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REPRESENTATIONS OF LITERACY: THE TEACHING OF ENGLISH AND THE IMMIGRANT EXPERIENCE IN EARLY TWENTIETH-CENTURY AMERICA

by Dayton, Amy Elizabeth.

Abstract (Summary)
The study contributes to the growing body of research that examines the meanings and practices of literacy in community settings. While the study sheds some light on the history of community-based literacy learning, it is also a project in rhetorical analysis. It traces the influence of public discourse and beliefs about literacy on the teaching of English to non-native speakers, focusing on the Progressive Era (1890-1920), a time of major social and educational change. Turn-of-the-century educators and members of the public believed that literacy was in a state of decline, and immigrants were often blamed. Public debate about literacy was marked by an acute sense of crisis exacerbated by economic unease and rapid social and political change. In this atmosphere of change and anxiety, the public called on English teachers to assimilate immigrants by bringing them in line with cultural norms, teaching them patriotism, and preparing them to be efficient workers. In response to public pressure, some educators embraced a vision of a monolingual society and adopted a pedagogy of assimilation. As Americanization programs emerged in large numbers in the 1910s, the goals and curricula often reflected this vision. However, not all educators embraced the assimilation model. Some educators and immigrant writers argued for the need for a pedagogy rooted in students’ community lives and individual needs, with the potential to contribute toward a more democratic society for all. 8
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School:The University of Arizona

School Location:USA - Arizona

Source Type:Master's Thesis

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