New Literacy 'Frames' and Their Potential to Promote Social Justice for Children

Diane Downer Anderson uses social frames, critical discourse analysis, and ethnographic-type methods to investigate the intersections of literacy/numeracy practices and social identities. In this talk she argues that commonly held explanations of the reading, writing, and math of poor and working class children as "deficient" are obstacles to social equality. Drawing on evidence from a home-to-school numeracy study among Headstart children, and persuasive writing by urban 3rd through 5th graders, Anderson showed how children drew on home and community experiences and discourses to enact their academic tasks in locally competent ways, oftentimes unnoted by their teachers. Curricula that focus on socialization in pre-school and a narrow range of testing proficiencies in upper elementary classrooms may obscure children's "brilliance." She further argued that examination of home and community resources and the harnessing of children's competencies in local discourses should be goals for classroom instruction such that their mathematical and literate identities are developed as well as their skills.