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Towards a functional curriculum model of social literacy: literacy for specific purposes

Towards a functional curriculum model of social literacy: literacy for specific purposes

Ade-Ojo, Gordon ORCID: 0000-0002-1098-0765 (2013) Towards a functional curriculum model of social literacy: literacy for specific purposes. In: International Symposium on Comparative Sciences (ISCS), 8-11 Oct 2013, Sofia, Bulgaria. (Unpublished)

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Perhaps the most consistent conclusions of contemporary academic engagement with the adult literacy discourse are first, that there are alternative perceptions of literacy, variously referred to as a social model (Street, 1984 and 1993), and a sociological perception of literacy (Gee et al, 2006, Luke, 2005) and second, literacy policy and practice is dominated by a cognitive perception of literacy (Ade-Ojo, 2009 and 2011, Hamilton and Hillier, 2006, Lankshear and Gee, 1997, Street, 1993). This model, it is generally agreed, has failed many young and older people who have been classified as ‘illiterate’ because of their failure to acquire it. In spite of this seeming unanimity, very little has been offered in order to reverse the dominance of the so-called cognitive model in policy making and practice, although inroads have been made on the pedagogical front with various contributions on how to use the recognition of a social model of literacy in teaching and learning (see e.g. Janks, 2000, Evans, 2005). Indeed, no social model informed curricula has been offered as an alternative to this dominant but ineffective model. This, in spite of the fact that a commensurate consensus had been reached on the fact the cognitive model has been dominant so far because it has structures, including curricular, to perpetrate its dominance and offers an avenue for accountability which Ong (1982 and 1977) had offered as its justification.

This paper is essentially a response to this situation. It offers a theoretical argument for making the social perception of literacy more functional by advocating that the time is ripe for a movement from the rhetoric of perceptions to the reality of practice. It argues further that in order to achieve the proposed shift, the first step must be the creation of curricula which are informed by the principle of literacy for specific purposes (LSP) (Ade-Ojo, 2008 and 2009). The paper draws on key theories from cognate fields to justify the essence and need for the creation of curricula of literacy for specific purposes as a form of scaffolding for the social perception of literacy. In particular, the paper draws from Hirst’s (1974) disciplinary approach to curriculum development to support the need for the creation of LSP curricula, the Cultural Historical activity theory (CHAT) (Vygotsky, 1981, Leont’ev, 1981, Engestrom, 2001, and Nygard, 2013) and the constructionist learning theory of Papert and Hidel (1991 and 2003) to explain why LSP is plausible and why adult learners and young people are more likely to improve their literacy through LSP. It also draws on the linguistic theory of register (Halliday, 1984 and 2004). as well as the principles of langue and parole (Saussure, 1986) to define the boundaries of LSP. It concludes with the argument that LSP’s ability to create a convergence between learners’ goals, curriculum design and accountability makes it an attractive proposal for furthering the promotion of LSP model of curriculum development.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Paper)
Additional Information: [1] This paper was presented at the Inaugural International Symposium on Comparative Sciences (ISCS) on 11 October 2013. The Symposium was organized by the Bulgarian Comparative Education Society (BCES) and held in Sofia, Bulgaria from 8-11 October 2013.
Uncontrolled Keywords: specific literacies, learner engagement, curriculum development
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
L Education > L Education (General)
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Education
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Last Modified: 05 Jun 2019 13:39

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