Connecting with the literature: Thinking about the emergence of emergent literacies

Year: 2016

Author: Woods, Annette, Rautio, Pauliina, Hackett, Abigail

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Selecting or using a term such as emergent as an analytic is quite clearly not a neutral process. Rather, as we use such a term, we are connecting with the ways that that term has been used by others in the past, how it is being used in the current political climate, and how it is being taken forward to the future. ‘Knowing our place’ in the debates and knowledges of where we want to study and research requires a knowing and recognition that we are where we are not only because of those knowledges available to us now, but because of those that have come before and those that are yet to emerge. In this way we are able to draw on, for our own purposes and the purposes of the collective, the “instruments, tactics and alliances” (Foucault, 1973 in 2015, p. 32) that can be identified as playing a part in how we understand and are able to name the world.In this paper we trace the genealogy of emergent literacies to ground our collective claims about how young children name and un-name their worlds in the history and future of the term. We trace how emergent has been used to frame young children as almost ready to represent their worlds through conventional print text in the work of developmental psychologists and progressive literacy theorists (see for example Hiebert & Papierz, 1990; Sulzby & Teale, 1991), through seminal work by multimodality (Kress, 1997) and new literacy studies (Gillen and Hall, 2003), reminding us that young children’s representations of the world are made in a diverse range of communication forms. We note how this work was picked up at the turn of the century to help explain how young children were engaging with new textual forms in the digital age (see for example Marsh and Hallet, 2006) and consider the implications of this history for the possibilities of its use now and in the future. Our point is to foreground the importance of looking at the history and context of literacy development and where, how and if the notion of emergent literacy and its development fits with this. ReferencesFoucault, M. (1973). 10 January 1973. In Harcourt, B. (Ed). The punitive society. Lecutres at the College de France. UK: Palgrave Macmillan. Gillen, J. and Hall, N. (2003) The Emergence of Early Childhood Literacy. In N. Hall et al (eds) Handbook of Early Childhood Literacy. London: Sage. p.3-12. Hiebert, E. H., & Papierz, J. M. (1990). The emergent literacy construct and kindergarten and readiness books of basal reading series. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 5 (3), 317-334. Kress, G. (1997) Before Writing: Rethinking the Paths to Literacy. London: Routledge. Marsh, J., & Hallet, E, (2006). Desirable literacies: Approaches to language and literacies in the early years. UK: Sage Sulzby, E., & Teale, W. (1991). Emergent literacy. In R. Barr, M. L. Kamil, P. B. Mosenthal, & P. D. Pearson (Eds.), Handbook of reading research. New York: Longman. Vol. 2, pp. 727-757.