Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10497/1252
Title: 
Authors: 
Supervisor: 
Saravanan, Vanithamani
Issue Date: 
2001
Abstract: 
This study investigates the literacy practices and perceptions of four Indian families in Singapore. Literacy is conceived as a socio-cultural phenomenon as it develops in the cultural context of the homes within which the participants are located. Central in these homes is the construction of an array of literacy practices practiced by the families. A combination of the past experiences of the parents of literacy, their understanding of literacy as a tool of empowerment within the larger context of a meritocratic society and their future expectations for their children come into interplay in moulding the perceptions and practices of these families.

Although literacy draws from the cultural ways of the respective families, it becomes subsumed within a macro-Singaporean culture. The latter is shaped by the larger economic, political, social and cultural forces of the major institutions in the society. Aspirations for the society at large are constantly exhorted by the various governmental organizations through various policies designed towards excellence in almost every facet of life. These greatly impact upon the perceptions of individual families and communities. Cross cultural comparisons of the various communities bring into perspective for the respective social group the importance of achieving comparable standards of achievement. Each community tends to explore into distinct cultural ways that they perceive would place them at an advantage vis--vis the other communities and the macro-Singaporean culture. This constitutes to be almost an attempt to neutralize literacy from its culture specific ways. Although this may augur well in the nation-building task of the community, it also becomes imperative that a balanced perspective is taken in the approach towards these larger objectives. Individual ways cannot be compromised towards one-size-fit-all as far as literacy is concerned. No doubt literacy is a social construct and reacts to the forces of the larger community. At the same time, it should not overwhelm individual cultural ways of defining literacy.

The families in my study represent an example of attempts by individuals to achieve a balanced perspective. The home by virtue of its context lends itself well for the practice of literacy as a fabric of family life. Creative uses of and for literacy are nurtured in the children via a wide range of literacy practices from the traditional practices of reading and writing to the literacy-rich sources of visual and non-print forms within the home environment. These are examined in relation to the physical attributes of the home as well as the interpersonal interaction primarily among parents and children as well as among siblings. However, the increasing demands of an education system and parents' aspirations for their children influence parents' to persevere in a direction towards literacy practices necessitated by the school and by their idealized notions of literacy development. Parents simulate literacy practices such as bedtime reading and reading aloud which they have not grown up with because these have been noted to have positive influence on the literacy development of children. Parents put their young wards through a regiment of intensive literacy practices in play schools, preschools, enrichment classes and tuition so that children are ready for school and to prove their potential for academic excellence. These are to also ensure that their children are adequately equipped to face the challenges the high demands placed on them by their teachers within an examination oriented system. Parents come to value competency in the mother tongue not mainly for maintenance of cultural values but largely as facilitating the general excellence in an education system in which bilingualism is an integral aspect.

These findings in these four case studies alerts the literacy practitioners in the home, primarily the parents and the main caregivers, to the danger of conceiving literacy within the context of the home. Although this is necessary it should not preclude or override the practice of a wide range of literacy practices for which the home is a fertile ground.
URI: 
Issued Date: 
2001
Call Number: 
LC157.S55 Sha
File Permission: 
Restricted
File Availability: 
With file
Appears in Collections:Master of Education

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