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close this bookAction Research Report on «Reflect» - Education Research Paper No.17 (DFID, 1996, 96 p.)
close this folder2. Theoretical roots of the new method: reflect
View the document2.1 Introduction: Challenging the global domination of the primer
View the document2.2 Introduction to Freire
View the document2.3 Limitations and distortions of Freire
View the document2.4 Introduction to participatory rural appraisal
View the document2.5 Tensions between Freire and Chambers
View the document2.6 New concepts of literacy: The ideological approach
View the document2.7 Visual literacy
View the document2.8 Numeracy
View the document2.9 Gender

2.6 New concepts of literacy: The ideological approach

In the introduction we have referred to some of the present debates about literacy. Literacy is no longer seen as a simple skill or competency but as a process. It is more than just the technology in which it is manifest. Street argues that it is a social process in which particular socially constructed technologies are used within particular institutional frameworks for specific social purposes. This is the "ideological view" of literacy. Literacy cannot be so clearly seen as "an externally introduced force for change". Instead the individual must be "an active actor in literacy learning - not just a passive recipient of an externally defined and introduced technique" (Caxton Report 1994).

This ideological approach has certain implications for literacy methodologies. The primer as a prefixed "external" text would appear to limit literacy practices and be consistent with the traditional or autonomous approach, seeing the need for a fixed body of knowledge to be transferred. To be consistent with the ideological approach a methodology would have to, for example:

· emphasise writing rather than passive reading of fixed texts;
· emphasise creative and active involvement of participants;
· build on existing knowledge of participants, respecting oral traditions and other "literacies";
· focus on learner generated materials (not prepackaged texts)
· ensure that the process is responsive and relevant to the local context.

Over the last two years of experimentation, REFLECT has attempted to build on these elements in order to develop a methodology which is consistent with the ideological approach.