Reading the world and the word after school: African American urban adolescents' reading experiences and literacy practices in relationship to media texts
A growing number of African American urban adolescents are conceptualized as “disengaged” or “at-risk” readers. Fox many of these youth, the traditional reading engagements privileged in school do not provide sufficient opportunities to learn. Consequently, there is a growing need to investigate alternative contexts and relationships through which students can participate in meaningful intellectual work. This means moving beyond a focus on traditional print texts and cognitive skills and taking into account the varied ways adolescents make meaning and construct knowledge, particularly as they develop literate lives outside of schools. ^ Conducted over 15 months, this study explores the literacy practices of “at-risk” African American urban adolescents as they engaged media texts in an after school program. My methodology evolved from a culturally responsive, spiritually grounded, Black feminist pedagogy. I used qualitative approaches to understand literacies as aspects of social practices developed by individuals who constituted a community of readers. These practices were embedded within teaching/learning spaces and informed by a particular community pedagogy and ethos. ^ Through analysis of these students' social practices, I examined how participants both created a community of practice and established their own pedagogy within the multiple and fluid spaces of “after school.” I discuss the intersections that existed among students' literacy practices and the spirit, repositioning literacy as not only a sociocultural practice and political tool for social justice, but also as a spiritual endeavor by which students interpreted and complicated the ideas, conceptions, and understandings they drew from stories. I also illustrate how students used orality as a critical literacy practice and (co)constructed responsive, conversational counter stories to deeply consider and (re)imagine (re)presentations of social constructs as they were depicted within stories. ^ My study reconceptualizes “disengaged” or “at-risk” adolescent readers as adept cultural critics, critical thinkers, and collaborative inquirers of various texts. Three main conclusions from this research are: African American urban adolescents assembled contexts for engagement where diverse social practices were valued and pedagogy was culturally responsive; community ethos affected the nature of learning when engaging stories; and a broad range of texts and collaborative oral practices fostered deep engagements among these students. ^
Education, Secondary|Education, Reading|Education, Curriculum and Instruction
Jeanine M Staples,
"Reading the world and the word after school: African American urban adolescents' reading experiences and literacy practices in relationship to media texts"
(January 1, 2005).
Dissertations available from ProQuest.