Early intervention: A second chance to learn what? For whom? Narratives of learning, discipline and enculturation

Year: 2001

Author: Woods, Annette, Henderson, Robyn

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Current understandings about literacy have moved away from the belief that literacy is simply a process that individuals do in their heads. However, in many cases our response to early intervention in literacy is firmly based in theories which seem out of step with current literacy research and consequent evidence that literacy is socially and culturally constructed. One example of such a response is the Reading Recovery program based in Clay’s theory of literacy acquisition. Clay (1992) describes the program as a second chance to learn. However, others have suggested that programs like Reading Recovery may in fact work toward the marginalisation of particular groups, thereby helping to maintain the status quo along class, gender and ethnic lines. Dudley-Marling and Murphy (1997) suggest that Reading Recovery may in fact act as a gatekeeper to protect the institution of schooling by privileging the skills and experiences of middle- and upper-middle class students.

This paper allows two professionals, who unwittingly found themselves involved within the institution of Reading Recovery, to bring their insider’s knowledge to an analysis of the construction of the program. The paper interweaves this analysis with the personal narratives of the researchers as they negotiated the borders between different understandings and beliefs about literacy and literacy pedagogy.