Authoring lives : a case study of how grade 6 children in a South African township school construct themselves as readers and writers.

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dc.contributor.author Bizos, Erato-Nadia
dc.date.accessioned 2010-02-23T08:01:46Z
dc.date.available 2010-02-23T08:01:46Z
dc.date.issued 2010-02-23T08:01:46Z
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10539/7541
dc.description.abstract This thesis examines how six children at the end of the Intermediate Phase, i.e. Grade 6, in a school located in a South African township construct themselves as readers and writers. It investigates the literacy and discursive practices the children draw upon, from both their in- and out-of-school worlds, in their identity work. It also focuses on gendered differences within these practices. A Soweto primary school was selected as the research site. Adopting a single case study design, the six children were purposefully selected to constitute a ‘case’. The children represented ‘good readers and writers’ and an equal gender spread, i.e. three girls and three boys. Over a period of three months numerous group and individual interviews were conducted. The children’s school books and portfolio work, as well as a selection of literacy artefacts produced in the out-of-school domain, were collected. Informal field notes and interviews with the school principal and two Grade 6 teachers added valuable contextual information. Gee’s (1990, 1996, 1998, 2001) work forms a grounding theoretical orientation for the research which is centred on his understanding of identity as a cultural construct varying across settings and constituted within and by particular Discourses. Postructuralist theorising of subjectivity provides an additional theoretical orientation for the research (Bakhtin 1981; Mishler 1999; Norton 1997; Pavlenko & Blackledge 2004; Weedon 1997). In analysing the data, the thesis demonstrates a marked tension between the literacy and discursive practices of the children’s in- and out-of-school worlds. The children’s everyday out-of-school worlds are revealed to be rich sites of situated and social literacy. Within a variety of literacy practices the children are shown to draw on their out-of-school Discourses to construct themselves as active, competent and intentional meaning-makers. Alongside such findings, the children’s in-school worlds are found to be dominated by an autonomous model of literacy (Street 1984, 1993). The 2 emphasis on skills like decoding and encoding texts rather than meaning-making is shown to offer the children markedly different, and limited, constructions of their literate selves. The tension between the children’s in- and out-of-school worlds is further heightened by the varied opportunities available for using literacy to assert their gendered identities across the two domains. The principal argument of the thesis suggests that the children recognise the point of tension between their in- and out-of-school worlds and resolve it by establishing and maintaining a third space (Levy 2008; Moje et al. 2004). Within this space the children are shown to draw on the Discourses and positions offered within both domains to construct their identities as readers and writers. The space is therefore demonstrated to be a place where competing knowledges and Discourses are brought ‘into conversation’, as well as a ‘navigational space’, providing the children with the means to cross and succeed in different domains (Moje et al. 2004, p.44). Finally, the thesis concludes by exploring the implications of the research findings to the wider social context of the South African education system, and the opportunities for teacher professional development within the system. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.title Authoring lives : a case study of how grade 6 children in a South African township school construct themselves as readers and writers. en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US


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