Essay on Family Literacy: Respecting Family Ways

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Family Literacy: Respecting Family Ways

Throughout history, the family has been the primary source for learning. Before the advent of schools, children were taught at home by their parents, older siblings, grandparents, and/or other relatives. With the introduction of formal schooling, the teaching of values, cultural practices, and skills such as cooking, sewing, farming, and trapping continued to originate in the home. Today, in spite of the vast public and private educational systems, some parents are choosing to teach their children at home, confident in their belief that teaching in the context of family is the best way to ensure the learning the desire.

Public agencies, such as the National Center for Family Literacy, and
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Auerbachs "socio-contextual model" is congruent with the contextual teaching and learning approach to knowledge development. This approach is based on the proposition that students learn best when the learning is meaningful to them and situated in the context of their social environments. This model acknowledges that there are family-relevant, as well as school-relevant, ways of bringing literacy into the home. It acknowledges the positive contributions of family members and takes into account the influence that cultural values and practices have on literacy development.

The Value of Different Literacies

Because school-based family literacy efforts are typically directed to people from poor, minority, and/or immigrant families who lack English proficiency, some of these programs assume that these individuals have little to offer and that the school must determine the forms of literacy that are acceptable for the family. Referring to this model as deficit driven, Taylor ("Book Notes" 1998) challenges educators to redefine the relationship of literacy to poverty and socioeconomic status and to acknowledge the wealth of knowledge members of these families offer, e.g., their languages, multiple approaches to literacy, and ability to deal with life events.

Although all literacies are not
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