Questioning Assumptions and Exploring Realities
Edited By Heather M. Pleasants and Dana E. Salter
Chapter 8: The Teaching to Learn Project: Investigating Literacy through Intergenerational Inquiry
← 158 | 159 → Chapter 8
The Teaching to Learn Project: Investigating Literacy through Intergenerational Inquiry
Rob Simon, Jason Brennan, Sandro Bresba, Sara DeAngelis, Will Edwards, Helmi Jung, and Anna Pisecny
You must write, and read, as if your life depended on it. That is not generally taught in school. At most, as if your livelihood depended on it: the next step, the next job, grant, scholarship, professional advancement, fame; no questions asked to further meanings. And, let’s face it, the lesson of the schools for a vast number of children—hence, of readers—is This is not for you. (Adrienne Rich, 1993)
Appleman (2009) has argued that literacy teachers should not teach reading and writing as abstract skills, but rather as tools for helping adolescents make meaningful connections to their lives and make critical sense of the worlds they navigate. This is particularly important at a time when “new” literacy practices encourage an ethos of participation, engagement and “distributed expertise” (Lankshear & Knobel, 2007, p. 21), rather than transmission of knowledge. In the midst of far-reaching changes in the nature of literacy in the world, teaching adolescents’ to read literature “as if [their lives] depended on it” (Rich, 1993) can be a means of exploring students’ real world concerns, including broad social, ethical and identity issues (Beach, Appleman, Hynds & Wilhelm, 2006, p. 43). How can teachers approach texts in ways that invite connections to students’ lives, cultivate critical perspectives,...
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