At the edge of reason: Three language and literacy educators' classroom experiences teaching born-digital students

  • Author / Creator
    Nahachewsky, James
  • Contemporary English language arts (ELA) teachers engage students who have been born into a digital world where emergent literacies challenge the traditionally authoritative perspectives and physical boundaries of books and classrooms. This qualitative case study inquired into the classroom experiences of three senior English language arts teachers located in two western Canadian provinces in our digital-based communications age. Analyzed through a cultural studies lens, this inquiry’s data were collected through the methodological triangulation of classroom observation, semi-structured interview, and online journal responses. The study’s findings reveal the significance of the three selected teachers’ textual stances and pedagogy to their students’ new literacies in this time of epochal communications and cultural change. A broadening horizon of textual choice and compositional possibilities complicated each of the three teachers’ classroom practice in a subject area whose content, traditionally, relies upon reading and responding to print-based canonical texts. Each of these teachers was working In medias res to understand which texts and textual practices should be held on to, and which could be relinquished for the benefit of their students’ language learning. A major concern that emerged for each of these three educators was a perceived loss of deep critical readings by their students. This concern was counter-balanced for the subject area specialists by an emergent understanding of the affordances of a broadening set of texts and textual practices – a developing awareness that students’ critical literacies can emerge in a rhizomal manner, and that teachers and students can co-author their literacy experiences within the (con)text of the ELA classroom. For these three participants, teaching ELA has become an ‘ellipsis’ in a digital-based age where certain previously privileged texts and a sense of authority need to be relinquished in order to achieve the co-constructed understanding of word and world so valued by these educators and their students.

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  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
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    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.