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Canadian Education Association

The Role of Culture in Literacy Learning

It is becoming increasingly recognized that the cultural environment in which children are raised is of central importance to their literacy development and their experiences at school. Many Pathways to Literacy: young children learning with siblings, grandparents, peers and communities (2004), edited by Eve Gregory, Susi Long, and Dinah Volk, explores the significant role that various literacy practices, parents, friends, and other members of the community play in learning.

The first chapter of this text focuses on the sociocultural approach of the studies. Literacy must be understood within the context of “the complex relationship between culture and cognition”; culture needs to be recognized as having a direct impact on literacy development. “Children learn as apprentices alongside a more experienced member of the culture”, and, while these forms of learning may not resemble those within the classroom, they are central to literacy learning.

The participation of children in their own learning is not, therefore, limited to formal literacy activities. It is an ongoing process that involves the active engagement of children within their homes and communities undertaking tasks that, at first glance, may appear unrelated to their education.

Dr. Eve Gregory is a keynote speaker at Cultivating Connections: Global Perspectives & Practices in Family Literacy, a national conference being hosted by Centre for Family Literacy from July 15 to July 17, 2010.

Dr. Gregory is currently Professor of Language and Culture in Education and Head of the Centre for Language, Culture and Learning at Goldsmiths, University of London, England.

Further information on the conference can be found
on the conference website:
Enquiries can be emailed to conference@famlit.ca



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