[^^^Ashford MAIN page]  [^^^The Pond Normal School]

Literacy Inculturation

ProQuest Link: http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?index=15&did=1405231251&SrchMode=1&sid=7&Fmt=3&VInst=PROD&VType=PQD&RQT=309&VName=PQD&TS=1215121991&clientId=74379 DOC ID: 405231251 ISSN: 10744762 Learning to Play the Literacy and Learning Games -A Question of Enculturation Jeffrey D Wilhelm. Voices From the Middle. Urbana: Dec 2007. Vol. 15, Iss. 2; pg. 47, 3 pgs Copyright National Council of Teachers of English Dec 2007 This issue is about cultures. Interestingly, current cognitive science sees knowledge domains as cultures of knowing and doing, and learning as an enculturation into performing the activities of these domains. An underlying theme throughout this issue is that our classrooms serve as induction points into new knowledge cultures by providing voyages of discovery that use the existing cultures and cultural resources of our students as the launching pad. In other words, our classrooms should be places that enculturate students into new ways of becoming and being in the world, new ways of participating in creating culture and cultural knowledge. This process will always involve expanding student horizons, moving them from the known and the valued (e.g., personal knowledge and interests, popular culture, and local culture) to the new (the purposes and tools-conceptual and procedural-of various disciplinary cultures populated by expert readers and writers, ethicists, social scientists, etc.). Creating Culture Surveys of American schooling (e.g., Rogoff, Matusov, & White, 1996) show that teachers typically focus on the what, or the purveying, of information. Some educators focus on the who by emphasizing the construction of personal understandings. But current research in sociocultural theory and psychology demonstrates that teaching should be the work of helping students learn how to participate in meaningful activity in ways that make them increasingly expert in creating culture and cultural (e.g., disciplinary) meanings. This requires a deep understanding of the what as not just content, but as conceptual tools; a consideration of the who as not just learners, but as the experts in the field; a grasp of the all-important why as the real-world purposes of these conceptual and procedural tools; and the dunking that connects the how of using these tools with the where and when of their application. (See Wilhelm, Baker, & Dube-Hackett, 2001; Wilhelm, 2004, 2007). Moving from the Known to the New Perhaps the central finding of cognitive psychology in the last 50 years is that our only resources for learning the new are our existing experiences, interests, and knowledge. This means that we need to learn from our students (specifically, what they already care about and know about) in order to find our starting point for teaching them. In our boys research (Smith and Wilhelm, 2002; 2006), we found The Simpsons to be a powerful way to teach satire or Jonathan Swift, and extreme championship wrestling as a way into mythology and the hero quest archetype. In this issue, Emily Skinner uses this same premise in her work when she incorporates young adult magazines and movies into her lessons, just as Wilson and Laman use picturebooks. The personal, then, provides a connection to and engagement with new material, which in turn creates socially significant connections to the world and the culture of disciplinary understanding and work. Imagining to Learn These enculturating activities always involve "imagining to learn" (Wilhelm & Edmiston, 1998), because to learn something new, you must imagine it as valuable and useful, and yourself as interested in it and capable of learning it. You must also imagine a new persona and role for yourself as you personally connect to the new and outgrow your current self. Finally, you must imagine the ways in which you and others could participate in the culture of the knowledge domain and use what has been learned. Language and thought are always situated in cultural contexts (Brown, Collins, & DuGuid, 1989)-usually in the overlap of various cultures, such as the students' home cultures, the culture of the classroom, and the cultures in the world in which this knowledge is developed and deployed. Becoming a Cultural Participant Designing curriculum and instructional activities not only requires teachers to have a deep understanding of the culture of the content area and its structure, but also an understanding of how to make that interesting and relevant to the students in the classroom. To apprentice students into the cultural work of what we are studying, we must create situations in which students can struggle with the subject and, through that struggle, learn about how to "do" the discipline. Along these lines, David Perkins (1992; 2003) offers these useful metaphors for the process of apprenticing students into doing the literate work of dealing with disciplinary issues: * Make the game worth playing. Connect to both the students' current interests and backgrounds and to the real-world purposes and uses of what is being learned. The use of essential questions and real-world problems to frame what we teach can be very useful here (Wilhelm, 2007). For example, try reframing a study of Number the Stars or Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry into the question, "What are civil rights and how can we best protect them?" Get at the heart of the matter so that teaching and learning will be perceived as relevant and useful. * Play the whole game. Play the real game, although perhaps in a junior or more novice version. Perkins notes the deleterious effects of "elementitis," where students proceed bit by bit and are told that they will understand the whole when they are older. Make sure your teaching fits the "real reader" or "real writer" or "real expert" test by developing holistic capacities that correspond to what real expert readers, writers, and content area practitioners do. Real people learn in the context of playing the whole game. If students are studying civil rights, have them read the newspaper and primary documents, and then learn to write opinion pieces and proposals in the way that experts would compose them. They should know what they are doing, why, and what they will make and do as a result of their learning-just as an expert would. * Reveal the hidden games. To paraphrase Margaret Meek (1983), let students in on the secret things that experts know and do. Help them to understand the story behind the story, to understand why experts believe and act as they do, and why they are so passionate about their area of expertise. Let the kids experience the mystery and magic. When studying civil rights, help them understand the history of civil rights and the effects of protest movements as historians and sociologists understand them. * Work on the hard parts. Assist and help students in the context of the "game" (i.e., cultural work). Work on helping kids to master sophisticated strategies of argument and debate; foster deep listening and discussion in the context of considering what Lois Lowry or Mildred Taylor has to say about fighting for civil rights. * Play out of town. Connect the learning to a real situation outside the classroom and teach for transfer to other situations. Make sure students understand and have the opportunity to rehearse applying what they have learned to new situations. So, when studying civil rights, connect what is learned from the reading to issues in the school or community beyond the classroom. * Learn from the team/teams. Set up situations in which students can learn collaboratively from each other and connect to what experts in the field know and do. They can participate in online civil rights forums, interview community activists, and create social action projects to address these issues. * Learn the game of learning. Learn how to learn. Highlight strategies and how they can be flexibly applied, revised, and innovated. Help the students to transcend rules and formulas to play the literacy game creatively from their own strengths. Make sure that what is learned counts in future learning and doing when students are dunking, arguing, and discussing civil rights and other topical issues. Conclusion Those of us who teach know that reading is a unique and powerful way of knowing, that writing is for understanding and persuading, and that real learning is as fun and exciting as it is potent. On the other hand, fake or merely "schoolish" learning is not enjoyable nor is it effective or useful. When we think of our teaching as a way to enculturate our students into meaningful realworld work, we reject the schoolish in favor of the toolish, we foreground concept over content, we work for high-quality standards instead of standardization, and we engage our students in what really matters. When we do so, we reorient ourselves toward our work as literacy educators and our students toward what they are learning. No longer will students, as is so often the case (see Smith & Wilhelm, 2002), fail to see the purpose, the goal, the importance, and the application of what we are pursuing together. The result can be true engagement and real understanding-a kind of joy. It is all a question of the classroom culture we create and how well this matches the culture students are learning to participate in. References Brown, J., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18 (1) 32-42. Meek, M. (1983). Achieving literacy: Longitudinal studies of adolescents learning to read. London: Kegan Paul. Perkins, D. (1992). Smart schools: Better thinking and learning for every child. New York: The Free Press. Perkins, D. (2003). Five levels of learning. Cambridge. MA: Harvard School of Education. Rogoff, B., Matusov, B., White, S. (1996). Models of teaching and learning: Participation in a community of learners. In D. Olson & N. Torrance (Eds.), The handbook of cognition and human development (pp. 388-414). Oxford, UK: Blackwell. Smith, M. W., & Wilhelm. J. (2002). "Reading don't fix no Chevys": Literacy in the lives of young men. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Smith, M. W, & Wilhelm, J. (2006). Going with the flow. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Wilhelm, J. D. (2004). Reading is seeing. New York: Scholastic. Wilhelm, J. D. (2007). Engaging readers and writers with inquiry. New York: Scholastic. Wilhelm, J. D., Baker, T., & Dube-Hackett, J. (2001). Strategic reading: Guiding the lifelong literacy of adolescents. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Wilhelm, J. D., & Edmiston, D. (1998). Imagining to learn: Inquiry, ethics, and integration through drama. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. [Author Affiliation] Jeffrey D. Wilhelm, editor


On the gender gap in tech. -[Hale's paper]- -[Wever-Rabehl's paper]- -[]- -[]- -[]- -[]-