Transforming Knowledge Hierarchies and Educating for Freedom: Incorporating Diverse Texts in Elementary Literacy Curriculum
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In this thesis I examine the potential of the intersections of critical pedagogy, new literacy studies and examples of qualitative ethnographic research of non-print based texts to transform elementary school literacy programs, educate for freedom, and allow more diverse voices and ways of knowing to be incorporated into the curriculum. I ask (a) Can an expanded understanding of “text” transform the literacy curriculum to allow students to develop and share their voices, be heard and to also learn from multiple perspectives? And (b) Can an expanded understanding of “text” contribute to the incorporation of a diversity of activities and experiences into elementary school literacy programs? With my theoretical foundation in Critical Pedagogy, I argue that western ways of knowing and the autonomous model of literacy are placed in a hierarchy above different ways of knowing and the recognition and application of the ideological model of literacy and multiliteracies. Furthermore, I argue for expanding our understanding of text to help transform hierarchical constructions of knowledge. I review literature in qualitative ethnographic research that demonstrates the use of non-print based texts for diverse multicultural education and I develop a framework to organize these diverse texts. Bringing together key elements from each of the theories I then begin to work towards a curriculum framework, including identifying foundational principles and offering strategies for how to practice teaching with diverse texts. The benefits for students, especially elementary aged children, and teachers are highlighted, as well as the challenges and future directions. Keywords: critical pedagogy, multiliteracies, texts, voice, elementary literacy, curriculum design.