What you will study
Section 1: Problematising literacy for all
This section explores the global agenda for inclusion and literacy for all and within this context examines different ideas of a literate person and the social historical development of these ideas. You will consider the notions of ‘functional’ and ‘critical’, ‘the individual’ and ‘the social’ and how they are used specifically in relation to literacy and models of literacy, reflecting upon the implications for inclusive practice and educational practice generally. The section also examines the debates about reading, their social historical development and implications for inclusive practice, whilst introducing other emerging educational dilemmas – which are picked up later in the module – and their implications for literacy difficulties in learning and effective practice for all. At the end of this section is an activity week involving peer review and discussions on the module forums.
Section 2: Practice and Assessment: a technical or social construction?
This section analyses the theoretical perspectives which lie behind differing views of what it means to be literate and what these differences reveal about how the relationship between the individual and the social is understood. It demonstrates the dominance of systems of assessment that treat learners and their learning in isolation from their social worlds in which the possibilities for their learning are made available. You will explore literacy as an individual, social, and sociocultural attribute as it is understood and used within assessment. You will problematise these understandings and consider the implications for who is included and who excluded, and whose learning is recognised and valued. At the end of this section there will be an activity week which will enable you to engage in an assessment process that will form the basis for reflection and analysis in the first tutor-marked assignment.
Section 3: Problematising inclusive practice: technical or socially based literacy approaches?
This section examines contrasting approaches to learner engagement and literacy. In the first part you will examine dyslexia and our understanding of literacy as an individual difficulty, and the way in which policy and practice related to dyslexia emphasise a technocratic functional approach for both young and adult learners. In the second part you will explore the work of Paulo Freire, in which literacy is viewed as cultural practices. Freire prioritises the individual’s relationship in the social world in order to facilitate adult learners’ ability to take action to enhance their community and promote justice. You will consider implications for inclusive practice, exploring specific examples and relating these to your own developing reflections and actions. At the end of this section there is an opportunity to examine examples of practice as part of an activity week involving peer review and discussions on the module forums.
Section 4: Rethinking literacy difficulties
This section considers how, across a range of countries and jurisdictions, individual learners are categorised according to background features such as ethnicity, gender and low socio-economic status. You will explore how, through the process of assessment and data analysis, features of literacy achievement become associated with groups. You will consider the implications of this in relation to who is assumed to be ‘deficient’ or, ‘at risk’ and for whom there will be targeted funding and policy interventions. You will consider your assumptions and beliefs about literacy difficulties in professional settings familiar to you. Through a series of ‘cases’ you will examine what different understandings suggest about social justice and inclusive practice and their impact upon practices that enable individual agency, resistance and engagement. At the end of this section you will explore examples of practice, including your own, in light of the discussions which have taken place in Sections 3 & 4.
Section 5: Researching inclusive practice
This section considers how different researchers approach the challenge of exploring the complex issues raised in the earlier sections. In light of the cases explored in Section 4, you will consider how these complex variables come together in researching understandings of family and the creation of identity within family. You will go on to explore how researchers take a stance in relation to researching inclusive practice and literacy (i.e. relating ontology, epistemology and methodology), making decisions about methodologies and posing research questions that reflect their specific stance. The section will also illustrate how researchers, having themselves ‘rethought’ their ideas about literacy, can produce data about learners and their learning that will inform a new approach to literacy and participatory pedagogy; and how research itself, if imaginatively designed, can itself prompt rethinking of old assumptions. The activity week at the end of this section will require you to explore your own shifting positions to inclusive practice and its research.
Section 6: Investigating your own practice
The final section will lead you from considering others’ research to preparing a small-scale investigation of your own practice, or practice familiar to you, You will explore how you can conduct insider based research which seeks to investigate your own practice: both looking at developing your research proposal and exploring issues of ethics and reflexivity when researching complex social relationships of which you are part. You will reflect upon how you might translate your research into practice and also problematise your own insider based research. This section concludes by asking you to consider where you are now, reflecting on your developing understanding of literacy, social justice and inclusive practice and how your understanding has shifted through your study of this module.