Literacy and gender in childhood contexts: moving the focus

Alloway, Nola (2007) Literacy and gender in childhood contexts: moving the focus. In: Makin, Laurie, Diaz, CrissJones, and McLachlan, Claire, (eds.) Literacies in Childhood: changing views, challenging practice. Elsevier, Marrickville, NSW, Australia, pp. 257-271.

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In this chapter, I elaborate a number of key points related to literacy and gender in childhood contexts. First, I examine the impact of gender upon literacy learning, particularly in terms of its effect upon boys in the early years. I review populist biological frameworks that are commonly used to explain gender differences, indicating the limitations of such frameworks for producing constructive educational practice. Literacy assessment data show that, while gender is important in predicting literacy performance scores, other issues such as economic privilege and ethnicity are also important predictors of success. In covering this terrain, I argue that individualistic 'deficit' theories are not particularly helpful in addressing the difficulty that many boys have with literacy and suggest, instead, the value of an approach that deliberately considers how social constructions of gender affect boys' perceptions of literacy. It is important to broaden our understandings of 'literacy', not only to account for ways in which literacy is socially constructed, but also to account for the impact of technology upon literacy practices, and to recognise the changing contexts within which young children learn and practise literacy. Finally, in drawing the threads together, the Australian context is used as an exemplar, highlighting current government-sponsored, teacher-driven efforts to more firmly locate boys at the centre of literacy learning, a place that young boys themselves often appear reluctant to inhabit.

Item ID: 2986
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-0-7295-3783-4
Keywords: literacy; gender; boys literacy
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2009 23:55
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1301 Education Systems > 130105 Primary Education (excl Maori) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939999 Education and Training not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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