Children's Literature as Pedagogy: Learning Literacy Through Identity in Meaningful Communities of Practice

Children's Literature as Pedagogy: Learning Literacy Through Identity in Meaningful Communities of Practice

Alicia Curtin (University College Cork, Ireland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2722-1.ch016

Abstract

This chapter explores the use of children's literature as pedagogy for literacy learning in diverse and multilingual classrooms. The author employs a sociocultural and relational understanding of literacy and learning to establish a theoretical framework for an approach that focuses on meaning-making, doing, and learning through stories as both a personal journey and a sociocultural practice. The complex sociocultural relationships between learning, literacy, identity, experience, power, agency, knowledge, value, success, and failure at the heart of the learning process remain central throughout this chapter. The reader is encouraged to consider their own life stories, experiences, definitions, and understandings of learning and literacy and the impact these may have on the life stories, experiences, definitions, and understandings of learning and literacy of the students in their care.
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Key Terms in this Chapter

Situated Learning: A feature of and situated in communities of practice where through social processes of identity development and agency individuals generate new meanings as they learn to participate in the world in new ways. This new knowledge and learning are located in and contextualized through the community of practice where people learn to talk, not from talk. In this way, learning is understood as an evolving, continuously renewed set of relations in the world.

Identity: A layering of events of participation and reification by which our experience and its social interpretation inform each other.

Texts: Social products and cultural sites of authentic storytelling imbued with differential meaning and value.

Pedagogy: Everything we say, do and experience as we participate and reify our teaching and learning experiences.

Communities of Practice: A group of people with shared histories of learning who develop over time around things that meaningful to its participants and reify repertoires and resources for negotiating meaning within practice such as routines, words, tools, and symbols. In the context of the classroom, this concept becomes much more complex as students are mandated to attend and engage in particular ways while teachers relate differently to students based on particular power differentials.

Agency: The strategic making and remaking of selves within structures of power. Agency is not an internal state; rather, it is defined as a way of positioning oneself within communities so as to allow for new identities.

Children’s Literature: A genre of literature that represents an in-between space where young people can interact with particular structures of child and adult worlds and develop their understandings of them.

Participation: The social process of taking part in the world through doing in social and historical contexts resulting in learning or a changing relationship of participation in the world.

Sociocultural Theory: An umbrella term which encompasses the ideas of many authors to include, most significantly, mind as mediated, identity and meaning in communities of practice, legitimate peripheral participation, situated cognition, distributed cognition and planes of participation, the metaphors of participation and acquisition, activity theory, cultural psychology, and power and agency in learning. Learning is located and distributed across groups of people as opposed to in individual brains or minds.

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