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Culturally Contested Pedagogy

Battles of Literacy and Schooling between Mainstream Teachers and Asian Immigrant Parents

Guofang Li

Publication Year: 2006

The voices of teachers, parents, and students create a compelling ethnographic study that examines the debate between traditional and progressive pedagogies in literacy education and the mismatch of cross-cultural discourses between mainstream schools and Asian families. This book focuses on a Vancouver suburb where the Chinese population has surpassed the white community numerically and socioeconomically, but not politically, and where the author uncovers disturbing cultural conflicts, educational dissensions, and “silent” power struggles between school and home. What Guofang Li reveals illustrates the challenges of teaching and learning in an increasingly complex educational landscape in which literacy, culture, race, and social class intertwine. Advocating for a greater cultural understanding of minority beliefs in literacy education and a more critical examination of mainstream instructional practices, Li offers a new theoretical framework and critical recommendations for teachers, schools, and parents.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series, Power, Social Identity, and Education


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Title, Copyright and Dedication Pages

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p. vii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiv

Guofang Li presents a fascinating study in this book, one that describes and analyzes the interactions, communications, and difficulties occurring among teachers, immigrant students, and their parents. It is not, however, a typical immigrant study that explores the plight of poor families interacting with schools and teachers. ...


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pp. xv-xvi

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Introduction: Literacy Learning and Teaching in a New Socioeconomic Context

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pp. 1-16

In 2000, upon the completion of my doctoral research on Chinese immigrant families’ bicultural literacy practices and socialization in Saskatoon, a small city in Western Canada, I moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, to continue my research on Chinese immigrant children’s school-home literacy connections at the University of British Columbia. ...

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1. Literacy Instruction and Cross-cultural Discourses

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pp. 17-38

Literacy achievement has become one of the most critical issues for immigrant and minority education. For the theoretical framework in which this study is situated, I turn to research that examines the social effects of literacy practices across the various social institutions such as school, home, and communities. ...

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2. The City, the School, and the Families

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pp. 39-62

The city in which this study was carried out is called Richmond. It is in the lower mainland of Vancouver, British Columbia. Before 1980, it was a quiet farming and fishing community. It is now a significant suburb of the Greater Vancouver area. ...

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3. Literacy and Culture Battles: Teacher Beliefs and Parent Perspectives

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pp. 63-100

“It’s hard to get to the Chinese parents,” Mrs. Haines told me when I first started the research project in the school, “They’re polite to us, but I sense that they don’t trust us. It’s hard to explain.” As I spent more time at the school, I finally understood why Mrs. Haines felt the way she did. ...

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4. Beginning Forays in the Battles: Sandy, Anthony, Kevin, and Alana

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pp. 101-146

In this chapter, I bring you into the worlds of four first and second graders who have just been caught in the battles between school and home literacy practices. I will look more closely now at how the conflicting ideologies are reflected in the children’s everyday learning in school and at home. ...

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5. Living through the Battles: Billy, Andy, Jake, and Tina

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pp. 147-182

The four learners featured in this chapter were from Ms. Dawson’s grade 4/5 combined class. They volunteered to participate in the study with the consent of their parents. Round-faced Billy Chung was10 years old. Like his sister Sandy, he took everything very seriously, and was under tremendous pressure to achieve and do well because he had not seemed to be able to improve his English language profi-...

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6. Understanding the Battles of Literacy and Culture: Conflicts and Complexities

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pp. 183-206

In the preceding chapters, I have presented multilayered hetereoglossic voices—the teachers’ and the parents’ different perspectives, different understandings, and different instructional approaches as well as the children’s different home and school experiences. All these different voices contribute to our understanding of the “battles” description of the teachers’ and parents’ perspectives, I examined...

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7. Learning from the Battles: Toward a Pedagogy of Cultural Reciprocity

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pp. 207-232

This study has represented a journey toward an understanding of the education of immigrant children in unique, contemporary social spaces. Unlike the widely researched, lower SES minority children, the Chinese children were from middle-class backgrounds and attended a white middle-class school where they substantially out-numbered children of other backgrounds. ...


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pp. 233-253


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pp. 255-265

E-ISBN-13: 9780791482544
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791465936
Print-ISBN-10: 0791465934

Page Count: 281
Illustrations: 1 table, 16 figures
Publication Year: 2006

Series Title: SUNY series, Power, Social Identity, and Education
Series Editor Byline: Lois Weis See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 63148130
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Culturally Contested Pedagogy

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Literacy -- Social aspects -- Canada.
  • Asian Americans -- Education.
  • Asians -- Education -- Canada.
  • Children of immigrants -- Education -- United States.
  • Children of immigrants -- Education -- Canada.
  • Literacy -- Social aspects -- United States.
  • Parent-teacher relationships -- United States.
  • Parent-teacher relationships -- Canada.
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