UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A comparative case study of two urban Aboriginal children's meaning making across home, school, and community contexts Streelasky, Jodi Lyn


In the field of early childhood literacy, researchers have begun to investigate the ways contemporary childhoods are being shaped by a range of multimodal communicative practices (Kress, 2003; Lankshear & Knobel, 2003; Marsh, 2003b). The link between children’s use of these practices, many of which are linked to digital technologies and global discourses, and their identity construction, is also being examined in the new millennium. The changing communication systems of the twenty-first century are also influencing the ways urban Aboriginal children make meaning in their worlds, and are impacting Aboriginal children’s identities. Drawing on a sociocultural theory of learning, the purpose of this qualitative comparative case study is to investigate the complexity of the everyday communicative practices utilized by two, six-year-old urban Aboriginal children in and out-of-school, in an attempt to inform the future direction of literacy curricula for young Aboriginal children. Acquiring insight into Aboriginal children’s meaning making is also vital to challenging and replacing long-standing deficit notions held by society and mainstream schools about Aboriginal students’ inferiority and ineducability. This is particularly relevant as the urban Aboriginal student population rises in the province of Saskatchewan. The findings revealed the focal children’s homes to be vibrant, multimodal textual spaces in which the children were supported by their family members as they engaged in a range of communicative practices for multiple purposes. The findings also revealed the link between the dynamic and evolving nature of Indigenous knowledge and the families’ meaning making. Further, the findings showed how the practices valued and promoted in the focal children’s classroom generally reflected traditional and narrow modes of communication, specifically, print-based and teacher-directed practices, and also included superficial, rudimentary aspects of Aboriginal culture. This study offers new suggestions on the ways in which Aboriginal children’s out-of-school communicative practices, specifically those practices linked to digital technology, can be included in early childhood classrooms in culturally-relevant ways.

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