[AAACE-NLA] Boomerang Brings Deja Vu
gdemetrion at msn.com
gdemetrion at msn.com
Mon Apr 23 07:26:25 EDT 2007
Tom and others,
I would still like to speak of context-based literacy as the underlying framework and functional-context theory as one important subset. As you and others have mentioned, your early work was circulating around the time of Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970), with a somewhat different politics of literacy (ergo, context) than your early work on literacy in the military and workplace. Then the more recent work on the new literacy studies coming out of the UK and brought to the US in part, by way of Juliet Merrifield.
There are some very broad affinities among these three frameworks, but notable differences as well.
Your early work is an important contribution. Moreover, what I admire is how you have expanded on the contexts which drive your early work into all of the major areas of literacy, defined as a metaphor for the acquisition of knowledge, perhaps, one might say, through print-based resources, though I know the later phrase is contestable.
I think what happened historically, is that you discovered your theory largely independently of other theoretical work on literacy in your empirical work in the government, while other trends very much were in the air with the anti-Vietnam war movement and the breakdown of colonization and the various liberationist movements that has spawned. Enter Paulo Freire, the Frants Fanon of South America who very much had a strong appeal to progressive voices in North America as well as throughout the world.
One might say that politically, your early work on functional-context theory was broadly in tuned with the modernization presuppositions of Post WWII United Nations effort as well as the Kennedy administration while Freire's work ushered in a very sharp counter-narrative to that then prevailing presupposition, which in a postindustrial guise has gained new birth (actually never left in recent times.
hen we had the new literacy studies as sort of a liberal synthesis which opens itself to critique from both the literacy left and right. Sylvia Scribner's 1984 essay, Literacy in Three Metaphors provides a schematic overview of the three schools. I sought to build on this essay in my own article, Discerning the Contexts of Adult Literacy Education http://www.nald.ca/fulltext/george/discern/cover.htm and in a more exhaustive (some would say exhausting) way in Conflicting Paradigms in Adult Literacy Education.
A final note; the fact that the Dean of adult literacy studies is still vigorously at work some 40-45 years after his original; research with as much energy and passion as ever is something to admire, well beyond anything I could possibly emulate.
Keep it up, bro!
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