voice, with its associated value position.

We think this was happening at lines 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15, either because she was reporting something she could not have known directly 7 , seems to be reporting a generalisation she has heard 8, 9 or seems to be quoting homilies 13, 14, In their analysis, Kamberelis and Scott suggest that Lisa takes on and orientates towards a number of specific voices. Her writing therefore is a response to voices in the media portraying life for Black people in Detroit as violent, dangerous and oppressive.

She also mentioned learning about Black history from her sister-in-law, books about Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King, her teacher and her mother. Finally, she told the researchers that Jesse Jackson had preached on TV about the importance of thanking God you are alive whatever colour you are a video of this speech had been shown to the class and that her mother had told her you should love yourself whoever you are.

These last two voices seem to be fairly directly reproduced in lines 13, 14 and In addition to her stylisation of particular voices and their associated ideologies i. In this essay they suggest that Anthony appears to move and sometimes flounder between the voices and anti-gun position of his teacher and members of his club, the voices of his grandparents and mother who support the limited use of handguns and the explicitly pro-handgun position of his older brothers and their friends.

This impasse is perhaps reflected in the way the piece ends with a question. For Kamberelis and Scott, the writing of these children was not only about the development of literacy skills and the ability to present an argument, but also contributed to their exploration and development as particular kinds of people. If you are currently teaching you may want to talk to a number of your students about a particular piece of their writing and track the various voices they may be appropriating or stylising.

The teachers in the studies by Sola and Bennett and by Kamberelis and Scott endeavoured to bridge these differences, encouraging students to bring the voices of their community into the classroom.