Diversity and Difference in early childhood and education
Multiple literacies.

Year: 2000


Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In early childhood settings, current conceptualisation's of children's literacy learning generally constitute theoretical models ranging from 'developmental readiness' to 'emergent literacy' (see Teale & Sulzby; 1986; Heath 1982; Clay 1991). Drawing on recent research into literacy practices of early childhood staff, we argue that early childhood educators need to go beyond developmentalist and constructivist models of literacy which categorise cultural and social difference within fixed boundaries as 'add on' inclusions to mainstream views of language and literacy learning. Consequently, children who experience literacy other than the dominant English speaking book based literacy practices often become marginalised in this process.

We argue that early childhood education needs to fully embrace more contemporary frameworks of poststructural and critical theory, which emphasise literacy as social and cultural practice. This will provide meaningful and contextual literacy experiences that fully acknowledge children's multiple literacies such as bilingual / biliteracy experiences, literacies of popular culture and technologies. Drawing on case studies and recent research, we aim to demonstrate how children's active participation in constructing literacy based knowledge through everyday literacy events of popular culture, technologies and biliteracy experiences, are crucial starting points from which staff can engage and extend children's literacy learning. Also, we point to the powerful impact that popular culture has on children's everyday lived experiences, and we describe the significance of critical literacy in providing opportunities for children to critique, deconstruct and reconstruct a range of contemporary popular culture media texts.