By Donna Dunbar-Odom

ISBN-10: 0791469719

ISBN-13: 9780791469712

Examines why a few working-class scholars pursue greater literacy whereas others don't.

“For me, literacy is … like attempting to open a locked door with the incorrect key … I don’t constantly see the which means firstly and typically i need to have somebody … permit me in with their key. I are inclined to imagine that being in university is adequate, however it nonetheless isn’t going to assure better literacy for me. it really is anything i'm attempting to grab, yet i'm going approximately it slowly, just because i'm really not so yes of ways importantit is to me.” — Rachel

According to key literacy learn, working-class scholars are some distance much less more likely to pursue larger literacy than their middle-class opposite numbers, but there are numerous examples of these who've defied the chances. during this considerate examine why a few determinedly pursue greater literacy opposed to all expectancies and predictions, Donna Dunbar-Odom explores the complicated relationships humans have with literacy, paying specific consciousness to the connection among literacy and sophistication. She stocks the non-public and infrequently poignant literacy narratives of writers, teachers, and her personal scholars to bare greatly approximately what motivates hope for better literacy, in addition to what will get within the method. Bringing jointly those reflections with present literacy, composition, and sophistication theories, Dunbar-Odom offers a greater knowing of the way to faucet that hope in writing school rooms. eventually, the writer argues that lecturers have to concentration much less realization on how scholars may still learn and extra on why they may wish to.

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Extra info for Defying the Odds: Class and the Pursuit of Higher Literacy

Sample text

Rodriguez, although he has more frequently than not been met with resistance by the students in my classes, can at least offer a glimpse of education’s potential to separate them to some degree from their family and friends. However, even many teachers are blithely unaware of this conflict as they assume, much like Collins and Blot see Rose doing, that the appropriation of Standard American English and a move to the middle class can only be perceived as positive and desirable. Unlike Rose, however, Rodriguez describes himself as “[a]n enchantedly happy child” (4).

If a science teacher had not gone out of his way to check Rose’s placement, he would most likely have remained in vocational classes. His mother, like mine, probably would never have questioned the school’s authority. At an all-male Catholic high school, Rose attracted the notice and came under the important influence of Jack McFarland, his English teacher and mentor. Through McFarland, a truly extraordinary and exceptionally caring teacher, he discovered literature, film, and ideas, Boundaries and Memories 31 and he began to think of himself as an intellectual; also through McFarland, he found himself attending college where still more caring teachers intervened to keep him from floundering and flunking out and worked to make sure he received a real education, that he did not just go through the motions or slide through.

The need to understand our world via stories is hardwired into us, or, as Bruner states it, has its “roots in the human genome” or is a “given in the nature of language” (39). Narrative and culture are inextricably linked; without narrative, we have no culture. But narratives are crafted and told differently and serve different functions in different cultures. So what produces these differences? What factors color our understanding of what makes a story worthy of being told? In other words, what can motivate a working-class “nobody” to tell his or her story—indeed, what makes a “nobody” think that he or she has a story to tell in the first place?

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Defying the Odds: Class and the Pursuit of Higher Literacy by Donna Dunbar-Odom


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