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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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


At this fin de siècle, when educators are pressed with finding curricular alternatives to the sociocultural canon of literacy, this case study explored the intertextual nature of discourse communities in a culturally diverse elementary school in Vancouver, Canada, over the course of two school years. Through hermeneutic inquiry and critical action research, by means of video and audio recording, field notes, researcher narratives, and ethnographic interviews, the study documented how children between the ages of six and nine from a variety of sociocultural and sociolinguistic backgrounds engaged with texts within a literature reading program. The following interconnected questions undergirded the study: How did students and teachers work with different kinds of texts within a curriculum that is multicultural by mandate? Were these texts, in the form of print and other communicative occurrences, inclusive, relevant and meaningful with respect to the participants’ backgrounds? How did language and culture influence this process, and was it possible for teachers to foster community-building and responsible social attitudes and actions in a world which, despite the mandate of multiculturalism, is increasingly fragmented by racism and nationalism? When teachers engaged in the complex and at times difficult processes of becoming deeply connected with their student& lived experiences as well as their own personal and pedagogical praxis through meaningful multicultural language and texts, opportunities for community-building and responsible social action were created through the curriculum. Indeed, it seemed vital in this process that the participants engaged with texts that reflected the cultural diversity within this local setting but also issues of cultural pluralism and heterogeneity within the larger societal and global context -- in all the universe, in one of the children’s words.

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