Contemporary adolescents’ literate practice: a proposed resilience model

Year: 2013

Author: Bahr, Nan, Crosswell, Leanne, Barton, Georgina

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

How contemporary society defines a ‘literate’ individual has changed dramatically over the past decade, driven by changes to information and communication technology (Leu, 2000; Leu & Kinzer 2000). While speaking and listening, reading and writing remain critical elements of being considered literate, skills such as “accessing and selecting information sources, discerning authorship, and assembling and communicating knowledge with digital technologies” are now also required (Kimber & Wyatt-Smith, 2010, p.607). As such, there is urgent need to build a better understanding of the nature of contemporary adolescent literate practice (Brozo, 2010; Chandler-Olcott, & Mahar,2003; Coiro, Knobel, Lankshear, & Leu, 2008; Cumings & Smith, 2008; Lankshear, Snyder & Green, 2000; Rennie & Patterson, 2005, 2009; Tatum, 2006). While there has been considerable research that investigates literacy learning for adolescents, such as skills acquisition (e.g., Harste, 2003; Phelps, 2005) and associated curriculum and pedagogical approaches (Freebody, Chan & Barton, 2012; Luke & Carrington, 2002), there continues to be a large proportion of young adolescents that still struggle in school. We argue that acknowledging the ‘funds of knowledge’ (Moje et al) that students bring with them into the learning and teaching context is crucial to success.

This position paper proposes a possible model for investigating adolescent literate practice and the influences in play around it. The model takes up a social ecological perspective (Bronfenbrenner, 1979) of adolescent literate practice and identifies three broad interactive lenses: profiles of personal literate practices of adolescents, both in and out of school (see Cumings & Smith, 2008; Phelps, 2005; Tatum, 2006); perspectives and practices of significant others regarding literate practice (Bahr, 2010; Shaffer & Kipp, 2010); and, personal attributes of adolescents (e.g., O’Connor et al, 2009) including resilience and self-image. This paper will unpack these three lenses in detail and demonstrate, using literature from various fields how they interconnect with each other. In this paper we highlight how the model can provide a framework to assist educators to understand the key influences or the relationships between them for contemporary adolescents.