Building communities: teachers researching literacy lives

Cremin, Teresa; Mottram, Marilyn; Collins, Fiona; Powell, Sacha and Drury, Rose (2012). Building communities: teachers researching literacy lives. Improving Schools, 15(2) pp. 101–115.



In the light of wide recognition that the traffic between home and school is traditionally one-way, this paper reports on a year-long project which was deliberately counter-cultural and involved teachers researching children’s everyday literacy practices and ‘funds of knowledge’ (González et al., 2005). The project sought to explore whether and in what ways teachers, positioned as researchers, developed new understandings which challenged their assumptions about children and families, and the extent to which any new understandings about the learners’ literacy lives had consequences with regard to the curriculum and home-school relations. Eighteen primary teachers from ten schools in five local authorities in England were involved; this article focuses on two of the practitioners’ experiences. Drawing on data from interviews, transcripts of their Learner Visits to homes, data analysis meetings with the teachers and the practitioners’ portfolios, it is argued that the project challenged teachers’ perceptions and beliefs about children and families, prompting dispositional shifts and new understandings of difference and diversity. It also reveals that creating responsive curricula that connect to the lived social realities of the children represented a considerable professional challenge. The paper highlights the affordances of collaborative research partnerships, and suggests that considerable time, space and support is needed in order for teachers to appreciate and understand children’s and families’ funds of knowledge and blur the boundaries between home and school.

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