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Edited by Becky Shelley, Kitty te Riele, Natalie Brown and Tess Crellin

The transformative power of education is widely recognised. Yet, harnessing the transformative power of education is complex for exactly those people and communities who would benefit the most. Much scholarship is available describing the ways in which educational access, opportunity and outcomes are unequally distributed; and much scholarship is dedicated to analysing and critiquing the ‘problems’ of education.

This volume gratefully builds on such analysis, to take a more constructive stance: examining how to better enable education to fulfil its promise of transforming lives.

Harnessing the Transformative Power of Education returns overall to a broader language of educational change rather than reduce our sense of scale and scope of ‘transformation’ to what might be measured in or by schools. It offers a series of practical, local but system wide and socially responsible practices, policies and analyses to support the ways that education can work at its best. The projects described here vary in scale and scope but are rooted in a wider sense of community and social responsibility so that education is considered as a necessary sustainable process to ensure productive futures for all.

Its contributors include not only scholars, but also professional experts and young people. The book’s aim is to share and advance authentic possibilities for enabling all children and young people to flourish through the transformative power of education.

Educating Media Literacy

The Need for Critical Media Literacy in Teacher Education


Allison T. Butler

Critical media literacy is a necessary part of young people’s education and can foster the space for a more thoroughly informed and involved citizenry. In order to make critical media literacy sustainable in K-12 classrooms, learning and application of it must begin with teachers, preferably during their formal schooling. Educating Media Literacy is a manifesto for the inclusion of media literacy in teacher education and, by extension, in K-12 classrooms. Through a discussion of critical media literacy’s aims and the role of teacher education in the United States, this book argues for the inclusion of critical media literacy in teacher education.

Educating Media Literacy addresses two separate topics – teacher education and media literacy – and illustrates how they are intertwined: The United States struggles simultaneously with how best to train and retain prospective teachers and how to foster a better understanding of mainstream media. These two struggles can join forces and move towards a solution through the following: The inclusion of critical media literacy in teacher education programs.


Peter Afflerbach


Peter Afflerbach sets out a four-part process: (1) define literacy; (2) identify the skills and knowledge needed to acquire literacy; (3) develop a curriculum and instruction that supports students acquiring those skills and knowledge; and (4) design an assessment to measure how well the curriculum and instruction build the skills and knowledge students need. In this chapter, he suggests three factors that are critical to learning the skills and knowledge of literacy: (1) motivation, (2) self-efficacy, and (3) metacognition. He also suggests that measures of these three factors should be added to formative and summative assessments.

Assessing Early Literacy Outcomes in Burkina Faso and Senegal

Using DHS and PASEC to Combine Access and Quality


Nic Spaull and Adaiah Lilenstein


Nic Spaull and Adaiah Lilenstein look at educational statistics in Burkina Faso and Senegal and note that both countries have low school completion rates in Grades 2 and 5, as well as low reading scores at these two grade levels. They then combine the measures of grade completion and reading scores to calculate the percentage of children in the Grade 2 age cohort (both those in school and those who have dropped out) who have enough grade-level reading skills. This comprehensive approach provides a more accurate measure of success. They also look at the demographic characteristics of sex and family wealth and how they predict the more comprehensive measure that combines Grade 2 completion and reading skill acquisition.

Challenges Associated with Reading Acquisition in Sub-Saharan Africa

Promotion of Literacy in Multilingual Contexts


Heikki Lyytinen, Emma Ojanen, Jacqueline Jere-Folotiya, Stella Damaris Ngorosho, Francis Sampa, Pamela February, Flora Malasi, Jonathan Munachaka, Christopher Yalukanda, Kenneth Pugh and Robert Serpell


Heikki Lyytinen and his co-authors note the problems of poorly trained teachers and large class sizes in Africa. Drawing on experience in Zambia, they present a case study of a digital game that can help overcome these problems and lead to more effective literacy instruction, particularly for students facing barriers to learning how to read.

Early Literacy Instruction in India

Redefining the Challenge


Shobha Sinha


Shoba Sinha employs an emergent-literacy perspective to describe how children who live in low-literacy homes manage literacy in school, what body of knowledge a teacher must have to teach children who come from low-literacy homes, and the impact on learning of the context of schools where teaching takes place. In addition, she suggests alternative ways of conceptualizing early literacy programmes based on interventions in India and examines the challenges involved in implementing programs of improved literacy instruction.

The Early Reading Curriculum

International Policy and Practice


Claire McLachlan


Claire McLachlan makes a case for a comprehensive approach to early-grade reading instruction that is based on research into how children acquire and improve reading skills and how children are motivated to use reading for pleasure, learning, and interaction within their culture and with the wider world culture. She also makes a case for adapting the practices developed in the cultures of OECD countries to the cultures in African countries to ensure the effectiveness of these imported teaching and learning programmes.

Entering into the Written Culture to Overcome Inequalities

Teaching Literacy to Children from Vulnerable Communities


Alejandra Medina


Alejandra Medina describes a project that was conducted with students in primary schools that serve vulnerable groups in San Antonio, Chile. This four-year project combined cultural learning with the teaching of language and literacy. The project design included increasing daily opportunities for reading complex texts, contextualizing the texts, and writing about the texts. This approach led to a statistically significant impact on student reading comprehension and text production.