Encouraging Agency: Children & Literacy

By February 13, 2016 BlogPost One Comment

Anne Haas Dyson’s article about the ways that children understand, frame, and contextualize literacy was an interesting one. It reminded me of Sylvia Scribner’s three metaphors, and how external opinion plays a large part in personal understanding about literacy. I remember when ebonics was a “huge problem” in the United States, and the fears that this type of urban literacy would destroy the English language. A pointless argument, as I am fairly certain, most English people would say that Americans have pretty solidly destroyed English already.

However, the point of the article was to illustrate the necessary understanding that educators must develop of how children make meaning of and establish relevance for what they have been taught. It’s understandable that in order to intellectualize a new idea or tool, a child must be able to equate it with something already in their life, especially if we are to understand that the very nature of learning is predicated on building upon previously known, or understood, information.

With the last breaths of common core, I hope that children are going to have the freedom to make meaning of literacy in ways that were discouraged from using before. Encouraging children to make connections between pieces of information that adults may not see the connections between is crucial in the effort to reinforce a child’s agency and encourage them to desire more from their education.

One Comment

  • Kyla P Kyla P says:

    I completely agree with your point about allows students to make those connections and how it is crucial is giving the child agency within their own education. I feel as if primary school, secondary school, and high school often act not as a place to foster learning in students but rather teach them how to learn. While this set up is good for some students it does create a culture of alienation for others. This is highlighted in Dyson’s examination of outside literacy brought into the classroom.
    I wonder if changing the mindset of teachers who ban those types of literacy is possible. Can it be accomplished without a completely overhaul of the US education system? Or is a complete overhaul what we need?

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