Passageways of practice: punching through domain boundaries

Chamberlain, Liz (2016). Passageways of practice: punching through domain boundaries. In: UKLA 52nd International Conference: Literacy, Equality and Diversity: Bringing voices together, 8-10 Jul 2016, Bristol, UK.


This seminar draws on recent research, which focuses on primary age children’s writing practices across the domains of home and school. In particular, it draws attention to the study’s metaphor of children as active and experienced travellers with personal backpacks of writing practices and skills. The study posits that children create passageways of practice across domain crossing points that reveal the variety and portability of practices.

Whilst the notion of dynamic or navigational spaces which attempt to explain the relationship of home-into-school practices are not uncommon in literacy research, this research highlights the value of writing events in, and of, themselves, rather than being solely viewed through the lens of academic success. The findings argue against the long-held view that the writing curriculum should replicate home practices as a way of confirming children’s out-of-school identities through an apparent value placed on home events. The study contends that rather than teachers imitating home practices they should be encouraged to welcome home writing practices into their classrooms through passageways of practice. By inviting children to make deliberate decisions about which skills from their backpacks of practice are welcomed into school may lead to a transformation of school writing experiences. The study took a sociocultural perspective underpinned by Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) ecological systems theory framework. One of the study’s key aims was to reconceptualise the role of the mesosystem in abstracting the notion of domain exchange, across, and within, the microsystems of school and home.

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