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Powerful Literacies

Powerful Literacies

Jim Crowther, Lyn Tett, Mary Hamilton

November 2001
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About This Publication

As the gap increases between those with access to information and those denied it, redistributing information and making it accessible become ever more important educational and political tasks. While some people now have greater access to a wide range of information, they do not necessarily have the basis for making critical judgements about its significance and value.

Literacy has been, and can be, a significant means of social change. By ‘powerful literacies’, the contributors mean the interventions and practices which attempt to enhance the autonomy and control of powerless learners and their communities over their environment.

This book includes issues raised by and for learners, teachers and researchers from the outcomes of literacy programmes in Britain and internationally. The book addresses the twin themes of power and literacies. It approaches power in a variety of ways – sharing power between teachers and students; accessing power through using and understanding new technologies; learning as a powerful agent of change. Literacy is approached as a complex social practice, and a range of literacies is explored, such as literacy as a communal resource and as reflexive practice.

The advance of literacy to the forefront of an agenda of social inclusion, participation and active citizenship has inspired a technical literature aimed at practitioners. This book seeks to interrogate the ideas, assumptions and policies that inform literacy practice. The authors reflect a diversity of contexts, political positions and interests, but share a common theme of seeking to promote literacy as a powerful tool for challenging existing inequalities and dependencies.


Foreword Margaret Herrington
Chapter 1 Powerful literacies: an introduction Jim Crowther, Mary Hamilton and Lyn Tett
Section one: Theoretical and policy frameworks
Chapter 2 Contexts for literacy work: the ‘new orders’ and the ‘new literacy studies’ Brian V. Street.
Chapter 3 Powerful literacies: the policy context Mary Hamilton, Catherine Macrae and Lyn Tett
Section two: Reflecting on power
Chapter 4 Signatures and the lettered world Jane Mace.
Chapter 5 The role of literacy in people’s lives: a case study of its use amongst the homeless in Australia Geraldine Castleton
Chapter 6 Dyslexia and adult literacy: does dyslexia disempower? Hugo Kerr
Chapter 7 Form-filling as a social practice: taking power into our own hands Marcia Fawns and Roz Ivaniè
Chapter 8 Literacy, literacies and ABET in South Africa: on the knife-edge, new cutting edge or thin end of the wedge? Catherine Kell
Chapter 9 Democracy as a way of life: literacy for citizenship Jim Crowther and Lyn Tett
Section three: Repositioning learners and teachers
Chapter 10 The politics of really useful literacy: six lessons from Bangladesh Ian Martin and Habibur Rahman
Chapter 11 Speaking as equals to professionals: people with learning disabilities talk back Catherine Jamieson
Chapter 12 Empowering literacy learners and teachers: the challenge of information and communications technology (ICT) Fiona Frank
Chapter 13 Using Scots literacy in family literacy work Alan FP Addison
Chapter 14 Challenges to sharing power in adult literacy programmes Mary Norton
Chapter 15 Multiple literacies in practice: bilingual workers in East London Sue Gardener and Ann Janssen