Sunday, September 30, 2007

commenting in the forum

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  1. First off CONGRATULATIONS on being back - Literacies journal is SO important to me in my work - really value the connections it creates and sustains.
    Reading the articles, much resonated for me & I had lots of flashes to the various places I have worked in literacy - small town Duncan on Vancouver Island, Belfast in Northern Ireland, and presently in east Vancouver. My literacy work has included student researcher doing an ethnography for a Masters thesis, short term teacher at Duncan's Reading & Writing Centre, then development worker & action researcher in Belfast, and now I am working for a family literacy organization - HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters), hired to bring in an adult literacy component into the program.
    In my work at these different places, I've seen some sad similarities amongst literacy practitioners - they are mainly women who are low paid, or on short term projects without any hope of sustainable funding. In Duncan, Belfast & Vancouver, many of the literacy folks feel quite isolated in their work, 'specially in both Northern Ireland and the southern Republic of Ireland, where there are no professional organizations or literacy workers groups - the only places people come together are at the training colleges or universities. So when I talked with them about Canada's research in practice network, many were in awe and keen to know more. Recently there has been more connections amongst the UK literacy practitioners through RaPAL, they had a conference in Belfast this past year. I see that literacy folks are hungry to connect, to share stories, to find out that they are not alone in their working conditions. And I was blown away at how literacy folks speak the same language (ignoring the strong accents), I felt so at home with literacy instructors in Belfast, we had much in common once we started talking about our work. The huge bond is how much people care about what they do, about the people they work with - that's huge.
    Anyways, I'll stop for now, and look forward to see how this blogging works, all new to me.
    Thanks again for being back, Literacies!!
    Bonnie Soroke

  2. Hi!

    This is Wendell from Saint John, New Brunswick.

    I work in a variety of contexts - some paid, some volunteer. Right now I'm working under contract in a gov't funded program and that will constrain many of my comments.

    In my various contexts I do early childhood literacy work, family literacy work, adult literacy work, and what I call "adult basic education" which means helping people with the academics needed to pass a test like the GED.

    I have created literacy materials, developed and evaluated programs and projects, managed staff, and helped organize promotional events or materials. Currently, I am very involved in learning to use the internet to both reflect on my practice and to scaffold learning.

    Now, I want to brag a bit (but see below!): I've won two awards (a provincial award for early childhood lit. and a Canada Post educator award) and co-developed two award winning programs (provincial family lit. awards).

    BUT, I didn't finish my Arts degree, and have no university accredited certification in adult education. Therefore I am at, and will remain at, the lowest pay rate the province of New Brunswick provides for literacy workers. I also have no social capital to spend on influencing, or even changing, the way literacy is presented in my province.

    So... when I talk here, it will as someone who has done a lot, and has heard that he knows what he's doing in literacy ("Have an award, Wendell!") but who is also financially marginalized and feels more than a little unwelcome at those big "tables" we're forever setting for "stakeholders" and other rich white guys in suits.