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The Making of Meaning as a Substantial Right - Literacy Events in the Light of Interpretation and Difference
Örebro universitet . (LIMCUL)
Örebro universitet.
2011 (English)Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The overarching democratic challenges in a multicultural society are equal rights and social justice, universally expressed, and diversity or difference, expressed in terms of the particular. The right and the ability to read and write have to be related to different experiences and backgrounds. All citizens of today are expected to master high literacy levels and strategies. At the same time international surveys presents decreasing results in many countries. Learning to read and write include good decoding skills, but those skills cannot be seen as the solution; only a necessary prerequisite. The process of reading and writing is always linked to meaning making in terms of interpretation, understanding, exploring and configuration. The importance of recognition of multiple literacies and expressions are highlighted in this paper in order to meet future challenges both in literacy education and for social justice.

In this paper we explore how the continuous processes of children’s reading and writing during the middle school years can be studied in relation to meaning making. Using a hermeneutic point of departure together with a postcolonial perspective our aim is to develop a theoretical framework where children’s use of literacy is put in relation to meaning making. We argue that this has important implications for social justice and intercultural education. Through existing resources children explore their own environments and make sense of the world. Within this creative application of existing resources, children participate with their own interest as the on-going force (Kress, 1997, 2000). In this process meaning and understanding is created in an ongoing negotiation. The core of this transformation can be expressed in terms of mimesis; a process from a prefiguration, to a refiguration through a figuration, in terms of narratives (Ricoeur, 1984).

Gadamer (1975) sees reading as participation of shared meaning. The interpretation in its turn opens up for a widening of horizons. Reading is, as Kress puts it, the making of new signs – which represent the world. To read the world means to participate in it. When you relate experiences to social categories like ethnicity, age, social class, gender differences can emerge. Seeing literacy education from this angle increasingly brings the question about us in relation to ‘the other’ in focus. The theoretical space we want to use here is the open space between a hermeneutical and a postcolonial perspective. In hermeneutics the relation between the acquainted and the unacquainted is crucial. According to Gadamer the “space between” is a pre-condition for making new interpretations, which links to Bhabha’s (1994) concept of a ‘third space’. Meaning making hence requires a co-existence, an interspace, between the acquainted and the unacquainted. When talking about the necessity for children to participate and to relate to their own experiences, interpretations has to be seen in the light of difference. Difference opens up the possibilities for unpredicted events. Literacy events (Heath, 1982) and literacy practices (Barton, 2007, Street, 1993) could then be analyzed in the light of this.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011.
National Category
Humanities
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-16724OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-16724DiVA: diva2:456795
Conference
European Educational Research Association, Berlin
Available from: 2011-11-15 Created: 2011-11-15 Last updated: 2011-12-08Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
  • apa
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