Teacher conceptualizations and con(texts) of language and literacy




Yeo, Michelle

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There is a conceptual world surrounding literacy in schools. and we are conditioned to a particular language about literacy. This study seeks to interrogate the term `'literacy" at the level of the classroom: to ask what is meant when it is invoked and what it means to the teachers who teach it. The central question of this inquiry is: How do teachers conceptualize literacy, and how are those conceptualizations socially and historically situated.' I worked with one staff of teachers to explore their articulations of literacy, through a lunch hour discussion group and one-on-one interviews. Methodologically I looked to Caputo's radical hermeneutics as a way to understand the interpretations teachers were making of literacy both in the context of their lives and within a broader socio-historical context. Caputo's radicalization of hermeneutics allows the introduction of post-modern flux into the interpretive process. Through the data. I found a wide-ranging diversity in teachers' conceptualizations of literacy, and was surprised by the extent to which their conceptualizations were embedded in their own childhood experiences. rather than their social context. the curriculum, their teacher education, or professional development. Most teachers considered literacy to be mainly about reading and writing, with a strong emphasis on the reading aspect. With a few exceptions, there was little interest or awareness in what might be termed new literacies", or a commitment or even interest in alternative texts or digital media. These findings have important implications for the field of language and literacy, for teacher education, for the professional development of teachers, and for the future of schooling.



literacy, study and teaching, elementary