Literacy narratives can be defined as a written piece of work by authors to help explain their relationship with writing and reading. These literacy narratives can be seen as being either a hero or victim story. A majority of literacy narratives are hero narrative. Kara Poe 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. On the other hand students also experience failure narratives. This can be due to all different factors. For example, it could be because of a “bad” teacher and receiving a bad grade on a paper that the student worked really hard on. As students we were asked to write our own literacy narratives. These literacy narratives were then posted to a blog known as Rising Cairn. By having this it gave us as students the opportunity to see others work. The aspect that was a large portion of my focus was if a hero or victim narrative correlated with how the student felt about writing and reading.
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.” 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.