Literacy Analysis Final

Literacy Analysis Final

Literacy narratives are an insight to the author’s relationship with reading and writing. Some authors that really focus on these literacy narratives are Lisa Delpit, Deborah Brandt, James Paul Gee, and Kara Poe Alexander. One aspect of literacy narratives that I decide to do my research on with the help of those authors was how influential people effected student’s outlook on reading and writing also if its successful or not. Alexander writes, “They [students] expect teachers to guide them down the path where literacy leads to success and to not waste time doing so.”(P.624) What she means by this is that every student wants to succeed this means that when going into the classroom they want the best level of success possible. Gee on the other hand see’s all of these moments as being part of a larger discourse. We see this when he writes, “At any moment we are using language we must day or write the right thing in the right way while playing the right social role and to hold the right values, beliefs, and attitudes.”(p.6) What he means by this is that no matter how hard one tries to use language to help them work at their discourse they have to have the attitudes to help them. This can play a role in the difference between success and victim narratives. Every student strives to be successful, but when the outcome of their essay or project isn’t what they wanted the student starts to feel as though they are the victims.

After reading quite a few other pieces off of Rising Cairn. It became clear that these different stories have more in common then meets the eye. For instance, eight of the thirteen narratives that I read could be labeled as “Success” narratives. Alexander found the same information when she looked at student’s narratives. Holding the first rank success narratives top every story. The interesting aspect of this that she found is, “typical way students concluded their essay, success narrative were the most often told abstractly, without reference to a specific time, place, or instance in the student’s life.”(p.616) What this means is that students take this happily ever after approach and never really continue to explain in depth what they experience once the good thing happens to them. For example, in “Road to Failure” by Madison Derosa, she starts the narrative with being very descriptive about her struggle with reading and how it made her feel as though she was failing her mom. At the end of the narrative she writes, “If I would have had a more laid back teacher, I don’t think I would have put the work in. I probably would have been in Title 1 again that year, but I wasn’t. That year though I didn’t feel like a failure, I was proud of myself.” With this it shows that Alexander is correct with that her writing become more abstract. With this narrative we can see that it was a success narrative and at the start she didn’t really care for reading and writing but then once she became more trained in how to do it properly Derosa started to enjoy it more.

James Paul Gee would have to say that there aren’t any bad masters simply that past discourses could be interfering with the new discourse that these students are trying acquire. They could be very set in the way of not reading for example and could get away with not reading for their high school classes but then they might go to college. Once having to finally start reading for classes they may realize that they have to change the way of their primary discourse in order to achieve in their classes. Gee would call this acquiring a secondary discourse. The interesting concept is that once these students start having to change their discourses they may feel like victims. Then once they are done with the class and realize the growth and accomplishments that they made they might realize that they have a success narrative over a victim narrative.

One narrative that threw me for a loop was “I Don’t Read” by Brandon Cass. This is a student who simply didn’t read and made it very clear that he never did. This narrative was neither a success or victim narrative. It was placed in the “other” category, this can really only be described as a narrative that does its own thing. We see this when he writes, “Now in my mind I was already thinking ‘I’m not going to read this book,’ and she knew I didn’t read because I told her that I don’t read.” Cass simply didn’t like to read and he made it very clear that he never really liked to read. What I found interesting was the fact that he didn’t have a victim narrative. He instead took an idea from Gee, which goes by the name of “Mushfake”. This is a type of “fake it till you make it” concept. Cass is the perfect example of taking one discourse and mushfaking it to another discourse. This was the only narrative that I found that took this concept of “mushfake” to help them in class. In most of the other narratives that were victim the author didn’t like to read or write then they would have a teacher that pushed them to try and get them to do better. Thus making the student have to work harder but also makes them create this idea that they are victim to a bad teacher.

Overall students have this idea that they want to have success in literacy. When they don’t get the success they feel that they fall victim to a dislike for reading and writing. Nothing they can really do till they start to get these success narratives in their lives again. With my argument that students are more likely to enjoy writing and reading when they experience a success narrative. We can see that with narratives it’s all about how the student feels with the experience in order to see how they feel about reading and writing. As seen in Cass’s narrative we can see that it’s not all about success and victim narratives, past discourses also play a large role in how one interacts in the classroom. Walking into a class with a set discourse and having the class go against everything that you have lived by before and be rather challenging to have the discourses work together. This also can lead to whether the outcome is success or victim. If you have a very strong primary discourse that helps you in the classroom, one is more likely to come out with the self-image of being successful. On the other hand, if you have a discourse that in no way is helpful toward the outcome of the class one has a higher change of viewing themselves as victims in the situation. Thus they will blame the teacher because as Alexander stated before students go into the class with the plan of coming out successful. Due to ones primary discourse there is this domino effect as to whether they feel successful or a victim.