Original Research

Teachers’ discourses of literacy as social practice in advantaged and disadvantaged early childhood contexts

Colwyn D. Martin, Hasina B. Ebrahim
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 6, No 2 | a454 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v6i2.454 | © 2016 Colwyn D. Martin, Hasina B. Ebrahim | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 May 2016 | Published: 29 November 2016

About the author(s)

Colwyn D. Martin, Department of Early Childhood Education, University of the Free State, South Africa
Hasina B. Ebrahim, Department of Early Childhood Education, University of South Africa, South Africa


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Abstract

This article examines two teachers’ discourses of literacy as social practice in advantaged and disadvantaged early childhood centres for three- to four-year-olds. The intention is to make sense of the dominant discourse of literacy, its constitutive nature and its effects on children, teaching and learning. Foucault’s theory of discourse is used to make salient the influence of interpretive frames of references on the understanding and practice of literacy. The data for the study was produced through a qualitative approach using in-depth semi-structured interviews. The findings show that teachers in both the advantaged and disadvantaged contexts are located in the dominant discourse of early literacy as a technical, autonomous skill. This discourse foregrounds children as adults-in-the-making (the becoming child) and a maturationist-environmentalist view of readiness for early literacy development. This narrow view of literacy discounts young children’s positioning as social actors, issues of diversity and contextually situated practice.

Keywords

literacy; early childhood; teachers; discourse; subjectivity

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