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In all the universe: placing the texts of culture and community in only one school Hasebe-Ludt, Erika Luise 1994

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IN ALL THE UNIVERSE:PLACING THE TEXTS OF CULTURE AND COMMUNITYI1 ONLY ONE SCHOOLbyERIKA LUISE HASEBE-LUDTB.A., Universität des Saarlandes, 1973M.A., Freie Universität Berlin, 1977B.Ed., University of British Columbia, 1990A THESIS SUBMITTED I1 PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFDOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHYinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIESCentre for the Study of Curriculum and InstructionDepartment of Language EducationWe accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAJuly 1995© Erika Luise Hasebe-Ludt, 1995In presenting this thesis in partialfulfilment of the requirements foran advanceddegree at the University of BritishColumbia, I agree that the Library shallmake itfreely available for reference and study. 1further agree that permissionfor extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarlypurposes may be grantedby the head of mydepartment or by his or herrepresentatives. It is understood thatcopying orpublication of this thesis for financialgain shall not be allowed withoutmy writtenpermission.(Signature)Department ofCa cucuiiUCToi/ UGa-rE icOtJThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate Odô6r06flciDE-6 (2/88)AbstractAt thisjin de siècle, when educators are pressed with finding curricular alternatives tothe sociocultural canon of literacy, this case study explored the intertextual nature ofdiscourse communities in a culturally diverse elementary school in Vancouver, Canada,over the course of two school years. Through hermeneutic inquiry and critical actionresearch, by means of video and audio recording, field notes, researcher narratives, andethnographic interviews, the study documented how children between the ages of six andnine from a variety of sociocultural and sociolinguistic backgrounds engaged with textswithin a literature reading program.The following interconnected questions undergirded the study: How did students andteachers work with different kinds of texts within a curriculum that is multicultural bymandate? Were these texts, in the form of print and other communicative occurrences,inclusive, relevant and meaningful with respect to the participants’ backgrounds? How didlanguage and culture influence this process, and was it possible for teachers to fostercommunity-building and responsible social attitudes and actions in a world which,despitethe mandate of multiculturalism, is increasingly fragmented by racism and nationalism?When teachers engaged in the complex and at times difficult processes of becomingdeeply connected with their student& lived experiences as well as their own personalandpedagogical praxis through meaningful multicultural language and texts, opportunities forcommunity-building and responsible social action were created through the curriculum.Indeed, it seemed vital in this process that the participants engaged with textsthatreflected the cultural diversity within this local setting but also issues of cultural pluralismand heterogeneity within the larger societal and global context -- in all the universe,in oneof the children’s words.11Through texts that celebrated the joys, the differences as well as the difficulties ofcommunal belonging within both local and universal intertextual frames, they came tolocate multiple communities in diversity. In this curricular turn, hermeneutic inquiryopened up spaces for textual dialogues between teachers, students and the multiplediscourse communities they created withlin a caring and coherent curriculum.111Table of ContentsTitle Page.Abstract iiTable of ContentsiiiList of TablesVAcknowledgmentsviEpigraphviiDedicationviiiChapter 1 Und so Welter...: In Lieu of an Introduction1Naming and Placing the Text: Thinking in Between Languageand Culture 2Inter/textualldisciplinary Reflection4The Language of Curricular Kehre12Chapter 2 What we Care About: Communitiesof Inquiry in Postmodern Times 15The Methodological, Pedagogical, and PhilosophicalFrameworks 28Action and Reflection as Pedagogical Praxis31The Cogency of Community education39Propositions on Literacy56Chapter 3 Living Ethnography: Cultures of Learning/Learning aboutCultures 65Out of Place: Reading Between Cultures and Continents68Into the City: Mapping Landscapes of Linguisticand Cultural Variables 75Into the Neighbourhood: Changing Community86Into the School: Mixed Blessings of Diversity andPlace 94Into the Classroom: It Rude to Interrupt107Chapter 4 Intercultural Connections of Literacy in Action:Entgrenzungen 122The ABCs of Intertextual Discourses: InterpretingCultural Literacy 125Constructing and Negotiating Knowledge: Passports toUnderstanding 137The Power of Our Stories: Literature as Texts for Readingthe World 143The Many Webs of Charlotte Revisited172Chapter 5 Re-tracing the Paths and Places of Communityin Languaging 176The Tensionality Within Textual Communities178Dfférance and Kehre: A Turn Toward Coherent Curriculum186Chapter 6 Con-fusion: The Difficult Pleasure of theText 193Reading Weather/Weathering Reading194Connection and Obligation: What Indeed is a Bridge?199Notes210References214Appendix 1 Letters of Permission and Interview Questions254ivList of TablesTABLE 1 Methods of Data Collection.116TABLE 2 Criteria for Selecting Multicultural Literature163TABLE 3 A Sampling of Multicultural Children’s Literature:In All The Universe.. 171VAcknowledgmentsThroughout the researching and writing of this dissertation, the relationswith manydiverse communities have sustained me in precious ways:I am deeply indebted to the community of scholars who came together toform mysupervisory committee: to my advisor and researchsupervisor, Dr. Ken Reeder, for hisexemplary supervision and guidance and for being the most encouragingand supportiveDokton’ater any candidate could wish for; to Dr. Marilyn Chapman,for her much-neededcompassionate advocacy and belief in the values of praxis-orientedresearch; to Dr. JerryCoombs, for his cogent advice on philosophical matters and hisglobal vision of socialjustice and responsible action; to Dr. Lee Gunderson, for bearingwith me from thebeginning of my pedagogical journey and for all the thoughtfuland challengingconversations and texts over the years; to Dr. WendySutton, for her caring advocacy ofwriting in a new key and her capacity for celebrating the richness ofrelating throughliterature.I have been fortunate indeed to have Dr. Patricia Duff and Dr. CarlLeggocollaborating with me in creating a caring community of intradisciplinaryscholarship.For deepening my understanding of what goes on in language andfor bringing forthmy own language in multidimensional and multilingual ways I owe muchto Dr. Ted Aoki.I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all the staff, students, parents,and neighbours atFranklin Community School, especially to my team teaching partnersAnne Brodie, LoriDavies, Brenda Dyer, Tina Gill, and Brigitte Woodham, and to SheriDuckles and RonRumak, as well as Kimberley Toye and Pierre Welbedagt, for their continuedcollegialfriendship, enthusiastic support and collaboration. Ithank my action research colleagueswithin the Vancouver School Board, Andrea Hawkes, A. I. Miller, JudyAnn Nishi, andDr. Sharon Reid, for their support, trust and confidencein me when exploring our jointpedagogical practice.My warmest gratitude and appreciation go to Joanne andPatrick Harrington, AlannahIreland, and Gaelan de Wolf for helping me notonly cope with but feel enriched by livingamidst the vibrant tensionalities of being a teacher, awriter, and a friend.I am most thankful to my family across continents: to Ken, Charlotte,Luise, Gerhard,and Winfried, without whose love and patient support I would not havejourneyed this far.I gratefully acknowledge the support of this study by The Social SciencesandHumanities Research Council of Canada in the form of a Doctoral Fellowship.Thank you, Jeffrey, for the title.Thank you, Carl, Leigh, Renee, and Ron, for the poems.vi1earthonly 12 polesonly 23 climate zonesonly 34 oceansonly 45 islandsand many more6 desertsand many more7 continentsonly 77 seasand many more6 mountainsand many more5 lakesand many more4 windsonly 43 riversand many more2 hemispheresand 2 more1 earthonly 1Mother Earth Counting BookviiDedicationLes grandespersonnes ne comprennentjamais rien toutes seules, et c’estfatigant,pour les enfants, de toujours et toujours leur donner des explicatEons.Toutes les grandespersonnes oft dzbord été des enfants.Antoine de Saint-ExupéryTo Charlotte(only one)viiiChapter 1Und so Weiter...: In Lieu of an IntroductionTo try to move the force in language from the noun/verb centre. To de/centralizethe force inside the utterancefrom the noun/verb, say, to the preposition. Evenfor a moment. To break the vertical hold To empower the preposition to signifyand utter motion, the motion of the utterance, and thereby NameIt’s the way people use language makes me furious. The ones who reject thecolloquial & common culture. The ones who laud on the other hand the commonand denigrate the intellect, asifwe are not thinking. The ones who play betweenthe two, as fculture is a strong wind blowing in the path of honour. It takes usnowhere & makes me furious, that’c all.Erin Mouré, FuriousSous la demande generate de reldchement et d’apaisement, nous entendonsmarmonner le désir de recommencer la terreut d’accompiir le fantasmed’étreindre la réalité. La réponse est: guerre au tou4 témoignons dePimprésentable, activons les différends, sauvons l’honneur du nom.Jean-Francois Lyotard, Le posimoderne expliqué aux etifantsMan kann Sprache nur verstehen, wenn man mehr ais Sprache versteht.Hans HOrmann, Meinen mid Verstehen1Naming and Placing the Text: Thinking in Between Language and CultureIn a collection of writings by Jean-Francois Lyotard, the French philosopherstatesthat any writer is his or her first reader and that no-one indeed can write without rereading (Benjamin, 1989). In this sense, the following text does not present an entirelynew opus but rather proposes a re-reading of texts, my own and others’, and of discoursesand dialogues that have shaped my reading and research during the past few years.Similarly, it also resists a conventional introduction to its readers and instead can beperceived as und so welter,1as a continuation of re-constituted meanings and insights:The work ... can be described as centering around the possibility of a philosophythat takes place in and after -- though not simply in and after -- the refusal of boththe complacency of tradition and the complacency in advance of meta-narratives(or grand-narratives). ... Part of the difficulty here is thinking the ‘in’ and the ‘after’as not designating simple temporal locations within an unfolding sequentialcontinuity. Rather they need to be understood, at least initially, as moods or to useLyotard’s own expression as states of mind. These simple observations are anadequate preparation for prereading. They are because they are not. The deferralbefore -- in front of-- is pointless. There is no way in but the way itself(Benjamin, 1989,p.xvi)I therefore invite my readers to take up Lyotard’s challenge of thinking the ‘in’ andthe ‘after, ‘to enter this text without a ‘before’ -- and to take seriously that “our role asthinkers is to deepen our understanding of what goes on in language, to critique the vapididea of information, to reveal an irremediable opacity at the very core of language”(Lyotard, 1986/7,p.218). In this sense, my own text is situated within the questioning ofestablished meta-narratives and a critique of language, which, in Roland Barthes’understanding, create a new perspective on reflection:Literature and language are in the process of recognizing each other. The factorsof this rapprochement are various and complex. ... Hence, there exists today a newperspective on reflection -- common, I insist, to literature and to linguistics, to thecreator and the critic, whose tasks, hitherto absolutely self-contained, arebeginning to communicate, perhaps even to converge, at least on the level of thewriter, whose action can increasingly be defined as critique of language.(Barthes, 1986,p.11)2Together, reflection and critique with a view toward language, literature, and culturecreate an opening of the spaces in between for re-thinking, re-writing, and re-readingresearch. Placing this text in a context that transcends strict temporal and spatiallimitations yet at the same time claims a geographically distinctive locus may seemcontradictory per Se. However, this apparent dichotomy indeed characterizes many sociocultural and educational phenomena in these postmodern times where contradictorynotions and values about society, culture, and curriculum struggle to co-exist and, ideally,flourish without negating each other entirely within the parameters of place and time. Inthis way, for instance, it is possible to enter a dialogue about the many-facetedrelationships between language and culture, about diversity with/out unity, aboutindividual rights versus communal needs, about local realities in the face of global truths.We must honestly and honourably face these issues by not giving in to the generaldemand for reldchement et apaisement (too often synonymous with the kind of backlashmentality that seems to dominate much of the media and popular educational discourse)and by actively questioning false assumptions and attitudes about language that centre onwholeness and representation. Lyotard (1986) challenges us: activons les dffe’rends;Mouré (1988) demands that we break the vertical hold, that we name and honourlanguage and its multivocity in many different forms and meanings. Perhaps, eventually,we thus will be able to see that we can only understand language when we understandmore than language (HOrmann, 1976).From this context and perspective, the shaping, framing and naming of thisdissertation reflect the process of hermeneutic inquiry and thinking about ways oflanguaging and culture in which I have placed myselfthroughout my teaching practice andgraduate studies.I have come to believe in the sanity of living amidst contradictions, in therichness of being immersed in seemingly contrasting frames. Action andreflection, local truths and global significance, individualism and community:opposites that, like the proverbial saying, attract and complement each other,3blend together in idealistic visions of unity -- or notions that are statically definedby their irreconcilable differences between part and whole?Along this continuum of polarization in established educational framesemerge the constructs of self in the face of institutionalism, of many diversehome cultures clashing with only one school culture, of mosaic contrasting withmelting pot, of multicultural versus anti-racist curricula, of East inconflict withWest, of Pacific vis-à-vis Atlantic, of quantitative research projects asopposedto qualitative case studies.The list of such often-cited dichotomies seems indeedendless. Someeducators, in order to avoid the contentious overtones of conflictingmodels,ideologies, and methodologies, would rather choose the politically correct,yetoften vaguely defined and superficially applied ‘paradigm shift’phrase todescribe the current pedagogical landscape -- without, however, addressingessential questions about the deconstruction of assumed realitiesand thenotion of being in this postmodern pedagogical world.(Researcher Narrative, 01/05/94)Inter/textual/disciplinary ReflectionImmersed in this context, my questions and reflections took on anintertextual naturewith respect to this present text and its relations with prior and future texts, allof themsocially constructed within a conceptual framework thatrecognizes intertextuality as asignificant force in literary, linguistic, educational, and philosophicaldiscourses (Bloome& Egan-Robertson, 1993; Derrida, 1967; Plett,1991; Schemer, 1984). As a teacher andas a learner, by being part of a world inwhich sociolinguistic and sociocultural differencesinteract with other complex factors to affect both children’s and adults’ educationalprogress, I have experienced these relationships between language,culture, and educationas truly rhizomean in nature:Drawn into deeper consideration, I found myself in the midst of a multiplicityofmeanings, interwoven and in constant motion. Meanings relate asrhizomes grow,intertwine, new shoots springing forth from the humus formed by theold. Eachshoot its own yet inseparably intertwine with others[jç].(Richter, 1993,p.58)Out of this continuous search for meanings, amidst this attimes overwhelmingcomplexity of influences at work, I have come to contemplate andre-think the followingconnections and questions in an interdisciplinary and intertextualfashion:4How do students and teachers with vastly divergent sociocultural and sociolinguisticbackgrounds come to live/life within a pedagogical community basedon a curriculum thatis multicultural by mandate? How do language and culture influence thiscommunity-building process? The provincial curriculum reform initiative in BritishColumbia, knownas the Year 2000, was mandated to “enable learners toreach their potential” (BritishColumbia Ministry of Education, 1989,p.3) and states that “Curriculum and programswill respond to the growing cultural diversity of learners.Cultural understanding andrespect among students will be promoted. All studentswill understand the values of theircultural heritage and be prepared to contribute to Canadiansociety” (p. 42). What does itmean for children from diverse backgrounds to becomeliterate in today’s ‘cultural mosaic’of a society? This seems particularly poignant in a provinceand country that declarethemselves committed through legislation to multiculturalism as aprogressive political andideological force (Moodley, 1992; British ColumbiaMinistry of Social Services, 1992)How do children come to understand to know their place inthis cultural multiplicity andhow do they relate to their heritage?The guiding principles expressed in The Year 2000 curriculumreform initiatives, inturn, are based on the findings of the Sullivan RoyalCommission, entitled A legacyforlearners (British Columbia Royal Commission on Education,1989). Both documentsundergird this thesis throughout and will be referred to insubsequent chapters in furtherdetail, for instance in chapters three and four, with regard toreading instruction andcommunity building. The Year 2000 document, and especiallyits subsequent PrimaryProgram Foundation Document (British Columbia Ministry ofEducation,1990)2stronglyexpress educational beliefs and positions that are basedon current understandings andfindings about children’s development. These are well documentedwith both researchand field-based resources and place children’s educationalprogress in a comprehensiveframework of socio-psychological, socio-cognitive, aestheticand physical variables. Inparticular, the section entitled Philosophy of the PrimaryProgram recognizes5that children are individuals and every child is unique. The Programaccommodates the broad range of childrens needs, their learning rates and styles,and their knowledge, experiences and interests to facilitate continuous learning. Itachieves this through an integrated curriculum incorporating a variety ofinstructional models, strategies and resources.The Program honours the development of the whole child. It reflects anunderstanding that children learn through active involvement and play and thatchildren represent their knowledge in a variety of ways. It recognizes the socialnature of learning and the essential role of language in mediating thought,communication and learning. (p. 15)In connection with this focus on language and being responsive to individual needs,the language arts curriculum is recommended to be literature-based (British ColumbiaMinistry of Education, 1991), a term that is not without controversial overtones and haslately been critically examined with respect to the authenticity of materials used (Freeman& Goodman, 1993). How exactly do students and teachers engage with literature, withdifferent kinds of texts within the curriculum, and are these texts, in the form of print orother communicative occurrences, inclusive, relevant and meaningful to them with respectto their socio-cultural backgrounds? In its section on Multicultural and Race RelationsEducation, the Primary Program Foundation Document (1990b) states:In acknowledging individual differences among children, the Primary Programemphasizes that all children enrich the culture of the classroom through thediversity of their many origins, beliefs, values and first languages. The PrimaryProgram affirms the cultural pluralism that is the essence of our society.A recent aim, in British Columbia as in other parts of the world, is to developanti-racist policies to address prejudice and discrimination built into the educationsystem and to focus on changes in attitudes and practices. (p. 362)How then, for instance, do children relate through language to being part of aconflict-ridden world that is in the midst of redefining the very nature and scope ofliteracy? Finally, how is it possible for students -- and in particular the children in myclassroom and school -- to engage in building community and for teachers to fosterresponsible social action in a world which despite -- or perhaps because of-6multiculturalism “shows every sign of being increasingly torn by struggles rooted in racismand nationalism” (Willinsky, 1994,P.2)?Much writing on issues connected with these questions, in various pedagogicalcontexts and places, has come forth during recent years. My own understanding of thetheory and practice of teaching has certainly profited from the discourses these texts haveengendered -- texts that speak to the multiple challenges of curriculum and languageteaching in our postmodern multicultural communities, such as Aoki (1993a, 1993b),Caputo (1993), Corlett (1989), Gunderson (in press-a, in press-b), Jardine (1994), and theMiami Theory Collective (1991), to name only a few recent thought-provoking readings.Nevertheless, more than anything else, it is the ongoing reading of and listening to mystudents’ languaging embedded and framed in this contemporary pedagogical landscapethat has given me the motivation and the curiosity to pose questions and to paint anintertextual and multi-layered picture of language and culture at work, in action.This dissertation, therefore, does not present a finished product or a report on asequential, linear plan of research that one might expect to lead to definitive answers orconclusions. Instead, it constitutes a re-posing of questions about practice and a posing ofyet more new ones -- new shoots of multiple meanings embedded in layers of re-visitedintertext -- informing each other much in the way that. The paint on this portrait of onespecial community of inquiry is still wet, new colours are being created, new shades ofunderstanding are emerging as I write and re-read Und so weiterThis rhizomean nature of de-centred, constantly emerging meanings relates toKristeva’s (1967, 1974) notion of intertextualité which in turn is based on Bakhtine’s[jc](1978) literary theory and confirms that “any text is constructed as a mosaic of quotations;any text is the absorption and transformation of another. The notion of intertextualityreplaces that of intersubjectivity, and poetic language is read as at least double” (Kristeva,1980,p.66). As part of this intertextuality, writings and references that have beeninfluential in shaping my thinking and questioning are interwoven between the layers of the7paligraphic text and transposed into thetextual systems of narrative journal entries,documentations and samples from the classroomobservations.3At the same time that this text refuses a one-dimensionalcentredness with respect toexploring issues about language, literature, andculture, it demands a focusing on therespective understanding of several crucial termsand themes that undergird thisexploration. I begin this process here and will continue with it ina recurring fashion as itapplies contextually throughout the followingchapters.inter-text. Using and repeating my own and others’earlier texts. Pulling the oldpoems thru the new, making the old lines a thread through theeyes of the words Iam sewing. Sound & sense. The eeriness. (Mouré, 1988,p.85)Interdisciplinary studies, of whichwe hear so much, do not merely confrontalready constituted disciplines (none of which, as a matter of fact, consentstoleave off). In order to do interdisciplinary work, itis not enough to take a“subject” (a theme) and to arrange two or three sciences around it.Interdisciplinary study consists in creating a new object, which belongs to noone. The Text is, I believe, one such object. (Barthes, 1986,p.72)These thoughts seem highly appropriate and eerily poignant almosta decade afterthey were written, continents apart, in Europe and North America, in lightof the evermore urgent need for creating new understandings about language, culture,and theirsurrounding contexts, at the same time thatwe must come to terms with the legacies ofour own and other’s ‘old texts’. Interdisciplinary study, in this sense, presentsa challengingnotion for me on a personal and professional level when thinkingabout old and new texts.In a paper I wrote on Reflections on teaching ESL in the context of Canadianmulticultural education (Hasebe-Ludt, 1991)at the very beginning of my graduate studiesin curriculum and language educationat a North American university, I recalled myprevious experiences with interdisciplinary studies in North American language,literature,and culture at a European university. I found it ironic and dishearteningthat my differentcultural and educational background hardly seemed to fit the mode of the narrowly definedfield of study I encountered when I first arrived in Canada to continue my previous studies8with a research scholarship in Canadian English. I commented on feeling disconnectedand outside the mainstream of the academic canon whenever I tried to explain my programof interdisciplinary graduate studies at the Freie Universitat Berlin which focused oncritical examination of linguistic, sociocultural, and historical factors related to literaryproduction. There was hardly anybody here at any academic institution that could relateto such a course of studies or tell me which program I would fit in. I also wrote about theimpact of place, of the experience of moving to Vancouver, British Columbia, from theformer West Berlin in the late 70s:When I was able to obtain a scholarship to the University of British Columbia tostudy sociolinguistics in the context of Canadian English for one year, I felt bothexhilarated and skeptical, wondering whether I would be able to adjust to acultural environment I had not much in common with through my upbringing. Iwanted to get a better understanding of how to define Canada’s linguistic andcultural diversity in terms of a ‘multicultural mosaic’.No letters, friendly visits or university studies could have prepared me forthe reality of actually living in this Canadian urban environment.4I had to seewith my own eyes the reality of the not always harmonious coexistence ofdifferent races, make my own judgments about racial prejudice in the media,among people I met at the university and in other places. Above all, I had tofeel for myself the isolation and homesickness of the first few months of living ina foreign country and speaking in a language that was not my mother tongue.Although I was able to stay in close contact with friends and family backhome, I began to witness and understand the implications of this “culture shock”for immigrants from places to which no lines of communication could bemaintained -- which often happens to refugees from war-torn countries.(Researcher Narrative, 1O/1O/91)‘Old lines and new ones’ -- my own and others’ -- mark my journalizing and journeyinginto culture, my own and others’. They document the disruptive force, ‘the strong wind’that culture can turn into, as Mouré feels, blowing in the path of human lives.I suspect my interest in approaching questions of pedagogy as questions of culturearises inevitably from the long after-effects of the culture shock I experienced as ayoung person coming to Canada in the early sixties. ... Feeling strange or alien isthe first prerequisite to a life of interpretation, as Wilhelm Dilthey once suggested,so after many years of suffering through the typical immigrant agonistics of tryingto fit into the patterns and codes of dominant culture, years of self-abnegation andreclusiveness, eventually I began to realize that a life of difference, or a differentlife, is what makes possible a refraction of normalcy into ‘strangeness’, and that9such work may be precisely what is necessary to the enormous contemporary taskof mediating differences across cultures, that is to the hermeneutic task of makingthe world less fearful, more ecumenical. (Smith, 1994a, pp.iiiii)6During the same time, in a journal reflection on a research article (Wallace &Goodman, 1989) during one of the courses in my own teacher training in multicultural andlanguage education, I also wrote:The authors “view the knowledge and use of more than one language as aremarkable resource” and equate multicultural education in this sense with“good education” as it increases our understanding not only oflanguages butalso of ourselves and others as language learners and membersof multiculturalcommunities. This, to me, brings back memories of my schooling in a Europeansetting where I was always told that “languages are good for the brain!”Although it seems to me only natural and logical to regardmultilingual/multicultural education for ourselves and for our children asthoroughly positive and enriching, until very recently the overall trend in literacyeducation has achieved the opposite: Educating children towards mastering thelinguistic ‘standard’ of a White, English speaking, middle class majority hasresulted in more or less open discrimination of language variables and speakersthat do not fit into that category. (Researcher Narrative, O3I29/9O)With this thesis, I am re-connecting, at last, going back to whatfeels like acomfortable, sensible, and enriching way of academic research through interpretiveinquiry. At the same time I am attempting to find new ways and methods of connectingthrough intertextual and interdisciplinary work with a new world order, a new way “inwhich we come to think about the world” (Willinsky, 1994,p.15). The world, in thisframe of an interpretive system of textual hermeneutics, can be seen as a text itself(Rogers, 1994), a text in which philosophical, educational, literary, and socio-linguistic aswell as eco-linguistic concepts come together to re-interpret “what is thinking”, fourdecades after Heidegger’s (1954) attempt to interpret this fundamental human facilitythatgives us the capacity for survival and, ultimately, improvement of the conditions for livingon this planet.I will give my world peace. I think we should stop wars.(Roddie. age 7, My Wish List for the World12/07/94)810Only quite recently, the mode of interpretive critical inquiry has come to the attentionof a larger circle of scholars here in North America as part of a shift toward a postmodernhermeneutic perspective (Smith, 1 994c); yet, in light of the increasing complexity ofpostcolonial developments in all areas of academic and other educational endeavors, thereis an urgent need to explore this concept much further and more fully. Within the‘hermeneutic circle’, it seems fitting that the three inter-connected themesare “the inherentcreativity of interpretation, the pivotal role of language in human understanding, and theinterplay of part and whole in the process of interpretation” (Smith,1994c,p.104). Theseare indeed the themes that undergird my own thinking in the context oflanguage, culture,and community in my students’ classroom. The interplay ofpart and whole: This,onceagain, re-connects me with the question of where in this world we situate ourselves, thequestion of our engagement with place:The question of “place” is curiously cogent to our present political, social, andenvironmental condition. Economically we’re in misery, politically wearehopelessly stagnant, economically we’re a disgrace, and socially we are watchingthe emergence of a multi-racial multi-ethnic population that will radically shape thefuture direction of the culture of our country. We are also seeing the reemergenceof a crude racism and chauvinism that may destroy us all.(Snyder, 1993,pp.261-262)These words, spoken in reference to the Californian landscape and watershed, aregion of the United States strikingly close and similar in many ways to the Canadian WestCoast where my own life and work are taking place atpresent, only ring too true for otherparts of this continent and the world. Indeed,the author continues to warn us: “Althoughframed in terms of California, the same points may be made for the whole country”(Snyder, 1993, p. 261).In much the same way that Snyder sees the possibility of one localparadigmbecoming a building block for continent-wide governance and therefore forhaving abroader relevance, the following case study of a local educational setting must beseen as11an effort to contribute to a better, more informed understanding of a system in change. Italso is a documentation of “our need for community and the ways we struggle to find it”(Walker, 1993,P.xiii) and the urgency for improving the quality of the lives of peoplewithin their communities.This book is about black and white elephants, some of the good elephants didn’tfight.(Jimmy, age 5, Reading Response to Tusk. Tusk by David McKee; 11/15/94)I like the part when the Elephant use there tunks as guns.this is about a war.and peace.(Naomi, age 7, Reading Response to Tusk Tusk; 11/24/94)I would try to help the Animals from being endangered and trying to help otherpeople from not polluting. and maybe helping other from getting in a fight. Iwould help plant trees and be peaceful. I will Help countries work together.(Bethany, age 7, My Wish Listfor the World, 12/07/94)The Language of Curricular KehreLes hommes, dit le petit prince, us s’enfournent dans les rapides, mais us ne saventplus ce qu’ils cherchent. Alors ils s’agitent et tournent en ronde(De Saint-Exupéry, 1943,p.78)In recent years, increasingly, curriculum scholars have opened themselves to therealm of language, linguistics, discourse and narratives to understand their ownfield. Within this curricular turn [emphasis added], language is understood not somuch as a disembodied tool of communication caught up in an instrumental viewof language, but more so language understood in an embodied way -- a way thatallows us to say, “we are the language we speak” or “language is the house ofbeing.” (Aoki, 1993a,p.88)I re-examined Heidegger and his thoughts on language; his notion of Kehre (astrangely formal and solemn word) being a fascinating and powerful one to me:not only does it mean a turn or turning point, it also implies, especially in itsverbal mode, kehren, a sweeping, cleansing motion (neue Besen kehren gut:new brooms sweep clean; das Oberste zuunterst kehren: to turn things upsidedown); at the same time, Kehre and kehren imply the notion of care and caring(sich urn etwas kehren: to care about something), of turning inward, insideoneself, reflecting. I can somehow identify with this semantic complexity more12than ever before -- it seems to fittingly describe some of the processes, pastand present, in my own research, thinking, and reflecting. Actionresearch/inquiry research certainly has all those elements of Kehre. (ResearcherNarrative, 07/10/94)The notion ofKehre/turn frames this dissertation in multi-faceted ways. On one level,it implies a turn in the sense of turning around and looking back (um-kehren), a searchingfor roots, for a hold so as not to get swept away by the fast rapids of change, bothprogressive and regressive, in the currents of postmodern pedagogy. It is easy to lose ourway, as de Saint-Exupéry (1943) warned us haifa decade ago, and to forget what we arelooking for in human and global relations. Turning back, though, we need to re-think andre-flect why we have come on this dangerous journey in the beginning. Re-readingHeidegger’s thoughts on the term ofKehre, it emerges as intricately linked to thinking:“Diese Kehre bedeutet: Die Analytik des Daseins ‘entdeckt’ zuerst die Zeit, kehrt sich dannaber zuruck aufdas eigene Denken ...“ (Safranski, 1994,p.205). We eventuallyovercome our fixation on time and turn back to our own thinking when trying to analyzeour being.On another level, yet semantically and etymologically linked, there is Kehren in thesense of a cleansing and caring action. This dissertation marks my own Kehre in theunderstanding of pedagogy and culture. Through both synchronic and diachronic analysisand presentation of thoughts and texts on this theme, I have created the scaffolding, theGestell in Heidegger’s language, that frames the work ahead. This has been attemptedthrough the three-fold intertextuality of a personal and pedagogical narrative that hasevolved from these texts, in the form of reflections on readings in language, pedagogy, andculture, observations and interpretations of my classroom practice, and thirdly, thepresence of the voices of others, such as those of the children, their parents and teachers.Finally, this work moves toward a Kehre in the representation of the researchedmaterial. As a transitional text and a creative action in writing, it aims at a turn, abreaking away from the straightforward path in the display of ethnographic discourse and13documentation of data. Instead of presentinga mere window on reality through a separatedisplay of the entire body of the collectedmaterials, this thesis weaves a mosaic of texts byrefracting the realities of lived experiences ina different optical and scholarly densitythrough the lens of critical hermeneutics. By constructing an architecture ofintertexts thatrecursively act upon each other and in the world, it transcends methodological andepistemological borders and creates a new embodied language of research and curriculum.Rather than separating the body of empirical realities from their textual interpretative representation, it proposes an epistemological development toward a composite, de-centredview of data as a constitutive part of this propositional intertext and new paradigm.It has occurred to me that putting these interconnected and multi-layered themes intoa conventional chapter format might be a difficult and perhaps unrewarding task.However, as long my readers bear with me and bear in mind the intertextual nature andinterwovenness of my topics -- which can be likened to the complex web of living amongstchildren -- they might, so I hope, feel inclined to read between the chapters, lines, andwords.“Right now she wants to put her ear to the ground, listen to the squirrel’s heart beat,as George Eliot put it, and prowl among the webs of little things.” (Belenky, McVicker,Clinchy, Goldberger, & Tarule, 1986,p.199)Naomi: Me, Felicia, Tawnya, Frankie, Lee.We are playing Squirrel Family. We Will have fun.Teacher: Who will be the mother squirrel?Naomi: Me(Journal, 10/25/94)Right now I want to begin elaborating this intertextual frame by introducing the‘reading relations’ (Sharratt, 1992) with whom I have become familiar and by starting toconnect some of the theoretical models of thinking, learning, and research with thechildren, the little ones who have spun their webs around me.14Chapter 2What we Care About: Communities of Inquiry in PostmodernTimesThe status of theory could not be anything but a challengeto the real. Or rather,their relation is one ofa respective challenge. For thereal itseifis without doubtonly a challenge to theoiy. It is not an objective state ofthings, but a radicallimit ofanalysis beyond which nothing anylonger obeys the real or about whichnothing more can be said But theory is also made to disobey thereal ofwhich itis the inaccessible limit. The impossibility ofreconcilingtheory with the real is aconsequence of the impossibility ofreconciling the subject with its ownends.Jean Baudrillard, The ecstasy of communicationEt c ‘est bEen cela l’inter-texte: l’impossibilité de vivre hors dutexte iiy’ini -- que cetexte sUit Proust, ou lejournal quotidien, ou l’écran télévisuel:le iivre fait Ic seiis,le sensfait la vie.Roland Barthes, Le plaisir dii texteWhereas in the past the philosophicalframe ofmind had alwaysbeen linked tothe attainment ofa single viewpoint upon lfe and its eventsin general Nietzschesuggests in Human, all too Human a dfferentpath tothe enrichment ofknowledge: rather than attempting to make themselves unform,philosophersshould listen “to the soft voice ofdfferent hfe-siluations.”This insistence uponthe value ofplurality is one ofNietzsche’s enduringcommitments. Accordingly,the philosophers of the future will shun any pretension touniversality. ... As such,this is a paradoxical teaching.Paul Patton, Nietzsche and the body of the philosopher15Within the last few decades of educational theory and practice, we have experiencedprofound changes with respect to the understanding of key concepts in the philosophy ofeducation. Immersed in the postcolonial and postmodern debates aboutthe Eurocentrichegemony of values, texts, as well as philosophical and curricular paradigms,we areforced to reflect on the notions and concepts of the canon of textualitythatpostmodernism has challenged and deconstructed, in particular withreference to cultureand “the currents that flow between its multiple terminals”(Adair, 1992,p.25).In this context of the current questioning and deconstructingof the ‘great narratives’of the social, cultural, political, and educational status quo,this inquiry has led to furtherprobing into the definitions of knowledge in a society thatseems to be so fond ofcontrasting information and ‘savoir faire’ -- “thehard facts” -- with the ambiguity of ourexperiences of dwelling among others on this earth. This tensionalityis further expressedbetween what Lyotard names the inhuman and thehuman in his volume on Reflections ontime (1991). Through a unique and startlingly powerful as well as provocative bodyofliterature, this ‘postmodern habit of thought’ (Klinkowitz,1988) reaches into manypedagogical fields.Within the area of language education, for instance, a fundamentalshift has occurredthrough this new mode of thinking; perhaps this wasmade possible because languageitself in its various forms, is being re-affirmed as a vital drivingforce and change agentamongst postcolonial, post-structural and postmodern thinkers. Thetitles of some ofthese seminal discourses bear witness to this: Roland Barthes’Le bruissement de la langue[The rustle of language] (1984/1986) and Leplaisir du texte[The pleasure of the text](1973/1975), Derrida’s (1967/1978) L’écriture et la dffërence[Writing and difference],Lyotard: Writing the event (Bennington, 1988), The ecstasy ofcommunication(Baudrillard, 1988), and Jardine’s (1988) Speaking with a bonelesstongue.16Postmodernism is about language. About how it controls, howit determinesmeaning, and how we try to exert through language. About how languagerestricts, closes down, insists that it stands for some thing. Postmodernismis abouthow ‘we’ are defined within that language, and within specific historical, social,cultural matrices. It’s about race, class, gender, erotic identityand practice,nationality, age, ethnicity. It’s about power and powerlessness, aboutempowerment, and about all the stages in between and beyondand unthought of.(Marshall, 1992,p.4)In this chapter I therefore want to dwell on the languaging andthe conceptualfoundations this dissertation builds on. These include a hermeneuticapproach topedagogical inquiry, together with a critical interpretiveapproach to ethnographicresearch. From this perspective, aspects of postcolonialand post-structural literarycriticism, as well as phenomenological and postmodern philosophicalpropositions onlanguage, literature, and community will be explored.With/in this ethnographicexploration of ‘reading the word and reading the world’ (Freire & Macedo,1987), Ipresent a longitudinal case study, conducted over thecourse of approximately two yearsof becoming a teacher researcher in a multi-age, multi-ethnicprimary open area classroomin a community school in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Inthis context of actionresearch, an exploration of holistic approaches to textand reading undergirds thedissertation.It seems that the amount of controversy generated by the discussionsabout ‘literature-based’ programs in connection with whole languageapproaches has only been surpassedby the number of books, articles, presentations,and discussions generated and recorded onthis subject. I now will give a brief overview of the importantliterature, salientcharacteristics, and recent developments in whole language.Although the whole languagemovement is certainly not a new one and is firmly rootedin much earlier pedagogicalconcepts, the discussion around its application incontemporary school systems hasdominated professional academic and pedagogicalcircles during the last decade inparticular. Gunderson (1989), for instance, states that17thousands of teachers across North America have adopted and adapted somethingcalled whole language as a philosophical base ... to support the particular form ofliteracy environment ... they have chosen to create in their classrooms. No otherapproach to teaching has produced such dedicated disciples and advocates.(p.3)Lehr (1990), in an overview of theory and research on whole language asapplied tothe classroom context, characterizes these “disciples” as follows:Teachers who are risktakers, who respect the child as an active learner capableofcritical thought, thought worth hearing, who set up a challenging environmentwithsolid content at its core where children can query and learnfrom each other, arewhole language teachers in whole language classrooms.(p.13)Gunderson (in press-b) questions whether one can indeed consider wholelanguage aphilosophically-based concept within the western philosophicaltradition since “it does notseek to formulate meta-narratives” (p. 11). Rather, whole languagehas evolved as a textin the postmodern sense of text in that it attempts to communicate themultiplicity andintertextuality ofvoices within complex discourse communities. In thissense it can beviewed as a “theory of voice that operates on the premise that allstudents must be heard”(Harste, 1989,p.245; as quoted in Gunderson, in press-b, p. 10). Followingfrom thistheoretical conceptualization, Gunderson suggests thatA propositional intertext may contain philosophical, educational,sociological,perceptual, and literary propositions generated by an individual teacherin responseto the multiple sources that inform her. In this respect a propositionalintertext isan individual view of teaching and learning, one that varies from teacher toteacher, from school to school, from region to region. In this sense it doesnotrepresent universals, it represents local belief the interpretive voice of the teacher.This is an advantage in that intertexts evolve over time as new propositionsareadded or existing ones are altered or eliminated. Individualteachers develop theirliteracy programs on the basis of a propositional intertext that is complex,one thatevolves.(p.13)In contrast to these beliefs stand the models and methods traditionally usedinclassrooms in North America and some other post-industrialized countries withhighlydeveloped school systems. These typically rely heavily on basal readers thatfocus on18skills in isolation, without context, and sight-word vocabulary that may not be culturally orindividually meaningful to the students. They are aptly summarized by Mickelson (1987):Traditionally in North America, reading and language have been taught as separate“subjects” and even these have been broken down into constituent parts such asoral reading, silent reading, phonics, comprehension, vocabulary, skills or, in thecase of language, into spelling, grammar, usage, writing and punctuation. Stateddifferently, this approach was called a “bottom-up” one focusing on sequential skilldevelopment (albeit arbitrarily determined) and was consolidated through the useof basal materials which presented programs in a controlled, linear and hierarchicalfashion.(p.2)When whole language advocates started to question the effectiveness andappropriateness of such an approach and -- with it the use of the basal reader as thecornerstone of reading material selection -- a fierce controversy began among readingresearchers, applied linguistics, curriculum planners, classroom practitioners, and, last notleast, parents. In a conversation with one of the Open Area parents, for example, Jodi,expresses her exasperation and frustration with this debate. Starting with a big sigh, she istrying to make sense of all the different opinions and conflicting information from varioussources parents are faced with:Well -- I’ve, I’ve struggled to learn what whole language is. I find it a veryabstract concept, and I find it very hard to really get a handle on it. What myunderstanding of it is is looking at words in context, okay, and and I can see thatthis is very important, and I know that that I have done that with Hilary as well,but I also see a very strong role for phonics, in my mind they have to gotogether, and especially with the English language the way it is where there arewords that, you know, have many, multiple meanings, there are words that spellsimilarly that sound completely different when they’re sounded out. Tounderstand the phonetics and the phonics or workings of the phonics, the waythey are working in the English language is really important, I can see that asvery very important with ESL students. So, in my mind, you know, I would havea hard time with a teacher who is focusing on whole language, and I know thatthe way I was teaching Hilary to read, it was more on the phonetic side than onthe whole language side. But I also thought: “Well, I teach the phonetic part,and then, you know, in school she can get more of the contextual side.” (ParentInterview, Jodi, 05/95)19I don’t know if I succeeded in pointing out to her that this dichotomy is notnecessarily accurate and that whole language does not exclude phonics instruction per se,but she is aware thatThat’s part of the problem too, that that whole language thing has had bad P.R.I think that a lot of parents are walking around with a completely differentconcept of what whole language is, and every time I try to read on that topic, Ifind it very very hard to figure out what it is. (Parent Interview, Jodi, 05/95)Typical of this kind of debate is also the argument for structure and “scope andsequence” that basal believers see as necessary prerequisites for learning (Baumann,1992). On the other side, we find the rejection of this static sequential view by wholelanguage supporters who see it predominantly as a “deskilling” device used to renderteachers powerless with regard to choosing their own reading materials (Goodman,Shannon, Freeman, & Murphy, 1988; Shannon, 1989, 1993). Most recently, this debatehas focused on the continuous and renewed basalization of children’s literature andespecially of picture books:There’s good news and bad news in the newer versions of basal readers. The goodnews is that newer basal readers are including more literature in their currentversions. Some go so far as to call themselves literature-based and even use theterm whole language in their promotional materials and manuals. ... The bad newsis that the literature is being basalized. As part of a second look at basals we’vebegun a careful examination of their use of literature. Part of the good news is thata lot of picture books are being used in the early levels of basals. The bad news isthat in order to fit them into the format and structure of the basals they’re beingchanged from picture books to illustrated stories. And that makes them lessauthentic, harder to read, and less enjoyable. (Goodman, Maras, & Birdseye,1994,p.1)In response to this kind of accusation, some authors rise to the defence of the newbasals by declaring that they have much improved in quality compared to the ones from adecade ago (Greenlaw, M. J., 1994). Since there has been a sanctioned shift away frombasals and toward a ‘literature-based’ curriculum, publishing companies have been eager tobring out new materials that fit into that mold, such as ‘literature-based anthologies’ and20‘whole language classroom libraries.’ However, these materials, as pointed out above, areoften very different in content and appearance from the original story or book and can byno means meet the variety of needs and interests of students in any classroom (Short &Pierce, 1990). Hade (1994) goes as far as to stress that these new, “more attractive”materials are still conveying the same message of rationalization born out of a capitalistsystem, and that only too often children’s literature scholars have been accomplicesin thisprocess. There is no substitution for authentic literature jointly selected by teachersandstudents for the creation of a multitude of real literacy experiences(Harste, Short, &Burke, 1988). As can be seen from this ongoing debate, the controversysurroundingholistic literacy instruction is far from over. Against this colourful background,and withan awareness of the constant changes in perception of this literacy paradigmshift inprogress, I will attempt a brief historical overview of the principlesof whole languagebefore further exploring specific characteristics and aspects of its implementation.Despite being frequently labeled a new insubstantial and short-lasting“fad” byskeptics and opponents, the origins of whole language go back toearlier 20th centuryeducational beliefs and practices and are based on evidence frominvestigations into thenature of language and from as yet sparse, but convincingclassroom research data(Freeman & Freeman, 1992, 1994; Gunderson & Shapiro, 1988; Shapiro,1988; Wells &Chang-Wells, 1992). While some do not hesitate to call whole language aphilosophy inits own right, it is most commonly described as a world view, a stance, or aperspective onlanguage and language teaching (Blake, 1990; Gunderson, 1989, 1991; Manning &Manning, 1989).The roots of whole language can be found in a synthesis ofsuch varied sources as theeducational philosophy of Dewey (1938), the cognitive socio-psychologicalmodels ofBruner (1960) and Vygotsky (1962), the writings and teachings ofAshton-Warner (1963)and, as well as research in psycholinguistics, applied linguistics, readingand writing byCazden (1972), Clay (1975), Goodman (1962), Graves (1983), Halliday(1978), Loban21(1976), Read (1971), and Smith (1978), to name only a few key influences.Thus, it is notone doctrine or model that has initiated this movement;rather, it is truly multi-dimensionaland holistic in origin and nature, not only in name, makingit at the same time harder todefine and easier to attack. However, while whole languageincorporates elements ofDewey’s progressive education, Ashton-Warner’slanguage experience approach, theBritish open education system, Freire’s criticalpedagogy, and of transactive andinteractionist perspective on reading (Mickelson,1987), it is nevertheless a movement inits own right, “one of many attempts in recent history toalter education” (Edeisky,Aitwerger, & Flores, 1991).Based on the above theories, research, and practices,whole language teachers believethat the acquisition and development of literacyare an interactive and non-linear processin which the individual areas of reading, writing, listening,and speaking are not separate,as used to be claimed by the traditional “scopeand sequence” reading programs(Rumeihart, 1984). Instead, these areas are seenas integral parts of languagedevelopment at any point in time and are thereforeconsistently integrated across thecurriculum, each informing and reinforcing the others.This is a definite departure fromteaching skills in isolation or predominantlyfocusing on the ‘bottom-up,’ lower-level skills,such as phonics instruction (Froese, 1994; Mickelson,1987). Being child-centred innature, it focuses on the individual, fostering each student’slearning in developmentallyappropriate ways through meaningful materials that incorporateprior knowledge and reallife experiences and that are conducive to stimulating the students’interests (Kostelnik,1992; Maria, 1989). At the same time, the social nature oflearning is acknowledged bycreating classroom communities that foster positivecooperative learning experiencesthrough authentic language across the curriculumin content area studies such as socialstudies, science, and history (Altwerger, Edeisky, & Flores,1987; Lim & Watson, 1993;Tunnel & Ammon, 1993).22In connection with this focus on authenticity, whole language attempts to connect thechild’s real life environment, at home and in the community, with the classroom, makingparents and community members an essential and welcome part of the learning process(Forrester & Reinhard, 1989; Hanson, 1989; Langer, 1992). In this sense, literacy is setwithin a social framework that recognizes the importance of cognitive and sociopsychological processes in order to develop new knowledge, comprehension and criticalthinking (Manning, Manning, & Long, 1989; Snow, Barnes, Chandler, Goodman, &Hemphill, 1991; Wells & Chang-Wells, 1992). By providing an encouraging andnurturing environment and by involving learners in critically assessing and evaluatingtheirown progress, children begin to look at learning as an empowering process for themselvesas well as a shared responsibility (Chow, Dobson, Hurst, &Nucich, 1991; Goodman, D.,1989). In this way, whole language empowers both learners and teachers by replacingtraditional methods of evaluation, such as work sheets and tests, with personalized,growth-oriented documentation through portfolios, a “kid-watching” kind of observationand negotiated reporting (Anthony, Johnson, Mickelson, & Preece, 1991; Goodman,Y.,1989).Finally, whole language, in asserting the learners’ ultimate right to their own,individual successful ways of “reading the word and the world” (Freire & Macedo, 1987),it is in tune with the critical pedagogy tenet of questioning the status quo and replacing itwith a culturally responsive and socially just curriculum (Dressman, 1993; Shannon,1991). When attempting to “read the word” in a holistic sense, the words of the text needto connect with and reflect “the world,” as opposed to representing the decontextualizedlanguage of traditional mainstream reading programs (Cummins, 1986).A key component of whole language is the rejection of this decontextualized, artificiallanguage of basal readers. Instead, whole language promotes the use of authenticmaterials, such as environmental print, the learners’ own stories, and high-qualityliterature, selected with the criteria of relevance and interest with the learner’s point-of23view in mind (Cameron & Mickelson, 1989; Harlin, Lipa, & Lonberger, 1991; Laughlin &Swisher, 1990). However, the use of literature in the teaching of reading is not a uniquefeature of whole language, by any means; literature has been recognized as an importantfoundation of language arts curricula in various historical and cultural settings andcontexts (Marckwardt, 1978; Sawyer, 1987). Nevertheless, in the past, and particularly inNorth America, education systems have only been too eager to replace literaturewithbasal readers especially designed and manufactured to cater to skills-based,“teacher-proof’ reading programs and a flourishing textbook industry (Goodman,1993; Shannon,1989b, 1993).In contrast to these commercial interests have stood the attempts of educatorswhobelieve in the power of real stories and literature to enable learners toexperience languageas a meaningful tool for communication and to perceivereading as an enriching andenjoyable act. Matthew Arnold, F. R. Leavis, Louise Rosenblatt, and NorthropFrye, forexample, are earlier examples of literary theorists and critics who have stressedtheimportance of literature as an essential part of a liberal and progressiveeducation(Willinsky, 1991). More recently, numerous other educators and researchershave writtenon various aspects of literature as a basis and tool for holistic literacyinstruction (Asselin,Pelland, & Shapiro, 1991; Cox & Zarrillo, 1993; Miller, 1984; Phelan,1990; Purves et al.,1990; Ralston & Sutton, 1994; Routman, 1988; Short & Pierce, 1990; Wason-Ellam,1991). In particular, these vary from studies on the enhancement of students’imaginationand aesthetic appreciation of literature (Egan, 1988; Degenhardt & McKay,1988) throughevidence on the benefits of cooperative groupings, as opposed toability groupings, in theform of literature circles (Neamen & Strong, 1992; Short & Burke, 1991), tothedocumentation of the collaboration of teachers with librarians in setting upclassroomlibraries (Fractor, Woodruff Martinez, & Teale, 1993). Other areas coveredrange fromthe study of content areas (Short & Armstrong, 1993; Tunnel & Ammon,1993) to the24teaching of moral values through literature (Dodson, 1993; Lamme, Krogh,& Yachmetz,1992; Suhor & Suhor, 1992).In ascertaining the aesthetic, social, political, and philosophical dimensions ofliterature in the classroom, the links to literary theorists and philosophers of theexistentialist, modernist, phenomenological, and post-structuralist schools of the 20thcentury are strongly reinforced in a postmodern context (Fuhrmann, 1985; Hutcheon,1988; Knight, 1957; Pinar, 1988). The profound and seminal thinking on text andnarrative as genre by scholars and philosophers such as Bakhtin (1978, 1986), Barthes(1973, 1984; Sontag, 1982), Derrida (1967; Attridge, 1992), Foucault (1972; Gore,1992), Kristeva (1974, 1980; Eagleton, 1983), and others, has become visibly reflected inthe argumentation for a curriculum based on and permeated by literature that reflectsfundamental human experiences:The world of literature is human in shape, a world where the sun rises in the eastand sets in the west over the edge of a flat earth in three dimensions, where theprimary realities are not atoms or electrons but bodies, and the primary forces notenergy or gravitation but love and death and passion and joy. (Frye, 1964,p.28)From the modernist literary criticism of Northrop Frye to the postmodern reflectionsof Richard Rorty on Lyotard’s rejection of “metanarratives” in favour of the kind ofnarratives that “define what has the right to be said and done in the culture in question,and since they are themselves a part of that culture, they are legitimated by the simple factthat they do what they do” (Rorty, 1985), the arguments that are brought forth in defenceof literature and narrative as salient components of culture and society are continuouslyreaffirmed.In this universal way, literature opens the door for students to live through and reflecton shared human experiences, to identify with characters in stories and poems, and toexpress their own personality, ideas, and feelings by responding to the respective contentof the narrative. This corresponds with Rosenblatt’s theory of reader-response that sees25literature as the basis for “growth toward more and more balanced, self-critical,knowledgeable interpretation” (Rosenblatt, 1990, p. 100) and at the same time “providestudents with frameworks for thinking about the social, psychological, and aestheticassumptions implied by the literary work and by their own and others’ responses” (p. 100).It has been said ... that the only two things we can give our children are roots andwings. Properly conceived and implemented, whole language programs do just this-- provide children with roots that reach to the essence of being human expressedthrough the power of shared language, be it written or spoken, and with wings thatallow them to soar beyond the bounds of their perceived limitations, so many ofwhich, incidentally, appear to have found their genesis in our schools. (Mickelson,1987,p.13)Mickelson’s claim expresses a strong belief in the power of a holistic approach tolanguage and language teaching, together with a skeptical outlook toward a ‘status quo’curriculum that limits students’ potential. In much the same way, the following case studyoriginated from my own view toward language and literacy, one that encompasses sociocultural and socio-political realities as important factors of language acquisition anddevelopment. However, the premise of a holistic approach to instruction that can reachthe essence of being human requires further exploration and questioning in the context ofthe diversities and differences of cultural and literate geographies.I’m re-thinking about whole languagea whole that is not a wholebut frames of composite propositional intertexta re-reading and re-writingof partial truths:no global truths but local truthof layers of intertextuality.It is and it is not.(Researcher Narrative, 08/08/94)With this study, I want to engage in just such a probing based on the documentationof my own and others’ lived experiences. Starting from the description of scenes ofclassroom events through ethnographic narrative inquiry in a local setting, this indeedincludes and extends to the questioning of approaches that are centred around a canon of26texts in the sense of the ‘grand narratives’ that, for so long, have been exclusive withrespect to racial, cultural, and linguistic minorities. In particular, the study drawson theworks of scholars and researchers who have been instrumental in laying the groundworkfor bringing such discriminatory practices to the attention of the education community,such as Cummins (1986), Cazden (1991), Edelsky (1991), Fillmore (1991),Heath (1983),and numerous others.Schools, and in particular their curricular mandates, have been thechannels throughwhich exclusion has been accomplished too often by far throughpolitical, cultural, andlinguistic hegemony, leading, in Freir&s (1972) words, to apedagogyof the oppressed.Curriculum in the broadest sense involves not only the programmaticcontents ofthe school system, but also the scheduling, discipline, and day-to-daytasksrequired from students in schools. In this curriculum, then,there is a quality that ishidden and that gradually incites rebelliousness on the part of childrenandadolescents. Their defiance corresponds to the aggressive elementsin thecurriculum that work against the students and their interests.School authorities who repress these students might arguethat they are onlyresponding to the students’ aggressiveness. In fact, studentsare reacting to acurriculum and other material conditions in schools that negatetheir histories,cultures and day-to-day experiences. School values work counter tothe interestsof these students and tend to precipitate their expulsion fromschool. It is as if thesystem were put in place to ensure that these students passthrough school andleave it as illiterates. (Freire & Macedo, 1987,p.121)By challenging the world view of these dominant groups as oppressiveanddiscriminatory, proponents of critical pedagogy had takenthe first necessary steps towardemancipatory action. For many of them, the tireless work andinspiring teaching of PauloFreire confirmed the social construction of reality as the foundationof their beliefs andtheoretical reasoning (Aronowitz & Giroux, 1990). Freire, in devotinghis life to the causeof literacy and working with students and educators fromall over the world, has had a farreaching impact on the transformation of curricular thinking on aglobal scale. For NorthAmerican progressive educators in particular, the powerful pedagogicalimplications of27Freire’s model of a radical critical and emancipatory literacy seemed to present a solutionto the sanctioned racism and elitism within public schools (McLaren,1991).By creating, instead, different spaces where teachers and students can dothe work ofcurriculum together and by describing these spaces at the level of local paradigms,ofpartial truths (Clifford, 1986), I am at the same time opening up a possibilityforconsidering the voice of the other, one that is not normally heard, and for acknowledgingthe part of the other in the self. This, according to Derrida (1978),is what writing isabout, “it is one and the other simultaneously” (p. 13).The Methodological. Pedagogical, and Philosophical FrameworksThe role of schools as the places where curriculum is implemented has undergoneaprofound change within the last few decades of this century. Notionsof a prescribedsyllabus as ‘transmitted’ to students via an instrumentalist mode of teaching havebeenexchanged for an approach to curriculum in which teachers and students ‘negotiate’learning within a student-centred model (Aoki, 1988; Weis, Cornbleth, Zeichner,& Apple,1990). With this, the role of the teacher is also undergoing a profound change.It ismoving away from a one-dimensional authoritarian model that focuses on direct,systematic instruction toward more democratically oriented, facilitating approachesthatencourage students to construct their own knowledge and empower teachersto reflectcritically on their own practice (Britzman, 1991; Throne, 1994). Indeed, the wholequestion of what constitutes knowledge in relation to literacy and schooling isbeingredefined from critical socio-cognitive and constructivist perspectives (Anyon,1981;Goodlad, 1983a; Spencer, 1986; Von Glasersfeld, 1989; Wells,1986; Wells & ChangWells, 1992). It seems, however, that despite the recognitionof the un-soundness of theformer autocratic models that defined knowledge in an absolute, non-negotiableway,there is a noticeable recent backlash. It consists of a call ‘back tothe basics’ of a teacher28driven, skills-based schooling -- most evidentin the media and publications such asNikiforuk’s (1993) attack on holistic learning approachesand Hirsch’s (1987) warningabout the failure of school systems with respectto “cultural literacy.”As teachers, apart from these pressuresfrom the public, we are faced with yet anotheropposition in pedagogical being, with whatTed Aoki refers to as the ‘curriculum-as-planned’ as opposed to the ‘curriculum-as-lived’(Aoki, 1993b; Hinds, 1994). It seemsthatfor too long we have only concentrated on theformer and neglected the latter.I have suggested that what seems urgentfor us at this time in understandingwhatteaching more truly is, is to undertake toreorient ourselves so that we overcomemere correctness so that we can see and hear ourdoings as teachers harboredwithin pedagogical being, so we can seeand hear who we are as teachers.(Aoki, 1989,p.27)Together with the call for authenticity incurriculum and learning, there is a strongdemand for entering a discourse aboutcurriculum in the form of an activeparticipationand engagement with content and contexton the part of teachers and learners alike(Pinar,1988; Pinar & Reynolds, 1992). This discourse,over the last two decades, hasencompassed phenomenological, feminist,constructivist, and deconstructivist textsinvarious combinations of historical, socio-political,aesthetic, and critical theory and praxis(Aronowitz & Giroux, 1985; Cherryholmes,1993; Grumet, 1988a; Lather, 1991;VanManen, 1982). Common to all these late20th century pedagogical studies is therecognition of the cultural and social aspectsof curriculum and schooling in a timeoftremendous change characterized as the ageof information, electronics, and globalcommunications (Jones & Maloy, 1993).Educators are challenged more than everbeforeto provide their studentswith the knowledge and skills for a new centuryof rapidlyincreasing information, intercultural connections,and technological expertise.Knowledge in context is an essential componentof efforts to improve practice.Too often the examination of teachingand learning has been stripped of the manyreal life variables that affect children. Because manyeducational studies haveexamined discrete elements of a problem at theexpense of the ever-changing29context of the classroom, teachers often find research meaningless and irrelevant.Without a regard for context, action is uninformed. With a respect for the realitiesof the classroom, action becomes relevant and meaningful.(Miller & Pine, 1990,p.56)The realities of the classroom, my own classroom, have provided me with themotivation and, at times, desperate urgency to question assumptions about curriculum andthe soundness of educational decisions that are not thoroughly informed by thecontext ofplace and students’ lived realities.A teacher cannot build a community of learners unless the voices and livesof thestudents are an integral part of the curriculum. Children, of course, talk abouttheir lives constantly. The challenge is for teachers to make connections betweenwhat the students talk about and the curriculum and broader society.(Peterson, 1994,p.30)Tomorrow is Saturday and on Saturday I always get to eat noodles but not justnoodles chinse noodles because everybody likes to be nice to me andeverybody in the world and universe.(Jimmy’s Journal, 12/16/94)On every Saturday i go to Chinatown School because i am a Chinese girl.On Mon. to Fri. in Franklin school no one will play with me.Ever day I’m sad and longly except today because today I play withWendy andRuthie and Mitcho and Sera and mewe had a gret time. THAT’S WHY(Amy’s Journal, age 6, 10/25/94; 01/11/95; 01/12/95)In my classroom, children indeed constantly express the joys and difficulties ofmaking meaningful connections between what they experience in the different placesoftheir lives, both at home and at school. As teachers, we continuously experience the joysand difficulties of becoming part of their world and of trying to understand and supporttheir voices. In my own classroom, situated in the heart of this West Coast Canadianinnercity, I sense many sociocultural and sociopolitical variables at work; they deeplyaffect mystudents’ lives on a daily basis. In order to be able to make educational decisions informedby this context, I believe that it is imperative for me as a teacher to make senseof this30situatedness and to describe it in a way that does justice to its complexity, its uniqueness,and its connectedness.Action and Reflection as Pedagogical PraxisThe self-reflective community established in action research is not only concernedwith the transformation of its own situation. It is also forced to confront the non-educational constraints of education. ... It invites the group to consider educationas a whole, and thus the general need for educational reform in society. It is notonly a process which reflects or responds to history; it envisages a profession madeup of educational action researchers who see themselves as agents of history whomust express their practical judgments about needed changes in education in theirown considered action -- in praxis. (Carr & Kemmis, 1986,p.208)The kind of preoccupation with methodology so typical of the research dogma thatlooks for absolute ‘truth’ can no longer be relevant in a post-structuralist context where“our values are suspended in the air and cannot be deduced from descriptions” (Lyotard,1979). In order to stand on firm ground with regard to research methodology and itsinherent values, we must commit ourselves to building more inclusive frameworks.Through this, it is the collaborative, negotiated and informed process of knowing, doing,and understanding that can guide us towards the kind of reconceptualized praxis andmethodology that best suits this purpose regardless of any preconceived labels.In this respect, action research has the potential for overcoming some of theseimposed categorizations and for reaching beyond the localized action of an individualteacher researcher (Kirby & McKenna, 1989). In forming a community of investigativepractitioners, truly transformative and emancipatory action can occur:Teachers and other educators in British Columbia today are involved in thecontinuing processes of change and reflection. An increasing emphasis on learners-- both students and teachers -- has led quite naturally to an increased interest inteacher research. As the Year 2000 programs develop in B.C. classrooms,researching teachers explore a wide range of critical issues .(Jeroski, 1992,p.1)31The realization that teachers must play a crucial role in this process in order forpositive changes in teaching practices to happen in a meaningful way seems to makecommon sense. However, although the concept of teachers as researchers is certainly nota new one, reaching back to Stenhous&s (1975) ideas about curriculum reform in the 60sand 70s in Britain (Elliott, 1992) and SchOn’s (1983) concept of the teacher as reflectivepractitioner, it has not been widely accepted into the canon of educational researchmethods and approaches until quite recently (Belanger, 1992; Fullan, 1993; Winter, 1987).Not only was classroom research traditionally carried out exclusively by trained scholarly‘experts’ with impressive institutional affiliations, it also was -- and undoubtedly still is --conducted from a particular point-of-view of political and economic interest. This agendacan be characterized as that of the status quo of the educational hegemony of powerpositions (Giroux, 1992; Pennycook, 1989; Phelan & Lalik, 1993).Despite the recent controversy about the above mentioned Year 2000 curriculumreform and an alarming number of ‘back to basics’ voices coming from various academic,bureaucratic and other public sources (Baumann, 1992; Bloom, 1987; Kline, 1993), thevoices of teachers who are involved in critically and reflectively researching their own andtheir students’ classroom realities are heard more frequently and in different places ofpraxis (Aoki, 1990, 1991b, 1993c). This new mode of investigating praxis implies aparadigm shift in the sense of Kuhn’s (1970) notion of a fundamental change in the beliefs,values, and problem-solving techniques of an established scientific community from anabstract construct of shared scientific rules and practices toward a new, more matureworld view that allows “an even greater precision of fit between existing paradigms and‘empirical reality” (Brown, 1988,p.19).The phenomenological focus on the concept of pedagogical reality and being -- orrather becoming, acknowledging the evolving, non-static nature of our praxis -- alsostrikes a new key in writing and researching about language through language. In Barthes’understanding of this new rapprochement between language, linguistics, and literature, this32involves both a reflective and a critical action on the part of the writer with respect tolanguage (Barthes, 1986). This new kind of’action writing’ is one in which the action ofwriting itself is understood as a powerful act:It would be interesting to know at what moment the verb to write began to be usedintransitively, the writer no longer being the one who writes something, but theone who writes -- absolutely: this shift is certainly the sign of an important changein mentality ... it is paradoxically at the moment when to write seems to becomeintransitive that its object, under the name book or tex, assumes a specialimportance. (Barthes, 1986,p.18)This turn fits well within the conceptual and methodological framework of actionresearch and reflective, interpretive inquiry as part of a new theory of pedagogical practice(Van Lier, 1994). The discovery of an approach and a methodology rooted in practicedirectly responds to the many tensionalities that are inherent in the multi-layered realitiesof teaching, studying, and learning. It was designed to give practitioners tools with whichto identify questions or problems that are crucial to the successful learning oftheirstudents and to address the challenges of everyday teaching in classrooms composed ofstudents with a wide variety of backgrounds and futures ahead of them (Patterson, Santa,Short, & Smith, 1993; Wong, 1994).Two years ago, together with a group of colleagues from the Vancouver SchoolBoard,9I began to look more closely and systematically at my own teaching situation as amember of a primary open area classroom in which a team of five teachers andapproximately 65 children aged five to nine were engaged in living amidst differentlinguistic and cultural communities.This search for understanding of pedagogical living directly relates to therealities of the children in my classroom. Their experiences of being both intheir world ‘at home’ and the world of ‘the school’ -- two communities that areoften very different from each other -- are also part of living amidst tensionality.(Researcher Narrative, 05/25/94)33Action research, situated within a qualitative methodological approach, can becharacterized as a ‘messy’ concept of research; It does not apply, for the most part, ‘neat’statistical procedures nor does it rely heavily on other quantitative measurement butinstead uses ethnographically-based techniques such as observation and anecdotalnotetaking, video and audio recording, informal interviewing, and reflective journal writing(Carroll, 1994; Duff 1994; Oberg, 1990; Peterat & Vaines, 1992; Van Lier,1988, 1994).Often, this can result in a vast amount of potentially rich data on students’, teachers’,andother participants’ interactions over extended periods of time; its analysis canpresent manychallenges and tensions in terms of the time it takes to categorize, analyze, interpret,andsummarize the information (Hubbard & Power, 1993).In many ways, the above frames have shaped my own being as amember of avariety of communities, belonging -- as a student, educator, scholar, parent,woman, and daughter. As part of a community of teachers, students, andcolleagues that has engaged in a year-long discovery process aboutteacherresearch, I have come to celebrate the tensionality in the co-existence ofmanyof these apparent dichotomies. (Researcher Narrative, 06/15/94)Entering into these spaces of tension, we are never certain what will come tobe;each time we invite the lived world of students into the dwelling places ofourclassrooms, we place ourselves in a position of uncertainty. In the midstofuncertainty, we have come to experience our responsibilities as leaders toinvolve awithdrawing from the authoritative stance of the know-it-all. Here, we findourselves drawn to a questioning of our responsibilities as educational leaders.Inthe space of tension amidst differences, we have found ourselves drawn into aquestioning which calls into play a multiplicity of possibilities. Such multiplicitybrings ambiguity and uncertainty in its offering forth a vibrancy of pedagogicpossibilities. (Chamberlain, McGrath, Richter, Stevens, & Timmins, 1994,p.6)As a result of this tension, I have never felt more inspired to continue living amongsta‘community without unity,’ which, in William Corlett’s postmodern vision, affirmsthenotion of community in which togetherness does not sacrifice individuality anddifference:“Bringing unity seems always to require silencing the so-called parts that do notfit theholistic vision, and I want no part of that” (Corlett, 1988,p.6).34In this group of reflective practitioners, I wanted us to celebrate the individual parts,especially those that might be seen as not fitting in with a certain concept of unity definedby the status quo of educational power structures, which equatesunity with notions ofhomogeneity and monoculturalism (Christensen, 1992; Fyfe & Figuera, 1993). Eachteacher’s voice needed to be heard between the layers of a communal voice that couldemerge through our coming together and belonging together in thiscommunity of inquirybased on common beliefs and values. Two of teachers, forexample, commented on thevalue of being involved with this action research group in this way:The knowledge of the others involved in the network helped me to NOT becometoo single-minded or ‘tunnel-vision oriented.’ My understandings and‘knowledge’ became decentred. This process helped me to remain open to newideas and new understandings and not become ‘caught-up’ in my research.Group problem solving of individuals’ questions and research dilemmas broughtforth solutions that may not have occurred outside the network.(Teacher Narrative, as quoted in Hasebe-Ludt, et al., 1995, p. 13)Identifying and communicating to others how one perceives situations canbeelucidating in itself. Listening without judgment to the views of others andreining in our assumptions are not always easy to do, but may be aprerequisiteto widening our perceptual lenses. I have come to feel that many examinationsof teaching and learning experiences are participatory and would benefitfromcollaborative processes among teachers, students and other membersof theschool community related to the question at hand. Strategies to guide andsupport teachers in an exploration of classroom processes and outcomeshavethe potential to help focus on many important questions. They enable schoolmembers to respond thoughtfully to change and diversity, resulting inmeaningful steps towards our educational goals. (Teacher Narrative, as quoted inHasebe-Ludt, et al., 1995, pp. 16-17)In Aoki’s (1991a) interpretation of Heidegger’s (1954, 1968; Schulz, 1969)phenomenologically perceived notion of belonging together(Zusammengehorigkeit), thisinvolves the event of appropriation of both identity and difference through becomingthoughtful, c/as zu Denkende (POggeler, 1969).Action research has prompted me, first and foremost, to question establishedways ofknowing perpetuated through the hegemony of the educational decision-makinghierarchy35(Pennycook, 1989; Schulman, 1991). This exercise in deconstruction fits the postmodernframe of questioning the grand narratives in the Lyotardian and Derridian sense (Lyotard,1991; Wood, 1993), as well as of the master narratives through feminist readingsof text(Belenky et a!., 1986; Clark & Hulley, 1990/91; Eagleton, 1986; Greene, 1986). Inaffirming the notion of intertextuality amidst multiple readings of text throughholisticinterpretations of language learning and teaching (Gunderson, in press-b), wecame toacknowledge that “intertextuality invites us to use multiple texts, splicingthem,interweaving them with each other, with our commentaries, withour questions. ... Thereare no sacred texts” (Grumet, 1988b,p.469).Through our shared pedagogical journey of weavingsuch webs of meaningthrough language and by reflecting on our own practice whileat the same timecelebrating our individual interests and differences, we came tovalidate thesemultiple and intertextual processes of inquiry. Our questionswere testimony, informs ranging from oral discussions and presentationsto both individual andcollaborative narratives, to the numerous trials we feltfaced with: Misgivings,doubts, and confusion were indeed part of thescenario and forced us to revisitand reshape our questions. Gradually, our discussionsbecame more groundedand centred around the notion of change for improvingpractice, firmly anchoredin our individual classrooms, shared schooland district environment, and aconcern with larger nation-wide and global implications ofpraxis in culturallydiverse societies. (Researcher Narrative, 05/06/94)Always, as we took yet another step toward linking and sharing ourlocal practicewith a wider audience of educators, we continued to probe, to assure eachother of thenecessity to validate the concept of the self-reflective communityof action researchers(Aoki, 1992; Carr & Kemmis, 1986; Carson & Sumara, 1992). Atthe same time, throughthis continuous oral and written dialogue with each other, wewere finding our own voicesas well as articulating a message of ‘belonging together’that included both affirmation andnew discovery, unresolved dilemmas and unansweredquestions, as well as a good portionof laughter and celebration.In this joint process of searching and researching for the rootsof and remediesfor the disintegration that educational institutions havecreated for our children,the concept of unity emerged as an artificial constructand an undesirable goal36to aim for in the context of a critical postmodern education. Affirming individualrights and differences in principle, yet sacrificing them for the totality of ‘thecommon good’ of a present and future sustainable economy constitutes ahypocritical lip service we must critically examine and expose. In this sense, thequest for change cannot merely involve a change in strategy, a shift in the waywe arrange the pieces of the educational puzzle. Instead, we have to commitourselves to truly transforming the nature of the game by exchanging the pieceswith new ones. (Researcher Narrative, 06/12/94)In my individual understanding of pedagogical praxis, which has become moreinformed yet also more challenged than ever before by postmodern philosophical andcurricular theory and practice (Bennington & Derrida, 1991; Pinar, 1988), these frames ofintertextual thinking are expanding once again. At the same time that the notions ofemancipatory and critical action research were emerging as central aspects of my inquiryinto the complexity of literacy processes in connection with cultural pluralism in theclassroom, some of the problems connected with postmodern approaches needed to beaddressed. As Jardine (1994) points out, there is an inherent danger in taking for grantedthat the replacement of an old paradigm with a new one will inevitably result in a betterway of reading the world, in a kind of essential or perfect knowledge:[The post-modern love of novelty-items: the desire to unanchor the sign altogetherand simply have our way with it is the licentiousness that comes from the firstadrenalin rush of the fall of the old foundations. Post-modernism too easilyconfuses a critique of foundationalism with a proof that nothing sustains us. Ourculture is easily confused between the loosening of signifier and signified and theirseverance.][Consider: post-modernism as the cultural and linguistic and philosophical andliterary versions of our current ecological crisisRe-reading post-modernism: it is the portal through this crisis].(Jardine, 1994, pp. xxx-xxxi)Throughout these ambivalent and often contradictory notions of reading the world ofpostmodern educational languaging, of writing and speaking in a new, different languagemyself I have felt supported and enriched by the reflections and actions that our group hasendeavored on this topic. I have been affirmed in my own research and inspired by that of37others, by the many ways we were able to articulate and collaborate through focusedworking cases. In this way, we started to build bridges between people, educationalorganizations, institutions, and venues (Hasebe-Ludt, Dufi & Leggo, 1995; Hasebe-Ludt,Hawkes, Miller, & Nishi, 1994; Hasebe-Ludt et a!., 1994). As a result we felt supported,individually and as a community, and celebrated in our endeavors to become moreknowledgeable about ‘what we care about.’ For me, this has truly become an experienceof ‘authentic dwelling’ amongst that special and precious community of “beings whobelong together in this neighbourhood” (Aoki, 1992,p.28).As Louise Berman and her colleagues discovered in their journey ‘toward curriculumfor being’ (Berman et al., 1991), we also found that “as we reached out to others, soothers reached out to us. ... Perhaps as we have attempted to dwell in the largercommunity we have tried to establish contexts in which enlivenment, support, and couragecan flourish”(pp.186, 187).In this way, action research presents a particular attitude on the part of thepractitioner who, according to Richards & Nunan (1990), “is engaged in critical reflectionon ideas, the informed application and experimentation of ideas in practice, and the criticalevaluation of the outcomes of such application” (p. 63). In perceiving the need for atheoretically grounded rationale for a pragmatic concept, Carr & Kemmis (1986) base thiscritical action research model on the theoretical foundations of Habermas’ critical socialscience (Habermas, 1968/1972, 1990), the critical, action-oriented pedagogy of Freire(Freire & Macedo, 1987) and Gramsci (1959) which was aimed at the emancipation ofunderprivileged groups in society (Lather, 1986). Furthermore, an understanding of theschool culture as part of the larger sociopolitical context is reflected in elements of apractical, change-oriented democratic philosophy in Dewey’s tradition (Dewey, 1938;Dewey & Dewey, 1915).The key notions in this critical framework are those of interested knowledge,reflection, understanding, as well as communicative action and competence (Carson, 1990;38Habermas, 1990; Schrag, 1986). Thus, critical action research has the potential to reachbeyond some of the pitfalls of postmodern nihilistic tendencies and to effect changethrough emancipatory action that reverses discriminatory practices related to race, class,gender, and other related parameters. This needs to be achieved by advocating socialjustice for all students based on the values of informed moral and ethical decision-makingGauthier, 1992; Smith, P. L., 1986) within a humanizingpedagogy (Bartolome, 1994) andwithin a multicultural educational framework (Coombs, 1986).With the increased focus on active participation and critical thinking in recenteducational curricular reforms such as the Year 2000 document, the teacher as a reflectivepractitioner and action researcher has indeed become a key concept for modeling this rolethrough classroom-based research. In addition to endeavors in which individual teacherresearchers investigate issues in their own classrooms, the possibilities for collaborativework, such as with academic institutions and/or boards of education seem a naturalextension of such an approach (Barnsley & Ellis, 1992; Carson & Sumara, 1992; Burton& Mickan,1994)10But what if we were to commit ourselves to work on our common aspects ofcommunity while together engaging in various kinds of enquiry? John Dewey, forone, would be happy. After all, he wrote with tremendous persuasiveness aboutschools as communities of inquiry. Community-mindedness, he thought, wasessential for human bonding and therefore, education. Education, being in largepart about inquiry, means initiating students into finding out, assessing, agreeing,disagreeing, balancing “evidences,” drawing evidenced conclusions ... but doing allof this in an atmosphere of trust, mutual respect and cooperation. This is what hewanted schools and institutions that prepare teachers to be like.(Bruneau, 1993,p.1)The Cogency of Community EducationLearning to look through multiple perspectives, young people may be helped tobuild bridges among themselves; attending to a range of human stories, they maybe provoked to heal and transform. Of course there will be difficulties and, atonce, working to create community. (Greene, 1993,p.18)39Maxine Greene, in this quotation that poignantly sets the theme to my multi-layeredjourneying and journalizing with/in this community school, expresses the kind ofpedagogical reaching that will be necessary to truly transform the lived experiences of theyoung people whom we as teachers treasure. Over and over I comeback to the questionof how this community-building is carried out in the reality ofthe ‘curriculum-as-lived’ of adesignated community school with a large number of ethnic,linguistic, and culturalgroups. It constitutes a difficult question that seemed to constantlyconfront me in mydaily teaching praxis. How do the socioculturalbackgrounds of the teachers, the stafl thestudents, and the parents impact on the difficult everydaydecisions about living in themidst of the communities that are situated withinthe classroom, the school, theneighbourhood? Typically, as Dean (1989) points out, in manyof the multiculturaleducational settings in North America, the teachersare of White European racial andethnic origin. The five teachers in this Open Area aswell as the majority of the staff in theschool are no exception to this.My year of living reflectively in the pedagogical landscapehas created manybeginnings. It has marked a Kehre, a turn -- but also a renewedunderstandingof kehren in the sense of caring and the recognition ofdifficulty as an essentialand not necessarily negative component of learning.(Researcher Narrative,07/15/94)The notion of difficulty in researching and teaching withinsuch communities ofinquiry and learning is embedded in a larger context in which difficulty must beacknowledged as a necessary and beneficial componentof thinking and learning, and,consequently, of reading as an activity intimately connectedwith thought. HelenReguerio Elam observes that this idea of difliculty is not easily accepted incontemporary(North)American society:Our penchant is for one-step, one-stop solutions toproblems, and we demand it inall areas of life, including reading, an ease of achievementthat is antithetical tothought The quest for solutions is synonymous with areductiveness thatleaves aside the problematic movement of thoughtStudents often tackle40“education” as if it were a puzzle to be considered solved when every piece isinplace. But an education -- or reading -- worthy of its name will recognize thatwhen the puzzle is finally put together into a perfect whole, there is alwaysonepiece left over which forces us to rethink the edifice we have erected.(Elam, 1991,p.4)Our “agenda” (whose agenda, overt or hidden)? for the two CommunityInteraction Days the Education Ministry has designated for allschools in theprovince is centred around multiculturalism,anti-racism, and conflict resolution.Together with Templeton Secondary, Kathy and I help organizea day of paneldiscussion, workshops, and information sessions forall the feeder schools inthe area. Yvonne Brown’s keynote address on the very real consequencesofracism evoked a heated discussion in the staff room the next day.Mostteachers, with the exception of a few, find her too radical, toocontroversial, andtoo preoccupied with a personal agenda. Once again, theexperience of racismis devalued on both a personal and an institutionallevel; it becomes somethingon somebody else’s agenda. Once again, there is thecomplacency of themajority of people who feel good when they engage with theseissues as longas they do not get too controversial. (Researcher Narrative, 04/30/94)To start our day, focused on professional development planningfor next year,we are watching “Listen with your heart” whichdocuments the experiences ofyoung immigrant students to Canada through a playdirected by Carol Tarlingtonwith the Vancouver Youth Theatre. After the mixed reactionsto our communityday focus on multicultural and anti-racist issues, I am extremelyskeptical aboutthe staff’s willingness to commit themselves to this focus.All through the video, Ikeep thinking about my experiences with teachersin the “Education ofimmigrant students” course I’m teaching at UBC: theengaged discussions,thoughtful questions, impassioned and emotionalreactions to issues oflanguage and culture. Is this staff going to open up tothe lived experiences ofstudents who “speak from the heart”? Are they goingto listen with their hearts?I am succinctly aware of my own position in between,as both part of thiscommunity of teachers and at the same time representingan outsider, a teacherof teachers -- I feel on shaky ground, not certainwhether I can find a safe placeto stand in this going back and forth between differentcommunities of inquiry.How can I be sure that my goal of opening up spacesfor communicationbetween communities, between cultures will not create moretensions andbarriers?In reflecting on the discussion that followed the videoI realize that I stillhave not found a safe place, a space above struggleand tensionality -- but I amalso becoming more accepting of living on this shaking,quivering ground. I feltvery much alive and inspired by the discussion aboutracism that followed thevideo. Three teachers from whom I least expected it engaged,in very personalways, with the topic of discrimination toward speakers whosefirst language isother than English. They spoke of memories about relatives,friends, andstudents they had made connections with; they spokefrom their heart. One ofthem asked me about my own experiences about havinga different mother41tongue and living in a world dominated by English. I talk about the difficulties Iremember so well when first coming to Canada but also about the privileges Ifeel I have compared to others: of being able to maintain connections, oftraveling to my country of birth, Germany, to see my family and to maintain mymother tongue -- an impossibility for so many immigrants and refugees. We areable to enter into a dialogue; we are creating an opening for thinking, forthoughtfulness, for in between. (Researcher Narrative, 06/15/94)Wiederum geht es also dern denkenden Vorblick Heideggers urn jenes Zwischen,das sich als Differenz in ems rnit der Identität ins Spiel bringt “DieZusammengehorigkeit von Identität und Differenz wird ... als das zu Denkendegezeigt. Inwiefern die Differenz dem Wesen der Identitat entstammt, soll derLeser selber finden, indem er auf den Einklang hOfl, der zwischen Ereignis undAustrag waltet.” (Franz, 1969,pp.198-199)Once again, Heidegger’s foresightful thinking is concerned with the in betweenwhich comes into play as difference in unison with identity. ... “ The belongingtogether of identity and difference is shown as the becoming of thinking. Ileave it up to the reader to find out to what extent difference originates from theessence of identity by listening to the harmony which dwells between the eventand the action.” (E. Hasebe-Ludt, Trans.; emphases added)The names, faces, indeed the entire make-up of what we have come to call‘community’ are changing rapidly in this age of electronic communication. Thepossibilities of connecting through interactive multimedia networks are seemingly endlessand often beyond our imagination which still seems to be centred around traditionalnotions of physical or spiritual communities of past experiences. Through the creation of‘virtual villages’ and on-line communities “that are beginning to redefine personalrelationships, political organizing, even democracy itself’ (Catalfo, 1993,p.164), all levelsof society will eventually be influenced by the technological capacities of the computerage.Whether we agree with the positive, exhilarating potential of these new virtualcommunities or reject them as negative, inadequate surrogates for the real human sharingexperiences that community entails, we need to reflect on the undeniable existence of42these new forms of interactions as expressions of the need to come to terms with ourchanging world.All my life I have pursued a romantic involvement, even a textual affair withwords. But I must confess that I am still ill-literate.With confession comes not absolution but more confession, a flood of self-revelation that reveals the ubiquity of my ill-literacy. I suffer from technical,historical, geographical, cultural, linguistic, political, legal, medical, industrial andcommercial ill-literacy.I am at best literate in some aspects in one language; yet I live in a countrythat is officially bilingual, in a world that is solidly founded on words.(Leggo, 1995, p. D2)Since the complex interactions required for such daunting literate ways with wordsare dependent on people being able to access text in various ways, through writing,reading, and interpreting, it is crucial that we place these interactions in the context ofeducation as potential pedagogical paradigms. As Long (1993) points out, it is a curiouslychallenging thought that with regard to the practice of reading, for example, electronicaccess to texts through computers and on-line communication has both elements of areturn to the historically established notion of reading as solitary, isolated activity as wellas of emerging new forms of sociocultural identity.The rebels Have distroed the Deth Star and notist The empier is BiLDing annthrone (Erin’s Journal, age 6, 09/16/94)I have a computer. It has lots of games on it. Lots of good games on it! One ofthem is called Rescue (Leo’s Journal, age 7, 11/30/94)At recess Erin me and Marcus and Curtis and Hugh played Power Ranger tag.And then Erin and me and Howard played Power Rangers.Yesterday when I was in bed I had a dream about a new Ranger, and his namewas Rechy his zord was cool, and he was good, and he was figting goldare.(Jimmy’s Journal, 10/13/94; 10/14/94)This implies far-reaching consequences in the context of “reading the word and theworld” (Freire & Macedo, 1987) with respect to an egalitarian group process which, in43Habermas’ language, “enables people to mobilize communicative rationality in ordercritically to reflect on the presuppositions undergirding the instrumental reason that, in hisview, has deformed the life world” (Long, 1993,p.205).We have arrived at the “midpoint of the ‘90s, the last lap, thefinal act before weall hit the big 2-0-0-0, ... “I am reminded by a newspaper articleI am reading. Ialso watched and listened to David Suzukithis morning on a TV. program aboutthe World Council of Canadians, and I am struck by thecoincidence or maybethe not-so-coincidental but curiously appropriate andwell-timed coming togetherof messages from such varied sources as the above to reflectabout the past,present, and future configuration of landscape/ecology/biosystemwe situateourselves in. The emphasis on ecology, the urgentneed for paying attention tothe ecological model in nature as a base for humanrelations, the even morepressing urgency for change that begins at the grassroots levelin ourcommunities, the interconnectedness of everything, the importance ofchildren,the insignificance and at the same timecrucial role of the individual humanbeing, the re-searching and re-creation of community).“We are creatingsolitude, a place where we don’t have to have social skills,..., computervoyeurism; living through rather than actually living(Researcher Narrative, 12/29/94).11As the chasm widens between the haves and the have-nots,dual careers will beessential, not an option, and the resulting fallout will beessential: “Where’s thediscipline and accountability for the kids? Where’s the solid base?” Herquestionsare rhetorical, the answers unknown. Shepredicts that, hammered by crime andfreed by technology, more and more of us will head for thehills. If the first part ofthis century was the slow, ratchety climb to the major peakon the roller coaster,are we now perched at the summit, techno-wrapped andfearful, aware that anysecond we’ll be speeding downward out of control? Coombs doesn’tthink so.“This is a part of history. We are crafting a new course. I’m extremelyoptimistic.I have utter faith in human values, worth, and potential.”(Murrills, 1994/1995,p.15)These words attest to the growing complexity and, with it, difficultyof life on the eveof the 21St century. Even without the highly specialized know-howof a traveler incyberspace and virtual reality, one can easily imaginethe literacy challenges students willface in just a few years from now. The difficultiesand possibilities of building communityand to find a common language will be very different from the challenges societieshave44historically encountered with forms of print as either solitary or collectivepractices (Long,1992) and with nature rather than technology as a powerfulforce.On kindred relations in the Waswanipi Cree universe:No longer disturbing, alien, or aloof all ofnature is revealed as a community in thefullest sense of the word. It is a vast, scintillating webof social memories,conversations, and relationships -- each potentiallyreplete with the samedimensions of pleasure and sorrow, misunderstandingsand mysteries as areordinary human ties of blood kinship, love, and camaraderie.(Suzuki & Knudtson, 1993,p.204)On kindred relations in the Waldo universe:Erin: This is my Waldo book. and I brout it forSharing today.[Picture: Book with title ‘Ware’s Waldo in Starwars,sign with writing‘NO Parking on my Woldo book’]Erin: Today I am definitly share my Waldo book!Ok?Cr1 will faint !!!!!!!!!!HH OK?Teacher: OK! I will give you sometime to share.(Journal, 10/13/94; 10/17/94)On kindred relations with/in the community of little misses,men and sort qf animals:Someone from our home area has discoveredthe little books from RogerHargreaves’ collection of the Mr. Men, Little Miss, and Timbuctoostories in theOpen Area book nook. I think it must have been Leo,Erin, or Jimmy, knowinghow they appreciate all kinds of funny stories andthinking that this particularkind of British humour and language would be exactlytheir cup of tea.(Researcher Narrative, 12/17/94)Little lVIiss Scatterbrain was just a little bit forgetful.You can say that again!Little Miss Scatterbrain was just a little bitforgetful.She met Mr. Funny.“Hello, Miss Scatterbrain,” he said.“Hello, Mr. Bump,” she replied.She met Mr. Tickle.“Hello, Miss Scatterbrain,” he said.45“Hello, Mr. Strong,” she replied.She met Mr. Happy.“Where are you off to?” he asked her.She thought.And thought.“I bet you’ve forgotten, haven’t you?” laughed Mr. Happy.Little Miss Scatterbrain looked at him.“Forgotten what?” she said. (Hargreaves, 1981, unnumbered pages).LittLe Miss TROUBLEThis story is abuot a girl who loved to make trouble she said that little Mr. smallwass saying names so Mr. small sed that Miss trouble was saying names andshe got in trouble![Picture of Little Miss Trouble and Mr. Small with speech bubble “HERE COMESTROUBLE”](Felicity’s Reading Log, age 7, 12/14/94)Suddenly, there is a craze in our classroom for these stories. The childrenchoose them for shared reading in the morning; they seem to really enjoy talkingabout them, about the silly, funny, and mischievous mishaps in which thecharacters are involved. They choose them for silent reading, too, literallystacks of them, and they write about them in their reading logs and drawdelightful pictures of Mr. Clever; Little Miss Late, and Snap, a so, of crocodile.(Researcher Narrative, 12/17/94)Late for this.Late for that.Little Miss Late was late for everything!For instance.Do you know where she spent last Christmas?At home.Earlybird Cottage!But, do you know when she spent Christmas?January 25th!One month late!For example.Do you know when she did her spring cleaning at Earlybird Cottage?In the summer’Three months late!For instance.Do you know when she went on her summer holiday last year?In December!Six months late! (Hargreaves, 198 1, unnumbered pages).46LITTLE MISS LATEThis story is about a girl who is late so shy cowd not get a Job. But one day shysaw Mr. Lazzy. He was lazzy so shy cleand his plase and shy was good at that.Mr. Lazzy gets up at Lunch. and Miss Late got ther at Lunch and shy wasHappy.[Picture of Little Miss Late and Mr. Uppity with speech bubble “LATE AGAIN!]Mr. FussYThis story is about a man who was fussy. if there is a spek of dirt he getsallfussy. One day his cusin Mr. Clumsy came to visit, it was his long lostcusinfrom Australia. Mr. Clumsy made a big mess. when he went homeMr. Fussygot all fussy and then clened up. Then Mr. Bump came.(Fe1icitys Reading Logs, 01/09/95; 01/31/95)Bronwen and I are having fun responding to this flurry of characterstudies,commenting between us on how the particular whimsicallanguaging by thisBritish author, along with the at times different vocabulary,fascinates and worksso well for our students. (Researcher Narrative, 12/17/94)Leo: Mr. BumpThis is a funny story. I think that you should read it.Teacher: This sounds interesting -- I like funny stories, so Iwill read it!Thanks for the tip!Leo: LITTLE MISS GIGGLESThis is weried. I think you should read it.Teacher: Why is it a weird story? Maybe we will read someof the Mr. or Misscollection of books next week.Leo: CHIRPCRASH! Poor Chirp. This is a good book. I think you shouldread it.Teacher: O.K. What happens to Chirp?Leo: BuzzHe helps a lot. he’s fast too. I wonder how he takes somany walks?Teacher: Yes, I wonder how he does it! Did you find out?(Reading Responses, 01/11/95; 01/12/94; 01/13/95; 01/16/95)47We prepare a special bin for the collection, and Felicity and Frannydesign aspecial label, beautifully and brightly coloured, portraying agrinning Little MissTrouble and a mischievous-looking Mr. Tickle. For days, Jimmy,Erin and Hughare preoccupied, with the help of Leo and someof the girls, collecting, sorting,counting and making a list of them all (itturns out we have 12 Timbuctoo books,18 of the Little Miss ones, and 34 Mr. Men stories)!Then the children proceedto list all the ones we don’t have in the classroom or inthe school library andneed to get from either the public library or thebook store (Croak is a definitemust!) We prominently display the list on ourbulletin board. We are the luckyowners of this collection thanks to Charlotte’sgenerous donation of her dearchildhood reading relations. I remember countlesstimes of reading and rereading and talking about the adventuresof these characters with Charlotte andthe fun we had predicting and talking about their mishaps.There is always asurprise ending, one that really isn’t an ending atall but opens up spaces fornew speculations, interpretations,conversations, and questions. It seems that Iam now re-living these conversations withmy students, discussing favouritetitles (Mr. Tickle and Little Miss Scatterbrainfeature high on that list), ones thatwe absolutely need to get (“Remember, Ms. H.,Little Miss Magic and Mr.Messy??”) and how to go about it (“Maybe wecould do fundraising?” someonesuggests), then we try to figure out how much it wouldcost, and so on, and soon ... und so weiterThere is so much to learn from the world of these littlecharacters: They arealways faced with some problem, they aredifferent from the norm, strugglingand scheming, often in hilariously funny ways,to swim against the stream, toovercome the odds. They are always learningfrom their mistakes (well, most ofthe time), and I have no trouble seeing howthe children relate to theoutrageously silly and suspenseful scenariosand that Mr. Tickle, for instance,invites them to come along with him.(Researcher Narrative, 11/17/94)It was a warm, sunny morning.In his small house at the other end of the woods Mr.Tickle was asleep.You didn’t know that there was such a thing as aTickle, did you?Well, there is!Tickles are small and round and they have arms thatstretch and stretch andstretch.Extraordinarily long arms!So later that morning, after Mr. Tickle hadmade his bed and eaten his breakfast,he set off through the woods.As he walked along, he kept his eyes wide open, lookingfor somebody to tickle.Looking for anybody to tickle!Eventually Mr. Tickle came to a school.There was nobody around, so reaching up his extraordinarilylong arms to a highwindow ledge, Mr. Tickle pulled himself up and peepedthrough the open window.Inside he could see a classroom.There were children sitting at their desks and a teacherwriting on the blackboard.Mr. Tickle waited a minute and then reached through thewindow.Mr. Tickle’s extraordinarily long arm went right up tothe teacher, paused, and48then tickledhim!The teacher jumped in the air and turned around very quickly to see who wasthere.But nobody was there!Mr. Tickle was enjoying himself so much, he tickled theteacher again.The children in the classroom laughed and laughed andlaughed.(Hargreaves, 1971, unnumbered pages).Erin: Mr. Noisy!I liked this book because Mr. Noisy was soloud!Teacher: Did he learn to quiet down?Erin: Yes!Erin: Mr. ClumsyI liked the part were Mr. Clumsy triped on therock and fell into thewater.Teacher: Oh dear! Poor Mr. Clumsy... He is not very coordinated.Erin: Mr. Dizzy!I liked this book because Mr. Dizzy was’entclever at all! until theend!(Reading Responses, 12/13/94; 12/15/94;01/11/95)I like these stories a lot -- becausethe unexpected happens, leaving lotsofspaces for questions, lots of room forwonderful words, everyday words yetmetaphorical and idiomatic so that childrencan predict and wonder about whatis happening with the story andabout the languaging in it. When thechildrenask me which one is my favourite, I have ahard time deciding. Meow isdefinitely one of them, about a very literate cat wholearns about the fine art ofreading the world through the word on the pageand that it takes more than justthe printed word to understand language. (ResearcherNarrative, 12/17/94)Meow was a sort of cat.A Timbuctoo cat.He lived in Marmalade Cottage.In Timbuctoo.He woke up one morning.“What a nice day,” he cried, leaping out of bed.“How shall I spend it?”“I know,” he thought. “I’ll go fishing!”Meow had never been fishing before, and becausehe didn’t know anything about ithe went out and bought himself a book.49All about it.And off he set down to the river.He sat himself down under a tree and openedthe book.“Fishing, “ said the book, “iseasy!”“Good, “said Meow.“First,” said the book, “find a river.”Meow looked up.“One river,” he said. (Hargreaves, 1978, unnumberedpages).Meow faithfully follows instructions step by step,and just about everything thatcould go wrong with his fishing lesson doesindeed happen through hilariouslyfunny misinterpretations. The cat never manages tocatch a fish; he catches acold instead and learns a lesson about goingby the book too much.Erin liked Mr. Impossible “because he could doeverything,” Hiss “becauseHiss didn’t crawl at all” the way a sott of snake is supposedto, and Mr.Grumpy“because he “was SO grumpy! until the end!” Leodelighted in Moo becausehe didn’t mind trying new things, such as thetaste of honey, and approved thatMr. Happy and Mr. Tickle taught Mr. Grumpya lesson “about being “not quite sobad-tempered quite so often.” He was relieved when Hiss“finnaly finds out away to get around.” And Jimmy thought Snap was“the greatest” because hecould make magic by snapping his fingers, nothis teeth!Roddie is getting all these character studies andsurvival lessons first-handfrom his friends’ conversations about them, thenfinally gets really hooked onthese delighifully whimsical reading relationshimself. I am delighted when theyfinally stimulate him to respond beyond the previousone-sentence literalrepeating of the title, “this story is about Mr. ...“ Fordays in a row, he isresponding to the antics of Mr. Bounce, Mr. Clumsy,Mr. Silly, Mr. Dizzy, Mr.Daydream, Mr. Bump, and Mr. Snow, writing more complexsentences and,finally, expressing his opinion. (Researcher Narrative,11/17/94)Roddie: MR. DIZZY.This book is about a character Mr. DIZZY who lives in CleverLandbut he wasn’t clever. But one day he went in the woodsand hefound a well and he didn’t no what kind of well it was.It was awishing well and he took a wish and it came true!Teacher: How lucky! So, was he cleverafter all?Roddie: Yes!Roddie: MR. SNOWThis book is about Mr. Snow. I like the part when hehelps SantaClaus. It is a good story!50These personal responses to literature by children with very diverse ethnicbackgrounds (all the way from Eastern and Southern Europe to South-East Asia) shareanappreciation of common fundamental human experiences through storying. In theirpaperentitled The cogency ofmulticultural education, Ian Wrightand Jerrold Coombs state that“multicultural education is often defined in termsof knowing about the whats, hows, andwhys of human experiences” (Wright & Coombs,1981,p.5). The characters in thesestories modeled such experiences in a way that appealed tothe students and let them livevicariously through their adventures. In the same way, culturallysensitive education aboutthe multiple communities we live in includes the knowing about people’sexperiences andthe relations between them. With the expanding cultural compositionof thesecommunities, the socio-cultural elements of humanrelationships become increasinglyimportant, with variants more refined and inter-related thanever before through thepossibilities of establishing communication and creating audienceson both local and globalplanes (Greene, 1993; Rosen, 1985; Said, 1982). John Caputo(1987) perceives thesepossibilities as a truly hermeneutic task in thinkingabout change. According to him, it isthe radical thinking of “restoring life to its originaldifficulty” (p. 1) which will make adifference in the future. Luke (1993) further speculateson some of the future challengesfor societies:‘Thinking locally’ and ‘acting globally’ means making several radicalshifts towardssome social forms conventionally regarded as ‘dead and gone.’ Such asocietywould cultivate a new subjectivity grounded in newkinds of empowerment --technological, economic, political, and cultural. Sincethe ‘good life’ would nolonger be the endless consumption obsession of contemporarypermissiveindividualism, it could be redefined in more demandingmoral codes of hard work,frugality, ecological responsibility, humility, and skill perfection.This, in turn, willgenerate new community institutions suited to thenew context. Here the realadvances of secular rational civilization might counterbalancepotential regressionsto a reactionary irrational culture. Racism, provincialism,xenophobia, sexism, andclass hatreds need not be part of any populist society. Indeed, loyalty tocommunity, ecoregion or place need not become linesof cultural conflict or groupwarfare.(pp.217-218)51Within the framework of current educational and societal change in progress, theabove quote, along with an encouraging amount of writing on this subject evoke the senseof an urgency to re-think the meaning and configuration of community for present andfuture sociocultural contexts. Titles such as Communal crisis (Conley, 1993), Communitywithout unity: A politics ofDerridian extravagance (Corlett, 1993), Linking home,schooi and community literacy events (Early & Gunderson, 1993), Lost in the Land ofOz. The searchfor identity and community in American lfe (Kolbenschlag, 1988), Schooland community: Embracing diversity (Naylor, 1994), The soul of the community (Shore,1993), Recalling a community at loose ends (Singer, 1993), as well as an entireissue ofthe TESOL Journal, Bringing culture into the classroom and students into the community(Judd, 1993), speak to the widespread attention to this topic in a variety of disciplinesandgenres.Constructs of community and in particular historical and curricular concepts ofcommunity education in the Western world (Poster & Kruger, 1990) therefore needfurther probing and will be explored in more detail against a background of racial andcultural complexity with particular reference to the local realities of the communitiesdepicted in my study. One of these concepts, that of the community school, is basedonthe principles of community education that advocate life-long learning, theinterrelationship of home, school, and community, and the empowerment of the involvedstakeholders through community-based decision making (Decker & Romney,1992; Ozar,1993).In British Columbia, in order to become a designated community school, the schooland community have to initiate a needs-based assessment process which, togetherwith thesupport of the school district, the school’s staff and other community organizations,canlead to the establishment of a joint school and community association. These localassociations are members of the provincial and national community educationorganizations, ACEbc (Association for Community Education of British Columbia)and52CACE (Canadian Association for Community Association), respectively. The school-based organization functions in a similar way to traditional parent teacher associations;however, it has a larger community base as well as the additional benefit of a communityoffice staff (a coordinator, programmer, and secretary). The community coordinator inparticular is responsible for establishing links with teachers through regular co-planningwith them, bringing in resources, arranging field studies in the community, andrecruitingvolunteer individuals and organizations to participate in curricular activities in and outsidethe classrooms.In addition to giving the community’s stakeholders a voice and an opportunity toinfluence future educational directions at a local level, the principles ofcommunityeducation open the doors for teachers and their students to connect curriculargoals andpractices directly with the environment they live in, thereby tying the curriculum directlyto students’ and their families’ life experiencesand, on a larger scale, to the ecologicalissues of a larger global community. By providing the organizational and conceptualstructure and support through the integrated delivery of services to the community,community-serving schools indeed facilitate the implementation of such curricular goalsfor teachers. In their article Linking home, school and community literacyevents, Earlyand Gunderson (1993) show how for students of any age and cultural orlinguisticbackground, the exploration of issues and involvement with people in their communitycanopen their minds and hearts to the many different faces of our multi-ethnic communitiesinan authentic, meaningful way. In addition, this inclusive curricular practice givesstudents,their parents and families an opportunity to connect with their own backgroundandheritage.By offering programs after regular school hours and on weekends, studentsandcommunity members benefit from the direct delivery of services in their neighbourhood.In combining the resources of the school and the community, community schools,forexample, can initiate essential skills training and social planning and assist in carrying out53community projects that are relevantto local residents (Association forCommunityEducation in B.C., 1988).Within this new vision of a societythat honours the vital role ofschools in the context of theirsurrounding constituents and environments,the provincialgovernment, in conjunction with its “Kids-at-risk”initiative, recently recognized thevalueand promise of existing and developingmodels of community education,be they in theform of community schools all overBritish Columbia or other institutionsat various levelsof educational delivery in line withthe aims and goals of community-baseddecision-making. Indeed, for the first timeafter a long budgetary drought infunding, communityschools are being financiallyrewarded through governmental monetarysupport. TheAssociation of CommunityEducation for British Columbia, ACEbc,together withrepresentatives from the Ministryof Education’s Social Equity Branch andvarious schooldistricts’ organizations, has recently developeda set of criteria for recognizing schoolsasdesignated community schools (Charbonneau,1995; Domaas, 1995). They include,forexample, the existenceof an association that involves parents, teachers,administrators aswell as community groups’ representativesor individual residents in decision-makingrelevant to their community’s issues.My own involvement in this teachingenvironment has been shapedconsiderably by the community schoolaspect. I have come to increasinglyappreciate the holistic and contextualized approachto teaching and learningthat seems to thrive in community schools-- so much so that I am now amember of the Board of Directors ofACEbc. Throughout this involvement andlargely due to experiencing community educationfirst hand as a resident andparent, my beliefs in the need to becomemore knowledgeable about students’backgrounds and in the importanceof a meaningful connection between home,school, and community have been reinforced. Moreover,my dealings withstudents from such diverse socioculturalbackgrounds, often very different fromthose of their teachers, have made merealize that the school system as wellasindividuals in charge of educational deliveryneed to be much more aware ofand in support of making these connections.There seems to be an emergingrecognition of the importance of communitybuilding in the pedagogicalfield aswell as a reconceptualization of the notion ofcommunity in postmodernsociological and philosophical writing. (Researcher Narrative,04/12/94)54Responsible, to a large part, for this rapid change in the conceptualizationof whatcommunity education at the end of the 20th century may meanhave been socio-political,socio-economic and socio-ecological forces of far greaterglobal impact than ever before.Through these, we have witnessed such paradoxical phenomena,exhilarating anddisturbing at the same time, as the disappearance of nation-states(Hannerz & LOfgren,1994; Walker, 1993), the increasing urbanization andghettoization of many living areasthroughout the global landscape (Gundara & Jones, 1993)along with the rise ofinnovative ecological models (Berry, 1993), and politicalre-formations based on culture,race and ethnicity (Moodley, 1992). As one authordemonstrates in the case of one urbanlandscape, we witness how it all comes together inLos Angeles (Soja, 1989a) at the sametime that we are taking Los Angeles apart (Soja,1989b).Public institutions such as schools have traditionallybeen charged with establishingcommunal values and establishing links withtheir surrounding communities (Ashworth,1985). By accepting the legitimacy of thesocial constructivist perspective to learningandliteracy, governments, school boards, and educatorsthemselves must also acceptthechallenges that a global rearranging of societal valuesand roles can bring. In particularwith respect to literacy in a multicultural educationsystem, this paradigm shift might haveconsequences that we can only speculateon from our present perspective(Asselin et al.,1993). The discussions about the re-definingof literacy have never been so complex andcontroversial; they include, among others,the incorporation of multiple forms of literacies(Froese, 1990; Sarris, 1992; Scarcella &Chin, 1993), the reconceptualization of genres(Chapman, 1994; Reid, 1987) and the revitalizationof the teaching of reading and writingthrough literature that is multicultural (Early &Gunderson, 1994; Harris, 1992; Jobe &Sutton, 1990).My life has gotten just a little more complicatedthan my ability to describe it.That used to be the definition of madness,nowit!sjust discontinuous overload.My project is a little more complicated.Bharati Mukherjee, The holder of the world (1993)55Propositions on LiteracyWriting is a kind of magic. It allows you toshare your thoughts with anyonewho can read. Maybe your ideas will be read bypeople hundreds of years fromnow1 Reading other people’s writing lets you travel toother places and othertimes. And when you read writing you can learnthings -- how to make achocolate cake, raise a rabbit or build aglider. Knowledge that is written downisthere for everyone to use. (Lewis, 1992,p.5)Renata: I like to nt sorybooks. I amwoking on a new you like to nt sorys_____Teacher: Yes! [in provided blank underlined space]Renata: I like to nt poms to. do youuk to nt poms_____?Teacher: Yes!Renata: It is fun to nt sorybooksTeacher: What kind of story are youwriting this time?(Journal, age 7, 10/04/94)Erin: A Few days ago I finiht Mariois Mising!Teacher: Was this a story you werereading or writing?Maybe you could tell us about it?Erin: No! Way!(Journal, 10/20/94)Everyone reads life and the world like abook. Even the so-called ‘illiterate.’Theworld actually writes itself with the many-leveled,unfixable intricacy and opennessof a work of literature. 1f through our study ofliterature, we can ourselves learnand teach others to read the world in the ‘proper’risky way, and to act upon thatlesson, perhaps we literary people would not forever besuch helpless victims.Mere literary studies cannot accomplishthis. One must fill the vision of literaryform with its connections to what is being read: history,political economy -- theworld. And it is not merely a question ofdisciplinary formation. It is a questionalso of questioning the separation between the worldof action and the world of thedisciplines. There is a great deal in the way. (Spivak,1988,p.95)We no longer partake of the drama of alienation, butare in the ecstasy ofcommunication. (Baudrillard,1988,p.22)56The above texts strongly advocate literacy as a socially constructed phenomenon. Myown experiential perspective also speaks to the cogency of this approach in many of myjournal entries and through my observations and readings of thetexts and speech of thechildren in my classroom:In the same way, in my particular home area oftwenty-two grade threes, thedegree of acceptance of others, the willingnessto work with others regardlessof personal preference, and the need to be recognizedindividually areconstantly negotiated, evaluated, and celebrated indifferent ways. This processis certainly not easy for many children: Learningto get along with others,regardless of age, gender, and race is often difficult andchallenging, but it isalways a learning experience that requires growthtowards acceptance of othersfrom students and teachers alike. Perhaps, this livingand learning throughdifficulty needs to be recognized as an integral,necessary part of thesociocultural construction of literacy. The unfolding ofthis literacy as a socialand cultural process through which studentsnegotiate learning through multiplelayers of texts needs to be further documented. With myown research I hopeto contribute to filling this gap. (Researcher Narrative,06/14/94)Following the work of Bakhtin and his colleagues, no text-- either conversationalor written -- exists in isolation; every text existsin relation to previous andforthcoming texts. But which texts are and will be relatedis not a given; it is asocial construction. People, interacting with each other,construct intertextualrelationships by the ways they act and react to each other.(Bloome & Egan-Robertson, 1993,p.311)However, the way we communicate as literate and literary people,through literatureand other language-related means, has traditionally been defined througha transmissionmodel of literacy acquisition and development (Anderson & Reeder,in press) and, with it,a canon of texts that has indeed alienated a large percentageof our schools’ populations(Au, 1993; Banks & Banks, 1993). In this particular NorthAmerican context, as in othercontinents, it has resulted in the marginalization of students frombackgrounds outside thecultural and linguistic mainstream, those living on the borders,the margins (Giroux, 1992;Villegas, 1991). As numerous research studies show,the Eurocentric bias of the schoolcurriculum and of literacy and literature programs in particularis as pervasive as everdespite the emergence of apparently progressive new approachessuch as ‘literature-based’57or ‘multicultural’ reading programs (Freeman & Goodman, 1993; Greenlaw, M. J.,1994,Willinsky, 1990).In contrast, we are beginning to see that the multiple authentic literaciesthat do existin our classrooms, whether teachers acknowledge them or not, are fundamentallydifferentfrom the kind of contrived texts that have been taught inschools for so long under themantle of being both instructionally sound as well asliberating (Cairney & Langbien,1989; Myers, 1992). This officially sanctioned literacy hasin fact achieved the oppositethrough a hidden curriculum aimed at conformity tothe standard of cultural hegemonyand “the cultural romantics” of dominant methodologies,such as in the case of the currentmainstream practice of the “workshop” approach,in particular that of the ‘Writers’Workshop’ (Dressman, 1993). In the reality of theseinstitutionalized forms of literacy,“plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” (Edelsky,1991,p.59). In order to escape thisirony and instead truly affect change, authentic narrativesneed to be heard and told overand over again, in many linguistic and semiotic systems.The memories that are with us,that frame us in our presence, need to be holisticallyintegrated into our literary andliterate endeavors, much like the visual images of ascene that leave a lasting impression:Stepping out of the carriage, Werther sees Charlotte for thefirst time (and falls inlove with her), framed by the door of her house(cutting bread-and-butter for thechildren: a famous scene, often discussed): the firstthing we love is a scene. Is thescene always visual? It can be aural, the frame can belinguistic: I can fall in lovewith a sentence spoken to me: and not only because it says somethingwhichmanages to touch my desire, but because of its syntacticalturn (framing), whichwill inhabit me like a memory. (Barthes, 1978a,p.192)Barthes’ and other contemporary probes into both the apparentand underlyingpsychological, cognitive, emotional and sociocultural phenomenavery much reveal thelens of the ethnographer. Ethnography has indeed become afavoured mode ofinvestigating language and culture: from Bauman &Scherzer’s (1974) Explorations in theethnography ofspeaking, which includes Hymes’ Ways ofspeaking and Basso’s The58ethnography ofwriting, through Heath’s Ways with words (1983) and Clifford’s & Marcus’(1986) Writing culture, to Boyarin’s (1992) The ethnography ofreading, containingFabian’s Keep listening: The ethnography ofreading (1992). These works all focus onthe relations between the various language skills and their functions as socioculturalmanifestations of a society or community. With my own study, I hope to contribute toexpanding the body of memories and manfestations of literacy communitiesin thispostmodern era. Throughout this documentation, however, I am succinctly remindedthat,as valuable as these descriptions are, we need to keepin mind thatwe are living in this web of interrelations and these interrelationsare alwaysalready at work before the task of writing about those relations has begun.Ecology tells us that there is no center or foundation to this web of livinginterconnections, just small, lateral, interlacing relations of this to this to this,splayed in moving patterns of kinship and kind (wonderful terms for pedagogy toconsider). (Jardine, 1994, p. v)I am re-thinking about the de-centred subject theme, ‘subjects withoutselves,’ inGabrielle Schwab’s term, about the transitional nature of texts: a poignantandpowerful metaphor that is difficult to define, however. It refers to the‘dynamicchange within an ongoing process’ and in this way relates to the kind oflanguaging/theming in David Jardine’s work about writing and pedagogy inconnection with ecology. And I am re-thinking, once again, back tothoughtsabout the kind of ‘composite propositional intertexts,’ in Lee Gunderson’swordsand examples, which students and teachers create and negotiate in wholelanguage classrooms. Texts that stand out by themselves, insist on theirsubjectivity, are composed in different spaces, yet come together in thiscomposition -- connectedness, rhizomean in nature: seeing Chinese lanterns,reading about the Californian watershed, walking across Japanese Canadianbridges on the Pacific, listening and responding to musical scores from the hillsand valleys of Troldhaugen, receiving poetry and languaging via e-mailacrosscontinents and time zones, longing for/lingering with German and Frenchphonemes over phone lines, forever part of me, strangely and yet comfortablydistant. Entgrenzungen ... beyond borders, yet bordering on the other.Thememories of two intense years of influences and interpretations, thinkingwith/in/(ab)out cultural differences and pedagogical and emotional strugglesDifférance and difficulty go hand in hand.(Researcher Narrative, 11/30/94)I am re-thinking about the past few weeks with the children, re-living scenesofpreparing for our concert with the ecological theming of peace around Christmasand other Festivals of Light: the children listening to music, writing andsingingabout “What can I give my world for Christmas,” thinking such awe-inspiring59thoughts about kindness to others “in all the universe,” in Jimmy’sfavouriteexpression, and about making the world a better, cleaner, morecaring, healthierplace to grow up in. Am I starting to grasp a senseof their lives, of whatmatters to them, the future generation in chargeof this planet?(Researcher Narrative, 12/26/94)Rapphel is fiting Shreder.I migt go to Naila’s Cirsmas party insted of wachingNinja turtles.(Leo’s Journal, 11/14/94)What can I give my worldfor Christmas?How can I show I really care?For all the many gfls to me,All the blessings that we share?What can I give my world?’2I would like to help people in other partsof the world to give them lots of Foodand Water toys and Homes Reds and schoolsand no Wars. Thats what I’llgivemy world for christmas.(Naomi’s Wish Listfor the World, 12/07/94)What can Igive my worldfor Christmas?How can I show my gratitude?For all her beauty and her manyjoys,Sunlight, water, air, andfood?What can I give my world?I can help my world to keep the worldclean and help the children from otherparts of the world and care for the animals.(Rita’s Wish Listfor the World, 12/07/94)What can I give my worldfor Christmas?The season message is veiy clear.Peace and goodwill and kindlinessThat lasts through all the year.That’c what I’ll give my worldI’ll give my world healthy food so people won’t getsick. and make sureeveryone is healthy even animals. Thatis what I’ll give my world.(Sara’s Wish List jr the World, 12/07/94)We must believe in theinherent goodness of human beings, and‘theseason’s message is loud and clear’ atthe end of this year of reading/writingwithin this tangled web of interdependentteaching, learning, and living: Aspedagogues, we have a constant, seriousresponsibility to open our students’60minds/heads and hearts to facing the challenge of learning and practicingecologically sound living in a world that is troubled by too manymis-guidedpractices. The notion of difficulty once again enters into this thinking aboutopening heads and hearts, making me remember Robert Graves’poem and hismetaphor of ‘walking on hills’(Researcher Narrative, 12/29/94)To walk on hills is to employ legsAs porters of the head and heartTo walk on hills is to see sightsAnd hear sounds unfamiliar.Heart records thatjourneyAs memorable indeed;Head reserves opinion,Confused by the wind. (Graves, 1959, p. 133)It will be difficult at times to decide which is the main trail andwhich is the aside,for all of the threads do wind together in an interweaving web ofinterdependencies. It wifi depend, in part, on where you want to goand on whereyou have been. But it won’t only depend on this.Sometimes the trails will lead toplaces that are connected to where you want to goor where you have been, butthat are more difficult or more complicated and convoluted and dangerousthanany of us might want to admit .... (Jardine, 1993,p.vii)I can relate to this need of making a difference through my teachingand to thedfJIculty of it in connection with the children’s many-numbered needsand theirmanifestations in literacy events. It is, in David Jardine’swords,indicative of an urgent necessity to speak and write differentlythan so much of ourinheritance has allowed. It aspires to the ways of thevoice and the hand and theheart that embody the generativity and wildness and interdependenceandambiguous kind-ness that is also its topic. (p. ix)The eeriness of connecting to these words, recognizing themin my own texts,and in others’, creating inter-text, evoking thoughts/emotions oftentoouncomfortable to consider, yet knowing they are necessary, inevitable,perhapsultimately beneficial for my personal/professional developmentand for what Ibelieve to be the task and meaning of pedagogical endeavor. And,once again,re-connecting with meaning and place.(Researcher Narrative, 12/30/94)It may be that the meaning and place of children in our lives is the mostimportantconsideration to be taken up in education today, not just becauseof the voice of61the young has been translated out of any meaningful involvement with the powersthat be, but also because of the question of the young (their conception,care, andnurturance) devolves precisely on so many of the defining issues of ourtime suchas the meaning of power, gender relations,and the matter of how we might learnto live more responsibly within the earthly webof our planetary home.(Smith, 1994c, p. 102)But again, ecology is reminding us that thereis nothing easy, clear and simple aboutthe Earth’s textures and the ways we are culpablefor and implicated in this “text” (Jardine,1993, ix). Once again, the theming of the dfJIcultyof living within a global consciousnessis struck, a recurring notion in many of the texts aboutembodied language and text.We have traveled a long way down the road of literaryexpeditions into the culturalworld -- from the journeys of the past that delighted the readerwith colourful, exotic, andoften dangerously naive accounts of native and foreign ethnicity at the costof pejorativeand prejudiced speculations about others. Examples such asThe Five Chinese Brothers(Bishop & Wiese, 1938) or The Indian in the Cupboard (Banks,1980) are painfulreminders of this kind of literature. They stand insharp contrast to George Littlechild’s(1993) authentic autobiographical narratives and artin This landis my land, the poignantand compassionate portrayal of the Japanese Canadian experienceof deportation inNaomi Road by Joy Kogawa (1986), Paul Yee’s talesof the Chinese immigrants’exploitation in Talesfrom GoldMountain (Yee, 1989),or the beautiful bilingual edition ofthe ancient Chinese folk tale A Letter to the King (Va, 1991).The recent celebration of these narratives is a promising beginningin theacknowledgment of a new humanism that needs to be further documentedand criticallyevaluated with respect to the significance of these experiences forthe development of bothpersonal and socially constructed realities. If storiesand narratives have indeed the powerto communicate common concerns and to teach universalhuman values such as tolerance,respect, and the belief in the principles of freedom,social justice, equality, andcommitment to human rights, we need to let them speak much louderto positively62overcome the limitations of race and class and other factorsthat remind us of the‘monstrous lessons’ of imperialism (Willinsky, 1994). Thelatter are still the predominantcauses for the breakdown in communication among thosewho really hold the power andthose whose powerlessness is perpetuated withinour educational institutions (Coombs,1994).Only if more and more persons incarnate such principles, we mightsay, and chooseto live by them and engage in dialogue in accordwith them, are we likely to bringabout a democratic pluralism and not fly apart in violenceand disorder.(Greene, 1993,p.18)Alice Walker believes in the power of the writer whocan transcend these boundariesthrough language that speaks authentically and universallyabout the suffering and pain butalso about the beauty, wholeness, and joy our ancestorsexperienced (Winchell, 1992).Through reliving and learning from the life historiesof people who have been subjected tohorrific injustices and discrimination and yet have livedon through the words of thewriters and artists of this present world, we can gain adeeper understanding of the powerof our own stories and those of our parents, grandparents,and elders in a global narrative.With reference to In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens,Alice Walker places herself in thecontext of an embodied literacy that transcends timeand culture, yet affirms it at the sametime:In that story I gathered up the historical and psychological threadsof the life myancestors lived, and in the writing of it I felt joy and strengthand my owncontinuity. I had that wonderful feeling writers get sometimes,not very often, ofbeing with a great many people, ancient spirits, all very happy tosee my consultingand acknowledging them, and eager to let me know, throughthe joy of theirpresence, that indeed, I am not alone. ... It is, in the end, thesaving of lives that wewriters are about. Whether we are ‘minority’ writers or‘majority.’ It is simply inour power to do this. (Walker, 1983; as quoted in Eagleton,1986, p. 31)63In the following chapter, I want to dwell more deeply on the languaging that speaksof the presence of the children in my classroom and of the cultural connections that arewith them, that are part of their heritage behind them, and that, perhaps, lie ahead of themin their future. This is also the time and place to portray the specific site of this study indetail, to explain the situatedness of my questioning against the background ofwhere ittakes place and who the stakeholders are in this process of learning and teaching.I live in three time zones simultaneously, and I don’t mean Eastern, Central andPacific. I mean the past, the present and the future.(Mukherjee, 1993,p.5)64Chapter 3Living Ethnography: Cultures of Learning/Learning About CulturesThe aim is to urge the engagement across social and cultural edges, to breakframe.s disciplinary rules, received notions, and the conventions offieith’ork withits repetitious intellectual labors. My purpose in reading the poetic ofculturesincontact is the result offinding there a nonhierarchical approach to knowledge,arefreshing directness ofexperience between one segment ofhumanity andanother.Dan Rose, Living the ethnographic lifewas wurdest du tun?kulturelle unterschiede sind die stärke der menschheitEsprit Advertisement, In Brigitte: Das Magazin /uir FrauenI went to school at Strathcona School which was a conglomeration ofeverybodyand everyone, and we knew each other swear words very, very well. That the,fIrst thing you learn in aforeign language.Benny Pastinsky, In Opening Doors: Vancouver East EndYet women have always surviveddans une autre langueNicole Brossard, Installations (avec et sans pronoms)65Many notions about place in relation to culture and the languagewe use to describe itundergird our representations and interpretationsof ‘the real world’ we live in. In thereadings I have engaged in throughout this dissertation,those from the field of culturalgeography have presented many insightfuland thought-provoking connectionswith theeducational and linguistic dimensionsI set out to describe. If there is one disciplinewhichhas indeed begun to embark on an interdisciplinarydialogue in ways that are meaningfulfor the understanding of human liveswith/in their environments, it is thatof culturalgeography. Many of the maps ofmeaning (Jackson, 1989) that scholars in this disciplineare sketching speak of the inter-connectednessof our human lives with where we aresituated and with who, in the past,present, and future, we align ourselves.Titles ofmonographs such as Writing worlds (Barnes &Duncan, 1992), Geography and socialjustice (Smith, 1994), and place/culture/representation(Duncan & Ley, 1993) open up alandscape of interconnected variablesbetween local and global socioculturalsites. Inarticles such as Sites ofrepresentation:Place, time, and the discourse of the other(Duncan, 1993), Multiculturalism: Representinga Canadian institution (Kobayashi,1993), Reading, community and a senseofplace (Stock, 1993), and Thepolitics ofdiversity in Monterey Par/c Calfornia (Horton, 1992),the authors draw maps ofintercultural processes in progress andgive us yet another perspective on how wemightcome to understand the complexity of thefactors at work in the construction ofpostmodern landscapes. Key phrases that use languagesuch as the moral landscape, thepolitics of language, restructuring, andreading the texts ofNiagara Falls, for example,establish contextual and semantic relations to avariety of social sciences fields, amongthem sociology, political science, anthropology,ethnography, philology, linguistics, andeducation. These are all linked by elementsof cultures at work and play, of people livingwithin and outside of cultural boundariesin these postmodern times. Derek Gregory,from the University of British Columbia, in a foreword toa series of texts on cultural66geography entitled Contours (Gregory,1989), outlines this decidedly interdisciplinarycontext of these writings:The ideas with which we are concernedin these books are ofvital importance foranyone standing on the threshold of thetwenty-first century. Living inmulticultural societies in an interdependentworld, in which events in one placearecaught up in rapidly extending chainsof events that span the globe;dependingupon an increasingly fragile andvolatile physical environment whosecomplexinteractions require sophisticatedanalysis and sensitive management;recognizingthat the human impact on the face ofthe earth has become evermore insistent --we have no choice but to enlarge the geographicalimagination. (p. x)Enlarging the geographical imagination,in this postmodern framework of reference,involves a process of deconstructing thenotion of the centredness of ourgeographical andcultural world to include “places on themargin” (Shields, 1991) as alternativestomodernity’s maps. Much of the postmodernperception of the world isconcerned with thismarginality that stretches beyond apurely geographical space but reachesotherdimensions that touch human lives:To be on the margin has implied exclusionfrom ‘the centre.’ But social,political,and economic relations which bind peripheriesto centres, keep them together inaseries of binary relationships, ratherthan allowing complete disconnection.In thisway, ‘margins’ become signiflersof everything ‘centres’ deny or repress; marginsas‘the Other,’ become the condition ofpossibility of all social and culturalentities.(p.276)Communities are social and cultural entitiesthat are affected by these binaryrelationships and by their placement relative tothe two locations: whether they arein orclose to the ‘centre’ or are identifiedwith the margin. The geographicaldimensions thatdefine certain communities can be apowerful force pulling in either direction;however,the where itself in turn is shaped byan increasingly complex web of factors thatencompass historical, sociopolitical, socioeconomic,and other variables. Above all,communities are shaped by the peoplewho belong to them. Whereas inearlier times, theearth was considered a vast and mysteriousunexplored space, we now imagineour world67as a ‘global village;’ as a result of the expansionof our geographical reality andimagination, our communities are moredivergent and heterogeneous than ever before,making it increasingly difficult for some of us to findour individual place within thesecommunal spaces.Out of Place: Reading BetweenCultures and ContinentsSeveral months ago, when traveling to Germany,I found myself experiencingpersonally the impact of this phenomenonof enlarging the geographicalimaginationthrough the peculiar displacement in betweengeo-cultural identities that had alsomarkedthe beginning of my life in Canada. In theairport, on the plane, by myself without atraveling companion, self- consciously, (ohso slightly) un-comfortable withthe label ofwoman traveling alone in this oh so emancipatedwestern world, my thinking aboutcultural and linguistic identities came into focusonce again through my immediateenvironment. As I was shifting back and forthfrom one linguistic mode to another,English to German and vice versa, I was alsoshifting through different comfortlevels. Ihad brought along two texts, anovel, in English, The Lost Language ofCranes, the bookthe women in my reading group had chosenfor next month’s meeting, as part of ourongoing discussion about issuesof gender, language, and culture (rememberingBill Pinar’sinspirited lecture with that title, constitutingtreasured conversations of readingrelationsthat have become dear to me inmy personal and professional life) -- and, alsoin English,Reading Ethnography, a book that camerecommended via another academic andreadingrelation (a title passed on passing in thestreet: fleeting, yet significant encounterswithinsites littered with literacy). These two textsfirmly displayed my present immersioninthinking about reading life as a teacher, ascholar, and a woman, my groundednessinissues of living pedagogy. Somewherealong the journey, in between continents, Ipickedup one of the German magazinesprovided by Lufthansa, the German airline,and started68reading about current women’s issues, social and political commentary, relationships, andfashion trends in Brigitte: Das Magazinfür Frauen. I shifted between feelings ofcuriosity, comparing the writing with Canadian and Americanmagazines I occasionallyglance through at the orthodontist when waiting for my daughter, and feelingsof slightpanic, recognizing my strangeness, my unfamiliarity with many ofthe issues and events. Ifound myself challenged, almost exhausted by the mental -- not thepurely linguistic effortsof reading the world of relationships, German style: I was out oftouch with the cogentand casual outspokenness with which women, young and old,publicly discuss anythingfrom sexual preferences to career decisions to styles in clothes and art.In between, I wascarrying on a conversation, in German, with the man inthe seat next to me, who had justspent a dream holiday in a fishing lodge in NorthernB.C. and still could not believe thephenomenal amount and size of salmon he and his group of malefriends now had stashedaway in our plane’s cargo, neatly packaged and frozenfor admiring friends and relatives athome in a small town in Germany. I felt thoroughly Canadian whenspeaking with him,wanting to substitute salmon for Lachs, float planecoming much easier to the tip of mytongue than Wasserflugzeug, resenting the familiar gendered toneof voice of assertivemale bonding experiences and adventuring in foreign lands. I foundmyself wanting tospeak English with the flight attendants who politelywent about serving meals and drinksin German, not for lack of linguistic knowledge but for reasons muchmore deeplyconnected with cultural identity crossing over into the linguistic realm.Even through Iwas very much looking forward to seeing my family,being with friends and colleaguesagain, I found myself resenting leaving behind the linguistic and cultural comfortzones inwhich I have placed myself for the past few years. What used to be my home, mymothertongue, for close to three decades of my life, does notfeelentirely natural any more -- it isdifficult to re-connect, it takes work to open myself up again to a worldof German, beingGerman myself despite the outward ease with which I am able to crosstime zones and69continents and despite the oh so politically correct sounding Esprit ad: culturaldfferences are the strength ofhumankind (Esprit, 1993,pp.40-4 1).On the trip back from Germany, when talking to a high school student who wassitting next to me on the plane, headed for a year’s English immersion experience in aVancouver public school, translating for her the puzzling lexical details of the CanadaCustoms form, I was struck by the memory of how, just a few years back, that comfortzone for me too resided in the other language and culture, and of how the feeling ofdisplacement had occupied my being almost entirely when I first came to Canada. Now,Iam fondly collecting postcards of the type of airplane I am traveling on to bring back tomy students, and I am composing the message I am going to write to themon the card,translating cultures and connecting places somewhere between the coastsof Scotland andGreenland, living ethnography.I recalled Gabrielle Schwab’s experience of moving back and forth betweenGermanyand California while translating her dissertation, EntgrenzungenundEntgrenzungsmythen:“I often found myself an ethnographer in two foreign cultures. Some of the stagesof thistravel are reflected in the folds and fissures created by the contact between two verydifferent cultures and historical moments” (Schwab, 1994,p.vii). Curiously, Schwabfinds the title of her dissertation “virtually untranslatable,” an experience thatI can easilyrecreate within my own life circumstances, forever trying, for example, totranslate NorthAmerican English pedagogical jargon into German in discussions with family,friends, andcolleagues.Entgrenzung is a word whose connections run from the action of the liftingboundaries -- their transgression, transformation, or expansion -- to thesyncretisticexperience in which details and structures are grasped holistically.Moreover,Entgrenzungen also recalls the fragmentations and dissolutions of formandstructure prominent in modernism and post-modernism. It is a wordthat calls upsuch different realms of discourse as geography and geopolitics,morphology,psychoanalysis and aesthetics. To my knowledge, no English word combinesall ofthese connotations and resonances. (pp. vii-viii)70Where we are from, where we are now, where we place ourselves in the landscapes ofcultural and linguistic identities constitutes an ongoing, changing process of connotations,of meaning making, of making sense of our lives and work. This chapteropens the doorsto the ethnographic exploration of the cultural encounters at work in mypresent place ofliving and working. For over a decade now, I have called this neighbourhood my home,my foreign home, on the second continent that I have come to (dis)placemyself For thepast four-and-a-half years, I have also called thisplace called school in Goodlad’s(1983b) well-known phrase, in this neighbourhood my place of work, a placewhere mypedagogical experiences were and still are developing. In between, the school, as acommunity school, was the place where the community ties formed slowly thatbecame alifeline of support when trying to survive as a new parent in a foreigncultural space sodifferent from my own childhood environment.My first involvement with this small community school, tucked awayin the farthestnorth-east corner of the city, was through a parent group that met regularlyonce a weekto discuss issues of a wide and bewildering variety:They ranged from health care to childcare, from children’s literature to women’s rights, from compiling recipes tocoordinating acultural awareness celebration. I distinctly remember feeling strange andnot at all athome in this parent culture and in my role as a new community resident -- untilthe doorsof the schools literally opened to a whole world of complex and challenging educational,social, and cultural experiences and opportunities. Gradually, my family and I grewmorefamiliar with the neighbourhood and the school, with the neighbourhood through theschool. My daughter started going to the pre-school attached and runjointly by theparents and the community school association, then to the schoolitself from Kindergartento grade seven. By the time she was in grade five, I wasboth a parent and a teacher at theschool. My own grade three class loved saying hello to Charlotte in thehallway andwelcomed her in our classroom; she became a well-known and well-likedmember of our71classroom community both through my stories and by being a member of the larger schoolcommunity.I perceive my role as a teacher in much the same way as the above life/livedexperience. It constitutes the processes involved in coming to know my students as partof my world, of my cultural experience in this connected web of human relations. Fromthe beginning, I have conceived this as an ethnographic exploration in thesense of buildingbridges, of being part of the engineering, the constructing, the meaning making. As Rose’s(1990) volume on Living the ethnographic lfe expresses in its very title, we thereforecanno longer subscribe to a methodology that surrenders to the current backlash mentalitythat pervades the general public, media and administrative and political decision-makingbodies. This conservative and at times reactionary attitude is anathema to a newethnographic action research paradigm. Instead, we need to engage in case studiesofparticipatory and reflective educational action. These documentations are needed, Ibelieve, in order to ward off and render ineffective the trends to take educationalresearchback to a passive and inert state of “resting on the verandah.”In a panel presentation on classroom-centred research at a recent internationalTESOL (Teachers of English as a Second or Other Language) conference, anumber ofresearchers and teachers discussed various research approaches and methodologiesthathave emerged within the last few years as part of the reawakened interestin “what is reallygoing on in the classroom.”3The participants stressed the importance of ethnographicaction research as a means for redefining and obtaining answers to questions arising fromday-to-day teaching and learning practices in order to create a more positive andsuccessful learning environment for all children. This questioning of practice applies toboth the critical examination of teaching and to the critical reconceptualization ofresearchpractices prevalent in education and other social sciences. This hegemony of educationalpower structures has often been transferred to curriculum implementation practices.However, although the descriptive, qualitative nature of ethnographic inquiryhas provided72a starting point for action research approaches, especially in the methodological domainsof field observation (Clifford & Marcus, 1986), data collection (Wolcott, 1990) andautobiographical method (Pinar, 1988), its objectives have not remained entirelycompatible with more recent developments in the field of teacher research. Richard Blot,for example, in the TESOL forum mentioned earlier, accused the more traditional schoolof classroom ethnography of remaining “at rest on the verandah,” implying that theresearcher was typically cast in the role of the participant observer, which was infact theempathetic outsider, wanting to portray the subjects’ point-of-view and experiences, butinreality being a passive observer, removed from actually living the situation as partof hisor her professional involvement.’4If you’re not from don’t know the seayou can’t know the sea.The waves are so big,the sand is so hard to dig.The water is so cold,but the sea is bold.If you’re not from don’t know the sea.(Jordan, age 8, 05/94)For me, living the situation in multiple ways, seeing this pedagogical landscape with avariety of different eyes, those of a teacher, parent, community resident, and an immigrantwith English as a second language, has been a necessary part of the research process inorder to arrive at my present pedagogical stance. It provided the motivation, the curiosity,the sense for undertaking this endeavour in making sense of my own and others’ livedcultural realities -- as well as the making, the act of shaping and re-shaping my identity inrelation to others. I have often questioned the sanity and the cogency of this endeavourduring the past two years of intense (pre)occupation with the students, staff andcommunity members of what has become, technically, my research site.73This process has been difficult at times. I often wondered: What about the so-calledprofessional neutrality and detachment that supposedly makes for sound and objectivejudgment? What about the comments I was warned to expect from staff and parents alongthe line of “too close for comfort,” meaning that living in the neighbourhood and being ateacher researcher would create conflicts rather than encourage confidence and trust in meas a professional?Despite these perceived problems with situating myself in this complex web ofrelations, I carried on living these different roles, and I received much support along theway. I needed the challenges of stepping into new territory and re-defining pedagogicalpractice for my own environment. I have not stopped yet to do this re-(de)fining; and Iknow that every time I walk into the doors of my school and my classroom, I feel thesame kind of excited curiosity and suspense as when I first became a member of thiscommunity of inquiry; only now, it goes together with a sense of belonging, ownership,and responsibility for being part of this cultural and pedagogical landscape. With thisresponsibility in mind, I am succinctly aware of the problems related to identity in a placeof cultural pluralism:We are what we do, especially what we do to change what we are: our identityresides in action and struggle. Therefore, the revelation of what we are implies thedenunciation of those who stop us from being what we can become. In definingourselves our point of departure is challenge, and struggle against obstacles.(Galeano, 1988,p.121)This theming of identity, my own and others’, in relation to the cultural geography Iam describing and with reference to other maps -- of places and people within cultures --that have been documented in ethnographic studies, is re-occurring throughout this andthe other chapters. It is interwoven into textual layers of community, neighbourhood,school, and classroom and reflected in thefolds andfissures, in Schwab’s words, createdby the contact of these different textual, geographical, cultural, and human relations.Through this, I hope to be able to contribute to what Ted Aoki calls74the opening up of spaces where teachers really dwell, where they’re doing theirwork, where they’re struggling. What the teachers constitute in thesespaces, asthey struggle through making sense simultaneously of the curriculum-as-plannedand of the kids’ lives in the classroom, is a tough game. Living in thespaces iswhat teaching is. (Hinds, 1994,p.10)We start with the tangible, the geographical where, to find our place. We follow theplan of the curriculum oniy to discover much more than a map of topographical andcurricular variables. We discover geo-cultural and global human relationships, maps ofthe human heart (Ward, 1993) that transcend local and individual cultures of learning.Into the City: Mapping Landscapes of Linguistic and Cultural VariablesSomewhere deep within the Chinese psyche exists a highly stylized image ofparadise. It is depicted in Chinese watercolor landscapes and given life in thegardens that peaked as an art form during the Ming dynasty. The characters thatmake up the Chinese word for “landscape” include the symbols for “mountains”and “water.” Vancouver consists of mountains and water. Vancouver’s typicalmood is exactly as depicted in those landscapes: watery blue grays, edged onlywhere rocks meet water.There are many people who find Vancouver pretty otherworldly. But nobodyinvests Vancouver with the mystique the Chinese bring to it. Their contributiondates from Day 1, but it is barely under way. (Rossiter, 1995,p.70)VancouverIn Spring it sprinkles,In Summer too.In Fall it poursBuckets on you.In Winter it rainsCats and dogsFrom heavy cloudsThrough soupy fogs.All year longRain drops and dropsIn VancouverIt never stops.(Heidbreder, 1985)Across the UniverseWords are flying out like endless rainInto a paper cup,They slither wildly as they slip awayAcross the universe.Pools of sorrow, waves ofjoyAre drifting through my opened mind,Possessing and caressing me.Nothing’s gonna change my worldNothing’s gonna change my world.(Lennon & McCartney, 1970)75The two citations that deliver messagesabout Vancouver, one from a recentmagazine, Canadian Living, and the other a poem by localpoet and teacher RobertHeidbreder, from his book Don’t eat spiders (1985), define Vancouver through its climate,through its weather. The Beatles song next to it pointsto the simultaneous fascination weexperience with a larger cosmic context. Many of the students in our Open Area, andespecially Jimmy, with his favourite expressions in all the universe, and “the hole entereworld and hole universe,” frequently referredto these cosmic parameters, along with theearth and the sky as reference points when comparing and measuringobjects, makingjudgments about likes and dislikes close to home, their home, Vancouver.Throughout the past two years of documenting the curriculum materials my studentshave been working with in our Open Area, landscapes with references to climaticconditions have been a frequent source of integrated input and output, initiated by bothteachers and students. The Vancouver poem, for example, served as an excellent startingpoint to discuss weather and rainy day things around town at the beginning of fall.The students were eager to participate in an art display in the school’s mainhallway. Centred around the poem by Robert Heidbreder, they showed off theircreativity in reproducing the Vancouver landscape featuring mountains, water,buildings, and skyline by using a technique of layering strokes of paraffin wax,gray and blue water colour washes, torn construction paper for the mountains,magazine cut-outs for the buildings, and silver tin foil pieces for raindrops.Looking at these variable landscapes all together resulted in stunning images ofchildren’s diverse perceptions of their environment. Ranging from toweringmountain-scapes to ocean-dominated views sprinkled with varying degrees ofhuman habitation, the children have created vital interpretative scenes of theinterplay between climate, nature and urban living in this local landscape.I am struck by the force of the lines in the paintings, both vertical andhorizontal but especially the horizontal ones, reminding me once again of thepostmodern image of the city on the edge, of the border mythology that comeswith this location, and of the simultaneous promise of freedom and newbeginnings it evokes: The gateway to the Pacific ... Art serves as a delightfuland effective way to represent who we are in relation to where we are,regardless of linguistic or cultural background.(Researcher Narrative, 11/05/94)76Vancouver, the largest urban centre on the Canadian West Coast, has played asignificant role in the development of Canada’s sociocultural and educational mosaic. Thetensions that have developed from the mixed streams of relationships in this urban cultureare just as visibly and vibrantly reflected in today’s human and pedagogical landscape as acentury or two ago. From very early on, the city’s climate, location, and openness firstfrom sea and then from land, through the building of the Transcontinental CanadianRailway, have made it a desirable place for immigrants from all over the world (Davis &Hutton, 1989; Robson & Breems, 1985). In a 1994 collection of essays on Vancouver:Representing the postmodern city, Paul Delany (1 994a) speaks to this distinctivegeographical situatedness with particular reference to the present cultural landscape:The rapid change and growth of this city have always been the product of externalforces: Vancouver has been discovered, developed -- colonized, some would say --by global migrations and shifts of capital. If these global powers are identified withpostmodernism, then Vancouver has become postmodern through its excessiveopenness to movements that originated elsewhere.(p.1)Vancouver is, in multiple ways, defined by its geography as a city on and of the edge,like San Francisco, Hong Kong, or Amsterdam, illustratingthe ecological principle that the greatest variety of life-forms will be found at theboundary between different habitats. ... It is not a bullseye or spiderweb city thatextends uniformly to all points of compass, like Paris or Berlin, but a city wherefault lines pile up against each other.(p.19)Located “about halfway between Europe and Asia” (Rossiter, 1995,p.70),Vancouver is one of North America’s fastest growing cities “with proportionally thelargest single ethnic community of any Canadian city” (p. 70). It is the place where themajority of Canada’s Asian immigrants come ashore and create or join communities withcomplex ethnic and cultural patterns, settling in the inner core of the urban metropolis andin the surrounding suburbs on the road to a better life and more prosperous future. In anarticle entitled The lessons of Vancouver (Wood, 1994) in the popular Maclean’s77magazine, the author depicts the changing tide of immigration within urban educationalsettings:Because they accept 60 per cent of all immigrants, the country’s three biggest cities-- Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver -- are being most profoundly reshaped by thenewcomers from Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. But if Canada has alaboratory in which its new ethnic chemistry is being most acutely tested, it issurely Vancouver. The city’s position as a magnet for Asian immigrants meansthat change there has been most far-reaching. In typically Canadian fashion,established (mainly white) Vancouverites have for the most part expressed theirconcerns only in guarded fashion. But the changes are so profound that even manywho regard themselves as liberal are bound to ask themselves: Is it all going tooquickly? Is the city I knew being transformed into something alien? Will mychildren be well served by schools increasingly geared to serving youngsters whosegreatest need is simply to learn English? (p. 27)Rossiter (1995) predicts that “the Chinese will soon make up one-quarter of thepopulation of Greater Vancouver and they have created a cultural stir that reverberatesthroughout the city” (p. 70). It seems ironic to this author that the Chinese contributionsto building this city and province are being recognized only now:Chinese capital is building the Vancouver of tomorrow on the old Canadian PacificRailway (CPR) yards along the north shore of False Creek. Chinese laborextended the CPR to the site of Vancouver, giving the city its reason to be. Theworkers, many of whom died for the project that united this country, areConfederation’s unsung heroes. Their reward? To be exiles, voteless until 1947and unrepresented until 1982 when Bill Yee stormed city council.(p.70)Max Wyman, in Vancouverforum: Oldpowers, newforces (1992b) elaborates on thistheme of the changing image and reality of this city by assigning this present decade of the90s a crucial role in the process of redefining and reorienting the city’s directions:We are witnessing what appears to be the radical disintegration of an establishedcultural order, with all the social chaos such disintegration can bring. ... On oneside are the old powers and anchors -- the Eurocentric thrust that, in the form oftwo colonizing cultures, helped construct modern Canada; the residual isolationism(even in an era of international communications of unprecedented speed and ease)of a city on the far side of the mountains from the centre of national politicalcontrol; the lingering reluctance to embrace change in a city that is still without asure sense of itself, and the reawakening powers of the region’s first people. On78the other are the new tugs and forces -- a burgeoning immigrant population,primarily from the Pacific Rim; the siren call of the new Pacific as the panacea forour economic ills; a new awareness of the importance of that rising indigenousvoice; and that old wish-myth, the dream -- surely, we tell ourselves, as close as ithas ever been -- of Vancouver finally taking its rightful place as a player on theworld stage (Wyman, 1994a,pp.10-1 1).This “old wish-myth” of becoming a “player on the world stage” evokes images of theHollywood North reputation that Vancouver is fast acquiring as a place where realityisbeing redefined by the movie industry from Southern California (Miller, 1994). Thisexpression, once again, conjures up the curious Canadian dualism of north andsouth andreminds us of the other myth associated with this northern place, that of The True NorthStrong and Free and the associations of political, economic, and sociocultural power inrelation with people (Shields, 1991). Today, more even than in earlier times ofcolonization and immigration, the northern part of the map faces strong competition fromthe pull of the South with its “advanced” patterns of urban civilization. Scenes such as theone from the film Map of the Human Heart (Ward, 1993), which draws a portrait of thehopeless struggle of the Innuit against the inevitable White conquest of the CanadianNorth by tracing the pervasive imprint of the map maker from Montreal, are hard toimagine in this laid-back West Coast temperate climate. Yet, images such as the oneMargaret Atwood evokes, proclaiming that “the north is at the back of our minds, always.There’s something, not someone, looking over our shoulders; there’s a chill at the nape ofthe neck. The north focuses our anxieties.” (Atwood, 1987,p.143; as quoted in Shields,1991,p.167). Instead, to escape this cold northern place, Canadians today cast theirglance toward the South and the East; to the fare of the Southwest and Mexico, to theexotic flavours of the oriental Pacific Rim that spice up the menus of trendy restaurantsand businesses. The dualistic nature of this geomancy is expressed in the contrast between“The Canadian Tradition,” an established image of northern landscape and human dwelling79therein, and the postmodern plurality of chiasmatic influences and traditions that denies thevalidity of one single tradition:“The Canadian Tradition” involved enduring snow and fearing wolves, and leanedtoward Frye’s picture of Protestant enclaves in the landscape deep freeze. Fromthe west edge, at least, it is not hard to see that such unitary myth-making isexclusionary. What did it say to a person such as Roy Kiyooka, whose father stoodon whales in the winter rain of the Northern B.C. coast.(Bowering, 1994,p.135)If you’re not from don’t know the P.N.E.,you can’t know the P.N.E.The rides are so long,they will go to Hong Kong.The candy is so yummy,it feels good in my tummy.If you’re not from don’t know the P.N.E.(Roy, age 7, 5/94)Yet, this chiasmatic dichotomy is a defining characteristic of the landscapes thatsurround us. No longer can we claim this city, Vancouver, as a homogenous or separateentity. It has become a divergent and heterogeneous set of references todiverse groups ofpeople. Shields (1991) reminds us thatplaces or regions only mean something only in relation to other places as aconstellation of meanings, that is, the North makes sense only with reference toother regions: the ‘urban jungle,’ the southern agricultural fringe, or thecommodified consumer landscape of Toronto’s suburban strip developments. Theimages are oriented towards each other in a mutually supporting dialogicalexchange. (Bakhtin, 1984,pp.10-12; as quoted in Shields, 1991,p.199)It is indeed telling of the interrelatedness and interdisciplinary approachwhich culturalgeographers have started to pursue that the author here likens this phenomenonin culturalgeography and geomancy to the literary and linguistic processes describedin Bakhtin’s(1981) work on The dialogic imagination. I am reminded of the dialogue my studentsspontaneously created in response to the poetry of Dave Bouchard’s Ifyou’re notfromthe80prairie (1993), such as Jordan’s poemabout B.C.’s oceanic landscape or Zelda’s responseto the book’s prairie images with memories from her own childhood experience,remembering the prairies as a cold, wintry place:If you’re not from the prairiesyou don’t know the sunyou can’t know the sunDiamonds that bounce off crisp winter snow,Warm waters in dugouts and lakes that we know.The sun is our friend from when we are young,A child of the prairie is part of the sun.If you’re not from the prairie,You don’t know the sun.(Bouchard, 1993,p.6)If you’re not from Winnipegyou don’t know the snow,you can’t know the snow.The snow is so cold,you’ll wear gloves when you’re told.You wouldn’t go without your hat,it’s very hard to get fat.If you’re not from Winnipegyou don’t know the snow.(Zelda, age 8, 5/94)These comparisons and the tensionality surfacing in these descriptions also strike apersonal note. Mapping Vancouver indeed brings back memories of prior experiences:documenting, collecting variables of speech through interviews with people who grew upin Vancouver, genuine Vancouverites, writing research papers on the English spoken herein this Northern place, influenced by its large Southern neighbour, the United States, withits American English, and its overseas British and French linguistic heritage (Hasebe-Ludt,1981, 1986a, 1986b). In this context of Canadian English, a socio-dialectal mixture ofBritish and American English and a linguistic variety in its own right (Gregg, 1984;81DeWolf 1992; McConnell, 1978), I was also analyzing historical, sociocultural,andsociopolitical influences that shaped the unique idiolect of this city. Vancouver:a city onthe edge, on the rim, the Pacific Rim, influenced by the mixtures of cultures and languagesbrought to its shore from distant continents. East Vancouver in particular, loosely definedas east of Main Street, demonstrates, in the words of residents of this part of town whoput together a book on Families ofEast Vancouver: Our multicultural neighbourhood(Tse, Olgui, & Klassen, 1988) a great diversity of culture and “offers us a wonderfulopportunity to see the world” (p. v).Vancouver, British Columbia, plays a central role as the largest city of this Canadianprovince. Naming Vancouver: an English captain from a country that continues to have astronghold in many of the names of places in this city and province: British Columbia,make no mistake ... What does it mean for someone of German linguistic and ethnic originand citizenship (now with a European Community passport) to be writing a dissertation atthe University of British Columbia, in English (mostly -- with a spattering of other TndoEuropean variables represented) on the mixed cultural influences of the children sheteaches in Vancouver (mostly of Asian heritage) while at the same time raising a daughterwhose first language is English and whose heritage, through her father’s family, isJapanese-Canadian (fourth generation Canadian, yonsei, make no mistake), Germanthrough her mother’s.Make no mistake...? In many ways, my own daughter is a representative of thestudents in our schools -- of the present, past, and future generations of “mixed-up hybridkids,” in Ted Aoki’s words, positioned in the midst of continents, homelands, languages,cultures, and histories (Aoki, 1995). In grade two, she learned about how people in otherparts of the world live through a letter exchange her teacher had set up with a twin class inthe Philippines. Together with a friend, she was interviewed and, showing the photoalbum with pictures the class received from their pen pals, told how “they make housesout of strong bamboo and wood, and they move them from place to place with sticks.”82Watching herself on video almost ten years later, she remembers this learning experiencewell. Laughing, she comments: “Well, I sure knew what I was talking about!”CHORUS OF NISEIS:Home, we discover, is where life is:Not Manitoba’s wheatOntario’s walled citiesnor a B.C. fishing fleet.Home is something more than harbour --than father, mother, sons;Home is the white face leaning over your shoulderAs well as the darker ones.Home is labour, with the hand and heart,The hard doing, and the rest when done;A wider sea than we knew, a deeper earth,A more enduring sun.(Livesay, 1993,p.78)In an essay entitled The future of Vancouver education (Kilian, 1992), the authorrefers to the images of geography and climate, to glaciers and weather, in particular, todescribe this city’s pedagogical landscape. He describes our local schools as part of achanging landscape, locally responding, like a glacier, to general climatic conditions:education in Vancouver depends largely on influences far beyond the boundariesof School District 39. Political decisions made in Ottawa or Beijing may trigger acrisis at Magee Secondary. Falling stumpage revenues may doom a new artsprogram in inner-city elementary schools. Birthrates in Quebec in the 1 960s maymake French-immersion teachers for L’Ecole Bilingue hard to find in the 1990s.(Kilian, 1992,p.125)With both the increasing accessibility and emphasis on connections to the Pacific Rim,Vancouver’s schools indeed visibly display the influence of immigration from this geopolitical domain. At present, over half of Vancouver’s students speak English as a secondor other language, and of that number, the majority are from Pacific Rim countries(Farrow, 1994). Since Vancouver is still the largest urban school district in the province83of British Columbia, and “with almost ten percent of the province’s children living in thisone district, Vancouver does indeed create much of B.C. ‘s educational weather.”15Linked with the challenges of a multicultural student population are sociopolitical andsocioeconomic factors that in turn influence the attitudes of those who are in the businessof educating these children from many cultures. We have seen many valid attempts todocument and condemn historical incidents of prejudice and racism, overt or disguised,that have occurred in the past, and we have been eager to bring discriminatory practicesinto the light of day through factual accounts, such as Mary Ashworth’s (1988) poignantportraits of immigrant children’s plight in the British Columbia school system, KenAdachi’s book on the Japanese Canadian experience (1976), Robson’s and Breems’ (1985)study of racism toward Indo-Canadians in South Vancouver, entitled Ethnic conflict inVancouver, to name only a few. Among the various fictional portraits that have arisen outof these cultures at work, there is SKY Lee’s powerful novel about four generations ofChinese Canadian women, Disappearing Moon Cafe (1990), as well as many shortstories, essays, and autobiographical pieces such as Keepfighting by Shyrose Jaffer inHome and Homeland (Fanning & Goh, 1993), and Anne Jew’s Everyone talked loudly inChinatown (1994). And we like to congratulate ourselves, in this age of politicalcorrectness, for having overcome these barriers of race through policies ofmulticulturalism and anti-racist action plans. Yet, when scrutinized carefully, many ofthese policies in fact reveal either a superficial treatment or a pervasive ‘band aid’ approachto solving the problems that occur in our schools in connection with racism (Fisher &Echols, 1989; Department of Social Planning, 1987). In addition, as revealed by the manypowerful personal narratives of minority students, such as the elaborate published ones byGeorge Littlechild (1993) or Joy Kogawa (1986), or the not-so polished yet equallyhonest and painful ones by students in everyday classrooms, racism is not a phenomenonof the past at all but rather a part of some of our students’ and teachers’ daily lifeexperiences in this very city and province. A recent article by a student teacher, entitled84Racism, in spite ofmulticulturalism and published in the B.C. Teacher’s FederationTeacher magazine, includes the following comment:1Go back to Hong Kong where you came from!”This has been said to me severaltimes in my 24 years of life. Ironically, I am not even Chinese -- Iam Japanese.But this fact does not matter, because “all Orientals look alike anyway.”I still feelthe sting of these words just as much as if I were Chinese, becauseof the obvioushatred with which these words are spoken. Am I bitter?Yes and no. I hold nogrudges toward these people; I feel sorry for them because Irealize that theirwords are spoken out of ignorance of human equality.What I am bitter about isthat I live in a country with an unprecedented multiculturalismpolicy, a countrythat is proud of its efforts to combat racism, yet a country whereracism isrampant. (Yamashiro, 1994, p. 11)In this city that claims the second largest Chinatown on theNorth American continentnext to San Francisco and whose suburban areas, such as Richmond,Surrey, andCoquitlam, are experiencing an unprecedented influx ofAsian immigrants, racism toward“Orientals” is indeed on the rise. The wealthy Hong Kong Chinesebuyers, in particular,who are significant players on the real estate market are facingresentment from thegeneral public through the popular press:In contrast to newcomers in previous decades, most of whom arrivedwith littlemoney and a humble willingness to accept whatever work wasoffered, many ofthose who now come to the city, particularly the roughly one-fifthof them whoarrive from Hong Kong, possess both wealth and high expectations.Both asinvestors and consumers, their presence has profoundlyvisible consequences.(Wood, 1994,p.28)Overseas money, for instance, is changing the looks of urbanand suburban streetsthrough the construction of new condominiums, “monster houses,”Asian supermarketsand shopping malls.Vancouver’s condominium boom not only buffered the city fromrecession, it mayin time save farmland and mountains from being paved. That many ofthe units ithas produced are owned by people overseas strikes many as worrisome.Thenagain, who else is willing to shell out the highest prices in the country tokeep openthe possibility of someday living on these blessed shores? Some Chineseareproperty-tax payers years before they ever arrive in Canada.(Rossiter, 1995,p.70)85Educational institutions are also visibly changing with the increasing presence ofAsian faces around the school yards, being dropped off in expensive Mercedes, BMWsand Volvos, especially in suburban areas such as Richmond but even in areas that wereoriginally part of the urban immigrant “ghetto,” such as Strathcona, or in previously solidworking class neighbourhoods, such as Mount Pleasant and Vancouver Heights (Marlatt& Itter, 1979). The changes in each one of these neighbourhoods reflect the varyingdegrees of ethnic clustering that have always been a part of the consecutive waves ofVancouver’s immigration history.Into the neighbourhood: Changing CommunityThe twentieth century’s technological miracles produced an incredibly shrinkingworld that has made us all one neighborhood, separated only by a phone call, a fewhours’ flight, or a tv screen. Even in the most far-flung areas of our neighborhood,people wear the same adver-t-shirts, the same running shoes, and hear the samestories told around the televised campfire. (Walker, 1990,p.vii)Erin: This is Jeffrey’s Green-Ranger toy. That he took out for reces!Teacher: Yes, I saw Jeffrey’s Green Ranger toy toy at recess! You drew itwell! (Erin’s Journal, 10/12/94).Erin: For the next few days I’m going to draw Power Rangers!Teacher: You’re good at drawing Power Rangers! (01/13/95)Erin: This is the white-Ranger. Gues how many you think are left!Teacher: I’m going to guess: three? (10/16/95)Erin: This is the Pink Ranger. how many are left?Teacher: Well, how about two? (01/17/95)Erin: This is the Blue Ranger. Guess how many are left?Teacher: Two?Erin: No!86Teacher: Do you watch Power Rangers very often? (01/18/95)Erin: Today I am doing two Power Rangers.Teacher: Your yellow Power Ranger is impressive! (01/19/95)Erin: Guess how many are left?Teacher: Is this the last Power Ranger for the last page of your journal?Erin: Yes! (01/25/95)During the past few years, an increasing number of authors, educators, politicians,sociologists, and of other creeds, have expressed their growing concerns with the rapidand unprecedented changes in social structures that keep accumulating on the world’sshoulders -- and with it, the world’s children’s bodies and souls -- at the end of this century(Kolbenschlag, 1988). Along with a renewed interest in understanding what seems to be afundamental need for forming and affirming community, we are witnessing a surge ofwritings about alternative ways of creating communities that reflect these differentemerging sociocultural patterns and point toward possible new contexts and constructs ofcommunities of the future (Laclau, 1991; Wiggington, 1989). Notions of communities ashomogeneous entities, united by common backgrounds and characteristics of their groupmembers, apply in few instances only to today’s culturally and ethnically diverse societies(Hasebe-Ludt, Dufl & Leggo, 1995).Just as in the larger societal context, local exemplars of communities are undergoingrapid changes, experiencing crises and, perhaps, attempting to redefine their constitutingelements, their goals, and memberships. The community surrounding Franklin CommunitySchool is but one of these: It has changed demographically within the last few decades andis currently in the process of re-shaping with respect to the people and places that form itssubstance. In previous decades, from early in this century on, this east endneighbourhood, Vancouver Heights, named after its elevated hill-top location at the verynorth-eastern periphery of the city, close to the Second Narrows Bridge, overlooking the87North Shore Mountains and thedowntown harbourside, was predominantly a workingclass area with many immigrant familiesof European ethnic origin, such as Italian,Scandinavian, and British, together witha few Asian single men, especially Japanese andChinese, working on the waterfront in the fishing industry, canneries andsawmills (TheWorking Lives Collective, 1985). Gradually, the area became more of an extensionof thefirst truly multicultural neighbourhood around Strathcona, which developed into the centreof Chinese and Japanese community activity (Marlatt& Itter, 1979). As more Asianimmigrants and second-generation Oriental families settled in the VancouverHeights areaand contributed to the multicultural character of the neighbourhood delineated by CassiarStreet and the Pacific National Enterprises (P.N.E.) grounds to the west, Boundary Roadto the east, Adanac Street to the south, and the waterfront to the north, a shift to a moresolid residential character occurred. In the following decades,a distinctly moremulticultural character ofEast Vancouver, and of its far north-east corner respectively,developed, still with a European racial pattern, but with fewer Anglo-Saxon names on theschool register. Instead, the communities and neighbourhoods became more ethnicallydiverse with more Italian, Finnish, Swedish, and Norwegian names in the city’s directoriesand school records:Some of the earliest immigrant children were from European countries. I hadstudents from Norway and Sweden. No one had heard of English as a secondlanguage programs. All I did was speak slowly and repeat and enunciate words.And I made sure the children didn’t gang up on the new students.(Gosbee & Dyson, 1988,p.97)One of the present teachers at Franklin School who actually grewup in thisneighbourhood and went to the school during the 60s, remembers the neighbourhood aspredominantly occupied by people from a mixed European Caucasian heritage. A lot ofItalian first generation immigrant families madeup the core group of this working classresidential area. Her family was one of them, with strong connectionsto the neighbouringfamilies. She recollects that she can remember only one friend froma different, non88Caucasian background, namely Japanese, and remembers being fascinated by the customsand objects in her friend’s home when she was invited over. “I wanted my own mother todo things like thattoou(Teacher Interview, Bella, 06/95). All her other friends wereItalian like herself or at least from Caucasian homes.Other interviews with community residents also revealed a strong sense ofneighbourhood that seems to run like a continuous stream through generations. Theschool secretary grew up in this neighbourhood and raised her own children here. Someof the present Franklin parents also grew up in the neighbourhood or at least hadgrandparents whom they remember visiting.At the same time, there was conflict between home and school culture. For Bella, themessage that everybody in her peer group read very clearly was that her home culture wasnot valued at school. Often, the Italian immigrant children had to repeat a grade becausethey were not “catching up” fast enough with their English. The Anglo-Saxon English-speaking children and the curriculum that was catering to their background only was thestandard everybody else had to aspire to. She remembers, when coming back to Franklinas a teacher, how the memory of her own schooling was a vivid picture in her mind:Looking at the school ... when I walked up those front steps, when I got this jobhere in 1989, I still remember the feeling of it being a big cold school. And whenI walked into the principal’s office, I remembered that you never went into thegym unless you were allowed to. When you were allowed to go in there, it wasa big, big event, and they had a film, and the whole gym would be full ofchildren, and it was foreboding. And I was on the top floor here, and Iremember everything about it being big. This was when I was in grade one.(Teacher Interview, Bella, 06/95)Bella also remembers this place, Vancouver Heights, as a safe place to grow up in, aneighbourhood where children would play freely in the street together for long hours,where there was a community of families who helped each other through the manyhardships that immigration brought with it. Especially the women, who often had to workoutside the home for a living, experienced the complex stresses of working and raising a89family in a foreign culture but also within the constraints of the traditional Europeanpatriarchal family structure. Bella remembers that her mother made a special effort tospeak English rather than Italian to her children.My parents, just like a lot of other parents, worked; they worked very hard,because they all .... Now, you have both parents working; well, then, I think, insome ways it was harder, years ago, because the mother was working, but alsothey had the stress of all the factors that were prevalent at that time, you know,trying to find a job because you just immigrated, the language, for instance,trying to help your children because you don’t have the knowledge that theyneed. So that’s why everybody depended on children in the neighbourhood.And there was a lot more interaction in the family.(Teacher Interview, Bella, 06/95)Despite the discontinuity between school and home, it seems that there was alwaysthe security of community in the neighbourhood, of parents helping each other out,children having a secure home and being welcomed in each others’ homes, and thereassuring knowledge that within this ethnic community, you could always rely on others.In contrast, the picture at school was different, and there was no connection betweenthose two worlds. Immigrant parents wanted their children to do well at all costs in theestablished school system but, as Bella remembers, there was no involvement by her orother parents in the school:My parents couldn’t ... you know ... When it came to the teacher: “Is she doingwell? If not, well, we’ll make sure she does, make her study at home.” Thatwas the way it was, and the teacher, you listened, no matter what. There wereno questions, nobody went in to question anything.(Teacher Interview, Bella, 06/95)Similarly, one of the present Franklin parents, who is also of Italian background,remembers her experiences as an immigrant child and reflects on how these memories haveshaped her own parenting:Immigrant children are different than kids that are raised here with anunderstanding of the system. Immigrant kids are the bridge for their parents.You may, as an immigrant child, have a lot of responsibility because yourparents telling: “We have sacrificed to come over here so you have a bettereducation,” and I recall some of the times when I had to figure out things that90were way beyond my years, right, like “Find Jimmy Jones in the phone book”“Well, Dad, there’s a million ...“ “Well, what do I send you to school for?” A lotof immigrant kids, they’re supported, but it’s also, you get thrust into thisresponsibility a lot sooner because you are the bridge for them. It’s not a veryhappy ... it’s too sad.I made a big mistake, and that was not to speak Italian at home, bigmistake, my husband and I. And the reason I did that -- because I rememberthinking: “I want her to excel in understanding the English words.” Thatwas abig mistake, and so I enhanced ... I mean I made ... she’dalways ask for biggerwords, right, because when I was a child, I walked around with adictionary ingrade five, I bought myself a Webster’s dictionary, I still have it, this bigthickthing, because my parents could never explain to me wordsthat were ... wordsthat for other people were common, everyday, but not for me, Ididn’t use themin my home, it was only at the school, so I didn’tunderstand a lot of things, right,it wasn’t explained to me. So I swore that ... theconfusion inside of me, thinkingmy child would never have that problem, she would understand thesewords,perhaps even more words than she really should at her age. That wasamistake. If I could go back now, I would enhance, I would still, you know,keepup with the reading and teach her bigger words, but I wouldcertainly havespoken to her in Italian. She understands all of Italian,however, because mymother speaks Italian, but she will not speak it: “I’m Canadian. Yes,I’m Italian,but I am Canadian first.” I wanted her also to have that pride ofbeingCanadian, that she’s Canadian-born, but I made a bigmistake. And now I dorealize, no, I should have spoken in Italian at home with my husband.Butbecause we all, when we grow older, try to patch up whathappened to us aslittle children, right, we make a mistake, we always are healing thatinner childthat’s always there. (Parent Interview, Elena, 04/95)This story reminds us of the power of our past experiences, of howpresent realitiesand actions are informed and constructed by priorhistories, both personal andsociocultural and sociopolitical. This place, Vancouver Heights, hasbeen and still is aplace of such histories and of contrasts, a place on the margin, as Shields(1991) wouldsay, socio-geographically constructed, bordered by majorthoroughfares and bodies ofwater. Yet it also is a place of openness to the next shore, with its closeness tothe TransCanada Highway and a major bridge, connecting it to the rest of the countryin all fourdirections:Drifting, he thought of driving through Vancouver’s East End, all the way throughto the Second Narrow’s Bridge, which killed eighteen menin its making andthrows itself so gracefully on to the further shore. Charlie thoughtof the northernabutment of the bridge, where roads incline east and west and north. Herethetraveler could choose, could even choose to describe a loop and turnback again.(Flood, 1992,p.104)91However, far from being able to turn back the time to a more cohesive type ofneighbourhood, the marginality of and within the neighbourhood began to manifest itselfin different ways. Starting from the 70s, when the transiency rate of the populationseemed to climb as a general result of a new immigration wave, the Vancouver Heightsarea also experienced a higher rate of new immigrants and, with it, short-term occupantsand transients. As documentation by Fillipoff (1978) shows, the many problems surfacingat that time in the Hastings-Sunrise school board administrative sector (togetherwithGrandview-Woodlands part of the former so-called North East Sector), weremostlyrelated to socioeconomic and sociocultural factors.The teachers from the North East section of Vancouver had identified a number ofsocial, economic and political problems existing in the areas served by theirschools. They linked these problems directly to the educational problems of thechildren in these schools. The paramount problem as they perceived it was thatmany of the children did not speak English. The problem was compounded bythefact that the children also came from a variety of cultural backgroundscharacterized by values and mores not fully understood by the teachers.Theteachers also felt that the children in the public schools of the North East SectorofVancouver were not receiving equal educational opportunities despite the fact thatthere was the same pupil-teacher ratio for all students in Vancouver.The problem was one of reducing or eliminating differences in schools in theVancouver School District. The social concern with group inequalities arose froman interest in social justice and the need to make up for differences in environments(Fillipofl 1978,pp.1-2).Franklin School, established in 1912, was an example of these east side schools thatare described here.’6 Some of the problems that Fillipoff and others (Barman,Sutherland, & Wilson, 1995) list as typical facing education in the first half of this centuryin this area were poverty and, along with it, poor health and hygiene standards in thehomes of those children attending schools. Often, economic necessity overruled schoolattendance, with the result that many children in this part of town had to work rather thanget an education or at least have part-time jobs while still at primary school age.Eventhough this latter problem seems to exist to a much lesser degree, the other factorslisted92are still as real today as they were half a century ago. In addition,a pattern of racism andovert discrimination that emerged in the early decades of immigration still haunts today’seducation system:For children of non-Anglo-Saxon background, school life could be particularlystressful. Not only did different groups not socialize outside of school, in somecases they were openly hostile in school A Chinese Canadian pupil of the mid-twenties remembers always walking to school in a group of protection againstwhite children. Moreover, many immigrant children were expected to go to schooltwice each day, the second time for two or three hours in the late afternoon orevening to study their native language and culture. Thus, not surprisingly, it wasnot until the late twenties that virtually all Vancouver children were completing aprimary education. (Barman, 1985,p.119)Nowadays, the Vancouver Heights area is becoming less affordable for low incomefamilies; the steadily climbing realestate market is attracting a more affluentgroup ofyoung families as first-time home buyers. Next to the existing subsidized cooperativehousing development, referred to as “the co-op” by everybody, a more upscalecondominium development with two- and three-bedroom units is just starting to beconstructed and will impact on the school’s future numbers. The area on the southern sideof Hastings Street, as well as the few blocks immediately surrounding this maj orthoroughfare differ considerably from their northern counterpart in that they have a muchmore transient character, with more rental housing and basement suites, particularlycatering to students from nearby Simon Fraser University for whom the nearby major busloop provides convenient transportation access in all directions.Along the northern expanse, between the school and the harbour front, stretch blocksof residences along streets with solidly British names such as Oxford, Cambridge, andTrinity. There, a mixture of charming old wooden frame houses exists rather comfortablyalong with a spattering of upscale, newly renovated or newly constructed residences builtwith large window and deck spaces to take advantage of the view of mountains and waterthat the Heights offers. More young families that can afford this investment are moving93into the neighbourhood and are planning to stay here to raise their children. Planned forthe near future, with construction already started, is a new condominium project, next tothe subsidized housing co-op. with three-bedroom complexes catering to a more upscalemarket of young families, professional couples or single residents. However, once again,as one of the parents notices, there is another change visibleright next to this moreaffluent trend:But I noticed lately that the neighbourhood has got more transients, I see alot ofit, you know, I get around in the neighbourhood, and I notice a big difference.(Parent Interview, Dan, 05/95)Another couple, parents and community residents, who grew up in the Prairies ofCaucasian heritage, commented on the benefits for their children of living in aneighbourhood with a mixed socioeconomic and sociocultural grouping.They believe itgives them a much richer exposure to the reality of our multicultural society.In the midst of these demographic changes, we find the school, perched on a slightlyinclined slope just one block from the major traffic zones, yet somehow remote andserenely unaffected by its noise, with a breathtaking view from the western classroomwindows to the ocean, the mountains, the downtown business core, and the vast greenexpanse of Stanley Park.Into the School: Mixed Blessings of Diversity and PlaceIt is a lazy Saturday morning and Charlotte Hasebe-Ludt, an engaging 8-year-oldwith an infectious, toothy grin, is playing hopscotch with a couple of friends.Thegirls are skipping about the grounds at Sir John Franklin community school, atypical 1929 brick structure in a quiet, working class corner of Vancouver. Whatdo they think of Franklin? “It’s a cool school,” says one girl. “And they’ve gotgood teachers here” Charlotte adds. (Knickerbocker, 1989, p. 52e)Before I became one of those teachers in this school, I experienced it from a parent’sperspective. In an interview on parental choices of schooling for a local magazine,Nancy94Knickerbocker, the writer of the above excerpt, spent some time with my family andconcluded thatErika and her husband Ken, a Japanese Canadian, reviewed their priorities: bothfelt strongly that Charlotte should attend a school with a broad racial and linguisticmix; philosophically, they were drawn to the Waldorf schools, which are based onthe work of Rudolf Steiner They both wanted a school fairly close to theirhome (“It’s really important for children to have their friends close by,” says Erika).The nearest Waldorf school was too far. So they settled on Franklin, which has agood variety of ethnic groups and is close to their home. “I don’t expect it to beperfect, but I don’t see a better alternative than the public schools at the moment.”(Knickerbocker, 1989, p. 52e)Only after re-reading the account of this interview from several years ago, I realizedhow important the schooling experience of my daughter was for my own choicesinprofessional development. When my daughter was in grade one, I started thinkingaboutswitching from research in linguistics to teaching in the public school system with afocuson multicultural education. My experiences as a parent volunteer in my daughter’sclassroom gave me a first glimpse into the reality of multicultural education. I rememberbeing fascinated by the multi-ethnic diversity in this little neighbourhood school, and I wasimpressed by the enthusiasm with which my daughter’s grade two teacher promotedandput into action a curriculum that encouraged respect and cooperation ofstudents frommany different cultural backgrounds as well as learning about other cultures aroundtheglobe. When I started looking at the possibilities of working within a school system thatpromotes and practices multicultural and multilingual education, this very teacher, myconversations with her, in which she shared her knowledge and involvement with anti-racist curricular development, influenced my choice in my own future pedagogicaldevelopment.I was extremely excited when I discovered that the University of British Columbiaoffered an education degree with a specific focus on multicultural and minority education.I felt that my background in linguistics and my love of languages could benefit my future95teaching in such an environment. I had no idea then how much I had tolearn, not onlyabout educational practice, but also about the political dimensionsof school systems andpedagogical power struggles. Years later, readingthe following comment on the historicalrole of schools in Vancouver, I realized that not quite as much I had naivelypresumed haschanged in the pedagogical landscape since the early days of this urbansettlement, otherthan perhaps with regard to the Lord’s Prayer -- and that only fairly recently(Norman,1995).Schools were a focus of community life formany residents. Those built beforeWorld War I were usually impressive brick monuments to theformality andhierarchy of both education and society; the single-storey sprawling structuresof alater period testified not only to concerns about fire hazards but toa moreprogressive and liberal spirit abroad among educators.Children in any case oftenfound their curriculum foreign to their experience. TheLord’s Prayer with whichfor so many years the day commenced could speaklittle, if at all, to many students.Elementary school texts, which ignored the contributionsof Indians, the workingclass and women, likewise failed to help students understandtheir lives. Yet forsome, education did open doors beyond the cramped worldof the city, andconsiderable sacrifices were often made in return for thatknowledge.(Strong-Boag, 1985,p.95)This latter statement was particularly and painfully truefor the families of immigrantchildren who had come to this city with the hope for a betterfuture, a better education forthe next generation. Instead, as has been documented widely, overtracism anddiscrimination were a daily item on the menu of Vancouverpublic education (Ashworth,1979, Gosbee & Dyson, 1988; Marlatt & Itter, 1979).Despite free public education, the experience of schooling hasnot been the samefor all Vancouver children. Only at the very first school atHastings Mill did all theyoung come together in a single classroom: Indian andKanaka with white, thechildren of mill employees beside those of its manager.But with the arrival of therailroad, Vancouver became a city of neighbourhoods differentiated bysocioeconomic status. The children of working people congregatedtogether in theirown schools in the city’s east side. (Barman,1985,p.119)96If you’re not from don’t know the schools,you can’t know the schools.The schools are so big,but I can’t bring my pig.They are full of great kidswho often flip their lids.If you’re not from B. don’t know the schools.(Carry, age 8, 05/94)East Vancouver Schools, traditionally magnets for immigrant childrenof the lowersocioeconomic groups, vary from so-called inner city schools thatdeal with poverty andchildren at risk in many other ways on a daily basis to schoolsalmost solidly attended bystudents from one particular ethnic group, such assome schools in the south east sectorwith predominantly Indo-Canadian ethnic profiles.The school I describe more closely in the following pagesis only one of theapproximately fifty schools on the city’s east-side. It is,within the various perimetersoutlined in the previous sections, situated within asocio-geographical context that meansmany things to many people from many cultures -- yet, it is atthe same time unique in itsown situatedness and place within the geo-culturaland socio-historical parameters thathave shaped just one school (Centre for EducationalResearch and Innovation, 1989).Located in what has come to be, once again, oneof the more stable residential pockets inthe east side of this city, it has been influenced by local,national, and global developmentsof a demographic, economic, and sociopolitical nature thatI have attempted to sketchabove.The approximately 280 students from Kindergarten to gradeseven who call thisschool their school come from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, makingthis learningenvironment an example of the ever-expanding multiculturalnature of Canadian society, ademographic trend that is becoming more typicalfor countries all around the world(Moodley, 1992). Since its beginning, Franklin School’s student population aswell as the97neighbourhood it is nestled in have always been a true ‘cultural mosaic,’ representing amixof Canada’s many ethnic minorities as well as a good proportion of the English-speakingWhite Anglo-Saxon majority group. Within approximately the last decade, the generalshift from European to Asian immigrant children as representatives of the minoritieshasbeen remarkably visible in the yearly school pictures proudlydisplayed in the school’sentrance way.What has changed hardly at all, however, in over fifty years,is the teaching staff inthis multi-ethnic community school: The faces of the teachersand other staff steadilyremain White Anglo-Saxon. This contrast, which can be witnessedover and over again inthe majority of North American schools (Dean,1989), bears powerful testimony to theracial dominance of the colonial education system derived fromBritish Empire standards.In accordance with this norm, the five teachers who share theteaching responsibilities inthis open area are of White European racial and ethnicorigin. Three of them learnedEnglish as their first language, two have Italian ethnic backgrounds,the others are ofEnglish (Irish, British, and Scotch), and German origin. I am theonly teacher in thisschool who came to this country as an adult immigrant and whois functionally bilingual.Furthermore, despite an officially sanctioned policyof multiculturalism on both federal andprovincial levels, the resurgence of racist and back-to-basicsattitudes is as pervasive inthis particular school as in many others across Canada and North America(Aronowitz,1993; Shannon, 1989a; Willinsky, 1991).I know it is early in the year, and I have to givethe children time to formfriendships that are not entirely gender- and culture-based byworking togethercooperatively. But on a day like today, I feel like stepping in,like breaking thepatterns that seem to have established themselves after only afew weeks ofbeing in this class together. Even though the OpenArea facilitates grouping inmany flexible ways, I am noticing that when given freechoice, there is inevitablya group of grade three girls, with Karen, Fiona, Ellen(blond, blue-eyed) as theirleaders who separate themselves from the Chinese boys,Sung, Daniel, Martin,Chung (black hair, brown-eyed). I am alsonoticing the friction between them,the resistance to work together in partner activities, theobvious resentmentwhen the boys, engaged in a game of cards, speak Chineseamongthemselves. I know I have some work to do with these children whenFiona98writes in her journal: “I am so glad I am not Chinese.” Shades of A ClassDivided, thinking of Jane Elliott’s lessons about discrimination way back in Iowa,with her brown-eyed and blue-eyed grade threes. Wondering what to doWho should be in charge, whose agenda should control the classroom?(Researcher Narrative, 10/05/94)Franklin School traces its beginnings to approximately this time, the early decades ofthis century when, in 1912, “the population in the extreme east of Hastings Townsitehaving grown sufficiently to justify the erection of a school, the VancouverSchool Boardacquired Block 44 in 1912” (History of Sir John Franklin School, undated,unnumberedpages). In a history of the school that was written in 1952, by an anonymouscommittee,reference is made to the names of the principals (all male) and teachers (mostly female)ofthe school, all of British, Irish and Scottish origins, such as Finlayson, Riley,and Shine.The pupils of those early days, who bore names such as Grant, Ross, and Simon, namesthat resonated of more of the same Anglo-Saxon heritage, were proudly mentioned:“Allturned out to be first-class citizens.” The only exception was of somewhat lowerrank,albeit of important duties: “The janitor was old Fritz Schneider, a German by birth, but aCanadian by thirty years residence here. ... One of the duties of the janitor was to arriveearly on cold winter mornings, and thaw out all the plumbing with a blow torchbefore thearrival of the students.” This particular part of Vancouver was still considered to beonthe outskirts, very sparsely populated, and the total number of students attendingwhatwas initially called “Block 44” School, was 40 children from grades one to four.In 1913,the school was officially designated as “the Franklin School” and grew in numbers to130in 1914-1915.The pupils came from homes that were widely scattered. Most of the blocksaround the school were only roughly cleared and one seldom saw more than twohouses in a block. The section of land from McGill to the Inlet was still in virgintimer [sic]. It was cleared by the Government in 1913 and only four houses werebuilt in the whole section during 1914-15. ... Hastings Street from Renfrew toCassiar was well timbered on both sides. In 1913 the children reported seeing abear and her two cubs near Rupert and Union, and the last cougar in this area was99shot on the land above the C.P.R. tracks a few blocks east of Boundary Road.(History of Sir John Franklin School, undated, unnumbered pages)Judging from the multicultural character of the east Vancouver of that time that wasdocumented in most other historical sources, it seems unlikely that the demographicrealities of the area were reflected in the early days of Franidin School, but rather that theprivilege of schooling belonged only to a certain sector of the population. In the followingdecades, when the school grew to an average of between 300 and400 students, the sparsedocumentation of the actual names of the students, and particularly those of the parentsinvolved with the “Franklin Parent-Teacher Association” still resound of an overwhelmingBritish heritage, except of the exception of Mrs. Sang, who was in charge of the CountryStore at regular flindraising teas.Only from approximately the middle of the century on, an ethnically more variedschool population reflected the neighbourhood’s growing multicultural demographicmake-up. Earlier, we heard about the Italian and other Caucasian ethnic backgrounds thatwere prevalent in the 50s and 60s. In the 60s, this pattern continued, and theneighbourhood seemed to establish itself into a rather quiet residential working class area,with the children of the first generation immigrants first struggling to learn English, thenmost of them succeeding to acquire English as a second language and losing their firstlanguage at a rapid rate (Ashworth, 1979, 1988).Starting in the 70s and even more drastically in the 80s, the school population beganto reflect the overall new immigration trend in Canada. Whereas in 1966, for example,87percent of Canada’s immigrants were of European descent, “only four years later, 50percent came from new regions: The West Indies, Guyana, Haiti, Hong Kong, India, thePhilippines, and Indochina” (Knowles, 1992,p.161). This is substantiated for theFranklin neighbourhood by one of the teachers who has been teaching in the school sincethe late 70s and recollects:100When I first came here, there was a lot of English as a second language; thatwas 16 years ago. We had quite a few, and we also had an ESL resourceperson at that point. And then we had a lot of boat people, really recentimmigrants; there was quite an influx at that point. So we had quite a fewchildren, and we had quite a bit of support which was that the teacher wouldtake small groups out, working on vocabulary development and things like that.And that kind of dissipated for a while, there wasn’t as much movement inthecommunity, it seemed, in between, maybe after about five years, and we didn’thave a lot of children who didn’t speak any English, hardly any compared towhat we used to have, so we lost our ESL support.And then in the last few years we seem to be getting morechildren that arefrom different countries. But as far as the population, I think, ofchildren fromanother culture or whose parents were born in another country, I think that’sremained pretty well stable. It’s just that the proportion of childrenwho don’tspeak English now is a bit higher than it was about five years agoor six yearsago. So it seems to in waves like this, but as far as the generalpopulation ofthe school, I think it’s remained of fairly mixed cultures and races.(Teacher Interview, Angela, 5/95)Today, the school’s student population once more reflects thechanging demographicprofile of this Vancouver east side urban community, with a predominantlyAsian first andsecond generation immigrant profile (Tse, Olgui, & Kiassen, 1988). Thecommunityschool coordinator who interacts with community residents and agencieson a daily basis,reflects on the changing background of Franklin’s clientele:Things have changed here over the past ten, fifteen years from thepredominantly Italian background to becoming more and more Asian andmoreand more mixed, actually, with different kinds of cultures coming in,Venezuelaand wherever, South America too. (Staff interview, Peter, 05/95)Franklin, according to a survey conducted a few years ago (Franklin Survey Team,1990) as well as the official School Profile document (Franklin Community School,1994-95), has a multicultural student population, with mostly second generation English-as-a-second language families. The School Profile mentions English as theprevalent ethnicbackground, followed by Chinese, Japanese, Indo-Canadian, First Nations, andFijian.The breakdown by linguistic background for the present school year at Franklin, accordingto the 1994 Vancouver School Board’s Home Language Report by School,’7is asfollows:101• English (61% or 165 students)• Chinese (29% or 78 students; not specifiedwhether Cantonese or Mandarin)• Vietnamese (4% or 12 students)• Spanish (3 % or 7 students).Information from the school’s own demographic screeningprofile also identifiesBulgarian (1), Italian (1), Serbo-Croatian (1),Tagalog (2), and Yugoslavian (1) ashomelanguages present at Franklin, with one or two speakersfor each of these languages. Ofthe 271 students at Franklin, 240were born in Canada. Sixteen studentsparticipate in anAboriginal Cultural Awareness Program andreceive Aboriginal Support Services. Sixty-five students have been identified as requiring programmodification for ESL (English as asecond language). However, there is no ESLteaching position at the school since,compared with some other schools in the district,Franklin’s ESL population is nothighenough to warrant any officially designatedESL support according to the VancouverSchool board quota system. As adesignated Neighbourhood School, Franklinprovideslearning assistance support for 14 studentswith identified special needs through ateam ofNeighbourhood and Learning ResourceTeachers and Special Education Assistants.Another distinguishing feature of this small neighbourhoodschool is its status as acommunity school. As part of a larger networkof community schools, the school staffhasa commitment to building andmaintaining close connections between theclassroomcurriculum and the texture of the surrounding neighbourhood(Association for CommunityEducation in British Columbia, 1992; Vancouver SchoolBoard, undated-a). Since theearly 70s, a smaller network of these schoolsexists in the Vancouver District, some jointlyfunded by education as well as recreation dollars, suchas Champlain Heights andBritannia Schools, some solely supported bythe local and provincial school boardsandgovernments, as well as funding agencies (VancouverSchool Board, undated-b). AcrossBritish Columbia, approximately 20 communityschools exist under the umbrellaorganization of ACEbc (Association for CommunityEducation in British Columbia) and,102on a national and international level, CACE,the Canadian Association for CommunityEducation and the International Organizationfor Community Education, TOCE (Staples,1992; Stevens & Grieve, 1986).In a joint ethnographic study by the Vancouver SchoolBoard and the University ofBritish Columbia Child Study Centre entitledThe whole world in our schools, teachersfrom three Vancouver communityschools, including Franklin, shared anddemonstratedtheir interests and perceptions of multiculturaleducation in their school and communities.Community schools are charged with themandate for meeting the expressedneedsof neighbourhood families they serve. They are sensitivetoo, and cognizant ofboth the delights and dilemmas of providingquality programs for a multiculturalsociety.Community schools use their mandateto create opportunities for parentsandchildren to learn together, both duringand after school hours. (The WholeWorldin Our Schools [video recording],1988)Franklin became a community schoolin 1975 when the school staff togetherwith theparent and community association, appliedto the Vancouver SchoolBoard to berecognized and funded in this special way.It seemed that, with an increasinglymulticultural student and community population,it was felt that the school needed toexpand its mandate in ways that weremore inclusive and community-based.The 1970’s [sic] saw a dramatic changein the life of Franklin. Because oftheisolated nature of the school and the lackof park and recreation facilities, Franklinwas designated by the Vancouver SchoolBoard as a Community School. Thefocus now for Franklin was broadenednot only to serve elementary school agechildren, but also an attempt to provide servicesfor all members of the community[jç].(Franklin Community School,1986, unnumbered pages)Since that time, the community-basedadministration of the school has been anintegral part of the school’s overall philosophyand is reiterated in its Mission Statementona yearly basis:We believe that education is a lifelongactive process for all members of society.Our Community School interacts withthe community to best meet the needs ofitsmembers through programs that addresssocial, cultural, and recreationalneeds by103integrating community issues and resources into the curriculum.(FranklinCommunity School, 1994, unnumbered pages)On a daily basis, the community school office connectswith a large variety ofindividuals and groups, providing a place andprograms for adults and parents with veryyoung children in the morning, school-aged childrenin the afternoon, and youths as wellas seniors in the evening.One of the things that community schools dowell is that children learn not justfrom their school, from what they’re doing inthe school but also from theirenvironment because they’re involvedmore in what’s going on, in issuesin thecommunity. In the community schoolwe have volunteers coming intotheschool, we have parents coming into the school,so the two of them comingtogether, they learn more from each other, whetherit be culture, whether it belanguage -- we have a Cantonese course goingon here every Thursday allyear. We had other courses like Italianbefore, but of course now that’schanged, it’s more of an Asian community, weseem to have more of an Asianinfluence here from the kids at theschool. I see it changing, becoming, youknow, a greater population everyyear. What I’m also noticing is that we’regetting more of a population from SouthAmerica coming into the school.When it comes to curriculum, we ina community school have an advantagebecause we’re open beyond three o’clock. Soit’s not just in the classroom thatthings are going on. I noticed thereare other initiatives going on now wherethey are trying to see what the demographics arein the community to seewhether a certain language is goingto be taught with that particular population,as opposed to French as a second language beingtaught. So districts havebeen looking at the population of theirarea to see what languagemight betaught. But the advantage that we havehere is that after school hours we canhave instructors come in to teach children how to speakthe language as well,so that’s a real advantage, being openuntil nine o’clock at night, we can alsoenhance the curriculum. Whether it’s in the classroomor not, we can also do itin the evening as well.I think it’s really important that we all know whereour heritage comes from. Iknow, myself, I got a Dutch and Swiss heritage, I knowyou have a Germanheritage, and because of this, it’s nice to know whereour roots are and to knowthose cultures as well. And not only that,it’s good to have, to know otherlanguages and that we recognize eachothers’, especially this being a globalmarket now, it helps so much more. I knowEnglish seems to be thepredominant language around the worldfor people to have learned, but thatwas because it’s been so strong here economicallyfor so many years thatbusiness seemed to be English-based..However now, with the common marketin Europe and everything, things are changingdrastically, and perhaps we needto know more than one language in thisworld. And I think it’s important that wetry to do that -- especially if a little boy comeshere from China and he can’tspeak any English, it would be nice tohave other kids speak that language, sowhy not go to a Cantonese class and have themlearn that second language.104We have a few children who are not Asian who are in the Cantonese class,theyare trying to learn the language as well, which I think that’s just super, it’s reallyneat, so they can learn again from the other people and their culture because,well, we’re all here together, this is a community -- what better wayto learn,learning first hand from them. (Staff Interview, Peter, 05/95)Many of the principles of community education, such as fosteringthe well-being of allcitizens within a given community, strengthening an inclusive, culturallydiversecurriculum, and increasing the involvement and leadershipof local community members,make good sense within our overall educational framework.There are, however, somefairly recent trends in community and parental involvementthat need to be taken intoconsideration and looked at seriouslyif one wants to escape the dangers of a superficialapproach to these issues. One of the parents commented on whathe sees as acounterproductive trend of people expecting to beprovided with services as opposed toparticipating and actively engaging in the educational process:There’s an expectation that the government has tosolve this. We have becomea nation of dependency, letting someone else takecare of any of the problemsthat are out there. To me, that’s the same fundamentalbasis, that you’reexpecting someone else to raise your kids, provide the discipline,and teachthem reading and writing and arithmetic, and lick themif they’re bad.(Parent Interview, Gregg, 0 5/95)I don’t know all the answers, but I just know that there’s alot of really intelligentpeople who don’t spend any time with their children,and the children suffer as aresult of this, and they’re not learning. And there’s a lot of peoplewho are reallyignorant who spent a lot of time with their children, and thechildren seem tolearn well, they’re just there, you know, they go withthe kids, they’re gung-ho.And then there’s a lot of people in between who just expect theteachers to doit. (Parent Interview, Michelle, 05/95)Invariably, when talking about such issues of control and dependency, attitudesaboutcultural expectations and preferences come into the conversation.Fueled by theconsiderable attention multicultural and ethnicity get in the popularmedia, people seem toinvariably be able to relate to some real-life incident that demonstratesthe difficulties105arising when cultures come in contact. Michelle, a family doctor by profession, hererecounts her experience as a parent with another mother’s culture shock:Well, I just remember in pre-school, there was a very nice woman ... fromVietnam ... I just really liked her, and she was always smilingat me. And Iremember Miss N. and another teacher going out ..., they wentout and theywere going to get this kid .... He was all over the place, allover the place,completely disruptive, all over the place in theclassroom. He was completelyhyperactive, you would have called him attention deficit disordered100 percent,and nobody could get him down, he was often in the corner,nobody could doanything with him. And they were trying to work with the situation,so they wentand did a home assessment, and they had verylittle furniture, and he wascorralled off in a section of the living room by a made fence,in front of thetelevision. And this is all he had, and all his behaviours mimickedPowerRangers, no, not Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles, it was NinjaTurtles at that timeit was just phenomenal. They went to her home, verysparse, very nice lady,but obviously needed, definitely needed to go to school withher child. And shewas a very nice lady, and very smart, and she would have learnedby beingcorralled in there with the kids, you know what I mean. Sheneeded to be, andshe wanted to be ... she wanted to keep her culture, shewas a positive woman;she didn’t know what to do with this child, so she stuck himin front of the tv,there were no toys, only a tv. I mean, you’d call it socialdeprivation, the socialworkers would go into that situation, but I wouldlook at that woman, no, no,she’s not a bad person, it’s just culture shock, it’s coming tothis country and nothaving your community. Nowadays, women are isolated,very much so,mothers are isolated, the mothers who stay at home, theydon’t go for coffeebreak with everybody else and learn what everybody else isdoing. ... So they’reat home, and they’re extremely isolated in ourculture, because what did theyuse to do? They used to make pickles, and they usedto make jam, and theyused to make quilts, and they used to get together,and they had a communityto relate to, and they talked it out. There was a lot ofemotional support there.(Parent Interview, Michelle, 05/95)In addition, recent research in local educational settings points to some ofthosedifficulties surfacing within a culturally inclusive orholistic curriculum that states:educational programs that promote multiculturalism and anti-racismthrough avariety of means, are essential at Franklin School.Our programs support cultural diversity. We supportthe concept that culturaldiversity reinforces heritage thus providing cultural ties. Multiculturalprogramsseek to provide a knowledge base and promote culturalunderstanding betweencultures. Empathy and tolerance are increased which lend to abroader globalview. This broader cultural base provides the benefit of many culturesand thepossibility of many choices, i.e., medicine, celebration, religion, education,106language, philosophy. Multiculturalism helps us define our Canadiancharacter.(Franklin Community School, 1994, unnumbered pages)Gunderson (in press-a) found that parents from differentcultural backgrounds do notnecessarily subscribe to the all-inclusiveness of thiskind of curriculum. He points outthatThose of us who encourage students to be curious,interested, critical,communicative, to hold a plurality of points of view, and adesire to question andmake sense of it all, need to be acutely aware that weare teaching a value system.Moreover, it is a value system potentiallyin opposition to that held by the familiesof many of our students. (p. 11)Gunderson illustrates some of these difficultieswith case studies from three differentschools and classrooms where differing culturalvalues and belief systems have causeddiscomfort, miscommunication, and eventual culturalconflict and a widening of the gapbetween the home and school within, ironically, curricularmodels that attempt to bridgeexactly that gap.Into the Classroom: It Rude to InterruptIn the culturally inclusive classroom community, multiculturalstudents are givencontinuous opportunities to apply their culturalknowledge and their previouslanguage and literacy experiences to theirlearning of new concepts and languageand literacy skills. When you integrate students’ homelives and languages andprevious experiences into the curriculum at thisdeep level, you are takingthe firststep towards realigning your students’ schoolcontext with their home contexts andtowards creating a new compact between the schooland the home. (Enright,1989,pp.183-184)The concentrated influx of non-English speaking studentsinto the Lower Mainlandschool districts has both resulted in someinnovative policy initiatives as well as somedisturbing trends in educational decision-making, affectingclassroom teaching directlythrough allocation of funding for servicessuch as ESL and material resources forcurricular innovations, such as literature-basedreading approaches.Starting in the 60s and more so in the70s, the Vancouver School Board, for example,like many other neighbouring districts, facedthis reality by implementing multiculturaland107English-as-a-Second-Language programsfor both elementary and secondary classrooms.By the 80s, there existed an explicit racerelations policy and the positionof a racerelations officer had been created (Fisher &Echols, 1989). This policy hasmade parentsof non-ESL students speak out against fundingfor ESL students that, in theiropinion,takes away the moneys that should be spentrightfully on “regular,” English-speakingchildren (Phillips, 1994).Franklin School experiencesthe same kind of tensions as otherschools in the sameand neighbouring school districts.In conversations with some ofthe parents and teachers,statements about the unfair spending of taxdollars on ESL students by the schoolboardwere reiterated, expressing the frustration ofparents who think their own childrenarebeing disadvantaged and kept from reachingtheir true learning potential.Against this background of pedagogical,sociocultural, and sociopolitical powerstructures at work, we must askhow community building is carriedout in the realities ofboth the ‘curriculum-as-planned’ andthe ‘curriculum-as-lived’ in theclassrooms of thismulticultural community school(Aoki, 1993c). What kind of bridgesare students andteachers constructing andwalking across to connect the cultureof the school and thedifferent cultures that dwellin the surrounding community?In Other solitudes, ananthology of voices speaking to“the lived experience and the literaryexpression ofmulticulturalism in Canada,” LindaHutcheon (1990) reflects on apeculiar Canadianphenomenon:the historical settlement patterns-- island by island, across thecountry --created socially and culturally disparategroupings that were internallylinked bynetworks of local and kinship traditions.Our country, in other words, was setup -- historically and demographically-- in such a way that the eventualformulation ofsomething like multiculturalism mightseem to have been inevitable.(p.10)In the following section, I revisit the questionssurrounding community buildingandlanguage learning by describingmore closely the actual classroomenvironment in whichthis diverse community of studentsdwells. As children and learners,they are actively108engaged in the processof becoming actors in the multipleplays of language for thepurpose of both local andglobal communications. As futureadults they are, togetherwiththeir teachers, negotiatingtheir roles in this linguistic stagingof making sense of andthinking about the world theylive in. As teachers and researchers,we must askwhatparticular kind of languagingcomes into play in this processand how are realitiesnegotiated and understoodin the context of socioculturallyconstructed literacy practices.The setting of thisdramatic play, in Barthes’sense of a reflexive negotiationofknowledge through language (Sontag,1982), is an ‘open area’ ofthree multi-age, multiethnic classrooms in thissmall elementary school in theVancouver Heightsneighbourhood. The 65 studentsin the Primary OpenArea who take the centre stageinthis descriptive production representthe truly mixed sociocultualspectrum that wasdescribed previously: Apartfrom English, Chinese, bothCantonese and Mandarin,Tagalog, Spanish, Norwegian,German, Pun] abi, Japanese,feature in the linguisticbackgrounds of the students;First Nations cultures ofthePacific North West aswell asAustralian and Arabic ethnicheritages are representedin addition to Italian, Dutch,andother European origins. Mostof the children with the latterbackgrounds representthesecond generation ofimmigration, whereas most ofthe Asian and other racialgroupsexcept the First Nations childrenbelong to the first generationof immigrants.We have been mapping ourheritage. Outside the PrimaryOpen Area, on thebig bulletin board, Bethanyhas helped me start the‘P.O.A. Connections’map.She is quite excitedabout being the first oneto put her picture on a spotaroundthe periphery of the world mapthat forms the centreof the display, connectingitwith a colourful string to Norwayand proudly attachingunderneath her picture:“Bethany’s grandfather camefrom Holland. Her step-grandpacame fromNorway.” “What do you thinkI could write for underneathmy picture, Bethany?”“How about: Ms. Hasebe-Ludtgrew up in Germanyand she went to schoolthere?”We both stand backand contemplate the lookof the unfinished work: Itlooks bare, still, but I think weboth are feeling the anticipationof constructingthis map piece by piece, pictureby picture, string by string.This afternoon,during our student-ledconferences, the parents, grandparents,or other familymembers will get a chance toadd to the display together withthe children. Allthe materials are carefullyarranged beside the bulletinboard, a chart stand109explaining our project and invitingthe families to participate,together withinstructions, are ready. Bethany thinksit’s set to go. She can’twait to show herdad and step-mom. The pictures wetook of the studentsengaged in one or theother classroom activities are adorable.I can’t wait for our visitorsto see and,together with their children, composea sentence or two abouttheir family’sgeographical origin. (Researcher Narrative,11/28/94)The teaching situation in thePrimary Open Area is characterizedby a team of fiveteachers who share three classesof primary children agedsix to nine (grades one tothree)in a spacious area that allowsthe sixty children to move amongthe three ‘home areas’ andaccommodates easy interactionbetween teachers andstudents through physicalandorganizational arrangements.There is a meeting spacewhere the whole P.O.A.groupmeets three times during the weekon a regular basis, forsharing, story time, orotherwhole group projects and events,such as when specialguests are invited.18In addition,the physical set-up includesnumerous centres, usually aboutten to twelve, wherethestudents are involvedin learning activities related tothe curricular areas, such asmathwith manipulatives, water andsand tables, a book nookand listening centre,or art andcraft areas. Students from mixed ageand classroom groupings gather atthe centres andcooperatively play and work, doing,for example, bubble experimentsat the science tableor feeding and taking care ofthe P.O.A. guinea pig,Kiwi, The children are devoted totheir pet, and on a rotating basisthe “Kiwi Keepers”are responsible for his well-being.They care about him through theiractions and their thoughts, andthe spontaneouswritings they post on the wallaround his cage show howmuch he is one beloved pet.’9What if there was a fire at theschool and everyone wasout except Kiwi. I stilllove him. I like Kiwi becausehe is so cute. (Martha, age 7).What would you do if ther wasa fire or an earthquakeand Kiwi was still in thecage. I would take Kiwi andsomone will take the cage.Then Kiwi will be happyand so will I. (Tara, age 7).I wish Kiwi had a playmate. They would play. theywould eat and drink.I likeKiwi. I like Kiwi Kiwi. I like Kiwi.Kiwi is nice. (Naomi)110I wish I could have an animal like Kiwi. I like Kiwi andKiwi likes me. (Jan, age 8).Last year my teacher took home our guinea pig.This year she brought himback to The Open Area. He likes to hide underhis little house. Kiwi is so so soso so cccute. I like Kiwi. Kiwi is sofurry. I love Kiwi. (Bethany).Kiwi eat carrots and I wish Kiwi would win the Kiwirace and I wish I could getKiwi home. (Hugh, age 8)I wish Kiwi won first Place in the Kiwirace. Kiwi eats Howard’scarrots, andEric’s. I am going to Take Kiwi home. Ha,ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. (Erin)Throughout the day, the children work with other studentsas partners, either ingroups of two, in small cooperative groups,or as a whole group. They also workwith allthe teachers in the P.O.A., in addition to theirhome room teacher. They know,forexample, which teacher to turn to when needinghelp at the games centre or whoisresponsible for the current painting or craft projectif advice is needed. The commonP.O.A. day plan consists of a steady routinethat is flexible enough to accommodatespecial events, individual projects by the homearea groups, or whole schoolassemblies.Generally, scheduling of regular and specialevents are planned cooperatively bythe teamof teachers in weekly meetings. Towardthe second half of the school year,with thestudents being very comfortable and familiarwith the routines and cooperativeinteractions, the children have quite a bitof input into the planning throughbrainstormingideas for celebrations, themes, and activities.At the beginning of the observationsandjournalized reflections, for example, the childrenwere getting ready to decide on a newtopic of study within the broad area of the environment;according to the graph generatedfrom their votes, the interests ranged from pets andwild animals to the human bodyandspace. When I was winding upthe collection of data in the Open area, the studentsandteachers were moving from a theme of Communicationinto that of Space, voted mostpopular among the themes.111In order to capture these lived experiences, I felt that it was most suitable to continueworking within a qualitative methodological framework, focusingon ethnographic,interpretive inquiry within a hermeneutic framework (Caputo,1987, 1993; Chambers,Oberg, Dodd, & Moore, 1993). I thus began to sketch a researchplan for collecting dataover a three- to four-month period, fromDecember/January to March/April 1994. Onlythen, close to half-way through the school year,had the school’s organizational rollercoaster ride slowed down enough to allowfor a chance to get to the field workwithouttoo many distractions for the students andstaffFull of enthusiasm, I had naively thoughtthat it would not be very hard to setasidethree to four periods per week in which I wouldcollect data in the following ways:observation and anecdotal note taking togetherwith reflections on the former,video andaudio recording of classroom activities, aswell as interviews.20 I very soon realizedthatmy expectations were unrealistic. It wasn’t as easy asI had imagined to set aside timeforthe planned periods. Admittedly, I was bynow quite familiar with all the usuallast-minutechanges in schedules (of teachers, includingmyself and students), whole-schooland staffactivities one needs to be involvedin (frustrations about endless committee meetingsseemto figure prominently in my journalentries), and the generally busy, bubblydaily routine ofan open area classroom. There never seemsto be enough time for planning,for teachersgetting together to assess the success orfailure of a strategy or session, andfor catering toindividual children’s needs. Thus,it was extremely hard to deal with the difficultyinherentin “getting down to business” andof “just” sitting down to observe or operate thevideocamera, or worse, finding the time to reflecton the observations sometime betweenteaching, graduate work, and family.I did manage, nevertheless, after myinitial frustration, to collect a sufficient amountof data during that time period for this preliminarylook into classroom life. The focusofthe observations was four children whowere randomly selected by computer outof thesixty to seventy P.O.A. students.2’They turned outto be all grade three students, two112males and two females, three from Chinese-speaking families (two boys, one girl) and onegirl from an English-speaking Caucasian background. In addition to the classroomobservations -- roughly equivalent to two thirty-minute periods per week over eightweeks-- I collected data from Informal Reading Inventories that were conducted to assessthestudents’ reading levels, reading response logs, writing portfolios,and readingconferences. These methods of data collection were initially chosensince they seemed tobe the most common ones among those used within qualitativeresearch frameworks andparticularly in action research. In particular, the step-by-steparticulating and focusing ofindividual and specific questions in connection with procedures in ouraction researchgroup meetings was invaluable in becoming familiar with the options andmethods for datacollection with the help of field-based research guides (Hubbard &Power, 1993; Jeroski,1992).I began the initial data collection by documenting various activities thestudents wereinvolved in with respect to reading and writingmaterials through this rather broadspectrum of methods (see Table 1). Apart from the pre-plannedvideo and audiorecording involving the four randomly selected students,I also found that I kept observingand reflecting on literacy events by other students,choosing interactions that struck me assignificant in terms of the ways the students interactedwith literature and text. It seemednatural to observe in this more holistic way, and I finally realized thatthe random selectionprocedure was actually distracting and therefore notthat useful in the first place.It seems that, just like teaching, qualitative researchrequires flexibility andreadiness for those special moments when literacypractices are acted out -- inthe same way as the ‘teachable moment,’ they cannotjust be arbitrarily plannedor projected onto specific actors: ‘curriculum-as-lived’as opposed to ‘curriculumas-planned,’ literacy as socially constructed by the participantsthemselvesrather than teacher-driven. (Researcher Narrative, 04/04/94)After having learned those lessons from the pilot investigation,my methodologicalconcerns became less preoccupied with rigid scheduling. Instead I startedto place greater113emphasis on selecting fromthe vast amount of data I had atmy disposal in a way thatmade sense to myself theother participants in my study, andmy varied audience. Ineeded to and wanted to beselective, sensing that it wasultimately a much morechallenging task than includingall that could possibly fit intothe pages of this dissertation.The criteria for selection ultimatelywere created by my ownwriting evolving from actionresearch, by this particularkind of action writing whichinvolves a creativeact: “What I dowithin myself is philosophize,reflect on my experience”(Barthes, 1985,p.307). At thesame time, the layers of textI working with, my own,the children’s, and others’,createdan interwoven pictureof writing and reading in whicha personal, an emotionalinvolvement and engagementemerged and became partof the criteria for the selectionofdifferent texts:Text of pleasure: the text that contents,fills, grants euphoria; thetext that comesfrom culture and does not breakwith it, is linked to acomfortable practice ofreading. Text of bliss [jouissanceJ:the text that imposes a stateof loss, the textthat discomforts (perhaps tothe point of a certain boredom),unsettles the reader’shistorical, cultural, psychologicalassumptions, the consistencyof his tastes, values,memories, brings to a crisis hisrelation with language.(Barthes, 1975,p.14)In the process of thismethod in process, I discoveredthat, indeed, researchfrom themargins (Kirby & McKenna,1989) meant that it was continuallyunfolding, always inprocess, changing as I was changingin the way I read and wrote research.Doing research on the marginsin this city on the margin, onthe edgeThinking back to when westarted to plan teaching cooperativelyin this openarea, I remember the almostendless discussing and sorting outof each others’ideas about teaching andlearning. Into the second yearof working together, itstill is a constant process ofbalancing individual needsand common goals forboth teachers and students.It is both exhilarating andfrustrating -- as well asextremely time-consuming. Inthe same way, in my particularhome area oftwenty-two grade threes, thedegree of acceptance of others,the willingness towork with others regardless ofpersonal preference, and theneed to berecognized individually isconstantly negotiated, evaluated,and celebrated indifferent ways. This processis certainly not easy for manychildren: Learning toget along with others,regardless of age, gender, and raceis often difficult and114challenging, but it is always a learning experience that requires growth towardsacceptance of others from students and teachers alike.Perhaps, this living and learning through difficulty needs to be recognizedas an integral, necessary part of the sociocultural construction of literacy. Theunfolding of this literacy as a social and cultural process through which studentsnegotiate learning through multiple layers of texts needs to be furtherdocumented. With my own research I hope to contribute to filling this gap.(Researcher Narrative, 06/06/94)115TABLE1Methodsof Data CollectionDescriptionExampleMethodInformalReadingTeacher assessesreadingStudent orallyreadsInventorylevel of studentthroughteacher-selectedpassage(Johns, 1978)miscue analysis(e.g. The worldofplants)and orally answersquestionson contentRecordingof students’Regular individualA student readsareading/writingstudent-teachermeetingsselection froma story sheconferencesabout student’swrote and discussesit in areading/writingindialogue withthe teacher.progress in student’sJogCollectionof students’. ReadinglogsA student respondsto awork samples. Writing portfoliosstory with multicultural. Specialintegratedcontent,such as Treeoftheme projects(art, Cranes(Say, 1994) asscience, socialstudies)part ofa theme on Peace.Classroom observationsAnecdotaldescriptionsof A studentorally reads. field notesreading andwritingwith a partnerduring. video andaudioactivities throughbuddy readingtime andtapingteacher’snotes, videodiscusses thebook; thecamera andtape recorderteacher observesandmakes notesduring theinteraction.Reflectivejournal notesTeacher researcher’slog Aftervideo tapingofreflections innarrativegroup storytime, theform on impressionsfrom teacherwrites reflectiveobservationsnotes aboutthe materialselection.Teacher, staffand parentOpen-ended“Tell me aboutyour/yourinterviewsethnographicinterviewschild’s/yourstudent’sof volunteerparticipantsexperience withthe home(See Appendix1)reading program.”116In the three classrooms that comprise this Open Area, there has been and still persistsdifficulty in dealing with perceived notions of classroom organization and control. Intothe third year of co-planning and collaborative teaching, it has almost become a ritual togo through explaining to parents the benefits of this teaching approach and emphasizingthat a cooperative learning experience for the students does not mean lack of organizationor control; instead it involves active, healthy (sometimes noisy) interaction that is notsynonymous with chaos -- the latter a notion that, alas, many parents and educatorsinstantly call up in their minds when “open areas” are mentioned. Many times, especiallyat the beginning of the year, the team explains the above, in letters home to the parents, atthe school’s Open House, through presentations at the Community Council meetings.Still, there is resistance to this approach of child-centred, collaborative teaching andcooperative teaching and learning, more than the teachers at times feel they can handlealong all the other pressures of daily classroom life.The paradoxes of post-modernism become real, ironically, when, in the OpenHouse at the beginning of the year, the Open Area is once again considered “adeep dark mystery,” in the words of the chairperson of the communityassociation -- and in the opinion of some very vocal parents (and maybe someother teachers), despite year-long efforts by the teachers to have parents comein and observe, spend time with the children and teachers can it be that theyreally haven’t noticed that the doors are always wide open, indeed?So what else to do but preserve our sense of humour and present atongue-in-cheek slide show, an invitation to a Magical Mystery Tour at anotherassembly? It is just a glimpse of the varied activities in our classrooms,featuring the children and the few parents who do volunteer -- to the lively tuneand verses of the Beatles song:The magical mystery tour is hoping to take you away, coming to take youaway, dying to take you away ... It was a great success; endearing, inspiringimages of children engaged in sharing books, smiling, grinning, absorbed faces,negotiating their work with one another and explaining to their parents and otherfamily members at the student-led conferences. Colourful art, inspired by ourliterary train journey across Canada, print-rich environments, littered withliteracy, in David Jardine’s words. The children want to see and hear it all overagain, watch themselves and their friends, their work imprinted on the celluloid,hearing the tunes:Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song, and I’ll try not to sing out of key,I get by with a little help from my friends117I am convinced that they are the best advocates of this Open Area, holdingthe key to convincing those who are reluctant readers of successful learningand teaching in a new key.(Researcher Narrative, 10/31/94)There are, however, parents who do support the approach we have taken. One of themothers whose daughter had been in the Open Area for a couple of years and then movedon to the intermediate program, felt this strongly about it: “It’s sad how our schools arestill structured. I’m sad that the Primary Open Area hasn’t continued. I’m sad thatthere’s closed classrooms, I am.” (Parent Interview, Elena, 04/95)These examples show that communication and interaction with parents is animportant factor in any teacher’s successful teaching; however, it becomes especiallycrucial when the cultural background of parents influences either their educational valuesor their ability to communicate with the educational institution their child is attending. Asmentioned earlier, in a community school the teachers have a distinctly expressed mandate“to be familiar with not only the children’s home background but also the composition andcustoms of the community which affect their daily lives” (The Whole World in Our Hands[video recording], 1988). However, when the values, customs, and beliefs of parts of thiscommunity are distinctly different from the those promoted in the classroom, conflict isnot easily avoided. How and what is being taught becomes a controversial issue and,depending on various power structures, can result in situations like those Gunderson (inpress-a) describes in local classrooms where interaction patterns ranged fromconfrontation to avoidance and, at best, uncomfortable co-existence. One of the Franklinparents, having witnessed some of these signs of conflict in her own practice as a familydoctor and as a parent, when dealing with a neighbouring family’s differing cultural viewsof what constitutes significant classroom content, reflects:This is something that we as a family and parents in the community are notgoing to change overnight. We’re going to change it by examples, we’re goingto change it gradually by example. I mean, I work in a field where I see, liketeachers, probably even more so, I see the very very insides of peoples’ lives. Ithink you see the very insides of peoples’ lives, but not as I see ... I know, I look118at somebody, and I’ve been in practice long enough that I look at somebody andI see patterns, and the cultural patterns are phenomenal. And in the world it’sgoing to take probably two or three more generations, or maybe more, toactually ... because the male-female problem is huge, I mean, in Africa it is sobad, Africa, India, and China I do not see as critical as Africa and India, just theactual male domination of women, the extreme male domination of womenYou know that Jasmine, you know that there are some Chinese people sheis close too who ... their parents ... she brings home their work, their art work, alot of their art, their journals, any of their stories, particularly their art work,because they throw it in the garbage. Their parents are not interested in that,only in math. But Jasmine thinks pictures are alive, so she can’t throw it out,she’s so sensitive, so we have them all down in our basement, all their art workbecause the parents are only interested in math, their parents only want tosee their math.(Parent Interview, Michelle, 05/95)As a teacher, as a parent, as a woman, as a mother, I am deeply disturbed bythe conversation with Gregg and Michelle. This interview had happened aroundthe same time that I was reading about Lee Gunderson’s observations ofcultural views on whole language. I feel “furious,” in Erin Mouré’s words, aboutthe way we use language, about the power of discriminatory practices with/inlanguage, more doubtful about my ability to effect change, less sure about myright to impose my value system onto the children in my classroom, yet,paradoxically, more than ever aware of the difficulty of interpreting what is rightand wrong with respect to cultural beliefs. All my good intentions of thoughtfullynegotiating change are flying in my face, mocking me through the voices heardon the tapes and the words written on the pages. Nothings gonna change myworld ... (Researcher Narrative, 05/15/95)Sylvia Ashton-Warner, in her pioneering work with the language experienceapproach, teaching children from a Maori background in New Zealand (Ashton-Warner,1963) told us that it rude to interrupt, that we must respect where our students arecoming from and not impose our own value systems onto their cultural traditions andheritage but rather affirm their self-expression in a natural, stimulating environment. Still,how is it possible to build communities where both literacy and harmony flourish in thecontext of diversity that creates exclusion instead of inclusion on so many levels, on thelevel of the cultural and curricular canon as well as the beliefs of some cultural minoritygroups? When and where is it indeed rude to interrupt? In her reflections on her ownteaching practice, local teacher Corey Denos comments on the tensionality between theteacher’s and the children’s control of the curriculum,119When I was very young, being a teacher meant being perfect and perfectly incontrol of a perfect world. Later on, being a teacher meant saving the world or atleast some of its children by giving them knowledge, by giving them what I hadand they lacked. Because of these views of my world, I used to spend hours andhours of planning, I planned all of the time. The resulting plans conceived anddefined, away from them, were then imposed on them. Within the classroom,there was a constant sense of tension as I tried to make my plans work, to get thechildren to want to do what I had so carefully planned for them. My view is sodifferent now. Now I feel much less distinction between myself and the children.It’s not that I’m not always an adult with a special responsibility, but I have a senseof being part of a community in which I am working in harmony with the otherparts. (Denos & Rotheisler [video recording], 1993)Anne Haas Dyson (1986) at one time referred to this changed attitude as stayingfreeto dance with the children, bringing to my mind once again scenes from Sylvia AshtonWarner’s classroom where she indeed danced with the Maori children (Ashton-Warner,1958; 1963).It just happened one bright spring morning when I was playing some Schubert toplease no one but myself that a child stood up from his work and began composinga dance, then another, then another, and there it all was. And here itall still is.Although most of the interpretations come from them, I indulge myself byproviding them with a further selection of movements to use as they choose, tosupplement their own movements. But I haven’t noticed much of it being usedvoluntarily in their interpretation of new music. The old story of imposition again.(Ashton-Warner, 1963,pp.91-92)How do you dance with children and with parents whose culture and upbringing donot allow the playful steps of musical exchange to enter into classrooms meant fordifferent skills, for computing rather than composing, for decoding rather than dancing?In this time of sociocultural complexity, there is no longer a simple sequence of steps forthe partners -- children, parents, teachers -- to learn. The moves become difficult ratherthan dynamic; mastering the mechanics of the skill overrides the harmoniousmovingtogether. The results echo the jarring notes of dis-comfort, dis-harmony, dis-ease.When is it rude to interrupt? The uncomfortable coexistence of cultures is nothingnew in our classrooms and schools, in our neighbourhoods and in our city, and the120language we learn from cultures in contact is often laden with stereotypes and racism.The language of children on the playground of our schools, in particular, as we have heardat the beginning of this chapter, and as Gunderson (1983) and Hasebe-Ludt (1992a,1 992b) affirm from observations several decades later, is often rude and decidedlydifferent from the academic discourse of the classroom, whether the geo-culturallandscapes are named San Francisco, California or Vancouver, British Columbia. Theyseem linguistic worlds apart, separating the curriculum-as-planned and the curriculum-aslived. We must ask ourselves where in this chiasmatic languaging we can find a new key,a turn in how we come to speak and dance with the children.121Chapter 4Intercultural Connections of Literacy in Action: EntgrenzungenLiterature, I argue, creates a cultural space whose primaryfunctionconsists in acontinual shaping and reshaping of the boundaries of languageand subjectivityon both an individual and a collective level.Gabrielle Schwab, Subjects without selvesThe text is a tissue ofquotations drawnfrom the innumerablecentres ofculture.Roland Barthes, Image, music,textI do not mean to suggest that simply overhearing a foreign tongue addsto one’sunderstanding of that language. I do know, however, thatbeing exposed to theexistence of other languages increases the perception that theworld is populatedby people who not only speak differentlyfrom oneself but whose cultures andphilosophies are other than one’s own.Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t take nothingfor myjourneynow122In an article entitled “Cultural literacy, national curriculum: What (andhow) doesevery Canadian student really need to know?” Patrick Dias (1993) responds toE. D.Hirsch’s (1987) canon of cultural literacy on “Whatevery American needs to know” and adictionary of cultural literacy that complemented it(Hirsch, Kett, & Trefil, 1988). Dias, incontrast, questions the validity and legitimacy of establishingsuch a list from a revisionistEurocentric perspective and research agenda.Cultural literacy, like language, must live and develop in use.... For one, we donot trivialize the use of language and literaturein schools by reducing usinglanguage and reading books in school to mere means andmere preparation forusing language and literature elsewhere, like real people. Weneed to put awaythose taxonomies, those hierarchical scaffolds whichmean to promote autonomybut more often than not cultivate dependency, bysaying generally one cannotmove to D unless one has gone through A, B, and C.(p.18)We live in a world where the cultural boundaries oflanguage, literacy, and literatureare rapidly expanding through global connectionsmade possible by the technologicaladvances of the infonnation age (Dollahite, 1993;Jones & Maloy, 1993). In addition, inthis ‘ftn de siècle questioning of the foundations of theorybuilding” (Carson, 1992, p. v),on the threshold of the 21St century, the issues surroundingculture, cultural literacy, andliterary theory are becoming increasingly complex,controversial, and seminal (Langer,1992; De Castell, Luke, & Egan, 1986). These include “the issueof current curriculartheories and their definitions of text and reader andwriter, and the issue of what literatureand literature study is” (Purves, Rogers, & Soter, 1990,p.35). Together with thisquestioning and redefining, one can also perceive aparadigm shift in the definition ofgenre and an ensuing debate on the meaning and significance ofliterature and narratives inparticular within a post—structuralist framework (Bernstein,1991, Carter, 1993).More specifically, in the heated discussions about what constitute“real” literacypractices in the “real world,” the reading debate hasrecently achieved considerableattention among reading researchers. Taylor, for instance,in her 1994 commentary on123West’s, Stanovich’s, and Mitchell’s (1993) article Reading in the realworld and itscorrelates calls for the need to establish different critical sites for inquiry and literacyresearch “that could provide us with new understandings and significant insightsinto theways in which personal understandings of literacy are socially,culturally, economically,and politically constructed, and also individually situated in the practical accomplishmentsof people’s everyday lives”(p.279). Gregory (1994), in her work with children ofBangladeshi origin in a community school in East London, England, found that adifferentview of reading exists in the homes, warning us that “if the teacher rejectsthisinterpretation as inappropriate, then the child may well experience schoolreadingdifficulty” (p. 120). In a recent edition of The Reading Teacher with a focus onfamilyliteracy, several authors explored different sites and situations of literacy in schoolandhome contexts in the United States (Unwin, 1995; Shanahan, Muihern, & Rodriguez-Brown). Hudson-Ross and Dong (1990) compare language learning in the People’sRepublic of China with that in elementary schools in the United States. WithintheCanadian context, Anderson (1994), Anderson & Matthews (1995), Early and Gunderson(1994), and Gunderson (in press-b), provide us with insights aboutdiverse literacypractices and processes within our local multicultural communitiesand classrooms.Against this background, the following chapter sets out to explore the connectionsbetween such practices, innovative models of literacy instruction, and currenttrends insocietal attitudes toward back to the basics, such as the question on the cover pageof apopular magazine: “Are we cheating our kids?” (Dwyer, IVling, & DeMont, 1994)Withinthe context of the Canadian education system, and, when applicable, from awiderperspective of North American schooling or global educational trends, I examinetherationale for these models in light of recent research and practices in readingand writingacross the curriculum and against the background of recent understandings aboutthesociocultural dimensions of language and literacy. By describing features of aliteratureprogram in this multicultural classroom setting within the Canadian public schoolsystem, I124point to the benefits as well as the difficulties of such an approach in light of currentsocietal and cultural attitudes and beliefs.The ABCs of Intertextual Discourses: Interpreting cultural literacyLob des Lernens In Praise of LearningLerne das Einfachste! Für die Learn the simplest things! For thoseDeren Zeit gekommen ist whose time has come1st es nie zu spat! it is never too late!Lerne das Abc! Es genugt nicht, aber Learn theAbc! It is not enough, butLerne es! La13 es dich nicht verdriel3en! do learn it! Don’t let it get you down!Fang an! Du muBt alles wissen! Begin! You must know everything!Du mufit die Führung übernehmen. You must take the lead!(Brecht, 1966,p.21) (E. Hasebe-Ludt, Trans.)In this poem, Bertold Brecht points out the necessity as well as the limitations oflearning the basics, the ABC. Important insights into the sociopoliticalfoundations anddimensions of language and literacy within the last three decadesof this century have alsoaffected the field of pedagogy and have resulted in a new levelof critical examination ofthe hegemony of power connected with the process of schooling (Aronowitz &Giroux,1985; Freire & Macedo, 1987). Giroux (1992), in particular, employsthe notion of atheory of border pedagogy to indicate the need for an alternative tothe centred unifiedpedagogy of the past in order to recognize “the situated natureof knowledge, thepartiality of all knowledge claims, the indeterminacy of history and theshifting, multipleand often contradictory nature of identity” (p. 26; as quoted in Greenlaw,J., 1994, p. 15).If we can lift these borders of pedagogical and cultural constraints, Girouxclaims,students will eventually benefit from multiple border crossings bymoving back and forthbetween different cultural spheres and identities. Entgrenzungen, made possible bypedagogical reaching, lifting, transgressing borders. Lucy Lippard, fromwithin a similar125American cultural and national landscape, is aware of the inherent challenges posed bythese borders:The boundaries being tested today by dialogue arenot just “racial” and national.They are also those of gender and class, of value belief systems,of religion andpolitics. The borderlands are porous, restless,often incoherent territory, virtualminefields of unknowns for both practitioners and theoreticians.Cross-cultural,cross-class, cross-gender relations are strained, to saythe least, in a country thatsometimes acknowledges its overt racism and sexism,but cannot confront theunderlying xenophobia -- fear of the other -- that causesthem. Participation in thecross-cultural process, from all sides, can be painfuland exhilarating. I getimpatient. A friend says: remember,change is a process, not an event. (Lippard,1990,p.6)These words remind us of a wider global trendtoward revisionist and reactionaryeducational policies that is threatening this new understandingof pedagogy, this newliteracy by adhering or retreating to traditionaland status quo modes of curriculum andinstruction (Willinsky, 1990). This backlash againstholistic, innovative educationalphilosophies, programs, and strategies includes the rejectionof a widening of the literacyand literature canon and instead advocates apopulist back to the basics approach.Examples of this trend, which has been particularly widespreadthroughout the media andpopular press, are book titles referring to the “catastrophein public education” (Nikiforuk,1993) and newspaper articles deploringeducational reforms such as British Columbia’sYear 2000 as a “cruel hoax” (Kline, 1993).In British Columbia aspects of the Sullivan Report implementedthrough the Year2000 initiatives came under hard scrutiny. A growing “back tothe basics”movement found much to criticize in non-graded integratedprimary classrooms.The supposed advantages of private schools encouraged someparents so to seekto refashion local public schools in theirgenerally more conservative image. TheNDP provincial government was forced to redraw its educationalpriorities. ... Thenew conservatism soon extended into the classroom.While not publiclydisavowing Year 2000 or the SullivanReport, Premier Michael Harcourtcommitted the Ministry of Education to putting greateremphasis on “the basics”and job-related curriculum, giving parents a set of standardsagainst which tomeasure their children’s performance and progressin school ... If fast approaching,126Year 2000 was also receding from view.(Barman & Sutherland, 1995, pp. 423-424)In particular, as the above authors pointout, advocates and practitionersof the wholelanguage approach to teaching literacywere among those in the crossfireof criticismdirected towards this and other education systemsthat are struggling to preparestudentsfor the challenges of the nextcentury (Edelsky, 1991).In an earlier section, I dwelt on the researchand readings that strongly supportandacknowledge the socio-cognitiveand socio-cultural co-constructionof language in variouscontexts. I now want tofurther exemplify, from the observationsand materials broughtforth from my study, how such processeswere carried out in the particularcontext ofthese classrooms with thestudents actively engaged in constructingknowledge in bothlocal and global perspectives and how“our capacities and opportunitiesto engage indiscourses has been re-shaped bythis expanding geographical imagination.The language,the texts we use in these discoursesis varied and variable, constructed”(Barnes &Duncan,p.8).This, in turn, directly relates to theselection of materials used for readingand writinginstruction. When looking atchoices of such materials for multiculturalclassrooms,questions about the culturalinclusiveness and responsivenessof the readings must beasked. This is set against the backgroundof an examination of the importanceandmeaning of text and stories in our lives “aspart of a narrative wayof knowing that is basicto the ways in which humanbeings understand the world andcommunicate thatunderstanding to others” (Gudmundsdottir,1991,p.207).However, only within the last twodecades have we begun to questionthe universalvalue of being members of whatFrank Smith (1986) has called the “literacyclub.” Withreference to the educational, literary,and philosophical maximsof the postmodern andpost-structuralist schools as wellas earlier and contemporary criticismwithin theexistentialist and phenomenologicalschools of thinking, we have begunto critically127examine both affirmation and rejection of these conceptual models within currentcurricular frameworks.However, attitudes to reading vary widely according to the ethnic and culturalgroup to which one belongs. The western secular and mundane view of literacycontrasts sharply with the quasi-religious significance given to reading in manyAsian cultures. ... Likewise, expectations on how reading is learned andshould betaught contrast clearly between cultural groups. Western interpretations of whatcounts as reading have also led to assumptions of deficit in non-school-orientedgroups whereby the absence of reading for pleasure indicatesthat no reading at alltakes place at home; a lack of appropriate books means thatno reading material atall is available and untypical adult/child interaction patterns reveal that noinitiationof the child into reading is taking place outside the classroom.(Gregory, 1994, p.113)With a view toward a viable definition of literacy and literature in the 21St century,weneed to examine and speculate on the respective consequences of the implementationofinnovative beliefs and practices for a future generation of school children.We require an education in literature ... in order to discoverthat what we haveassumed -- with the complicity of our teachers -- was nature is in factculture, thatwhat was given is no more than a way of taking. (Howard,1974,p.ix)Once again, the tensionality between nature and nurture/culture re-surfaceswithpervasive obstinacy. Literacy, so often assumed and hailed as a fundamentalcharacteristicof an educated citizen of the world in many of our curriculum reforms, becomesproblematic with a view toward the future educational climate in andoutside our schools.We can read the forecast, at best, as partially cloudy, with a chance ofclearing accordingto the weather words we digest daily through television, radio, and the newspaper,and thewarnings about an unsettled landscape of literacy in these stormy postmoderntimes.Edelsky (1991), for example, reminds us thatprogressively intended work in language and education might turn out to beconserving rather than transforming ... That is, aside from the “ordinary”difficulties in making an institution such as education bite the dominant societalhand that feeds it by transforming that hand (into a foot perhaps?), a growing128postmodernist mentality that often smirks at the earnestness of projectsoftransformation may well exacerbate those difficulties.(p.1)Therefore, if the context of a postmodern society has the potentialto negate theliberating force of emancipation through educational processes,such as language andliteracy teaching, it can be fundamentally counterproductiveand needs to be re-evaluated-- not just through intellectual debates but rather byexamining the actions and methodsused to counteract progressive practice.Thus, while the general theoretical maxims of critical pedagogyspoke a universallanguage that was applicable to a wide range of educationalsettings in Westerndemocratic societies, the reality of transforming conservativeand reactionary educationalpractices into student empowerment seemed to growmore and more challenging with theever increasing multicultural and multilingual composition ofWestern postindustrial states(Au, 1993; Jennings & Purves, 1991; Richard-Amato &Snow, 1992; Samuda et al.,1981). In this vein, we need to keep in mind the complex natureof multiple literacies:Even though English can be considered a language of social empowerment,as Eggington(1992) states, there is a cost to the sociopolitical prestige thislanguage carries with it.“Along with the benefits associated with the acquisitionof English come a host of dangersinvolving the inevitable imposition of cultural values --dangers which, if not considered,can lead to English teachers participating in forms of culturalimperialism”(p.4).Consequently educators recognized the urgent need for realisticand effective methods toimplement change and to abolish existing discriminatorystructures (Pennycook, 1989).Willinsky (1991) very fittingly states:For my part, I would remind the modern critic that thehegemony and complicityof literary theory requires a more specific distributionsystem than the vagaries of“the State.” My contention is that theprincipal playing field of these ideasachieved and won has been located in the neighborhoodschoolyard. The schoolsite constitutes something of a factory outletfor the hegemony of literaryinstruction, an outlet that French Marxist philosopherLouis Althusser (1971) hasbluntly described as the dominant Ideological StateApparatus. Both literacy andliterature constitute an introduction to an orderingof language that seems to be to129many students as intent on limiting access and participation as it is on expandingthe realm and reach of meaning. (p.15)Therefore, we need to look into schools and classrooms where the everydaynegotiation of meaning takes place and where the power play betweenthe participants inthe battle for hegemony continually affects the individual lives of students and teachers.I hear that today’s schools -- or least some of them -- are builton differentprinciples than at the time I went to school. Nowadays, childrensupposedly aretreated fairly and with understanding. If this is true, I regret it very much. Weweretaught about such things as class differences -- it was part of the curriculum.Thechildren of better folks were treated better than those of working people.If thishas indeed been removed from the curriculum of today’s schools,young peoplewill only find out about this immensely important difference in treatmentwhen theyget out into the real world. Everything they learned in schoolin their encounterswith teachers will only entice them to the most ridiculous actions outsidein reallife, which is so entirely different. They will have been artfully deceived abouttheway the world will treat them.(From Brecht’s 1967 Fluchtlingsgesprache [Refugees in conversation], asquotedin Richter, 1972, p.23; E. Hasebe-Ludt, Trans.)As this quotation so poignantly and satirically warns us, thereis no use denying theexistence of a class structure in society nor can we closeour eyes to the different realitiesand practices of schooling and of “real life.” How then can this basicdichotomy and itsdetrimental consequences, particularly for the lives of underprivilegedminority groupmembers, be dealt with in the framework of a critical approach to educationaland socialorganizations? How can the multiple realities of contemporary multiculturalclassrooms indifferent parts of the world benefit from the postulations of a liberating pedagogythatproclaims freedom of thought and speech together with a celebration of culturaldiversityas its cornerstones?Multicultural education -- or rather education that is multicultural.22 Much doubthasbeen generated about the radical potential of a separate curriculum that catersspecificallyto the implementation of multiculturalism in educationthrough so-called ‘satellite’programs which in essence only maintain the isolationist tendenciesand pejorative130attitudes of the majority point-of-view (Cummins, 1989). Such an approach too oftenstops at superficial activities about the “three Fs:” food, festivals, and famouspeople --and in reality sanctions the existing mainstream system of cultural hegemony.Instead, a curriculum that strives for emancipatory action withinthe framework ofcritical pedagogy could be characterized as containing the “five Ms:’meaningful,motivating, multicultural, multidimensional, and multiplicative-- thereby integrating themulticultural component as a natural part of a whole (Enright, 1989).As Gay (1992)points out in the case of the United States, there seem to be efforts toplacemulticulturalism into broader structural contexts and ideological frameworks.In additionto supplying teachers with instructional strategies, activities andresources appropriate forvarious multicultural settings (Carrel et al., 1988; Chamot & O’Malley,1986; Lim &Watson, 1993), educators working within the field of multiculturalism have madesubstantive progress in analyzing the structural, environmental and proceduralroutines ofmainstream schooling that discriminate against students from culturallydiversebackgrounds (Fyfe & Figueroa, 1993; Gay, 1993; Harris, 1992). In this way,multicultural education scholars are providing conceptual paradigms fordetermining how to make better decisions that are more responsive toculturalpluralism at all levels of the educational enterprise.... The results constitutethebases for deciding what reform interventions are appropriatefor multiculturalizingthe educational process. They represent a paradigmatic shift in understanding theimplications of cultural pluralism for schooling which leads to the personalempowerment of teachers with respect to multicultural decision making.(Gay, 1992,p.49).How does this projected paradigm shift affect students’ realities? Ifit is empoweringteachers to make culturally appropriate and sensitive decisions, doesit bear in mind, forexample, the different roles students from Non-Western cultural backgrounds expect toperform in school? Does the emphasis on active participation, criticalthinking andquestioning on the part of students, which is an essential part of recent curricularreform inNorth America- such as the Year 2000 in British Columbia (lVlinistry of Education, 1989)1—,13-- devalue and marginalize the educational experience of studentsfrom geo-culturallandscapes where different models and modes of learning, instruction,and communicationbetween teacher and student are considered appropriate (Saint-Jacques,1995)? Thisinvolves a constant process of decision-making andevaluation on the part of the teacherwho wants to use children’s experiences and waysof knowing as a valuable resource in theclassroom and who, therefore, has to respect thesein their own right (Holmes, 1993).How can this paradigm shift toward culturalpluralism help bridge the many gapsthatstill exist between students’ experiences at homeand those at school? That the contentand context of the “curriculum-as-lived” differs considerablyfrom that of the “curriculum-as-planned” is certainly not new for either studentsor teachers. The reality of whatstudents learn at school, the forces that shape them,in Mary Ashworth’s (1979) words,are not just transmitted through the formal languageof the classroom. Rather, thelanguage of social interaction with peers on the playground,for instance, is a powerfulteaching force -- and that particular language is oftenin conflict with the one of the schoolauthority and the teacher as the designated voice of theofficial curriculum. Here is whatsome of these voices tell about coping with the diversestudent population in thebeginnings of the public education system in this city,during the first years of the 20thcentury:Some of the earliest immigrant children were from Europeancountries. I hadstudents from Norway and Sweden. No one hadheard of English-as-a-second-language program. All I did was speak slowly andrepeat and enunciate words.And I made sure the children didn’t gang up onthe new students.I was appointed to Seymour School where there werea lot of children whoknew very little English. I just had to watch my vocabularyand keep it verysimple. We did half a year’s work in a year. (Gosbee &Dyson, 1988, pp. 97-98)In his article The triumph offormalism: Elementaryschooling in Vancouverfrom the]920s to the 1960s, Neil Sutherland (1995) describesthe typical initial schooling132experience of youngsters during that time period, brought forth bythe memories from oralinterviews with Vancouverites who attended public school in the city:however they came and whatever their expectations of how theschool would beordered, most beginners shared one very clear idea of what theywould do inschool. They were going to learn to read. After a half century many canrecallstories such as “Chicken Little,” and even phrases and sentencessuch as “Prettypink ice cream from a pretty pink glass,” “Cut, cut, said theking,” “I am a boy.My name is Jerry,” and “See Spot Run,” which were among thefirst that theydecoded.(p.103)In contrast to this scenario emerges the picture of our six, seven,eight, and nine yearold students who are also children of immigrants, first, second and thirdgenerationCanadians, such as Bethany, whose step-grandfather immigrated fromNorway and isteaching her some Norwegian:This book was about a Badger and he has boat and sings:Row Row Row your boat gentley down the stream merilymerily merilylife is but dream.I can sing Row your boat in Norwegian it goes like this:Rew Rew Rew Tim boat Tidon on the fut vucinavucina vucina vucinaall Tis ba tiggua.(Bethany’s Reading Log, on Row, Row Row, yourboat, 10/04/95)Bethany’s reading of a familiar, song and rhyme, transposed to anon-traditional storybook about a singing badger, has now created athird level of connectedness for her --both linguistically as well as personally meaningfiil. Erin has developeda keen interest inGerman, built on his background knowledge. Erin’s father is asecond generationCanadian of German origin and lived in Germanyfor some years as an adult. Erin is alsopicking up German vocabulary from his nanny, a young German womanwhom he adores.When she comes to pick him up and we exchange greetings and bitsof conversation inGerman, Erin and the other children form a delightedand delightful chorus line. Erin hastaught the class a few lessons himself by now: he convinced everybodythat learninganother language is as easy as pie:133Erin: “It’s easy to learnGerman!!!Teacher: “What makes you think that?1Erin: ‘A lot of words are the same -- like Canada: it’s Kanada!”And he demonstrates, with an enduring, knowing expression on his face, eager toshare that there’s almost no difference in the pronunciation except for the vowel shift,which he performs masterfully. We have a lot of discussions about German language andculture and family connections when, in November of last year, I went to Germany to visitmy family. It was a very real opportunity for the children to live another culturevicariously through the picture books, posters, and photos I shared with my studentsbefore I left and through the new books I brought back.Der Hut ist für den Kopf.I liked this book because you could learn German. I like learning differentlangueges.(Brittany’s Reading Response to Margret Rettich’s Der Hut 1stfur den Kopf11/14/94)Good for you! I like learning about languages too!(Teacher’s response).FAMILIE BABARI like this book because it like to learn othr langwiches in the whi world. do youlike to Ms. Dyer?(Amy’s Reading Response to Jean de Brunhoffs Familie Babar, 11/24/94)Yes, I do! This book is written in German.(Teacher’s Response).Before I left, in October, Amy, who was usually quite reserved about enteringconversations with others, started to ask a lot of questions about my trip. One stands outin my mind: “When you go to see your family in Germany, is it going to make you feelhappy or sad?” In November, another conversation picks up the thread of thisquestioning:I am very excited to be back with the children. Reading familiar and new textstogether after a joyous reunion the first day back in the classroom, we makeconnections, literally, tracing the airplane’s journey on the globe, estimating the1—ILapproximate spot where I was writing to them from somewhere over Greenland,with the photo of the airplane in front of us.Then Amy, whose father is often away in Hong Kong, asks me verysolemnly:Amy: “Did you feel happy when you saw your family again?”Teacher: “Oh yes, Amy, I was so happy and excited I didn’t want to goto sleep for hours.”Amy: “Were you sad when you had to leave?”Teacher: “Yes, I was very sad, but I know I’ll be visiting them againsometime soon, and I was looking forward to seeing my daughterand all of you again.”Amy: “I’m sad when my dad leaves.”Teacher: “I know ... it’s hard,” and we just hug.(Researcher Narrative, 10/11/95)This conversation has created a new intertext, has moved from ‘discourse a’ -- theteacher’s text, the story ofjourneying to my roots -- to ‘discourse b, Amy’s text of her ownstory of family dynamics building a layer onto mine, recognizing and interpreting thetheme of family connections and dis-connections over geographical and cultural distances,Canada, Germany, China. We have something in common now, an understanding ofpainful partings and joyful reunions, and the universal emotions that come with relating toothers.Furthermore, it is not simply our accounts of the world that are intertextual; theworld itself is intertextual. Places are intertextual sites because various texts anddiscursive practices based on previous texts are deeply inscribed in their landscapesand institutions. We construct both the world and our actions towards it fromtexts that speak of who we are or wish to be. Such ‘texts in the world’ thenrecursively act back on the previous texts that shaped them. (Barnes & Duncan,1992,pp.7-8)This intertextuality stretches from our own stories to the kind of literature we usewith students in our classrooms. Cairney (1992) reminds us that “the sharing of literaturewith students is much more than simply a pleasurable way to spend time. It is an135important way in which classroom communities build common ground” (p. 507). In thefollowing interactive exchange of poetic language, we can recognize how intertextuality iscreated through the constructing and re-constructing of meaning by readers and writerswho “transpose texts into other texts, absorb one text into another, and build a mosaic ofintersecting texts” (Hatman, 1990,p.2; as quoted in Cairney, 1992,p.502).Sun, Sun“Sun, Sun overheaIJ’7iatyour colour?”“Jam red”“Sun, Sun, fieryfellow,Whatyour colour?”“I am yellow.”“Sun, Sun in sky of blue,Whatyour colour?”“Orange too.I’m golden yellow,Orange and redA burningfire above my head”(Heidbreder, 1985, p. 9)Myfavourit poem“Sun Sun.”‘Moon, moon overheadWhat your colour?”Jam blue.‘Moon moon sadfellowWhat your colour?”Jam blue.My poem. (Maggie, age 8, 1994)Children’s sense of identity is co-constructed withlin the reading relations and otherpersonal kinds of relating with people and places around them. Often, the boundariesbetween these are stretched, transgressing from the world of others, fictional or real intothe children’s lives. With her Sun Sun poem, Maggie, one of our Mandarin ESL childrenwhose progress in learning English is still slow, has re-created her favourite poem, RobertHeidbreder’s Sun, Sun from his book Don’t Eat Spiders (Heidbreder, 1985). She did so inher own way, with the vocabulary she feels comfortable with in her second language atthis point, expressing how she feels through the language and her accompanying artwork,136beautifully articulate on yet another level through the cool blue colours surrounding thepale yellow of her magnificent moon in a landscape of sadness. This poem made sense toMaggie, the artist, within her own reality. It allowed her to express herself through afavourite medium, painting, with language that was facilitated, modeled after the originalpoem through its secure and simple yet beautiful patterning. And that is why it becameher “favourit poem” among the many other texts she was trying to read and make sense ofin our classroom.Constructing and Negotiating Knowledge: Passports to UnderstandingThe above examples illustrate that the implementation of curriculum and the teachingof reading and writing, in particular, are not set within a vacuum but, on the contrary, areintricately connected with the students’ -- and the teachers’ -- sociocultural andsociolinguistic background and environment. This has been confirmed in researchin othersettings, specifically with reference to the effects of background knowledge and cross-cultural schemata that operate during the acquisition of literacy in multicultural settings.Johnson (1982), for example, in a study on the effects of building background knowledgeto increase reading comprehension, found that readers use both informationfrom text aswell as from their own background knowledge to understand the content of a text. Basedon Goodman’s (1971) psycholinguistic model of reading as well as elements of schematheory (Carrell, 1983), reading can be described as an interactive process in whichprevious information from both text and the reader’s world knowledge is used forprediction of meaningful content (Morrow, 1992).Readers bring to a text a wide range of experiences with the world and withdiscourse, which they can use in constructing a meaningful representation of thetext. Their prior knowledge, organized in topical clusters (Schemata) provides acontext for comprehension. (Andersson & Barnitz, 1984,p.103)These studies outline the need for teachers to incorporate these knowledge structuresin the choice of reading materials in combination with instructional methods such as the137Language Experience Approach (Ashton-Warner,1963) or the Experience-Text-Relationship based on the former (Au, 1993;Rigg, 1991). The former method usesstudents’ own stories as readingmaterial while the latter expands onit by comparingculturally different texts to students’ ownsociocultural experiences of a topic or issue,thereby building and enhancingtheir cross-cultural schemata in meaningfulways. AsAndersson and Barnitz (1984) point out, thesemethods and strategies are particularlycrucial in so-called ‘regular’ primary classroomswith a number of ESL children, a commonscenario in schools all over North America.For students with ethnic and linguisticbackgrounds outside of mainstream NorthAmerican sociolinguistic and socioculturalnorms, it is often difficult to construct theschemata that will facilitate learning withinthese norms, both in and outside of classrooms.This is particularly difficult when studentshave previously experienced divergentculturally based methods of reading practices,instruction and teaching strategies, such asis often the case with students and parentsfrom China and other Asian countries. In the caseof reading instruction, for example,thekind of schemata that develop are culturallyconditioned based on a reader’s knowledgeofthe world. Personal knowledge, in turn, isconditioned by a person’s culture, withfactorssuch as race, gender, ethnicity, age, and soon, playing significant roles in theconstructionof this knowledge and consequentlyof the schemata needed for reading comprehension(Reynolds, Taylor, Steffensen, Shirey, &Anderson, 1982). This interactive modelcan beextended to the larger context of languagelearning and of learning the languageof thecurriculum.As the trend towards ‘learner-centred curricula,’‘whole language,’ ‘process learning’and the like grows stronger, pedagogical approaches basedon notions of risktaking and personal empowerment[k],so does the population of studentsthatcomes from cultures which espouse differentideologies. In the Vancouver,Canada School District, for example,50% of the students speak a language otherthan English at home, representing thirtydistinct ethno-cultural groups, and theirnumbers continue to grow. (Early & Gunderson,1994,p.4)138From the teacher’s perspective, this can also mean a difficult learning and adjustingtask when faced with making decisions about reading strategies for learners with diversecultural and personal background knowledge. This difficulty is an important part ofteaching and in turn is instrumental in building cross-cultural schemata for both teachersand students. One of the teachers at Franklin reflects on her students’ backgroundknowledge and findsthat they are so much more sophisticated than I am or -- even still -- you know,with their world view, I mean, some of them have had much morelife experiencethan I have. They come from countries that are war-torn, you know, traumasthat they’ve lived through ... Some of the children have a completely differentview of the world than my little corner, and I think that teachers are having to letgo of their pre-conceived ideas of what kids can do, what kids own, what kindofexperience kids have, and also of their abilities. I am constantly at myself toletthe children take more responsibility ... all of a sudden, it’s kind of a letting goand a letting go, and it’s not an easy thing when you’ve been doingthings acertain way for a long time, and then to let kids take more responsibility foreither learning or for structures in the classroom. (Teacher Interview, Tara, 06/95)These issues center around notions of control and, as Tara reflected, the questionofwho owns the curriculum, “whose classroom it is.” She also thinks thatmaybe sometimes children need to have a different point-of-view from whatisbeing espoused at home. I don’t think you can always go with, you know, yourmom and dad say this kind of thing, so ... it’s interesting to hear other’sopinions,that’s how you grow and incorporate different points-of-view. So, I think you canbe sensitive to it, but you can’t just sort of put off, you know, everything elsethatmight offend somebody. (Teacher Interview, Tara, 06/95)Within these power structures and struggles, there is the matter of the curriculum totake care of the task of building knowledge according to the prescribed andrecommended content of the curriculum in the various subject areas.To focus on curriculum knowledge is to direct attention to the knowledge thatisselected for inclusion in school programmes and made available to studentsinclassroom practice. Knowledge made available to students refers to opportunitiesto construct, or critique knowledge, as well as to the more common offeringofknowledge as if it were a product or object to be acquired. Curriculum knowledgemight include social and world knowledge as well as so-called academicknowledge from the recognized disciplines.139Questions of multicultural curriculum knowledge are important because howwe understand ourselves, others, a nation, and the worldis shaped in part by thatknowledge. Curriculum knowledge contributes to the shaping of identity,capacity, attitude, and action both individually and collectively. Questionsofcontrol are important because different values and interests are sustainedormodified by one or another selection and distribution of curriculum knowledge.Isee the question of ‘whose knowledge?’ as less importantper se than the questionof ‘who benefits?’ from particular knowledge selections.Further understanding ofcurriculum knowledge control, empirically and theoretically, wouldenhanceunderstanding of larger issues of curriculum policy, practice, and change.(Cornbleth, 1995,p.166)Against this background, some researchers argue that ESL and minority students,when reading and interacting with texts for the purpose of comprehension,are at aparticular disadvantage because of their lack of cross-cultural background knowledgethatfacilitates interaction with a text (Carrell & Eisterhold, 1983). Itis important therefore forteachers to use texts and strategies with which students can comprehend through asecondlanguage the words and the world in a meaningful way.Some of these strategies, such as the Knowledge Framework (Mohan, 1986),aim atbuilding six explicit knowledge structures such as description, classification,andevaluation in relation to thinking skills, and observing and comparing, understandingconcepts, and critical decision making. Each of these knowledge structures canberepresented graphically by “key visuals (Early, Mohan, & Hooper,1989).The workshop that I took dealt with Anansi the Spider; it wasthe KnowledgeFramework, and part of that Knowledge Framework workshop was dealingwithAnansi the Spider, and once you got those ideas for using that book, eventhough on the surface it seems like a simple picture book, all of a suddenthere’s a lot you can do with it, and it’s no different than a novel, so I thinkthat’sa way for teachers to deal with books other than from their own culture.(Teacher Interview, Tara, 04/95)Realizing this necessity to go beyond one’s own limited perspective, we now see amove toward further Entgrenzungen within a constructivist framework. Out oftheAustralian literary and pedagogical community comes a move toward a paradigmshift thatviews literature as a tool for overcoming etimo-centric views of curriculumand for distinct140cultural criticism (O’Neill, 1993) which goes beyond the ideologies of literature as culturalheritage (Leavis, 1972), beyond even the personal and social reality of the new literacy(Willinsky, 1990). Based on Halliday’s social-semiotic perspective (Halliday, 1978;Halliday & Hasan, 1985), this new literary mode instead transcends established boundariesof genres and redefines them as staged, goal oriented social processes in which membersof a culture participate in a variety of ways (Martin, Christie, & Rothery, 1987).According to O’Neill (1993), this more radical definition of literature and genre-basedliteracy asks for readings that students actively construct, reconstruct and change:Inviting students to consider ways in which readings change over time can be aproductive means of looking at shifts in cultural values -- shifts in what readersbring to texts and shifts in what is possible or permissible to say about them.(p.23)In Canada, the attempts to expand the traditional canon of predominantly British-Canadian and American narratives are becoming more frequent and are evidence of thisparadigm shift through the prolific writings of authors and illustrators of childrens bookssuch as William Bell, Dayal Kaur Khalsa, Joy Kogawa, George Littlechild, Jean Little,Stéphane Poulin, Barbara Smucker, and Paul Yee, to name only a few, who represent andpromote the rich cultural mosaic of the Canadian literary community (Jobe, 1993; Jobe &Hart, 1991, 1993; lobe & Sutton, 1990).Not only have they and their colleagues opened doors to a wider world of experiencefor our students, they also have actively contributed to the dialogue about culture andliterature among educators, writers, students and researchers. This dialogue needs tocontinue and expand, facilitated by greater availability of resources and a shift in prioritieswhen it comes to multicultural issues. In their case study on Literature and Reading in aMulticultural Society (lobe & Sutton, 1990), the authors found that “the fulfillment of thevision of a socio-political climate that encourages the recognition and full participation ofvarious cultural and linguistic groups in Canadian society has been far slower than141anticipated”(p.2). In the same way, “multiculturalism, although stressed in the BritishColumbia curriculum guides, continues to be a low priority in many schools in the lowermainland”(p.41).A wide variety of texts that facilitate the use of prior knowledge as well as thebuilding of new background knowledge must be made available to all students.Thesetexts include narratives of a different kind than the ones traditionally found in schoolsandclassrooms and certainly those driven by a back to basics approach. Theycomprise thekind of stories that arise out of an authentic need for sharing and communicating beyondcultural, social, and personal boundaries. They engage the individual voicesof bothstudents and teachers in a meaningful and purposeful learning context.In his work Actual Minds, Possible Worlds, Jerome Bruner (1981) argues thatthereare two modes of thought: the paradigmatic and the narrative. Theparadigmatic isemployed most often, he suggests, in the construction of our knowledge of thenaturalworld; the narrative, on the other hand, is instrumental in our understandingof humanaffairs (Hansson, 1991). If our goal is truly understanding, then, as Belenky,Clinchy,Goldberger, & Tarule (1986) explain, the personal experience of relationships needs to bepart of our storying:By understanding we mean something akin to the German word kennen, theFrench connaitre, the Spanish conocer, or the Greek gnosis (Lewis, 1983),implying personal acquaintance with an object (usually but not always a person).Understanding involves intimacy and equality between self and object, notdistanceand impersonality, while knowledge (wissen, savoir, saber) implies separation fromthe object and mastery over it. ... Telling and hearing our stories helps us tounderstand. The story, a product of language, can bring forth our experiences toconsciousness.(pp.10 1-102)In this way, the notion of understanding also speaks to the intertextual natureof ourstories and of other texts, incorporating yet another layer, another important element tothis complex cognitive process, that of evaluation. In the seminal thinking of his laterwork, Bakhtin (1986) perceives this as a creative act, one which is necessary to elevate a142given text to reveal the multiplicity of its meanings: “Thus, understanding supplements thetext: it is active and also creative by nature. Creative understanding continues creativity,and multiplies the artistic wealth of humanity. The co-creativity of those who understand(p.142).”The Power of Our Stories: Literature as Texts for Reading the WorldOur stories are the masks through which we can be seen, and with every telling westop the flood and swirl of thought so someone can get a glimpseof us, and maybecatch us if they can.Madeleine Grumet, Bitter milkWhether we speak of our own stories or the stories of others, whether we speak ofour own education or the education of others, story-telling does give pause to find thedetails, examine the subtleties and nuances, and be with the experience. In doing so, itserves well as a tool, a method, within which one is able to think of an experience, toreflect upon and make sense of interactions, to imagine the experience of others, toconsider a dilemma and ponder solutions, to contribute and share in collective storytelling. Virginia Shabatay, Carol Witherell and Nel Noddings, in Stories Lives Tell(1991),speak of the “wholeness of the human” that is brought forth in the story.Stories allow us to break through barriers and to share in another’s experience;they warm us. Like a rap on the window, they call us to attention. Throughliterature and people’s stories we discover a variety of situations that make peoplefeel like strangers. We discover what strangers have to teach us. (Shabatay, 1991,p.137).The power of narrative and dialogue as contributors to reflective awareness inteachers and students is that they provide opportunities for deepened relationswithothers and serve as springboards for ethical action. Understanding the narrativeand contextual dimensions of human actors can lead to new insights,compassionate judgment, and the creation of shared knowledge and meanings thatcan inform professional practice. (Witherell & Noddings, 1991,p.8)In this way, Tara found that these texts can also build that connection for students, tobring forth their own stories:143I know that when the children have been read to or have readsomething thatreally strikes a cord in them, they find that their own writing is so much... theyreally want to write about it, whether it’s about something they experiencedorthought about, or fear. (Teacher Interview, Tara, 04/95)If we invite the children in our classrooms to become part of thisnarrative way ofexperiencing, reflecting, and sharing, we can togethercreate a rich web of meaning-making and understanding through the stories wovenfrom this common thread ofhumanity. It is through this process that we let others see through ourmasks, inMadeleine Grumet’s words (198 8a), and at the same time becomewriters and storytellersthat have, so Alice Walker believes, the power to savelives.I wonder why Santa didn’t like going out giveing presentsto children because hesaid when it is December 24 I have to do everythingbecause I hate Christmasbecause I hate children and everything in the hole entereworld and holeuniverse.(Jimmy’s Reading Response to Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs,12/02/94)In his response, Jimmy was trying to come to terms with a very differentportrayal ofthe Santa Claus figure we traditionally encounter in storybooks centered aroundEurocentric beliefs and values about Christmas. In Brigg’s (1973) unconventional,tongue-in-cheek cartoon version of The Night before Christmas,the benevolent FatherChristmas figure turns into a grouchy, overworked, yet lovablecharacter. Jimmy’sfascination started with questioning this particular adult conception of theworld andcontinued with comparing this image with others he wasencountering. During this time,we were reading a variety of books clustered loosely aroundour Peace theme inDecember. Other books that the children eagerly read and re-readwere, for example,Allan Say’s (1991) Tree ofCranes, and Eleanor Coerr’s (1979) Sadako andthe 1,000paper cranes. Especially the latter text presented a compelling and thought-provokingpicture of a world in which global issues and individual livesare intertwined in a complexand powerful way.You can really see that ... like the books that we have read with thekids, andwe’ve got a lot of books upstairs, we got tons of them, and it’sinteresting, they144really learn from the content of those books. They’re very simple, you know,they’re kids’ books, they have beautiful art work, for one thing, but the contentalways, you know, has a moral, most of them, anyway, and it’s really interesting,they really do pick that up.Interesting thing, you know Sadako and the Cranes, that book, great littlebook, Jasmine read that one ... and it’s so interesting, her perspective on it. Iwas raised in a generation of the ... that the Japanese were theaggressor andthe basically the atom bomb wasn’t a negative thing from ourperspective. Itwas basically brought about to eradicate the negative thing, right?When shewas reading that book, and it was talking about why, you know, the atombombdisease and all that, and she said: “Why, Daddy, why would theAmericans beso bad and do that?’ I can’t remember exactly what she said, butherperspective from reading that book was really, gave my head ashake, becauseit was exactly the opposite perspective of how I learned, but it waslearned fromthe book. And the book was a very positive thing, it was a verygood book,actually, talking about the other perspective, and just about: here’s whathappened, there’s a victim to everything, these were ... like, shesaid: “Whywould they drop a bomb on innocent people, on children?” It wassuch a ... on alittle kid. And I, so explained quickly about the whole thing, you know, howit gotstarted and all about war, and that that’s the problem with war, and it reallydidbring in a good sort of lesson there, but I was struck by how the perspective,herperspective of that situation was totally different from mine by interpreting, bywhat she read, from that book. And in a way, you can talk about the content,the book, in a way, forming a sense of community. (Parent Interview, Gregg,05/95)In the situation described above, the interactive negotiation and meaning makingbetween the reader and the text forms a crucial part of one child’s developingunderstanding of the world. In addition, the relationship between child and adult,thecommunity-building process as part of a shared reading and discussionof the content ofthe text, are necessary in order to build background knowledge and facilitateunderstanding. The role that literature can play in helping children understand ourmulticultural world should therefore not be underestimated or judged simplisticallyandsuperficially.Books can make a difference in dispelling prejudice and building community:notwith role models and literal recipes, not with noble messages about the humanfamily, but with enthralling stories that make us imagine the lives of others. Agood story lets you know people as individuals in all theirparticularity andconflict; and once you see someone as a person -- flawed, complex, striving-- thenyou’ve reached beyond stereotype. Stories, writing them, telling them, sharing145them, transforming them, enrich us and connect us and help us know each other.(Rochman, 1993,p.19)In the same way, the following researcher journal entry reflects the awareness of thecomplex and often difficult intertextuality of reading and a beginning understanding of thesituatedness of texts within the lives of both students and teachers:We were talking about Paul Yee’s Tales from Gold Mountain. The childrenespecially wanted me to read Rider Chan and the night river; a story about twobrothers’ tragic entanglement in the greed and selfishness of the gold rush inthe mountains of British Columbia. They laughed when I told them I wasworried it would be too scary -- never underestimate the passion for gruesomedetails by a bunch a grade threes. I think they got a kick out of the fact thattheir teacher thought this story scary at all, and the discussion that followed wasa lively bragging session about scary stories, mostly horror movies they hadseen in the vein of Freddy Krugerand friends ... Once again, I was dismayed atthe exposure to violence on television and through videos the children seem soused to. Most of them hadn’t found a movie yet that was too scary!The story we eventually decided to dramatize through role play, readers’theatre, and art, together with a grade six/seven class, was The spirits of theRailway, a tale about the sacrifices and exploitation of the Chinese workers whobuild the railroad through the mountains of British Columbia. This story had itsscary elements too -- ghosts, skeletons, and violence in the treatment of theworkers on the part of the ‘white bosses.’ The students worked hard for severalweeks in small groups. I was amazed at the amount of cooperative effort theycame to at the end when we performed our drama in the Chinese New Yearassembly in front of the whole school.Chung, who is Chinese himself, was fascinated by the story from thebeginning. He kept asking questions about the historical details of the railwaybuilding, so I was glad when the librarian supplied a film on the history of therailway in Canada. We all watched and listened to the rather dry and pompous-sounding voice of the narrator, telling about the ‘official’ historical facts andfigures, culminating with ‘the last spike’ of the transcontinental railroad. Into thesilence that followed the scene of a crowd of dignitaries gathered for this historicmoment, Chung, who sits next to me, wonders out loud: “Where are all theChinese workers, Ms. H.?”(Researcher Narrative, 02/06/94)For Chung, literature, through a re-reading of history in the form of Paul Yee’s Talesfrom GoldMountain (1989), had opened up spaces for his own, genuine questions, forfinding out about the hidden curriculum, for learning about identity, exclusion, andinstitutional racism. At the same time, working with this text had opened up spaces,exemplified another perspective for the other children in the class, especially the ones who,146in the beginning of the year, had not been open-minded about different culturalbackgrounds, like Fiona, looking down on the Chinese children because of their languageand manners.There is obvious difficulty involved in this process of building and re-defining acommunity with the help of texts for both these children -- a difficulty that involvesinteracting with language and literature in new and challenging ways that move beyondrestrictive and canonized texts. When looking at the students’ responses to the literacytasks they were faced with, there is one insight that stands foremost in my mind. Thechildren, when helped to make connections with the texts they were reading in ways thatwere meaningful to them, were immersed in the tasks through a multi-layeredintertextuality. They connected with the materials by re-reading stories, taking bookshome to their parents and sharing them together, by writing stories about Canada, theworld, and their own sense of place, by inventing chants and poems based on patterns theyhad become familiar with, and by talking to each other about what they liked to read.Through this, they demonstrated how literacy can be actively expanded by the learnersbeyond the traditional definitions of reading and writing to affirm the social and culturalnature of intertextual literate events (Chapman, 1995).Community in diversity: Through the active negotiation of socio-cognitive and sociocultural processes such as the above, which involved the grasping of historical globalevents and their representation through different eyes -- of official sources and of thevoices of people from ethnic minority groups -- children step-by-step can come tounderstand important parts of their role as players in this vastly expanding globalcommunity of learners. There is difficulty in community building involved in this, atensionality that needs to be acknowledged as a necessary part of learning, of learningthrough language, of learning to read -- especially in the context of reading texts in asecond or other language (Elam, 1991; Heidegger, 1968; Wood, 1993).147This prompts me to revisit Heidegger’snotion of ‘belonging together’,in whichhe emphasizes the first wordof the phrase, belonging,invoking a sense ofcommunity that incorporates thebeing). This communal spacethereby createsthe texture of diversity,the striving, the longing for past andfuture connections-- unlike so much of the currenteducational and political rhetoricwhere thestress is on ‘belonging together onunity defined as universality,in a static andfinite frame -- without listeningto the authentic voices inbetween and the voicesof the other. (Researcher Narrative,07/25/94)Language, understood as textin the sense that it encompassescreative language usefor the purpose of communication,whether read, written,or spoken, represents aninterwoven tapestry, a textus,which allows us to transcendborders, to move beyondthelimitations of the imposedlimit-language of the curriculum(Schemer, 1984). This,onceagain, connects me with Schwab’s(1993) notion of texts asEntgrenzungen, as creationswhich push for a transition,an opening toward a more inclusivevision of a communityoflearners.My day begins with observationsof the shared readingtime during the firstperiod. I am curious aboutthe progress the children aremaking with readingtogether. I know I don’t haveto worry about that with the “Waldogroup,” as Ihave started to call them inmy mind. Erin, Hugh, J.R., and Jimmy havedeveloped a routine of their own.They invariably pick upone of the Waldobooks we have in ourclassroom, negotiate whetherit is possible to get theonethe resource teacher next doorhas, then form a circlearound the book on thefloor. Usually, there is lotsof talk happening between them,mostly quietly butonce or twice I have to remindthe boys about chatting a bitmore quietly. Icatch myself being reluctant todo that, though, not really wantingto interferewith the kind of “good noise”that originates in such interculturalconversationalexchanges and that Ihave come to appreciate somuch.The participants in this nuclearspeech community are Erin,our bright 6-year-old native English speakerwho reads and writesabout two years beyondhis age level and wonders aboutall kinds of things in imaginative,rich languagethat reflects his thinking andunderstanding of the world aroundhim; J. R., age6, Jimmy, age 5, and Hugh,age 7, are ESL students, J. R.’snative language isTagalog, Hugh’s and Jimmy’sis Cantonese. Theyare learning English withenthusiasm, without being awareof it, talking about whatreally interests them:the hidden characters inthe book -- a friendly competitionand joint endeavor tosolve the puzzles in thepictures and the text.Today, I have a specialsurprise for them: I broughtanother Waldo bookfrom home -- one that my daughter,Charlotte, is graciously donatingto theclass: Wher&s Waldo?The boys comment excitedlythat they know it, telleachother details about it and then,in pairs, divide theirattention between thetwobooks. Two others, realizingthat there is some novelevent happening, comeover to join: Leo who, beingnew to the school, has a hardtime making friends148up to this point in our time together as a class, now joins this community, and sois Jan who also has difficulties relating to others. There is an atmosphere ofintensive communal negotiation as they jointly search for the hidden objects onthe pages, making predictions, telling each other about the funny and excitingdetails they notice in the drawings. When I call the class to the carpet for ourmorning gathering, they are reluctant and need a couple of extra invitations.The last part of their communal bonding consists in a conspiratory negotiationabout which will be the best hiding place for this new treasure. Even though Iknow this is going to result in future complaints and protests from other childrenin the class, I can’t help but smile at the group’s enduringly clever, clandestineways of claiming ownership of the texts in their classroom.(Researcher Narrative, 10/01/94)The world according to the Waldo universeLiterature can reproduce the diversity of sociolects, or, starting from this diversity,and suffering its laceration, literature may imagine and seek to elaborate a limit-language which would be its zero degree. Because it stages language instead ofsimply using it, literature feeds knowledge into the machinery of infinite reflexivity.Through writing, knowledge ceaselessly reflects on knowledge, in terms of adiscourse which is no longer epistemological, but dramatic. (Barthes, 1978b,p.19,as quoted in Sontag, 1982,pp.463-465)Reading the world according to National Geographic:We went to the Vancouver Art Gallery, to a participatory workshop in connectionwith an exhibition called Out of place, featuring seven artists from diversecultural backgrounds whose life experiences speak and display feelings ofalienation and displacement through imposed power structures.23One of the installations draws my students like a magnet: When the docentis leading small groups of children into what gives the illusion of a small roomsurrounded with suspended high shelves of National Geographic magazines,hundreds of them, my curiosity is peaked, too. We have a shelf with thesemagazines in our classroom, too, brought in by one of the children from home.Some of the children seemed to like looking at them during silent reading,particularly enjoying the photos in them. Now I see astonished looks and hearsurprised comments about the masses of magazines in this room, as part of anart display. Even more astonished looks and languaging ensue when wediscover that the artist, Panya Clark, has re-created cultural objects from theoriginal magazine pages, such as a kind of toque, a sail boat, and a pair ofearrings. The objects, displayed side by side the magazine page that framedthem, look stunningly like the originals. The children are full of wonder, askingquestions: “How did it get here?” “Did the artist find this?” “How did she get theexact materials to copy these?”They are fascinated by the puzzle of how real objects were re-created,used as art, used to deliver a message about authenticity, ownership, andappropriation. They don’t tire of asking questions, responding to the docent’s149thoughtful comments and open-ended questions: ‘Which things did theartistmake? What do you think? Why do you think that Panya Clark decided topresent the objects and the pictures side by side?” This installation is such apowerful statement, immensely complex, yet simple in a way that children canunderstand about the powers of words and images on the printed page.Theyare reading the words and imprints of culture according to National Geographic,and they are reading the world according to a certain perspectivethat putsculture on display. Then, by visually adding another layer, theyexperience thedisplacement and interrogation of practices of cultural hegemony in away thatleaves them spellbound with the power of artistic questioning.The learning continues after the children have had a chance to create theirown installations after the gallery tour and take them back to the school tobedisplayed in our classrooms and hallways. They are writing in their journalsabout their impressions of Out of Place. For weeks, they have become eagerreaders of the National Geographics in our classroom, sharing them in“booktalks,” putting the world in the centre of our classroom. Theglobe is becoming apermanent fixture at group carpet time; we are constantly finding places fromarticles featured in the magazines, the children are posing questions abouttheplaces that catch their attention. A lot of the stories and the compelling picturesthat accompany them are about animals and people’s exploitation or eradicationof them, such as the coverage of the practice of hunting elephants for ivory.Some of them sound like budding journalists reporting onendangered speciesin a global space.(Researcher Narrative, 10/12/94)In another space, in what now seems like yet another world,another time zone, myown journey of discovery in the landscape of language and literatureled me to the writingof a thesis on the connections between power and language/literature:This work is conceived a contribution to the field of women studies ... willshowthat the status of women writers depends on the social, political, and economicalstructure of society ... portraying the development of cultural patterns that definethe role of women within society ... attitudes about female character traitsinfluence the image of women in society and are reflected in literature ...thetreatment of women’s literature by male critics ... stereotypes of women areidentified with those of women’s literature ... (Ludt,1977)24Reading life and reading the world: coming back, over and over again, tothe powerof the stories of our past, to the importance of prior educational and family connections.The mapping exercise about “P.O.A. Connections” described earlier was receivedwithoverwhelming enthusiasm, generating many discussions in the hallway betweenteachers,parents, and students. The globe in our classroom was a very popular learningtool for150months before and after this visual testimonyto multiculturalism. The students becameMidnight on the mid-AtlanticNothing blacker than the wateinothing wider than the sky.Pitch and toss, pitch and toss.The Big Dipper mightjust ladlea drink out of the sea.Midnight on the mid-Atlantic is11 A.M. in JapanIn the pondgrandfatherfloats a tulipso thefish can greet the spring.JJA.M in Japan is6 PM in Los AngelesThe sun eases downlike a big golden dinner plateat the end of the dayon the beach.6 P.M in Los Angeles is10 A.M. in Guangzhou, ChinaOn the way to Goat Cityauntie pedals quickly,flying like a dragon.On the way to Goat Cityeider sister pedals slowly,flapping like a goose.10 A.M in Guangzhou, China, isNoon in Sydney, AustraliaAt the barbie, five cousins, fouruncles, three aunts,two sheepdogs, six iizards and onesly kookaburrastealing sausage right off theplates.Noon in Sydney, Australia, is9 PM in Brooklyn, New YorkThe vroom and shush of trafficoutside the bedroom windoi’while Mama turns the pages ofasleepytime tale.(Singer, 1991, unnumbered pages)fascinated with time zones, learning about them with the help of literature, suchas thedelightful Nine Oiock Lullaby (Singer, 1991), in which young readers, through a seriesof sixteen simultaneous happenings on six continents, are introduced to the concepts oftime zones and cultural similarities.10 P.M. in Puerto RicoSweet rice, fruit ice, coconut candy.Papa playing congas Tio his guitar.Swaying lanterns in the branches,dancingpeople on the grass.Bedtime isforgotten on a specialparty night.10 P.M in Puerto Rico is151Today Jimmy was telling the class with a beaming face that his mom came backfrom San Francisco on the weekend. He wrote it in his journal, too, and I writeback to him that I’ve always wanted to go to San Francisco, and that I reallyhope that I’ll be able to go there some day, maybe even next spring, to aconference. When he was telling the whole class, we find it on the map,together with Los Angeles, the city from the Nine o’clock lullaby poem (Felicity isgetting excited, she tells everybody THAT’S where Disneyland is, and SHE ISgoing there in the spring, FOR SURE, her mom promised), and San Diego,where Bethany’s mother and step-father live and where she is going forChristmas this year. She misses her mom ... Other children share connections:Melanie’s family, her aunt, uncle and cousins, live in San Francisco, and she islooking forward to visiting them soon. We found a lot of things to talk about,and we are reading California through our own stories and others, such as AllanSay’s stirring, bittersweet Grandfather’s Journey, which I decided to read to thechildren emerging from our spontaneous real and imaginary travels to thissouthern place. (Researcher Narrative, 11/16/94)My grandfather was a young man when he left his home in Japan and went to seethe worldOfall the places he visited he liked Calfornia best. He loved the strongsunlight there, the Sierra Mountains, the lonely seacoast.The last time I saw him, my grandfather said that he longed to seeCalifornia one more time. He never didAnd when I was nearly grown, I left home and went to seeCalforniafor myseifAfter a time, I came to love the land my grandfather hadloved andI stayed on and on until I had a daughter ofmy own.But I also miss the mountains and rivers ofmy childhood I miss my oldfriends’.So I return now’ and then, when I can not still the longing in my heart. The Ilinnything is, the moment I am in one country, I am homesickfor the other.(Say, 1993,pp.4-31)This book speaks to me in a way that not many others do. It is unique in theway it makes me relate to the emotional messages of belonging anddisplacement, of love and caring within families in between continents, makesme think of my own family between continents.PEOPLE IN MOTIONReading San Francisco: This city holds a strange and beautiful fascination;the intertextuality of its geo-cultural landscape, evoked through language,music, and art -- made meaningful through my students’ and my own personalrelations: Living in Berlin, a student myself, relating to professors and studentsfrom Berkeley, trying to speak their language, listening to their music, andwishing I could go there some day: It seemed like such an exciting, progressive,on-the-edge, yet paradoxically peace-minded place. Years later, still hoping tosee San Francisco for myself ... Am I just hopelessly nostalgic? And if so, whatis wrong with that?152California dreamingon a such a winter’s dayIF YOU’RE GOING TO SAN FRANCISCO.All across the nation,such a strange vibration,people in motion . -.theres a whole generation,with a new explanation,PEOPLE IN MOTIONSan Francisco days, San Francisco nightsSan Francisco days, San Francisco nights.Listening to the song on the radioand still hoping to see San Francisco some daylistening to stories about walking on the beach in San Franciscothinking that I really wanted to be able to tell a story about San Francisco tooI went to Long Beach, L.A. instead, to another conference -- it made moresense.What made me think so?How does this thinking make sense?I can’t think of a story about Long Beach, L.A.(Researcher Narrative, 04/11/95)Naomi: Me and my dad went to the park on the weekend. Me and Tara aregoing to Alaska. We will have fun.Teacher: Alaska is a beautiful place!Naomi: Today we are going back to Alaska. Yesterday we had lots of funbut it was very cold. But we had fun anyway.Teacher: Is it always cold in Alaska?Naomi: Today we are going to California with Sabrina and Meleana.We will have fun.Teacher: What will you do on your trip to California?Naomi: Today we are going back to California with Miata, Tara, Sally,Meleana, Angela. We will have fun.Teacher: What kind of fun things are you going to do on your trip toCalifornia?Tara: Today me, Naomi, Meleana, and Sally are playing house and we arepretending that we are going to California.153Teacher: What will you do in California?Tara: Today me Naomi, Sally, Meleana, Miata, and Angela are goingtoCalifornia for pretend. We will have fun!Teacher: What kind of fun things are you going to do in California?Sally: Today I’m going to play with Meleana and Roddie and Naomi andTara and Angela and Miata. We will have fun. We are going toCalifornia!Teacher: What will you do?Renata: Today me and Gemella are going to Disneyland. I will be makingthe tickets. We will have some fun on our imagining trip!Teacher: Great! Enjoy yourselves!Renata: Today at recess me and Gemella are going on a trip to Alaska. Wewill have a great time!Teacher: I’m sure you’ll have a great time on your pretend trip!(Journals, 04/15/95-04/18/95)During the observations and reflections on the kind of texts that wereused in thePrimary Open Area, it became obvious that a lot of the theming and subsequent choicesfor reading were an interactive process between teachers and students. At the beginningof this year, for example, when we began our theme of’Me and my Family,’ a lot ofpersonal connections influenced the selections for reading in the classroom and in thehomes of the students. After that, all year long, it almost seemed that, through books andstories, we were going on a trip around the world: Australia, Norway, China, Japan,Germany, Alaska, California -- we were all over the map, and indeed the globe nevercollected dust in this classroom with eager small hands locating countries and cities thathad become meaningful through our own stories and those of beloved characters in books.Bethany, inspired by our reading of Jan Brett’s Trouble with Trolls (1992) andChristmas Trolls (1993), featuring beautiful border designs with intricate details of thetrolls’ homes set against the Nordic wintry landscape, brought in a Norwegian Trolls154children’s book in translation (Lidberg & Loeoef 1991), with more beautiful drawings ofthe mischievous creatures, and she delights in reading it to the class. The other childrenand the teachers then became eager to find other books with trolls and from Scandinaviancultures, from the school and classroom libraries, and for day, we were occupied withdescribing, contrasting and comparing, wondering about real and imaginary characters infolktales and the mythology of these Nordic countries. We discover Pippi Longstocking(Lindgren, 1950), Roland Dahi’s The Witches (1983), This troll that troll, a pop-up bookby Mike Tnkpen (1993), and somebody even notices that another one of our favouritestories, A letter to the king (Va, 1987) had been translated from Norwegian.The languaging the children experienced through these dialogues and through thevoices of the characters, such as the confident female narrator, Treva, from Brett’s trollbooks, held them spellbound with its beautiful patterning and humorous emulating of thespeech of the trolls who seem to have trouble with a foreign language.My name is Treva, and I have had trouble with trolls.“I need you to push me.”“Can’t push!” they cried. “Hold dog!”“Okay,” I said, sighing. “I’ll hold the dog.”I’m Treva, and the day my brother Sami and I went to our neighbor’s farm to pickout a Christmas tree was the beginning of the most unforgettable Christmas I everhad.I showed them how to jump rope.I told them how much I liked their tail knots and earrings.They smiled shyly and started tucking in their shirttails.“Nice hair. Pretty belt,” they said, grinning at me.And they taught me a little troll dance. They were catching on.(Brett, 1992, 1993, unnumbered pages)Trouble with TrollsBy Jan BrettI like this story because I uk reading storys about trolls. The sory was aboutgreety troll’s who cept on steeling her dog but she cept on geting it back.My favorit part was wen she trick the trolls and when she got all her stuff back155from the troll’s.(Renata’s Reading Log, 01/03/95)This trol that trolI like this book. it has difrent trols in it.I thot ther was only one cinde.(Felicity’s Reading Response to Mick Inkpen’s This troll that troll, 11/28/94)This troll that trollby Mick lnkpenI picked this Book Because I like trolls.So dose Ms. Hasebe Ludt.I love trolls so much.I just LIKE IT!(Naomi’s Reading Response, 12/08/94)Through Treva and the trolls, the children also caught a glimpse into a differentcultural environment and got a sense of a role model in the determined girl who teachesthe trolls, who don’t understand about Christmas, a lesson about communication but alsoabout the spirit of generosity and getting along with each other, set against thebackground of a northern snowy landscapes, with a reindeer named Arni, a dog namedTuffi, two trolls Mig and Tig who communicate at a telegraphic level of languagedevelopment (I want dog. Can’t push! How fly? I got dog), their pet hedgehog, and awild and wonderful troll horse.During this time, we also participated in a music listening program though which thestudents learned about music styles and composers from around the world. I took thisopportunity to introduce the children to Edvard Grieg and his music, coming from the hillsofNorway and his home Troldhaugen in the “valley of the trolls,” we listened to some ofthe Nordic melodies and the students wrote down their impressions afterwards. I had tosmile when I read how the trolls, together with images of seasons and landscapes, figuredlargely in the imagination of the childrenIt was winter and the trolls were skating. (Renata)I liked it because it sawndid like trolls were iceskating in the winter. (Fran)156I notice That the composers song was The best song I hive hrd. (Sara)It Sounds like peace and day light. (Naomi)This tape is about trolls in Summer I think. (Erin)I learned that Edvard Grieg is a very famise composer and I felt like I wasplaying the music. (Jimmy)(Responses to Edvard Grieg, The First Meeting, One of the Nordic Melodies,25/11/95)Through music and poetry in particular, the children were able to experience theaesthetic and emotional dimensions of language and texts that transcend the borders ofperceived or traditional genres. In the following poem, Debra Frasier’s On the Day YouWere Born (1991), which we used as part of our read-aloud storytime to the children, therelationship between the earth as our global environment and the uniqueness of theindividual is portrayed in stunning verbal and visual images. The poem tells a story aboutcreation, about fitting in with the universe, about ecology, about the changing yetconstantly recurring patterns around us -- a soothing and at the same time breathtakinglystimulating listening and comprehension experience for the children. The aestheticsinvolved in this exquisite languaging go hand in hand with its sociopolitical relevance, itsappropriateness in this age of re-awakening of ecological consciousness, and, above all,the message of caring for both the earth and each of its individual inhabitants.157On the day you were bornthe round planet Earthturned toward your morning sky,whirling past darkness,spinning the night into light.On the day youwere borngravity’s strong pullheld you to theEarthwith a promise thatyouwould never floatawayOn the day you were bornthe quiet Moon glowedand offered to bringa full, bright face,each month,to your windowsillOn the dayyou were bornthe Moon pulledon the oceanbelow, and,wave by wave,a rising tidewashed thebeaches clean foryour footprintswhile deep inspacethe burning Sunsent uptowering flames,lighting your skyfrom dawn untildusk.while high above the NorthPole,Polaris, the glittering North Star,stood still, shining silver lightinto your night sky.while farout at seaclouds swelledwith water drops,sailed to shoreon a wind,and rained youa welcomeacross the Earth’sgreen lands.I like the pictures. This is about on the day you were born, and I likewhen it talks about the world!Me too!I like it because it talks about the earth, and there is a boy, and hefalls into the earth.Teacher: Yes, the boy was very special!(11/09/94)Naomi:Teacher:Tara:158In Peace begins with us (Brown, Denos, Montgomery, O’Connor, & Scott, 1993), alocally developed resource which suggests further activities with this and other books forprimary teachers and their students, the authors state: ‘When we meet a story, each of usautomatically makes connections to our own experiences and to familiar stories. We bringour own world to the story” (p. 17). Other stories, such as the timeless Good night moon(Brown, 1947) and The crane girl (Charles, 1992), which the children were choosing fortheir reading around this time connected with our conversations about peace and also withthe feelings of peacefulness that such texts evoked for them:Good night Moonby Margaret Wise Brown.I like the part when it is Quiet. this is about a Book that said Good night to theWhole house. I like It Because It talks about night and night is the Best time ofthe Day. I like it Because it is fun. I like the pictures of the Fire place, thewindow. I wonder Why it is so quiet. I think Because they are sleeping in thereBeds. I like All of the pictures. they are nice. I Wonder How they do thepictures so Good. I like this Book Because I like to write about Books like this.they are fun Books.(Naomi’s Reading Response to Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight moon,11/15/94)I love your ideas about this story. Did you read the big book? Do you knowsome other stories by Margaret Wise Brown?(Teacher’s response)The Crane GirlI liked this book because it is about Peace and love.(Martha’s Reading Response to Veronika Martenova Charles’ The crane girl,11/15/94)Have you ever felt like Yoshiko?(Teacher’s Response)The Crane girlI liked this book because it was about peace and love, it was beautiful, and Iliked Yoshiko and this book brings peace to us all.(Bethany’s Reading Response, 11/17/94).Yes! This is a lovely story. I think I felt like Yoshiko when I was a very small girl.(Teacher’s Response).159These are the kinds of literature and responses that, as Frye (1964) and subsequentliterary and philosophical critics and scholars ascertain, illuminate the world of texts as anembodied world, reflecting fundamental human experiences (Rorty, 1985; Rosenblatt,1900). In re-living these experiences and constructing their own literary relations throughthe interactive processes of reading and writing, students came to connecttheir own worldwith the world at large, in all the universe. In these intertextual dialogues,students beganto create discourses that spread from their personal imaginationto classroom discoursesthat were more inclusive, productive and richer than individuallanguaging. In connectionwith Bakhtin’s (1981) work on the dialogic imagination, we can thusperceive thepossibilities of creating classroom discourses that reflect communitybuilding, allowingstudents:to become aware that there are different ways of viewing theworld encoded inlanguage. They become aware that language is not a window onreality but arefracting medium, and that they must make decisions about whichperspective toadopt. They become aware of discourses seekingfor their allegiance andcompeting for dominance. Through these processes a shared (althoughnotnecessarily harmonious) language gradually emerges; if theprocess has been asuccessful one, this shared language is enriched by the manyperspectives and waysof making meaning that the members of the group bring with them.(Maclean, 1994,p.237)By allowing multiple discourses, the voices of the others,into the textual experiencesof the classroom community, aesthetic experiencesbecome invaginated with cognitive,social, and critical learning and growth experiences, constructing,in Rosenblatt’s words,“frameworks for thinking” (Rosenblatt, 1990,p.100) that are “whole, bright, deep withunderstanding” in both a personal as well as a community sense(Pinar, 1988). Thesephilosophical and literary connections are reinforced in BritishColumbia’s language artsreform which elaborates on the importance of literature in thedevelopment of literacy:The reading and study of literature enhance the aesthetic,imaginative, creative,and affective aspects of a person’s development. Literaturepreserves and extendsthe imaginative power of the individual. It allows youngpeople to exploreimaginatively the places where they live and provides them withan understanding160of cultural heritage and a historical perspective, exposing them to points of viewother than the present and personal. (British Columbia Ministry of Education,1990a,p.13)This belief in the empowering nature of literature is mirrored in the Ministry’sLiterature Connections (British Columbia Ministry of Education, 1991) which elaborateson the importance of the partnership between teachers and teacher librariansin order tohelp students fully explore the world of literature and, through it, their own personalworld. Through these positive experiences that lead to understandingand enjoyment of thebooks they choose to read, so the goal statement reads, “studentswill develop thedisposition to become lifelong readers” (BC IVlinistry of Education,1991,p.35).Just a couple of decades ago, in this very sameschool, the contexts of reading thewords and the world were set by standards very different from the above recommendedcurriculum:And I remember, we were, there were 35, and you sat there, and everythingwas very stereotyped. You see, for me, I’d read these stories and think:“Wow”!Because I knew different kinds of ... I had a different cultureat home. I wouldread these stories and think: “Oh, that’s whatI want. You know, Dick and Jane -- everything was so stereotyped, and you know, you didn’t see anythingdifferent, and I remember that it was important for us not to be different,eventhough I was Italian; and I had security within my group, the Italians, butwhen Iwas at school, I wanted to be Canadian like everybody else.And there was astrong influence of the Anglo-Caucasians, they were the ones thatyou wantedto be like. (Teacher Interview, Bella, 05/95)How has the language arts curriculum changed? Angela, one of the teachersfromthat very same generation, having herself grown up in Vancouver and having taught atFranklin for 15 years, thinks back to when there were hardly any materials available thatreflected the multicultural nature of the school (except for The FiveChinese Brothers, sheremarks with an ironic smile, alluding to the racist overtones of this book). Then, intheearly 80s, Franklin was part of a pilot program for the multicultural primary social studiestext New Friends (Alternatives to Racism, 1984),25and teachers for the first time were161encouraged to integrate multicultural issues intothe curriculum with meaningful materials.Angela remembers how she and her teaching partner usedthis text at the time:We piloted some of the materials ... we usedit in the classroom, almost like asocial studies theme, we’d sit down, look at the bookand talk about it ... for acouple of weeks, we did a little section each.Actually this would be good to useagain. When I look at it again, I remember it’s moreabout relationships withothers, and it just happens to usemulticulturalism, which is what you want to do,you don’t want to say: “Oh, lets’ learnabout this country and all the things thatare done there.” So when you look at the suggestedactivities in here, it’s justbasically about getting along with others, but they’reusing different culturalgroups. Yeah, it’s actually pretty good. It’s agood theme to use in September,New Friends, and to have something likethis which is a good guide, you coulduse this and the activities, and it wouldsave a lot of time for the teacher, andyet you are doing something that is very valid, yeah,let’s do that again, it’s agood idea. It would be nice if you sat down andread it with the children, itwould be nice maybe for grade two andthree, particularly, but certainly youcould read it out loud to the other kids. (TeacherInterview, Angela, 06/95)A decade later, the scenario has changedconsiderably with respect to materials.Aspart of a whole-school curriculum focus duringthe past two years, Angela and theotherteam teachers in the P.O.A. have workedtogether with the Curriculum ImplementationTeacher Associate (CI. T . A.), the schoollibrarian, the curriculum committee as well as asmall group of parents and students tosupplement and change the focusof both classroomand school library texts to be more culturallyinclusive. As a result of thiswork, criteriafor selecting and purchasing new bookswere developed. This became an interestingandspontaneous area for reflection for me.I find myself on another committee ...At the same time that I am interested inthis topic from both my research perspective and myclassroom practice, I’mstarting to feel exasperated by the slow progress,lack of both interest andawareness by other staff members. Howcan we establish a policy on criteriafor selecting books with multicultural content inthis climate? Even though Iknow that these processes need time and thatthere is much potential for growththanks to Kathy’s support and initiative, Ifeel I am once again fighting an uphillbattle against apathy, superficiality, andthe pervasive perception ofmulticulturalism as an add-on curricularactivity.(Researcher Narrative, 01/12/94)162TABLE 2Criteria for Selecting Multicultural MaterialFranklin Community SchoolApril 1994• Authentic language and authorship• Non-sexist and non-racist portrayal of characters (cf.guidelines/checklist)• Quality of illustrations/art work in combinationwith rich language• Variety of genres: folktales, fairytales, poetry, rhymes andchants, big books,contemporary fiction and non-fiction for different agesand reading levels, i.e.,wordless books, easy picture books, story books,short chapter books,biography, novels, etc.• Authors from a variety of ethno-cultural backgrounds,in particular from thosepresent in Franklin’s student population (cf. statistics onethnic percentages),including Indo-Canadian, Central America• Include books in first languages of these groups as well asbilingual books(English/Li)• Include Canadian authors/illustrators with multiculturalbackground and/ortheme/topic relevant to multicultural Canada• Include international children’s literature in translation (cf. IBBYbooks)• Emphasis on narratives: stories from different culturesin order to encouragestudents’ own story-telling and story-writing• Include narratives from both visible and non-visible minority/ethnicgroups163The policy that was eventually established withsupport and input from some staff andparents stresses the use of authentic children’s literaturewritten by authors from diversecultural backgrounds, especially those representedthrough children and parents in theschool, with an emphasis on narratives that includethe experiences of immigrants andvisible minority communities (see Table 2). However,it was felt that a balanced selectionalso needs to ensure that, for example, white writers arenot excluded -- as long as thecontent of the literature is not racially, gender-or otherwise biased.Two major purchases of texts were madeduring last year for both the school libraryas well as for individual classrooms. ‘Bookbuying’ for the latter was donein conjunctionwith professional development workshops on availablechoices for children’s literature andhow to use them in the setting up of classroomlibraries and implementation of aclassroom literature program. Compared with thefirst purchase, which concentrated onfiction, the second one later that year focusedon information books and autobiographicalnarratives and biographies, arts from Canada aroundthe world (e.g., shared visions, lives,drama, dance, First Nations), and texts specifically focusingon anti-racism, such asNaomi Road (Kogawa, 1986). These texts complementedthe theme for the ProfessionalDevelopment days for that year,Culture and Conflict. Resource materials werepurchased mainly from the following sources:Vancouver Kidsbooks, Pacific EducationalPress, the Vancouver Art Gallery, Museum of Anthropology,as well as a limited amountof from catalogues through United LibraryServices.Our professional day is themed around book-buyingfor classroom libraries.Both Kathy and I have taken the responsibility toorganize it collaboratively invarious ways. We have invited a speaker to talk about reading‘with real books,’we have established links with two publishers and abookstore, and we havedeveloped an agenda to structure the day. Everythingseems set up efficiently,yet I am worried. How will individual teachers respond tothis challenge of a dayimmersed in thinking about books, choosing books, andreflecting about theirown approach to teaching reading? Once again, Iam succinctly aware of thedifferences among them, the wide span of pedagogical andprofessional beliefand knowing that exists in the school. How can Iever think that I could beeffective in helping to build a bridge between these?What will they think of me,164a fairly inexperienced teacher, setting up a workshop in literature? Who isfeeling challenged, threatened?We went book buying. People felt good about discovering the rich diversityof children’s literature in an authentic place: Vancouver Kidsbooks was theplace most people went -- and I felt glad that there was much one-on-oneconversation between teachers and the knowledgeable staff of the store, quietlyabsorbed reading, and excited sharing of new discoveries. Yet, this episode, inits singularity and specialness, once again left me feeling dismayed attheprospect of implementing this ‘literature-based’ curriculum.What is it based on -- whose beliefs and values about literature? Where is the basein the spacebetween the children’s lived experiences and the teacher’sworld of teachingreading? Who is setting the standards for quality?(Researcher Narrative, 04/95)Angela, when reflecting on the progress we have made with respect tomaterials forreading instruction, recognizes the long-term effort that is involvedwhen working withissues of cultural inclusiveness and responsiveness:I think there’s more . . .1 still don’t think there is adequate ... it’s just.. I thinkwe’reat the beginning, at a time when people are beginning, writers are considering,Canadian writers are considering their family histories as valid andimportant tobe written down; people just didn’t write about it before,they didn’t think it wasimportant, or ... I don’t know what. Now this is becoming more important,and Ithink because the world is getting smaller, you know, you canget materials fromother countries and, there are storytellers that can come in and bring theirstories, and I think that has changed. I think the materials are important, buteven more I think it’s really that what the teachers sayand do, I think that’s mostimportant, no matter what materials. I think without anymaterials you could stillmanage; for example, if you take a book that is based here in NorthAmerica, oranimals for that matter, animals can be non-cultural, andthen turn it into acultural experience, or ‘How does that fit in with your family?’,or not evencultural, a family, ‘How does your family handle that?’ andit might be completelydifferent, even within cultural groups, and I think that’swhat’s really changing.And the literature is helping, it definitely helps, it gives you a base to talkaboutthings, it also makes children think: “Gee, maybe I’m not so differentI would like to see ... I bet there are so many books published in differentcountries, if we could get our hands on that, I would love that, like, publishedinAfrica, in translation, that would be really good. But that’s probably somethingthat will come over the next ten years, it’s probably starting ... and bilingualbooks too ... (Teacher Interview, Angela, 06/95)Having texts available in the students’ first language is a difficult task, notonly froman availability perspective. It also involves value judgments about the importanceand theappropriateness of such texts in classrooms where English is the designatedlanguage of165instruction. With respect to the connection between home and school, the school-widehome reading program that was initiated at the beginning of the year seemed togiveteachers a unique opportunity to build a bridge between literacy experiencesat home andthose at school and to try to communicate with parents through acommon interest inhelping children along the road of literacy. ESL childrenand parents could read togethereither in their first language or in English, depending on theirpreference. According toWalters and Gunderson (1985), there are substantial positive effectswhen Li reading ispracticed in both home and school. However, this view is not alwaysshared unanimously;there are different expectations, constraints, and motivationson the parents’ side:I was really fascinated by that in the Read-it-up thisyear. Some people reallyobjected to that Read-it-up program. I was aghast at that. Itwas an impositionto their life. (Parent Interview, Gregg, 05/95)Sung’s progress in English is moving ahead in leaps andbounds. Both hisparents are tremendously motivated to help himwith his second language. It isa pleasure to watch them interact with their son duringthe student-ledconference, their interest in his portfolio, especially in hisreading log.Afterwards, they talk about how the home reading programhas been such ahelp for them. I know -- their extensive and enthusiastic commentson Sung’srecord sheets tell their own story. Especially Sung’s father’scomments revealhis great interest in his son’s progress in English, but hedoesn’t think that heshould be reading anything in Chinese at all.(Researcher Narrative, 03/05/94)These two books are too easy for Sung. I have told him toread harder bookswhich are challenging. (Philippa and the dragon by SusanKing/Diane Vanderee,The hungty chickens by Kathryn Pond).Sung can read this book pretty good! It’s a significantprogress compared withwhat he could a few months ago. (The hare and thetortoise by Janet Hiliman).Sung likes FOOLISH JACK. He thinks that FOOLISHJACK is somewhat likeAmelia Bedelia. Nice book. (BUZZ by Roger Hargreaves,Foolish Jack by LucyKmcaidlEric Rowe).166Great book. We enjoy it. (Good workAmelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish and LynnSweat).Hard book. (War andpeas by Michael Foreman).Very smart boy. Sung likes the book. (Don’t worry by Pauline Cartwright & IanMcNee).We discussed Peevish’s behaviour: sour -- loser. (Little monster’tbedtime book byMercer Mayer).Nice book. Sung can not [sic] understand the book good enoughto know thefun of the book. (Amelia Bedeliafamily album by Peggy Parish and Lynn Sweat).(Father’s comments in Sung’s Home Reading Log, 03/14/94-03/21/94)Sung had chosen a mixture of books to read at home: some fables andfolk- andfairytales such as Foolish Jack, some from series such as the Amelia Bedeliabooks andthe Literacy 2000 series designed as a multidisciplinary ESL text series,26some fromauthors who were popular among the students in the P.O.A. such asMichael Foreman andRoger Hargreaves. Sung’s father was his only reading partner, switching back andforthfrom being the reader to that of the listener, and he was quite involvedin directing hisson’s reading choices. Judging from our conversations and the comments inthe readinglogs, Sung’s father was very motivated to have his son learn English andtherefore satdown with him to read -- in English -- on an almost daily basis. His owncommand ofEnglish was sufficient to discuss the books with his son, but Sung’s mother hardly spokeany English at all. There was no way the father wanted his son to read in their firstlanguage, and I was concerned about the mother’s exclusion in this process of literacyacquisition compared with the following scenario:I am immensely excited by the response from the parents we invited to bepartof our multicultural literature committee. With their culturally diversebackgrounds, such as Caribbean and Australian, they have shared somedelightful perspectives and materials with us. Leila, Maya’s mother,is a167treasure to have as a parent in my classroom -- her love of literature is obviouslycatching. Her interaction with the children in the classroom through storytellingand reading is making a big impact on them. They are looking forward to hersharing stories from the Caribbean with them whenever she can make the timeto come in. I am prepared to put everything else on hold for these preciousoccasions. We are also becoming quite knowledgeable about Australianculture, places, and animals thanks to the wonderful booksDarlene, Paul’smother, is bringing into the classroom from home and from thebook-buying shewas part of.(Researcher Narrative, 03/30/94)Australia has provided us with many enjoyable reading experiences. Onceagain thisyear, one of the children, Sara, has family connections ‘down under’through her mother,who was born there. When I brought in a stack of Australian children’s bookswhich mydaughter bought for me (with the help of a teacher friend in Melbourne)while she wasvisiting there this summer, Sara and the other children were immediately hooked.Theyadored the combinations of storytelling and art, some of it from the culturalcontext of theaboriginal people of Australia and New Zealand, such as the story aboutMungoon-gali,the giant goanna (Trezise, 1991), the legend ofEnora and the blackcrane (Meeks,1991), and the delightful Possum in the house (Jensen, 1986). Over the next few days,Renata and others brought in more Australian books,Koala Loo, Wombat Stew, My place.The children’s librarian from the local library was wondering what is goingonTogether with Charlotte’s photographs from her trip and Sara’s andher mother’sstories and pictures from their home country, theother children and I were able to create apicture of a landscape that is exactly opposite to our own geographicalposition on theearth. When reflecting about the impact of such stories from different cultural andgeographical landscapes, Bronwen sensed a feeling of understanding,belonging andcon?fortbuilding among the children through this teaching approachthat integrateslanguage into global issues and landscapes throughout the curriculum:Yes, I think it is working for the kids, and I think it makesthem feel reallycomfortable, excited in a way to maybe hear a story about their culture,youknow, and kind of proud in a way. I could really see that insome of our kidswith some of the stories, Grandfather’s Journey, and you knowyou see that in168Jan, he was just beaming -- those kinds of stories. Yeah, I thinkit’s working forthe kids, and they go back and re-read, if you look closely at what they’relooking at, reading it again, and if you shared a story they can relate to.Not justthose kids but all the kids, you know, they are choosing it again,it’s really neatThe same with the stories from Norway, you know, that we had at thebeginning of the year, you know, we’ve shared lots of stories from allover theworld. (Teacher Interview, Bronwen, 03/95)Talking about the books her daughter was bringing home, Loren commentedon howstories about children in different geo-cultural settingsand backgrounds were appealing toFelicity:The read-it-up program is just great, becauseFelicity gets very proud of herselfwhen she realizes how many books she’s read, and she likesto keep track ofthem with her log. I like the read-it-up program becauseyou teachers have thisgreat selection of books, and she’s my first child, so I’m not that awareof theauthors even though we go to the library and look around, butthis hasintroduced me to a lot of very good writers, so it’s great.There was one story about some African kids by a river, and theygo acrossthe river and get into all this trouble; and shereally liked that one. And therewas another book about a black girl, a single parent family,and she wanted tobe Peter Pan, and they said: “No you can’t, number onebecause you’re a girl,and number two because you’re black.” And she reallyliked that one.(Parent Interview, Loren, 06/95)Jodi, one of the parents who has been involved in the communityschool programs byteaching an after-school childrens art class, believes in the importanceof incorporatingmulticultural elements visually into art and across the curriculum:One of the things that I grew up with that made a very strongimpression on mewas my mother celebrated multicultural holidays, so wecelebrated Girls Day inJapan, we celebrated a Swedish holiday, I don’t know what it’s called,and soon. We would celebrate different nationalities’ holidays,and my mom would dothe research and would know all about, you know, do thewhole customs thatwere involved, and that made a very strong impact onme, and I know has mademe, instead of having some bias or racial attitudes, I’m morecurious about thecultures because I find that really interesting. I found thatfocusing on theholidays is a really good way of introducing a culture because holidaystend tobe the time when the culture really shows, right? So thatwould be somethingthat I can see, see doing, is planning units around holidays, and gettingliterature and that.The other thing that I’ve been thinking about is research,getting the kidsinvolved in doing the research, and showing them how bookscan be involved inthe research process, even at grade two or so.I certainly see Hilary doingresearch, even if it’s just with a very simple picture or map, thatsort of thing,getting them as a team to work together, to find out about acertain holiday, for169example. Certainly Hilary has brought home a few books that had amulticultural slant; I know she brought home one that was about Chinatown,about the dragon dance, that was a lovely book, I loved that. And I think that’sreally really important too, I really feel very strongly about that too, introducing aculture so that way to understand what goes on in the culture and get the kidsinvolved that way. (Parent Interview, Jodi, 03/95)At the end of this year, I too felt that we indeed shared a lot of stories in thisclassroom and that the children responded to literature in ways that were bothcomfortableand meaningful. The following table (Table 3) intends to giveonly a sampling of all themeaningful texts in all the universe that were part of our geo-cultural explorationofstories that spoke to us about the earth, our cultures and the needfor relating through anunderstanding of both personal as well as universal human experiences.They are by nomeans the only ones; there are many more, and such texts are becomingmore visible in thelibraries and bookstores in our schools, city, country, and allover the world (Abbott &Polk, 1993; Brown, 1994; Harris, 1993; Jobe & Sutton, 1992; Kezwer, 1995;MillerLachmarm, 1992; IVliller & McCaskill, 1993; Simon, 1993a, 1993b;Teale, 1993).170TABLE 3A Sampling of Multicultural Children’s Literature: In All The UniverseTitlesA letter to the kingA light in the attic/Where the sidewalk endsAnansi the spider: A legendfrom the AshantiAunt Harriet underground railroad in the skyChin Chiang and the dragon c danceCloudy with a chance ofmeatballsChristmas trolls/Trouble with trollsDon’t eat spidersEnora and the black craneFather ChristmasFollow the drinking gourdGoodnight moonGrandfather journey/Tree ofcranesIfyou re notfrom the prairieLegends of the sun and moonMoonhorseMother Earth counting bookMungoon-gali and the giant goannaNaomic roadNine o lock lullabyOnly oneOn the day that you were bornPippi LongstoclcingSadako and the thousand paper cranesSing to the starsSome of the kinder planetsTales from GoldMountainThe elders are watchingThe crane girlThe faithful elephantsThe little princeThe nutmeg princessThe witchesThe Wump WorldThis land is my landTusk tuskWhere the forest meets the sea/WindowWhere Waldo?Leong Va and James AndersonShe! SilversteinGerald McDermottFaith RinggoldIan WallaceJudi and Ron BarrettJan BrettRobert Heidbreder and Karen PatkauArone Raymond MeeksRaymond BriggsJeanette WinterMargaret Wise Brown and Clement HurdAllan SayDave Bouchard and Henry RipplingerEric and Tessa Hadley and Jan NesbittMary Pope Osborne and S. M. SaeligAndrew Clements and Lonni Sue JohnsonPercy TreziseJoy KogawaMarilyn Singer and Fran LessacMarc Harshman and Barbara GarrisonDebra FrasierAstrid LindgrenEleanor CoerrMary Brigid Barrett and Sandra SpeidelTim Wynne-JonesPaul Yee and Simon NgDave Bouchard and Roy Henry VickersVeronika Martenova CharlesYukio Tsuchiga and Ted LewinAntoine de Saint-ExupéryRichard Keens-Douglas and A. GalouchkoRoald DahIBill PeetGeorge LittlechildDavid McKeeJeannie BakerMartin HandfordAuthors171The Many Webs of Charlotte RevisitedHow then can we grasp how this multi-faceted reality of reading theword and theworld translates into the actual print sources, the literature used for readingin today’sclassrooms? Literature continues to speak to our hearts, bridgingchronological andgeographical boundaries. Just as Goethe’s Charlotte has endearedherself to us as acharacter who inspired love and devotion throughoutthe course of two centuries, E. B.White’s Charlotte, this truly remarkable writerand friend, re-enters the pages ofpedagogical discourse.No student should ever be asked to answer worksheet questions about agoodbook. Asking nine-year-olds how many webs Charlotte spun afterreadingCharlotte’s Web ruins the purpose of the story. Alas, the traditionof assigningstudents worksheets, or, perhaps worse, the dreaded bookreport, has resulted inhundreds of thousands of adults who don’t enjoy readingbooks and, in fact, don’tread books at all (Gunderson, 1995b,p.26).Re-reading Charlotte: a family name, my grandmother’s and nowmy daughter’s,old and new, re-surfacing in print around me: manya dedication on the frontpage of a book, reading aloud from Chadotte’s Webin classrooms where I am astudent and a teacher, coming across an article in aGerman magazine onCharlotte: Em Name macht Karriere: “Suddenly, an almostforgotten name is oneverybody’s tongue -- a name that gets on well withAnthe world -- and adaughter who indeed lives the promise of her name. OtherCharlottes’ lives: InBerlin, writing my thesis about writers, among themthe Brontë sisters, Charlotteand Emily, who, in the isolation of the windswept Yorkshiremoors, spent theirshort lives struggling with the difficulty of being women writers ina male-dominated world, yet whose literary endeavours werepassionate and inspiredgenerations to come. Years later, visiting Charlottenburg, thepalatial residenceof Charlotte, Queen of Prussia, with my Charlotte, six years oldand a writer inher own right whose tongue-in-cheek autobiographical notesread just anothercouple of years later:Charlotte Hasebe wrote the award winning novel “Share Withthe World” to makeother people aware of the problem with racism. Other novels by CharlotteHasebe include “Share With Saturn” and “Share With the Black Holes.”All herbooks deal with one problem of the world today. Charlotte Hasebebooks havewon at least one prize. “Share With Saturn” won the prizeforthe best book in1989 and again in 1990. The book “Share With the World” is nowbeing madeinto a movie by Steven Speilberg fsicj. Charlotte is hopingfor apromotion for“Share With Black Holes”. Charlotte Hasebe was born on October],1980. She172enjoys reading, Bike riding, and badminton. Charlotte loves all animalsincluding snakes, lizards, andfrogs. She currently lives in Vancouver B.C.(Share with the world by C. Hasebe, 1990)Other Charlottes ... re-reading Chlldrens literature in the classroom: WeavingCharIottes web, which refers to yet another Charlotte whose love of literaturehas inspired many students and colleagues. Remembering yet another queenfrom yet another historical landscape, and islands inhabiting generations ofaboriginal people who have been denied their own history for centuriesCharlotte has a seriously beautiful resonance -- and is at the same timecapriciously suitable for famous spiders and irreverent basset hound puppies.27(Researcher Narrative, 01/31/95)More frequently than we like to admit, we ask children to stretch, to use theirimagination to relate to a character in a work of literature in ways we as teachers thinkwill be cognitively enriching and put those higher thinking skills in place. We have goodreasons for that in the Vygotskian framework of the Zone of Proximal Development(Vygotsky, 1962; 1978) and Bruner’s scaffolding (Bruner, 1981). Pretending they areWilbur and re-creating the details of life in the barnyard within the framework ofcharacters and the plot, such as finding new adjectives for describing Wilbur anddecorating a T-shirt, and numerous other job cards related to Charlotte’s web:This maywork, sometimes, for some children, but it can be a dangerous way to stifle creativity, toachieve the exact opposite: staying fenced in, never leaving that barnyard to see thewiderlandscape, to make sense of a geo-cultural landscape from one’s own perspective.In the context of postmodern pedagogical practice, we are concerned with thesimultaneous deconstruction and construction of identities through reading and writing,with the search for new concepts of literacy that allow for the multiple realities oflivedexperiences in our classrooms through interpretation and adaptation. Looking at differentCharlottes revealed many different stories for me and made me appreciate thecomplexitythat lies in just one name.Mary Ashworth, over breakfast, tells of a former student of hers, a nun who wasgoing to one of the Near Eastern countries to teach in a Muslim school. For aclass173project, she decided to examine the possibilities of adapting her favourite book,Charlotte’s Web, to this particular cultural environment. She decided that, alas, the bookwas not going to be suitable at all within the cultural constraints of a Muslim society andeducational system with regards of the character of Wilbur, the pig, and his destiny ofbeing slaughtered for food, the relationships within the family and in particular the strongfemale character of Fran that would contradict the strict patriarchal hierarchy within theMuslim community.Lynn Thomas, a colleague who has taught Native children in Northern Quebec, on thecontrary, remembers the popularity of this particular book with the students in the remotevillage where she was a teacher. Charlotte had a particular appeal for these children, itseemed, even though, or perhaps despite of the foreigners of the landscape and thecharacters in the book. In this particular northern geo-cultural setting, hearing and readingthis story about friendship and devotion set in a southern American White farmingcommunity and family seemed to transcend cultural and climatic differences through itsmasterful languaging and universal appeal of human values that touch every reader’s heart.Maybe it would have achieved just the same in the Far East for a nun trying to teachEnglish to Muslim children.Maxine Greene (1993), in an earlier quotation, had acknowledged the value oflegitimizing a polyphony of voices by telling and bringing such stories into our classroomsand. At the same time, by seeing the world through multiple texts from multipleperspectives, we may be able to transform traditional classroom practices and prescribedtext lists into a working community of inclusive voices (Sutherland, 1993).Texts that allow us to construct and interpret within multiple frameworks, such as thevaried and variable readings of the Charlotte texts above, are essential components ofliteracy instruction that aims toward building coherent and caring curricula andcommunities in the context of cultural diversity. Spinning the webs of stories thatchallenge children to creatively question their world and at the same time construct their174own understanding of the world based on these experiences will ultimately enrich theirlives. As teachers, we must create windows of opportunities for students to observe,incorporate and participate in the weaving of webs of rich intertextual literacies. JanetHickman and Bernice Cullinan (1989), in honouring Charlotte Huck, re-create the manywebs of the many Charlottes we have come to love and honour:A point of view that honors children’s response and an attitude that makes theteacher one of a community of readers and learners are both importantcontributions. All together, this interwoven idea about literature and learning forma web of support for its use in the classroom. Had this been the work of anotherCharlotte (Charlotte A. Cavatica of E. B. White’s Charlotte s Web), the wordswritten large in the web would surely be “ENJOY” and “LEARA’Y’(p.11)175Chapter 5Re-tracing the Paths and Places of Community in LanguagingMidnighz, not a soundfrom the pavement.Has the moon lost her memory?She is smiling alone.In the lamplight the withered leaves collect at myfeetAnd the wind begins to moan.Memory, from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Cats, based onRhapsody on a windy night by T. S. EliotThe future of the hyphen wili I believe, trace a path into the past as well.Una Chaudhuri, The future of the hyphenIn den Flussen nördlich der Zukunfiwerfich this Netz au das Duzogernd beschwerstmit von Steinen geschriebenenSchatten.In the rivers north of the futureI cast out the net, that youhesitantly weigh downwith stone-writtenshadows.Paul Celan, In Hans-Georg Gadamer on education, poetry, and history176In his 1986 volume on the poetry of Paul Celan, Spur des Worts [Traceof the word],Otto POggeler interprets the words of the writer and poet as atrace that enables us to stayclose to what has escaped, to find a way of one’s own and,most importantly, to helpothers to join us on this path. At the same time, however, the authorasks the question:But whose life and work can trace a path in this sense?... Only a few “traces” areindeed such that they will truly remain in people’s memory.Only those who takerisks for themselves and bear testimony to what at firstglance might not berecognized as the decisive movement of a time can leave behindsuch a trace. It islife itself that engraves the traces that matter, and only theword that can bringsuch a trace into language will find lasting attention(pp.20-2 1). (E. Hasebe-Ludt,Trans.)Memory Brighter than a thousand suns:To remember that pedagogy is concerned with the formationof memory means tobe frilly responsive to the conditions by which aperson learns to remember well.And remembering well does not mean just remembering happy times,that is,suppressing the fire by which we might be refined. Moreimportantly,remembering well means remembering how each of usmight struggle through life’sbittersweetness with the kind of courage that enableslife to go on. (Smith, 1988,pp.281-282)In this chapter, I want to re-visit and re-connectwith some of the sites from whichthis pedagogical questioning started out in order to assessthe important landmarks oflearning that have come into view. In remembering, asSmith tells us above, we are ableto make connections with our own pastthrough the many webs of influences -- be theytextual or personal -- on our developing sense of selfMoreover, the particular kind ofremembering through language that writing and re-writingallows, constitutes, inBorgman’s (1992) words, “the recovery of the world of eloquentthings, a recovery thataccepts the postmodern critique and realizes postmodernaspirations” (p. 6). I joinBorgman in including among these aspirations“focal realism, patient vigor, and communalcelebration”(p.6).177When writing about the journey of coming to live reflectively within a community ofinquiry, I had addressed the notion of caring with regard to the pedagogical landscape Ifound myself constructing and inhabiting. I had created a dialogue within myself;movingfrom ‘discourse a’ to ‘discourse b,’ both informing each other and becoming invaginatedthrough layers of meaning-making that re-constituted prior texts and producednewunderstandings of myself in relation to others within the multiple realities of pedagogicaland personal caring.When re-reading these reflections, I realized that within the theme ofcaring,underneath and in between the first two narratives of individual and joint experiences asteachers, colleagues, and human beings, there runs another storythat is my own and that Ihad not told yet: a story of personal meaning-making andjourneying which was surfacingin this ongoing process of re-searching and questioning about myself; mypraxis, myvalues, and my relationships with others.The Tensionality Within Textual CommunitiesPedagogy as lived experience -- in re-discovering and re-shaping mybeliefs andvalues within a philosophically coloured light and from a social-constructivistperspective,I have come to see that my individual lived experience has been altereddramaticallythrough the presence of certain people and through my reactions to themwhile learning,teaching, and starting to live and write more reflectively.Robert Graves, in his poem To walk on hills has expressed thiskind of experientiallearning that seems to have characterized my path up to this point:It has been and still is aclimb uphill. In many ways, this journey has not been a solitary one butrather a jointventure together with other teachers, colleagues, and mentors whom I havecome to carefor deeply. However, on another plane ofjourneying, there hasbeen -- and still is -- the178solitude and the separateness of’head’ and ‘heart’ that echo in the poem -- tensionalitieswithin communities of inquiry.What milestones have I reached along this path ofjourneying toward making sense ofthings, amidst the con-fusion (in the sense of working against, resisting a fusion) thatseemed to inhabit both ‘head and heart,’ and which were the memorable moments thatgave me the courage to look ahead, move on, and draw from past experiences?Somewhere in this re-discovery process it became clear to me that the building anddeveloping of some very special relationships have played a decisive role in shaping mypedagogical persona and in re-shaping my personal profile. While my head reverberatedwith the impact of the readings of such seminal philosophical writers as Aoki,Derrida,Foucault, Grumet, Heidegger, Noddings, and Pinar, among others, my heart resonatedwith a growing genuine communal belonging with the teachers, mentors, andchildren whoinspired me to keep on walking uphill, to climb more mountains, to risk standingon theedge of a cliff in order to see more clearly and to achieve harmony. ‘Trueequanimity,’Heidegger’s Gelassenheit, not a goal within easy reach, by far, when faced with theturmoil of students’ lives and my own beliefs and emotions -- yet, until recently, itseemeda desirable one to strive for.I came to realize that the striving for unity, for harmony, which I felt was soimportant in the past, has often disguised the danger of silencing the voices inbetween andunderneath the multiple layers of realities that make up our lives. In Derrida’s notionofintertextuality, he uses the term invagination “pour essayer de décrire comment unesurface extérieure se replie en surface intérieure,” to try to describe how an outsidelayerrepeats itself in an inside layer and, eventually, can become “une double invaginationchiasmatique des bords,” a doubly chiasmatic invagination of the borders of atext(Bennington & Derrida, 1991, p. 210). This multi-layeredness invites us to probe forthemeaning hidden away underneath the folds of different readings and writings of texts,texts179that reverberate with the lived experiences of children and teachers dwelling together incultural diversity.However, as I felt myself] ourneying amidst the tangle of postmodern intertext, I wasstarting to, once again, question my goals as too idealistic, deterministic, and finite. I seethe need for more questioning, for adding yet another layer -- the third timearound,encore unefois, und so welterI am less secure in my search for being, in myself (my self) as a researcher inactionresearch. In so many ways, as researchers we have been preoccupied with searchingforeither objectivity or subjectivity, which both can be described as unmoving, staticpositions-- as essence in the phenomenological tradition, a notion I am findingmyself increasinglyun-comfortable with while trying to move toward transitional spaces that create newmeanings.In this joint venture, who are my companions, and where do I see us traveling?Whoam I asking to become partners in equanimity? My mentors, colleagues, thechildren, theirfamilies, my family? The calmness, the composure the dictionary speaks of-- is thatreallywhat we should be striving for? Or is it the opposite, the chiasmatic notion of turbulence,of quaking, of living amidst difficulty that is needed in order to move forward, totrulytransform? Underneath, in yet another layer, I am caught in the confusion of postmoderndeconstructing of seemingly established notions of unity. How can we live in community,though, when there are only ‘partial truths,’ as Clifford and Marcus (1986) remind us?Atthis pedagogical moment of writing, of creating layers of text within texts, I am findingsmall comfort in the etymological promise of confusion as a semantic signifierwhich, in itstruest sense could mean a togetherness, afusion, of multiple realities and voices.Through holistic interpretations of language learning and teaching, wemustoppose the formulation of meta-narratives and, instead, acknowledgetheexistence of a composite propositional intertext that represents thecommunication of multiple voices. In embracing this view, in MadeleineGrumet’s words, “intertextuality invites us to use multiple texts,splicing them,180interweaving them with each other, with our commentaries, with our questions.There are no sacred texts.” (Researcher Narrative, 07/07/94)We are being swept downstream by a torrent of change. Each year, each month,and almost every week, the landscape alters. The familiar vanishes, and within itthe effectiveness of the ways we have made decisions as individuals, families,groups, and communities. (Theobald, 1987,p.29)The metaphor of torrent ofchange in the pedagogical landscaperelates to thetransformative change that critical action research intends to initiate.It also reminds us ofthe need for building bridges across the turbulences created bychange. I am re-thinkingthe possibilities of a renewed dialogue, a bridge indeed, between theivory towers of theacademic landscape and the open fields of our schools and classrooms,between theoryand praxis. Action research, perhaps, has the potential to becomesuch a bridge -- or tobecome the stream that flows from underneath and,in multi-layered strands, informs thedifferent plateaus of professional inquiry. This languaging of fluidity as apowerful forcefor change echoes in the following poem from a volume on Heidegger’spower withlanguage (Jaeger, 1971):Der römische BrunnenAuf steigt der Strahl, und fallend giefitEr voll der Marmorschale RundDie, sich verschleiernd, Uberfliel3tIn einer zweiten Schale Grund;Die zweite gibt, sie wird zu reich,der dritten wallend ihre Flut,und jede nimmt und gibt zugleichund strömt und ruht.Conrad Ferdinand MeyerThe Roman FountainUpwards climbs the jet, and in falling fillsthe roundness of the marble bowlwhich, in veiling itself overflowsinto a second bowl’s base;the second one, becoming too rich,gives its flood to the third one seethingly,and each one takes and gives at onceand rushes and rests.(E. Hasebe-Ludt, Trans.)181In this joint process of searching for the roots of thedisintegration that educationalinstitutions have created forour children, the concept of unity emerged asan artificialconstruct and an undesirablegoal to aim for within the framework of a criticalpostmodernintertextuality that legitimizes the ‘spaces ofdwelling in between’ (Aoki, 1993).Affirmingindividual rights and differencesin principle, yet sacrificing them ‘for the commongood’when it comes to the future ofa sustainable economy constitutes ahypocritical lip servicewe must critically, yetthoughtfully, examine and expose.I am re-thinking the notion ofthoughtfulness, once again, in connectionwith thenotion of pedagogical responsibility that establishesan intricate relationshipbetween twoindividuals. It speaks of belonging, of anobligation in connection withcaring aboutanother human being. This notioncreates a change in of a teacher’sobligation toward hisor her students, a Kehrein the way we care about our pedagogical relationshipswithothers in the diverse communityof teaching and learning. I am further enlightenedbyreading Terry Carson’s (1992, 1994)writing about not ethics, but obligationand aboutwhat it means to collaboratively teachand dwell in action researchin our schools. Inconnection with this responsible actioncomes a global perspective thattranscends bordersof different kind and is concerned withworking toward a caring, just society:I believe that we need a conception of aglobal perspective that incorporatesaview of the nature of responsible valuedeliberation and justification. Thisnewconception, which I will call a constructivistconception, should provide theintellectual resources for approachingvalue conflict in a responsible manner. Aperson who has a constructivist globalperspective will see all of the peoplesof theworld as having equal moral worth.In addition she will believe that an integralpart of the task of betteringthe lives of persons is the task of constructingelementsof a genuine world moral community outof our disparate value heritages.(Coombs, 1989,p.6)For me, this year has truly been an experienceof ‘authentic dwelling’ amongst thatspecial and precious community of“beings who belong together in thisneighbourhood”(Aoki, 1992,p.28). However, as Louise Berman and hercolleagues discovered in theirearlier mentioned conversations withTed Aoki, the reaching out to others, thejourneying182toward and dwelling in larger communitiesare also necessary to create a‘curriculum forbeing,’ for creating contexts in whichhope, courage, and inspirited dialoguescan flourish(Berman et al., 1991). This isan important landmark in the context ofresearch throughhermeneutic inquiry. I felt thatmany of the conversations I took part induring the pasttwo years enabled me to gainmeaning beyond the strictly personalrealm; in between thelived experiences of others,meaning was constituted andre-constituted through theexchange of languaging. In thisway, language itself “the languageof postmodernism hascrucial critical force” (Borgman,1992,p.3).My year of living reflectively in thepedagogical landscape has createdmanybeginnings. It has marked a Kehre,a turn -- but also a renewedunderstandingof kehren in the sense of caring.Maxine Greene, in the quotationwhich setsthe theme to my multi-layered journeyingand journalizing, expressesthe kind ofpedagogical reaching that will benecessary to truly transform thelivedexperiences of the young people we asteachers treasure. As pupils andaspedagogues, by building bridges, bylearning to look through multipleperspectives, by celebrating diversityin community, we mightcome to locatemultiple communities in diversity.(Researcher Narrative. 07/07/94)Community in diversity: a phrasethat comes easily to our lips, a geopoliticalslogan,as Ted Aoki (1995) warns us:I see inscribed in the word “community,”the words “common”and “unity,” whichI sense are prevailing signifiers inarticulating the conventionalimaginary of“community.” ... But such animaginary that gives birth to themetaphor ofcommunity as diversity produces,in its seeming liberal openness andtolerance ofother, a silent norm that both containsand constrains differences on theundersideof diversity. (pp. 5-6)Similarly, Carl Leggo andhis co-authors reflect on the dangersof equatingcommunity with unity:There is a grave danger of erasingthe differences among peoplewhen communityand unity are equated. In order toachieve unity an homogeneouscomplexion ispromoted, and conformityis demanded. In this approach, theemphasis is onpeople toeing the party line,obeying the strictures of the majorityor a powerfulminority, adhering to rules,speaking in a single voice or at leastin harmonious183voices. We have felt silenced in communities where unity hasbeen emphasized asthe foundation of community. And we have not been alone in our experienceofsilence. Many others have been silenced, too, whenunity is emphasized as thefoundation of community. What we have observedis that an emphasis on unity incommunity leads to a small group of people being served whilemost people aresignificantly erased, rendered invisible. (Hasebe-Ludt, Duff, & Leggo,1995,p.1)However, through the active negotiation of socio-cognitiveand socio-culturalprocesses such as the ones described in this dissertationand which involved the graspingof historical global events and their representationthrough different eyes -- of officialsources and of the voices of people from ethnic minoritygroups -- children step-by-stepcan come to understand important parts of their role asplayers in this vastly expandingglobal community of learners. There is difficulty in communitybuilding involved in this, atensionality that needs to be acknowledged as a necessarypart of learning, of learningthrough language, of learning to read -- especiallyin the context of reading texts in asecond or other language (Early & Gunderson,1993; Elam, 1991).This prompts me to revisit Heidegger’s notion of ‘belongingtogether,’ in whichhe emphasizes the first word of the phrase, belonging,invoking a sense ofcommunity that incorporates the being (Heidegger, 1968;Wood, 1993). Thiscommunal space thereby creates the texture ofdiversity, the striving, thelonging for past and future connections -- unlikeso much of the currenteducational and political rhetoric where thestress is on ‘belonging togethe?, onunity defined as universality, in a static and finiteframe -- without listening to theauthentic voices in between and the voices of the other.(Researcher Narrative, 07/25/94)The children are falling in love with poems. Thepoetry books are out on theirtables before silent reading, and they are eager toread out a poem of theirchoice afterwards during book sharing. They especiallylike Dennis Lee, ShelSilverstein, and David Bouchard’s If youre not fromthe prairie ... They arewriting their own poems spontaneously, picking up onthe rhythm and patterningof the language, improvising, making them meaningfulwith their own sense ofplace. (Researcher Narrative, 04/11/94)184If you’re not from the prairie,You don’t know our trees, If you’re not from B.C.You can’t know our trees. you don’t know the trees,you can’t know the trees.The trees that we know have takenso long, The leaves are so green,To live through our seasons, to bigger than you’ve ever seen.grow tall and strong. Climbing way up,They’re loved and they’re looking down atthat tiny pup.treasured, we watched as theygrew, If you’re notfrom B.C.We knew they were special -- the you don’t knowthe trees.prairie has few.If you’re not from the prairie, (Amelie, age 9, 05/29/94)You don’t know our trees.Poetry, in many instances, has created these spaces in between, for the childrenandfor adults alike. Certainly, poems have figured prominentlyin the landscapes of culturalgeo-graphing of this thesis for me. The poetic language of musichas entered theseintertextual spaces and has accompanied the children throughoutthe school year, just as ithas kept me company throughout my writing of this text.Language, understood as text in the sense that it encompasses creativelanguage usefor the purpose of communication, whether read, written,spoken, or sung, represents aninterwoven tapestry, a textus, which allows us to transcend borders, tomove beyond thelimitations ofthe imposed limit-language of the curriculum (Schemer,1984). This, onceagain, connects me with Schwab’s (1993) notion of texts asEntgrenzungen, as creationsthat push for a transition, an opening toward a moreinclusive vision of a community oflearners. I have experienced some of this pushing beyondthe borders of conceivedconventions of cultural literacy with other, teachers, parents,and students. I havenumerous times felt pushed myself have felt that I have had to stretchmy pedagogical andpersonal understanding of what goes on with/inlanguage beyond a comfortable level.Yet, I still feel the need for further stretching, for myselfand for all those who are185involved in the matter of the curriculum and who care about a curriculum that matters, asMadeleine Grumet put it in a lecture last summer (Grumet, 1994).Differance and Kehre: A Turn TowardCoherent CurriculumBy allowing different multiple authentic literacies into the classroom, teachersandstudents together are creating new literate communities thatlegitimize a polyphony ofvoices and languages together with a beginning criticalunderstanding of lived experiences.My years of living reflectively in the pedagogical landscape,amidst this community ofchildren, had indeed created many beginnings. As my journalentries pronounce, it hadmarked a Kehre, a turn -- but also a renewed understandingof kehren in the sense ofcaring, along with the recognition of dfflculty as anessential and not necessarily negativecomponent of learning and living. The polyphony ofvoices in Green&s (1993) words,creates different communities within texts as well aswithin its communities of readers,communities that reveal multiple perspectives andthat are not without tensions:Different textual communities found within the ... documentalternative meaningsand, consequently, multiple readings. ... I would arguethat these tensions andambiguities are inherent within the discursive fieldof liberal ideology, with itsattempt to manage society for the public goodwhile supporting the rights ofindividuals. The difficulty of achieving this balance ishighlighted by the variedinterests within a community. Defining the public good becomes a matterofpower. ... As Terry Eagleton describes, the act of reading provides ‘aframe ofreference within which to interpret what comesnext’(Kenny, 1992,pp.191-192).Kenny here refers to Eagleton’s (1983) introductory volumeon literary theory inwhich he outlines the tenets of post-structural engagementwith text as an interpretiveendeavour rather than one that claims objectivity, thereforemaking it possible to createmultiple readings of a singular text.186We Sing to the UniverseAnd, our voice is timelessPureEmotion without structureDirected nowhereAnd sent everywhereFalling down from the skyAnd rising up from our bowelsCarried in our bloodstreamAnd resonating in our mindsOur voice belongs hereThese parts of a poem by Ron Hamilton (1994) exemplifyour fascination withfiguring out the world at large, across the universe. In ourtheme of Peace last December,the children were, together with their teachers, constructingmeaning about peace on earthin the context of celebrating Christmas and relatedFestivals of Light. The books that weread during this theme were challenging forthem, among them The faithful elephants(Tsuchiya, 1988), Sadako and the 1,000 paper cranes (Coerr,1979), and Tree of Cranes(Say, 1991). Through brainstorming aboutthe different places and emotions in betweenwar and peace, we generated sentences that became partof the environmental print in ourclassroom all year long.Peace sayingsPeace means harmony.Peace means there is no war.Peace means that people don’t fight with each other.Peace means that people need to care and loveone another.Peace means accepting others who are different andcelebrating differences.187The students owned these sentences; they had together createdthem, written themdown for anybody who came into the Open Area to see and read. This act ofwriting hadcome out of their questions about the world, their inquiry into storiesfrom their ownexperience and from literature in the classroom: This kind ofliterary ethnography, inSchwab’s (1994) terms, indeed holds the promise of anew understanding of curriculumand the creation of communities in inquiry. The languagingthat went on during those twoyears in this classroom community reflected culturein context and culture being reshapedboth locally and perhaps eventually transformingglobal practices. Through thesemeaningful acts of reading and writing, the children wereable to share with the worldwhat they had come to understand about peace,on earth -- far beyond this one classroomsetting. I watched their desire to communicate, I saw them engagein writing almostferociously at times, I read their stories and letters with delightand wonder and sadness,and I shared their difficulties in building communitieswhen they let me enter with theminto those transitional spaces they were co-constructingwith each other’s texts.Dear Bethany,Why are you not playing with me andTara, tim.Itis not fair to usI have to say this I don’t want to But I have to say thisWe can’t be your Friends any More I’msorryI am sorry I had to say that. I know you feel sad. Iknow how it feels.that’s how we feel. I feel like I have to cry.So do you. think about my letter.From Naomi K. (Naomi’s letter, 01/23/95)Dear Bethany,I am sorry what happened.I was out of controlI was so exited to turn 7 I missed youLots and LotsI wish you can come over to my house SoonI want to know What Happend inwinter vakation!I went to see the Little Womentheir names wor Meg Joe Beth and AmyBeth Deid from this poor BabyHilary (Hilary’s letter, age 7, 01/95)188to Bethany from SaraSorry, I do not want to be in Thewitch group.anymore.If you make up another secret I might keepit, if it is nice and true.(Sara’ s letter, age 6, 01/30/95)Writing and reading need toencompass these authentic structuresof making meaningand of telling others about it. Britton,Burgess, Martin, McLeod,and Rosen (1975) talkabout this as ‘impelled writing,’writing that is totally self-initiated andembodies a child’sprior knowledge and thinking, with a“capacity to generate their ownreasons for writingand to define their own audiences”(p.64). As teachers, we must fosterour students’active and authentic engagementin this kind of negotiation of makingsense of theirworlds, be it through literatureor other kinds of reading andwriting. Only when studentsbecome self-motivated to engagein purposeful dialogue with others, tocommunicate withtheir friends and to sharewith the world, in Charlotte’s words,can they become literate ina truly holistic way thatwill benefit both individual andcommunity.The opening of self to the non-selfinvolves primarily an opening of ourstories toeach other, an acceptanceof how we are always everywhere alreadyliving in themidst of stories, involving asurfacing and a sharing of that whichconstitutes us.This is difficult, but it providesthe necessary means by which we can seeoneanother in a deep way -- to get beyondpure difference to creative relationand thepossibility of true care.As a teacher it is impossible toreach and teach children effectivelywithoutknowing their stories, just as it is impossibleto be available toanother person’sstory unless one undertakes inan ongoing way the profoundly challenging,oftenfearsome task of desconstructingone’s own. (Smith, 1994b,p.79)Therefore, teachers themselvesneed to remember to embrace thisnotion of sharedliteracies and become moreengaged through writing, throughreading the words and theworld in a humanistic and personalizedframework of curriculum. Onlythen will we beable to build communities and curricularich with the texture of individual voicesandstories. For too long, Patrick Shannontells us, we have been constrainedby closed spaces189and notions of knowing that separate the personal from the pedagogical and therefore donot permit the opening up of the person to pedagogical inquiry:I believe that many of us think of teaching as a private matter that we’re consumedby and ashamed of at the same time. We’re full of desire to teach and ofjoysfromteaching, but we think that to share what we know and do is muchlike kissing andtelling. It’s too personal.Many of us teach behind closed doors with little or no adult supervision,butteaching is not like adolescents kissing, although both should bejoyous, sincere,and creative endeavors. Teaching is not a private matter at all.In fact, it is a mostpublic display -- like baseball. Your audience -- yourfans so to speak -- onlybegins with your students. It includes their families, otherteachers, communitytaxpayers, and more. Think about it. The lives of the children you teachand havetaught can touch all of the people in the world. (Shannon,1995,p.465)Teaching, then, needs to create spaces where the private, the personal, throughthetelling of our own stories, can become public in a meaningful way.Nel Noddings, in herPostmodern musings on pedagogical uses of the personal (1994) affirmsthe value of thiselement of the personal as an integral part of the curriculum:Personal stories are, then, allowable, desirableand vital. They may even bemorally obligatory. A teacher’s responsibility is notfully discharged with thecompetent handling of subject-matter. Rather he orshe has a special responsibilityto help students grow as persons in alltheir fullness(p.357).Therefore, part of this responsibility or obligationis that as teachers we also takeseriously the meaning of dffe’rance, that we leave behind thesuperficial treatment ofdifference and diversity in our multicultural curricula.It is not enough to simply accept“the polyphony of curricular and pedagogic voices in teaching today,or within the culturegenerally (Smith, 1994b,p.71) warns us since it contains the dangers of the isolationofindividuals in their difference.If I merely accept you in your difference without exploringhow you are differentand how your difference reflects my differencefrom you, that is, how knowing youinvites self-reflection on my part -- without such conversationwe merely exist astwo solitudes. And that is what strikesme as the chief danger in the postmoderncondition, namely the increasing isolation of persons withinthe cages of their ownsubjectivity without any historical, philosophicalor linguistic means forestablishing deep and meaningful connectionswith others. (Smith, 1994b,p.72)190For teachers and students, living creatively withour differences together is thechallenge without what Smith calls the “lossof capacity for intimacy”(p.72). We faceeven further challenges if we want thesecommunal connections to reach outsidetheclassroom, to extend to conversations betweenschool communities and other localandglobal communities. In order for these dialoguesto indeed become effective alls