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Transformative Approaches to Adult Literacy Education Dr. Karen Magro Adult Secondary Education Council Conference Victoria Inn, Winnipeg, October 16-17 Transformative Approaches to Adult Literacy Education ―We cannot take part in a society as verbal as ours without knowing how to read and write, but unless we also learn how to read continuously, selectively, and critically, and to write articulately, we can never take a free or independent part in that society.‖ -Northrop Frye The New Literacies ―Educational Institutions have been slow to react to the emergence of this new participatory culture; the greatest opportunity for change is currently found in after school programs and informal learning communities…The new literacies almost all involve social skills developed through collaboration and networking. These skills build on the foundation of traditional literacy, research skills, technical skills, and critical analysis skills taught in the classroom‖ ( Jenkins, MIT, 2006). Linking Literacy to Life English Language Arts Psychology World Issues Law Geography Life Sciences Math and Computer Literacy Approaching English Language Arts from a Transformative Angle A course in contemporary world issues Teaching about social issues like poverty, homelessness, and the refugee crisis Gender and Learning: Personal Narratives Addressing the Youth Violence Crisis Shakespeare and Psychology Issues of Race and Ethnicity The Future of English Paulo Freire:Literacy and Democracy ―Democracy and democratic education are founded on faith in individuals on the belief that they not only can but should discuss the problems of their country, their continent, their world, their work, the problems of democracy itself. Education is an act of love, and thus an act of courage. It cannot fear the analysis of reality.‖ -P.Freire ( 1997)-Pedagogy of the oppressed Autobiography: Re-searching our lives The very act of writing autobiographies can turn victims into survivors, and witnesses into agents of change. The relation of individual expression to social experience has always been important in literary study. As more minority and women‘s voices are being heard in literature classes, in part through autobiographies, memoirs, and testimonials, we find ourselves increasingly concerned with the interplay between the social and personal aspects of identity. Autobiographies: Linking the personal and the social Sierra Leone: ―In the West, a diamond is a symbol of prestige and beauty; in my country, a diamond is a symbol of misery. When the war was at its peak in 1998, I was a teenager. I was working in the diamond mines, I was captured by the rebels and I had to work for them. It was a miracle that I escaped on the third night….‖ Current Themes Understanding the cultural and global context Acknowledging Diversity Differentiating Instruction Creative Approaches Building Emotional and Social Intelligence Critical Media Literacy Transformative Approaches to Teaching Language Arts Adult Literacy and Transformative Learning Dr. Kathleen King emphasizes the need for adults to continue to learn a complex array of skills to understand and cope with major changes at a local and global level: She writes: In our increasingly global and technology-driven society, a tidal wave of change constantly engulfs adult learners. On a macro level, economic conditions, labor forecasts, and international political dynamics are all relentlessly changing. Adult learners who are going to succeed in their studies and life need lifelong skills to help them cope with the rapid and incessant changes in technology skills, greater performance expectations, and changing responsibilities.‖ ( King, 2006, p. 20). Paulo Freire and Transformative Learning ―It is not enough to be able to help others read words; we must help others to read the world.‖ -Freire uses the word ―conscientization‖ to refer to the process of becoming critically aware of one‘s life world through an in-depth interpretation of problems and through dialogue with others. Through ―praxis‖ or the interplay between critical reflection and action, individuals are able to move from being ―carried along in the wake of change‖ to empowered individuals who can create and intervene in situations. Ira Shor (1987) emphasized that the teacher‘s conviction that she or he can learn from the student is a cornerstone in Freire‘s problem-posing education. Areas of Transformative Learning Literacy Education Human Rights and Advocacy Peace Education/Global Citizenship Women‘s Integration and Empowerment Health Environmental Sustainability Indigenous Education and Culture Social and Emotional Literacies Access to Information Diversity and Equality: Providing educational opportunities for culturally diverse populations and for the ageing population Dimensions to Transformative Learning ―We are living in a period of the earth‘s history that is incredibly turbulent and in a epoch in which there are violent processes of change that challenge us at every level imaginable. The pathos of the human being today is that we are caught up in this incredible transformation and we have a significant responsibility for the direction it will take. What is terrifying is that we have it within our power to make life extinct on this planet. Because of the magnitude of this responsibility for the planet, all of our educational ventures must be judged within this order of magnitude.‖ -E.O. Sullivan (2002) Expanding the boundaries of transformative learning. Themes in Transformative Learning Critical thinking Humanism Personal and social empowerment Self-knowledge Democratic Participation Divergent viewpoints Balancing the rational, analytic, and intuitive/creative Five Minds for the Future (Howard Gardner, 2007) The disciplinary mind- mastery of major schools of thought ( including science, mathematics, and history) and at least one professional craft. The synthesizing mind- ability to integrate ideas from different disciplines. The creating mind- capacity to uncover and clarify new problems and questions The ethical mind- fulfillment of one‘s responsibility as a worker and citizen ( including global citizenship) \ The New Literacies Literacy is participatory and lifelong There are emotional and social components to literacy The essential skills needed today include: Reading Document Use Numeracy Writing Oral Communication Working with others Thinking Computer Use Continuous Learning Key Themes in Planning ELA Units Linking Literature to Life Interdisciplinary Approaches Quick Writes The Values of Autobiographies and Biographies Creative Ways to Teach Non-Fiction The Rise of Graphic Novels Pictures and Poetry: Integrating Arts and ELA Literature Circles: Fostering Choice and Voice Culturally Diverse Texts Theme Based Unit Planning: Incorporating Multiple Genres Linking Emotional Intelligence to English, Psychology, and World Issues Texts Intraand Interpersonal Dimensions Empathy Mood Management Interpersonal Skills Motivation Resilience Conscientiousness Four Branches of Emotional Intelligence Emotional Identification, perception, and expression The ability to perceive and identify emotions in the faces, tone of voice, and body language The capacity for self-awareness: being aware of your own feelings The capacity for emotional literacy: ability to label specific feelings in yourself and others; being able to discuss emotions, resolve conflicts, and communicate clearly and directly. The Need for Emotional and Social Literacy in a Stressed Society High Levels of Stress Complexity of Barriers in our students‘ lives ( psychological, dispositional, institutional) Increasing Technical Complexity Lack of Balance in Life Increasing Working Hours Low Levels of Trust Emotional Intelligence and ELA Texts Obasan ( Joy Kagawa): Autobiographically based political novel about displaced Japanese Canadians during World War II; focuses on racial prejudices and injustices perpetuated as a result of fear. Themes: Citizenship; Courage; Resilience and Endurance; Peace; Respect. Strategies and Academic Activities: Analysis of novel elements; examination of historical and cultural perspectives; analysis of racism and discrimination Integrating EI into Language Arts Education Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl Social Document, literacy legacy set against the epic background of World War II. Themes: Adaptability Compassion Courage Endurance Faith Freedom Human Rights EI and ELA Texts: Exploring Values and Human Emotion Brave New World ( A. Huxley) -Satirical look at futuristic society and science‘s effects on human life Themes and Values: Freedom; Power; Responsibility Shakespeare‘s Othello: Historical tragedy explores human heart‘s struggle with jealousy, pride, and deceit. Study Focus: Character/psychological analysis; ways to prevent self-destruction Source: The Center for Learning: www.centerforlearning.org Cross links with Psychology: Personality development; Relationships Maximizing Multiple Intelligences and Multiple Literacies Be sure to provide instructional strategies that tap into different learning styles and multiple intelligences: Linguistic Visual/Artistic Mathematical/Logical Kinesthetic Interpersonal Intrapersonal Environmental Existential Musical ( Howard Gardner (2006: Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons. New York: Basic Books) Literature Circles: Creative Ways to Offer Choice in Culturally Diverse Classrooms Roles: The Connector: embodies what skillful readers most often do-they connect what they read to their own lives, their feelings, their experiences, to the day‘s headlines, to other books and authors. Literature Circles The Questioner Role Wondering and analyzing: Where is this text going? Why do these characters act as they do? How did the author evoke this feeling? Is this a plausible outcome? Sometimes questioners seek to clarify or understand; at other times, they may challenge or critique. Literature Circles Literary Luminary/Passage Master Role -find memorable, special, important sections of the text to re-read, reflect on, analyze, or share aloud. ―Parvana moved through her days as though she were moving through an awful nightmare---a nightmare from which there was no release in the morning. Then, late one afternoon, Parvana came home from work to find two men gently helping her father up the steps to the apartment. He was alive. At least part of the nightmare was over.‖ Literature Circles Illustrator Role: reminds the group that skillful reading requires visualizing, and it invites a graphic nonlinguistic response to a text. Other Roles Discussion Director Summarizer Vocabulary Enricher Travel Tracer Investigator Sources: Harvey Daniels Literature Circles; Faye Brownlie: Grand Conversations Strategies that can enhance literature circles Applications to short stories and non-fiction Posters advertising the book TV movie critic-style reviews Reader‘s Theatre Performances Performances of a ―lost scene‖ in a book A sequel or prequel to the story A new ending for the book A new cover for the book Interview with the author or one of the characters Background research on the setting or time frame Diary of a character Culture and Identity ―Culture affects the process of learning. Most life histories reflect intercultural dimensions…Today the intercultural dynamic is related more to migration and refugees, and the globalization of the work market. Many adults have to adapt to another culture, to a culture that they were not prepared to face, and this process of change becomes partly a process of education. Adults have to learn a new language, understand new rules, and adapt to a new set of cultural values.‖ ( Dominice, 2002, pp. 88-89) Emotional Intelligence ―Emotional intelligence is the ability to sense, understand, and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions as a source of human energy, information, and influence. When trusted and respected, emotional intelligence provides a deeper, more fully formed understanding of oneself and those around us.‖ (Cooper, 2002). Inter and Intrapersonal Dimensions of Emotional Intelligence *Self-awareness *Empathy *Mood Management *Flexibility *Optimism *Resilience *Self-direction *Ability to connect with and collaborate with others *Ability to listen Sources of Conflict in Groups Perceptions-Do we really want to see and hear the truth? Stereotypes, prejudices, and biases Values and Beliefs Power, authority, and control Personality and behavioral style Goals and personal needs Encouraging Transformative Learning *Interdisciplinary connections between English and content areas like Psychology, World Issues, Peace and Environmental Education, and Human Rights *Literature circles based on thematic topics *Life History Writing *Creative use of the biography and autobiography *Quick writes ( L. Rief) *Creative writing *Experiential teaching and learning strategies that integrate reflective and practical approaches *Debates *Position papers *Creative ways to link art, film, and other texts Cultural Awareness: Understanding Experience Through Life History Writing ―I grew up in a small village and my job as a young Dinka boy was herding cattle. The war changed everything. I was lucky to escape into the forest. Some of us crossed the rive Gilo and made it to Kakuma, the largest refugee camp in Kenya. The older boys and elders at Kakuma became our parental figures. I always enjoyed sitting beside the elders and listening to their stories…Life in the refugee camp still affects you—regardless of your age and regardless of your ambition. The more you internalize the experience the more it affects you. I have seen many of my friends die. Looking at the large picture makes you feel sad even today. Some people walked 1,000 miles without their shoes. I lost friends who drowned crossing the river. Some were also shot or kidnapped. Both my parents died in the war. When you become a refugee, you are no longer a citizen. You have to depend on the UN to help you in the camp. I asked myself: ‗Why was life so hard? How could my country do this to me? If my country failed to protect me as an individual, how can I feel proud about being Sudanese?‖ ( Alem, University Student) Learner Experiences ―As I see it, refugees come with a lot of burdens—they have the burden of dealing with the stress of the war they left and the family members that they are still trying to help; they are also dealing with the burden of paying back loans and making it in Canadian society. Some of us from the Sudan came with such high expectations and our expectations have not been met. They don‘t talk about the difficult barriers that stand in the way. Then when you are walking on a -30 degree snowy day, you ask yourself--- ‗could this be Canada—the land of opportunity.‘Some of the refugees I know don‘t have hope. When they apply for a job and are told that they don‘t have Canadian experience, they feel frustrated. The start lingering around and feel desperate. Some of the younger ones I know have joined gangs like the Mad Cowz. I try to encourage my friends and the younger people to value Canada. I tell them that they have two homes---the Sudan and Canada. Here in Canada, peace and freedom of speech are valued. If you work hard and study hard, I tell them that they can succeed.‖ Texts that Highlight Refugee Experiences A long way gone- A. Beah Escape from slavery-F. Bok God grew tired of us: A memoir- J.B. Dau They poured fire on us from the sky-B.Deng, A. Deng, & B.Ajak What is the what-D. Eggers Then they started shooting: Growing up in wartime Bosnia: Lynn Jones The swallows of Kabul- Y. Khadra Slave: My true story- M. Nazer Prisoner of Tehran: A memoir- M. Nemat A bed of red flowers-N A. Pazira Emma’s war-D. Scroggins Chanda’s secret- A. Sratton Exploring Literature as a way to encourage transformative learning The idea of using literature and other texts to help students broaden their perspective of world issues and the plight of refugees can encourage transformative learning. Greenlaw (2005) writes that readers ―can learn to probe their own emotional responses, gather information to help them interpret what they are reading, develop a vision of what a better world might be like, and critically examine injustices both in their own lives and the lives of others‖ (p. 46). The Social Climate Despite anti-bullying programs and other initiatives designed to foster inclusion and maximize motivation, too many children and young adults are feeling increasingly alienated. ―There is the growing isolation of children as they spend increasing periods of time in front of screens, learning the literacy of violence in video games, learning the literacy of insensitivity from TV ―reality shows,‖ or learning the literacy of consumerism from an endless bombardment of advertising‖ ( Gordon, 2005, p. 116- Roots of Empathy). Literacy and Lifelong Learning ―Literacy, broadly conceived as the basic knowledge and skills needed by all in a rapidly changing world, is a fundamental human right. In every society, literacy is a necessary skill in itself and one of the foundations of other life skills. There are millions, the majority of whom are women, who lack the opportunity to learn or who have insufficient skills to be able to assert this right. The challenge is to enable them to do so. This will often imply the creation of preconditions for learning through awareness raising and empowerment‖ ( UNESCO, 1997) UNESCO DECLARATION ON THE RIGHT TO LEARN The Right to Learn is: *The right to read and write *The right to question and analyze *The right to imagine and create *The right to read one‘s world and to write history *The right to have access to educational resources *The right to develop individual and collective skills Transformative Learning ―Transformative learning involves experiencing a deep, structural shift of consciousness that dramatically and permanently alters our way of being in the world. Such a shift involves our understanding of ourselves and our self-locations; our relationships with other humans and with the natural world; our understanding of relations of power in interlocking structures of class, race, and gender; our body awareness; our vision of alternative approaches to living; and our sense of the possibilities for social justice and peace and personal joy.‖- E.O.Sullivan (2002), OISE, The University of Toronto, Centre for Transformative Learning Transformative Learning From Mezirow‘s (2000) perspective, transformative learning does not only include the addition of new information; rather the way we understand and interpret our world can be transformed through a process of critical reflection and action. Learning is understood ―as the process of using prior interpretation to construe a new or revised interpretation of meaning of one‘s experience in order to guide future action.‖ –Mezirow (2000) Learning as transformation. Three Dimensions to Transformative Learning Psychological changes in understanding of the self; Convictional changes ( a revision of belief systems) Behavioral Changes ( changes in lifestyle) There are rational, creative, and intuitive dimensions to transformative learning, and the ideas can be applied on a personal, social, and global level. Factors Influencing Transformative Learning The readiness of the learner Personality traits and learning style preferences Teaching Style and Philosophy of Teaching of the Educators The educational climate Beliefs, values, and attitudes The Mission of the Institution Content Area and Curriculum Choices Methods of Assessment ―An act of learning can be called transformative only if it involves a fundamental questioning and reordering of how one thinks or acts.”- Stephen Brookfield (2002). Transformative vs. Technical ―I‘m not really sure what a transformative educator means. I think that if someone calls himself or herself a transformative educator, that‘s a very demanding claim. I think that if you can help people a few steps along on their journey of learning, you‘re doing well. I see transformation as having a lot to do with the student, and their own readiness, rather than being with the teacher. I am very wary of the educator as change agent. I have to ask myself: what kind of change? Certainly, I critically challenge the students to examine their ideas and the nature of society, but I do not think that I should be directive in suggesting that they should change either their lives or society. I am not a moral arbiter. It‘s different if someone says, ‗I don‘t like the way I am, and I‘d like to change.‖ The initiative to change is not the responsibility of the educator….it‘s not my role to start counselling people about major life changes.‖ Teaching Roles *Expert-transmits expertise *Planner-designs *Instructor-tells what to do *Facilitator-responds to needs;encourages and supports *Resource person-provides material *Manager-keeps records, arranges, and manages *Mentor-advises, guides, and supports *Co-learner-learns and mutually plans with learners *Reformer-challenges, stimulates, questions, and fosters transformative learning *Researcher-makes observations, formulates hypotheses, develops a theory of practice *Advocate-helps students connect with outside agencies/resources *Cultural Guide-help learners understand and navigate a new culture Literature as a vehicle for tapping areas of the imagination ―Literature provides shape and form to life‘s questions. That‘s what keeps people reading. I have a desire to make shape out of different facts. Unlike other kinds of teaching where the curriculum may be very set and specific, there is an element of discovery in teaching English. Freud studied literature as a way of understanding personality and motivation. There is something bigger than an academic discipline in studying literature. We all have a narrative to tell. At a basic level, literature exists to help people understand themselves and the world.‖ -Craig, Community College English Teacher Creative Writing as a vehicle for transformative learning ―Writing is an act of seeing. I try to encourage my students to be good observers. Poetry allows my students to share their deepest fears. I think that the whole idea of teaching literature and creative writing is to inform, uplift, and serve as a useful psychological and spiritual guide. Part of my work involves demystifying the language of poetry to make it accessible to students from different backgrounds.‖ -Rob, inner city senior high English teacher Literacy to Empower ―I teach in the center of pain and poverty….A lot of talented people grow up with poverty, prejudice, and a lack of hope. They don‘t feel accepted…Lots of students have lost friends and relatives through suicide. I try to get them to explore their feelings and share with others by writing about it. I have seen many students overwhelmed by their alcohol and drug habits. Students who have grown up in parentless homes are now parents themselves. Everywhere I see the streets pulling at them. Teaching is a humanitarian act and I try to transform lives. I try to help my students recognize how vital they are and how, in fact, the can move mountains if they are willing to realize that their negative experiences in childhood can be a resource of tremendous energy and insight. Your mission as an English teacher is to help individuals feel hopeful about themselves.‖ -Rob, inner city senior high English teacher. Teaching Language Arts from a Transformative Perspective Gee (2006) emphasizes that English teachers stand at the very heart of the most critical educational, cultural, and political issues of our time, and that while they can see themselves as ―language teachers‖ with no connection to political and social issues, an alternative is that they can accept their role as persons who socialize learners into a world view that must be looked at critically, comparatively, and with a constant sense of the possibilities for change.‖ A balance between self and social awareness Integrate emotional and social intelligence into teaching language arts ( self-awareness, empathy, motivation, mood management, and problem solving ability) Autobiographical writing Provide access to texts that reflect diversity in terms of culture, gender, race, and ethnicity. Provide texts that help students understand timely social and global issues ―Readers can learn to probe their own emotional responses, gather information to help what they are reading, develop a vision of what a better world might be like, and critically examine injustices both in their own lives and the lives of others.‖ -Greenlaw (2005) Perspectives of Learning ―Learning is more than an accretion of facts. It‘s changing the architecture around you. Major learning to me means a paradigm shift of sorts. The things that I‘ve always valued have involved a recognition that now I see things working in a different way. I can see my students learning if they start challenging me and asking me questions. Sometimes I see it in their assignments where they are applying a skill or a strategy in a fresh or original way. They‘re not just regurgitating information. They‘re taking a different way of looking at poetry and then applying it to writing their own poem….. I want students to read a range of authors—Manitoban, international, and so on and from different historical periods. However, I believe that it is vital for students to write their own literature and enter the literary process. I guide them through this journey.‖ Working toward transformative learning Acknowledge learner interests through critical incidents,Learning style inventories, etc. Balancing structure and creativity through applying multiple intelligence theory and differentiated instruction Interdisciplinary approaches that link ELA to world issues, psychology, sociology, etc. The teacher as co-learner, challenger, and guide Dialogue and Collaboration Experiential Learning Techniques Life History Writing, Journals, Learning Logs Encourage drama, popular/interactive theatre,poetry, and other creative forms of literature Renzulli‘s (2002) Enrichment Triad Model Type One Activities: Exploratory experiences that are designed to introduce students to topics not ordinarily covered in the regular curriculum. Examples of Activities: Debate Display Field Trip Guest Speaker Interest and Learning Centres Mini-course Newspaper program Renzulli‘s Enrichment Triad Model Type Two Enrichment: ( Analysis of higher order skills to organize, analyze, and synthesize new information) *Reflective Papers *Logs and Journals *Group dynamics and presentations *Leadership skill development *Access to develop research skills Renzulli‘s Enrichment Triad Model Type Three: Advanced Research Skill Development Further development in intra and interpersonal skills Academic literacy in cross disciplinary areas Advanced literacy skills in critical reading, writing, viewing, etc. *One day per week would enable students to develop their skills in an area of their interest ( learning projects) Transformative Teaching ―It is important to ground the learner in a sense of place, history, culture, and identity….Transformative teaching must examine how notions of self, personhood, place, history, culture, and belonginess to community are manifested in specific cultural contexts and values.‖ -George S. Dei (2002) Expanding the boundaries of transformative learning. Tensions in Teaching ―I work with students who live on the margins. The greatest barrier to learning is this complex thing called poverty—whether it‘s not being able to buy a bus pass or not eating properly or living in a house where everyone is up all night partying. We‘re talking about food, shelter, safety, and feeling a sense of belonging and self-worth. I try to break down these feelings of isolation that my students experience….I am also not under any illusions about assessment. The transformative philosophy is what I strive for but the reality is that I have to be realistic and practical and help my students develop essential literacy skills. At some point, they will have to write a test or an entrance exam and I have to prepare them.‖ Technical vs. Transformative ―We would be lost if we did not have an intellectual and spiritual conscience yet in many ways we are heading for that…. We have to fight to keep the word education in our programs. So many literacy programs today are becoming ―training‖. Our administration keeps asking for key productivity indicators and this is particularly frustrating when you are working with literacy learners who are at different levels. Many of our students have also bought into a myth that education guarantees a job. Maybe if enough people question how the economy works, major changes would take place. When my students come to class, I‘m hoping that they will find some control over their lives in some other way besides the economic way….A real tension for me is that I feel that society thinks that my job as a literacy educator is trying to help people fit into the system. Am I teaching them to fit into a society that has contributed to their marginalization? I want to offer students new direction and opportunities. I‘d rather have a society where everyone is welcomed and needed. We do not have this yet.‖ -Barb, Community College English Instructor Learning as a process of construction ―Teaching is a process of construction---I see myself as an architect and a guide….the process of discovering new ideas is continuous….Learning is a process of discovery. You have to reach students at a level that they are familiar with and then build from there. I often make links between Poe, Conrad, and Twain with contemporary media and film if I‘m introducing concepts like satire, tone, irony, and so on. We‘re not living in the ―great books society‖anymore. Personal Development and Social Awareness ―I think of teaching English as tapping areas of the imagination. I want my students to trust their own judgments while also considering appreciating the opinions of others. I teach in a multi-cultural setting and what may be difficult is the language barrier or the content. I try to work around those barriers….In my view, educational programs should come from a need within the community and they should be engineered in a way that people can identify with their own realities. We are too work and grade focused. As a result people lose touch with their creative side. We have to emphasize personal development as well as academic mastery as equally valuable goals in education.‖ -Ross, High School English Teacher Autobiographies Students can include samples of their writing, documents, photographs of their families and communities, as well as stories, dialogues, and interviews. Multigenre writing enables students to incorporate personal narrative, interview material, and social commentary. Online Literature Archives: The Bartleby Project at the University of Columbia http://www.barleby.com The Electronic Text Center at the University of Virginia: http://eng.hss.cmu.edu The Humanities Text Initiative at the University of Michigan: http://www.hti.umich.edu/ The University of Toronto English Library:http://www.library.utoronto.ca Teacher Guides and lesson plans: http://www.sdcoe.k12.ca.us/score/cyberguide.html. ERIC Language Arts Plans: http://ericir.syr.edy/Virtual/Lessons/Lang- arts/index.html. NCTE NOTES Plus. http://www.ncte.org/notesplus/.
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