Apr 22, 2010
The Role of Culture in Literacy Development
I've been thinking a lot lately about the many ways in which culture affects teaching and learning. One specific area of interest deals with the reading and writing processes. I'm thinking that this may become a focus for dissertation, but I'm having difficulty narrowing it down and deciding on a direction to take. Here's what I know: The role of culture and language is vitally important to literacy learning. Historically, African American children who speak African American Vernacular English (AAVE) have not experienced high levels of academic success because their particular literacy needs go unaddressed, as they are encouraged, even forced, to assimilate into the mainstream. When addressing literacy needs of students who employ AAVE, cultural and linguistic differences should be recognized and respected in order to most appropriately serve them. Effective literacy instruction should build upon cultural and linguistic backgrounds, the different ways of making meaning, and prior knowledge that children bring to the classroom. Most teacher preparation programs only have one required multicultural class, if that. New teachers are often culturally unaware and insensitive to the specific needs of their students as a result. Those beginning teachers often become discouraged and discontinue working in urban schools or they leave education all together. Some of them spend their entire career with negative and inaccurate perceptions and beliefs regarding their students and what they are capable of accomplishing. Although AAVE has been clearly shown to be a systematic, rule-governed linguistic system, it appears that a number of non-AAVE speakers continue to view it as an inferior, unequally linguistic system when compared to Standard English. Teachers sometimes form negative perceptions of students as a result. This can have adverse affects on AAVE speakers' academic educational achievements. Because reading is a two-step process for these students, they are at a huge disadvantage.
Posted by Committed Sardine