An Investigation of Sites, Uses and Practices For Literacy in the Lives of Pasifika Students
An investigation of sites, uses and practices for literacy in the lives of Pasifika students Lower test scores on school measures of literacy for Pasifika students than for the majority of students in New Zealand are a cause for concern. As part of a wider attempt to address this problem the Ministry of Education has argued that teachers need to be better informed of out-of-school literacy practices. This thesis considers what can be learned when this guidance is followed and it investigates students' social and cultural uses of literacy in family and community settings. It explores the argument that knowledge of these out-of-school literacies will inform teachers and through incorporation (McNaughton, 2002) teachers may be able to make effective connections for students to school literacy. A sociocultural perspective is used to investigate the social and cultural practices of the students while the study also uses Cremin's (1976) concept of configurations of sites to consider how learning is mediated for students in different settings. Rogoff's (1995) three planes of analysis provide a tool to examine students' practices at the community, interpersonal, and personal levels. The investigation sought the students' own perspective of how they appropriate knowledge about literacy as they collected information with cameras and journals on their own practices. The participants were 14 Pasifika students aged 11 and 12 years (mostly Samoan) as well as three adult Samoan church representatives and teachers from the students' school. Students' photos were used to elicit rich description in semi-structured interviews and interview schedules were also used with students and adult participants. The findings illustrate how the students were socialised into particular practices that are contextualised in the sites of family, church and neighbourhood. They reveal that for the students there was both overlapping of values and conflict between their sites of literacy practice. The complementarities occurred most strongly between family and church and a valued feature of the students' practice was the use of Samoan language. The most common conflicts were those related to popular culture and they occurred between the sites of family, church and school on the one hand and neighbourhood sites on the other as well as within family sites. The thesis argues that awareness of the complementary and conflicting features is essential for teachers in understanding the complexity the students face in choosing their paths among two cultures. This knowledge enables teachers to incorporate aspects of out-of-school literacy into school practice and to draw on those in the students' backgrounds who may facilitate students' literacy acquisition.