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Literacy and relevant schooling in rural Tanzania
Dalarna University, School of Humanities and Media Studies, Swedish.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2992-0818
2003 (English)In: Multiliteracies and the Contact Zone, Ghent, Belgien, 2003Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The most fundamental skill to be learnt in school is literacy. In my study I focus on literacy as a socially and culturally situated practise. This perspective on literacy has been mainly developed within an ethnographic research framework, both to contest and to complement the more traditional psychological and cognitive approaches which have been prominent in educational contexts. Researchers such as Sylvia Scribner and Michael Cole (1981), Shirley Brice Heath (1983), Bambi Schieffelin and Elinor Ochs (1986), Caroline Liberg (1990), Birgitta Kullberg (1991), Ingvar Lundberg (1991), Don Kulick and Christopher Stroud (1993), Brian Street (1993, 1995) and David Barton (2001) have opposed the traditional views of literacy as an autonomous phenomenon consisting of a number of separate skills which may be studied separately, outside their contexts. Ethnographic methods provide the researcher with tools to create an understanding of how people perceive a phenomenon, such as literacy or education. Ethnographic research carried out by among others Shirley Brice Heath (1983), 1986), Karen Ann Watson-Gegeo (1992),Bambi Schieffelin and Elinor Ochs (2001 and Susan Philips (2001) has shown the importance of connection in education between what happens in homes, in school and the society. In my research I focus on literacy practices in homes, in primary school and in the community in Karagwe district in the north-west of Tanzania. My aim is to find ways to bridge between what happens in school and the society to make literacy education more relevant and efficient If schooling can be made to build more on pupils pre-knowledge, such as language skills, communicative patterns, ways of learning and perspectives on knowledge, literacy education may become more efficient and if literacy education can be better linked to skills pupils will need in their lives, schooling may become more relevant. The study is a longitudinal one based on ethnographic methods. By using different techniques, such as participant observation, interviewing, logbooks and written artefacts in settings such as homes, schools, marketplaces, adult education, women groups and churches I try to build an understanding of how people make sense of literacy. As a part of the study I have studied interactional patterns. Child-child and adult-child interaction in homes has been compared with teacher-pupil interaction in classrooms and with adult-adult interaction in the community. Preliminary results from my studies indicate that the discrepancy between literacy practices in school and homes in Karagwe, and also discrepancies in language use, communicative patterns and perspectives on learning, constitute important obstacles for pupils’ literacy acquisition and that some important literacy skills that pupils will need in their lives are neither taught nor learned at school. The study also indicate that much of pupils’ literacy acquisition may today take place outside the school context. References Barton, D. 2001: Literacy in everyday contexts. In: Verhoeven, L. and Snow, C. 2001: Literacy and Motivation. Reading Engagement in Individuals and Groups. London: Lawrence Erlbaum associates, Publishers. . Heath, S. B.1983: Ways with words: language, life and work in communities and classrooms. Cambridge England: Cambridge University Press. Heath, S. B. 1986: What no bedtimestory means, narrative skills at home and in school. In: Schieffelin, B. B. & Ochs, E.1986: Language socialization across cultures. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kullberg, B. 1991: Learning to learn to read. Göteborg: Acta Universitatis Gothburgensis. Kulick, D. and Stroud, C. 1993: Conceptions and uses of literacy in a Papua New Guinean village. In: Street, E. (ed) 1993: Crosscultural approaches to literacy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Liberg, C. 1990: Learning to read and write. Uppsala: Uppsala University. Lundberg, I. 1991: Svensk läsundervisning i ett internationellt perspektiv. Stavanger: Center for Reading Research. Philips, S. 2001: Competence: Warm Springs Children in Community and Classroom. In: Duranti, A (ed) 2001: Linguistic Anthropology. A Reader. Malden, Mass. : Blackwell Publishers Schieffelin, B. B. and Ochs, E. (eds) 1986: Language socialisation across cultures. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Schieffelin, B. B. and Ochs, E. 2001: XXX In: Duranti, A (ed) 2001: Linguistic Anthropology. A Reader. Malden, Mass. : Blackwell Publishers. Scribner, S. and Cole, M. 1981: The Psychology of Literacy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Street, B. (ed)1993: Cross-cultural approaches to literacy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Street, B. 1995: Social Literacies Critical Approaches to Literacy in Development, Ethnography and Education New York: Longman Publishing. Watson-Gegeo, K. A. 1992: Thick explanation in the ethnographic study of child socialization: A longitudinal study of the problem of schooling for Kwara’ae (Solomon Islands) children. New Directions for Child Development 58, 51-66.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Ghent, Belgien, 2003.
Keywords [en]
litaracy practices, Tanzania, literacy education, litteracitetspraxis
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-766OAI: oai:dalea.du.se:766DiVA, id: diva2:521370
Conference
Multiliteracies and the Contact Zone , Ghent, Belgien, September, 2003
Available from: 2004-12-17 Created: 2004-12-17 Last updated: 2015-05-25Bibliographically approved

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