[AAACE-NLA] Literacy across generations
gdemetrion at msn.com
Sat Aug 21 23:44:48 EDT 2010
We have hypotheses as well as a rich profusion of qualitative information that in its collectivity is more than merely "anecdotal? What are the modes of verification that would be viewed as authentic from a research base and are there ways of substantially squaring university research paradigms in the social sciences that draw both on the "softer" as well as "harder" academic disciplines. Elsewhere I have argued for a postpositivist research design http://www.the-rathouse.com/Postpositivism.htm. This is a perspective advocated by Phillips & Burbules in Postpositivism and Educational Research, a short and power-packed book that I recommend be widely read among adult literacy researchers and practitioners interested in finding some middle ground between research depending on experiential design as the goal standard and research based solely on collective case study presentation http://www.amazon.com/Postpositivism-Educational-Research-Nicholas-Burbules/dp/0847691225
To your concluding statement: I would argue that the field of adult literacy studies is both under-researched and under conceptualized. Some of us (yourself included) have sought to do something to turn that around.
> Date: Sat, 21 Aug 2010 14:21:59 -0700
> From: tsticht at znet.com
> To: aaace-nla at lists.literacytent.org
> Subject: Re: [AAACE-NLA] Literacy across generations
> Andres, Michael, and all: Following is the introduction to a paper that will
> appear in Education Canada, Fall issue, September 2010. Education Canada is
> the official magazine of the Canadian Education Association. Once again, it
> argues for a recognition that educational achievement is affected across
> generations, and a women's education level plays a role in determining her
> future children's educational achievement even before a child is conceived!
> As Michael has thoughtfully pointed out, however, this is not a strict cause
> and effect phenomenon but rather a probabilistic one in which probabilities
> of outcomes are affected. I note that this important probable outcome of
> adult basic education is not captured in the National Reporting System and
> we have very little research on the effects of participation in ABE on the
> children of the adult learners. But then again, we have very little
> research on anything to do with adult education and literacy!
> Tom Sticht
> To appear in Education Canada, Fall, September 2010:
> Educated Parents, Educated Children:
> Toward a Multiple Life Cycles Education Policy
> Thomas G. Sticht
> Philanthropists and policymakers sometimes opt to fund childhood education
> to “stop illiteracy at the source” at the expense of funding for adult
> literacy education. In 2000, The New York Times published an article about
> a gift of $100 million being given to schools in Mississippi to promote the
> teaching of reading to children. The article says that the philanthropist
> giving the money and "many experts are less than bullish on the prospects
> for attacking adult illiteracy." The philanthropist is then quoted as
> saying, "What this program says is that we can't solve the adult literacy
> problem but we can work with the children."
> In Canada in 2006, the new Tory government announced cuts of $17.7 million
> in what was already a skimpy federal budget for adult literacy education.
> According to a government official, "[T]hey want to focus instead on better
> teaching children how to read and write." Adult literacy education was
> characterized as "repair work after the fact"; the government needs to "get
> it right from the get-go…rather than doing it after the fact."
> This type of thinking is based largely on a mistaken understanding of “the
> source of illiteracy” and leads to half-hearted strategies for improving
> both children's and adult's literacy. It focuses on each new child as the
> beginning of a new life cycle, and then thinks in terms of doing whatever
> can be done to help the child acquire literacy skills. If this does not
> turn out well, then a small amount of remedial help may be given in
> adulthood to help the person acquire higher levels of literacy in a "cradle
> to grave, lifelong education" policy of education.
> However, this focus upon a single life cycle fails to recognize the key role
> that the education of adults plays in the transfer of literacy from one
> generation to the next. That is, adult literacy education may promote the
> development of literacy not only in one life cycle but in multiple life
> cycles, depending on how many children the adults have. From this point of
> view, the potential for developing literacy actually begins before birth in
> the dispositions, skills, knowledge, language, and literacy of children's
> I will argue here that the value of adult literacy education is a good
> investment for improving the educability of children. First, however, I
> need to deal with a couple of mistaken ideas that are widely held and that
> hinder the development of adequate resources for adult literacy education.
> [to be continued in Education Canada, September 2010]
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