Volume:6, Issue: 3

Dec. 15, 2014

In This Issue
A Letter to the Readers
Tsyrlina-Spady, Tatyana [about]
It is time to introduce you to a new journal devoted to the problems of literacy in its very broad sense of the word. The topic of literacy was selected because of an increased importance of the problem and also, our editorial board’s decision to further expand its geographical boundaries and go way beyond education in Russia and the U.S.A. We do realize that in a world that is more and more globalized we should also go global, and we did – during the last 5.5 years the journal has accumulated readers from 142 (!) countries. The majority of the papers published in the current journal issue analyze the concept and practice of literacy in its traditional understanding as language literacy together with a few which deal with the problems of historical, professional, and religious literacy as well. It is obvious that without knowing one’s own language and culture an individual will never be able to live a full life and feel satisfied with its quality. Our guest editor and a dear friend Dr. Zehlia Babaci-Wilhite, a visiting scholar from the University of California, Berkeley, CA, collected and edited papers which discuss the issue of language literacy and as a result, science literacy in some African countries (see: Babaci-Wilhite; Kyeu; Mchombo and Okonkwo), Bosnia (Besirevic), and the USA (Washington). Russian academics Cheremisinova and Firsova raise the issue of the current reading crisis in their country considering it “a threat to a national wellbeing.” Our frequent author Professor Demakova approaches the problem of literacy from the point of view of a teacher of teachers and shares her own unique experience in this field. Another Russian expert Dr. Tyulyaeva examines the issue of religious literacy in Russian schools and shows how it has been approached and settled. No less challenging and informative is the paper submitted by an American researcher Dr. Lovorn who discusses the problem of developing historical literacy in high school students. And finally, our regular writer, Professor Boguslavsky introduces one more renowned Russian educator, famous for his theoretical research and practice in the field of dissemination literacy in the 19th-century Russia.
Vasily Vodovozov as a remarkable promoter of literacy
Boguslavsky, Mikhail V. [about]
It is not uncommon in the history of education that one outstanding name attracts everybody’s attention and outshines other brilliant and prominent educators. This may undoubtedly be applied to Vasily Ivanovich Vodovozov (1825-1886), a remarkable promoter of literacy and a great contributor to the development of public education in Russia. Vasily Vodovozov has long been known not as an independent researcher but as a close associate and theoretical successor of Konstantin Dmitrievich Ushinsky whose name stays behind all major achievements in the Russian theory of education between the 1850s and 1860s. Such a view is only partially true. The study of Vasily Vodovozov’s legacy reveals bright and original historical pages of literacy dissemination and formation of the Russian schooling. Moreover, it enriches teachers, public educators, and researchers with exciting and challenging ideas. Vasily Ivanovich Vodovozov was born on September 27, 1825 in Petersburg, to a family of an impoverished small tradesman. Vasily’s father died early leaving his 42-year-old widow to take care of four daughters and three sons, with the youngest, Vasily, just being under four. The boy was raised and brought up in poverty and constant need for money. The family was left without means for survival because all the property was sequestrated and sold to pay their debts.
Historical Literacy through Historiography: Teaching to the C3 Framework
Lovorn, Michael G. [about]
In 2013, the National Council for the Social Studies released the new C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards as a concise and coherent articulation of knowledge and skills students need for success in college, career, and civic life in the 21st century. In their introduction of the framework, the writing team asserted that “students need the intellectual power to recognize societal problems, ask good questions and develop robust investigations into them, consider possible solutions and consequences, separate evidence-based claims from parochial opinions, and communicate and act upon what they learn” (p. 6). “Most importantly,” the introduction continues, “they [students] must possess the capability and commitment to repeat that process as long as is necessary” (p. 6). While these assertions refer to broad field social studies teaching and learning, each point is certainly consistent with historical thinking and historical literacy skills we have promoted for nearly two decades. This paper is intended to highlight the embedded emphasis of historical literacy within the C3 Framework, and to promote historiographical analysis as one approach to advancing middle and high school students’ development of these and related skills.
A colloquium about educational literacy
Demakova, Irina D. [about]
The word colloquium (when translated from Latin) means a conversation with the goal to evaluate the knowledge of learners and enrich their experience of this or that issue while communicating in an informal manner with a professor or instructor. In winter 1994, I participated in an unforgettable event – an international colloquium on the topic, Korczak: caring about education, which was organizedin the city of Sion, a capital of the canton of Valais, Switzerland. A year later, Swiss Korczak Society published a book in French under the title, “Shock in the world” edited by Professor V. Halperin (1). The program was full of interesting and challenging meetings. Especially I remember one of them with the topic that sounded casual, informal, and cheerful: "How educators should talk, debate, travel, share joy and sadness with children, and how they can still remain themselves and feel happy."
Language and the contextualization of education in Africa
Mchombo, Sam [about]
A prevalent view about education in Africa is that it is, in many respects, “decontextualized.” Theories of education concur that learning marks a progressive shift from the known to the unknown. In this acquisition of knowledge gained through the processing of environmental input or external conditions cultural practices constitute a relevant parameter. However, formal schooling in Africa has, traditionally, been conducted with near total exclusion of the African culture and African systems of knowledge. Nasir (2012) notes that learning crucially involves “shifts in ways of understanding, thinking about concepts, and solving problems and closely related shifts in ways of doing or participating in activities” (Nasir, 2012: 17). Elaborating on that she highlights some of the current perspectives on learning that view it as “involving not simply transmission from the teacher to the learner (as a behaviorist perspective would view learning), but as involving cognitive processes of problem-solving, transfer, reflection, prior knowledge, and the development of expertise ” (ibid.). These cognitive processes do not develop outside of social or cultural context whose relevance to learning has been central to research in education. Recent scholarship in education has also highlighted how, in addition to involving cognitive processing, learning is “deeply intertwined with social processes and ways of participating in learning activities. This work has highlighted the fact that learning always involves an interplay between individual cognition and a socially and culturally organized learning setting, where learning is, in part, indexed by changing relations between people and increasingly sophisticated use of available tools for problem-solving” (ibid.)
From a Nigerian seminar to an American-Russian Education Forum publication
Babaci-Wilhite, Zehlia [about]
The idea for this special issue was conceived at the Comparative and International Education Society conference (CIES) in Toronto, Canada, USA in 2014. At that time, I was planning a course/seminar at the Imo State University, Nigeria in “Education and Development in Comparative and International Education” with a focus on the use of local languages and local curriculum working with teachers in Nigerian languages (Igbo in Imo State) and English as well as Science subjects. The idea came to mind with Professor Tatyana Tsyrlina-Spady to share the workshop outcome in this special issue with contributions from other African voices and scholars interested in language, science, literacy and human rights in education.
African languages in science literacy as a human right in education
Babaci-Wilhite, Zehlia [about]
This article will address how to incorporate mother tongue education through a science literacy model adapted to the African context. Further, it will argue that this sustenance of learning in mother tongue education based in local knowledge ought to be defined as a human right in education. I draw on my own research on teaching science subjects in Africa as well as on a review of research on problems connected with studying science due to decontextualized teaching and learning. The article will give attention to the conjunction of several aspects to improve the quality of learning science literacy in mother tongue education and local curriculum. The introduction of the Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading (Seeds/Roots) approach will form a new platform for innovation based on a unique mix of local and global knowledge.
The importance of promoting mother tongue in Nigeria
Okonkwo, Basil Amarachi [about]
Mother tongue is the language a child hears or learns first either from his father or mother or a nanny. Specialists in languages call it ‘the first language’ (LI). It also connotes a very emotionally charged sense of belonging to a group and of one’s linguistic identity. The need to promote mother tongue in Nigeria calls for urgent attention. It is truism that a good education is one that develops the power and character of the leaner and makes him or her able to master the surrounding environment. Language is the primary medium of education, and every educational process takes place through it. Our major problem in Nigeria is a problem of the mentality of the colonized. We value anything that comes from a foreigner but we do not value our own heritage. This is the problem facing the use of mother tongue or local languages in Nigeria where English, the colonialists’ language, happens to be the only official language of education. This paper, therefore, suggests that it is high time to start valuing and promoting our local languages and to insist on using them as the language of institution in schools.
The Impact of Facebook Chat on Swahili Essay Writing
Kyeu, David [about]
Interaction and collaboration are often used in foreign language teaching including writing. However, they are applied to varying degrees for different languages. The methods have been used especially in the writing of English as a second language [Berg, 1999], but have rarely been used in Swahili. In this paper therefore, I investigate the effects of Facebook chat on essay writing in Swahili. I specifically try to find out (i) the nature of interaction and collaboration that students have when they use Swahili during their Facebook chat and (ii) the type of language that students transfer from their Facebook chat to their essay writing in Swahili. This study and the writing of this paper is guided by interactionist [Long, 1996] and collaboration theories [Vygotsky, 1978] so as to gain a better understanding of the communication of such a structure and how this impacted the essays that the students wrote.
Crisis of the reading culture as a threat to the national wellbeing
Cheremisinova, Larissa I. [about], Firsova, Tatyana G. [about]
“If an individual does not read, it is his/her personal problem. If the whole country does not read, it is the national tragedy” (Ioseph Brodsky). These words are especially relevant for the modern soci-ocultural situation. The problems of literacy, education, culture, and reading are of utmost importance because they are closely related to the nation’s future viability and wellbeing. According to E.I. Morozova, “a neglect of reading today has reached its critical limit, and if no measures are taken, the core of national culture will be destroyed” (1). In the context of modern sociocultural changes nature, content, and functions of reading are trans-forming. For instance, an interest to genres represented in a visual format such as detectives, thrillers, horror stories, comics, has increased due to the influence of the TV and video clips. Reading tends to become just pragmatic and functional, and the perception of reading – pixelated and superficial.
The Right to Language and the Language of Human Rights Abuse: Educational Paradox of Post-conflict Bosnia
Besirevic, Zinaida [about]
A claim to one's own language as a fundamental human right seems as intuitive and incontestable as a claim to one's identity. A mother tongue after all, IS an essential building block of one's identity. To claim or forfeit the right to it ought to be a matter of personal choice, not of national policy. Yet as much as identities have been politicized throughout history and especially since the rise of the Nation State, so have languages, whether they are official or unofficial, rarely spoken or forbidden. In devaluing a language, one devalues a community, implying there is something inherently inferior about it. Under the auspices of Universal Human Rights however, many such communities, have, in the past few decades, began to realize their linguistic rights. The battle though is all uphill against the hegemony of the dominant languages. In the light of that reality, it would seem absurd to suggest that there are situations where the reverse is true. Where linguistically homogenous communities seek not to be. Where through contrivances, a single language is being torn to create different languages. This paper examines one such instance, with an aim to demonstrate that the power of language and the notion of linguistic identity can be abused in more than one way to violate human rights. I present the case of postwar Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), and the political agenda to mutilate the language and the ideology behind it.
Channeling nativism through language: A sociolinguistic study on the rise of the Chinese Exclusion Acts
Washington, Brad D. [about]
There is a gap in the literature addressing the importance of sociolinguistics in analyzing the confluence of anti-immigration policies targeting Chinese migrants in the United States. Hayner and Reynolds (1937) state that the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act was a secondary factor in separating predominantly male Chinese laborers in the United States from their spouses and children in China. Instead, the authors cite excerpts from interviews conducted with Chinese migrants to conclude that cultural differences among Chinese immigrants and American Born Chinese as a primary source of challenges and conflicts for Chinese communities in the United States. Yang (2010) states that previous studies have deducted incomplete or inaccurate conclusions from the complex development of international immigration as it relates to Asian American communities. In order to gain a complete understanding of Asian immigration to the United States since the mid-nineteenth century, Okihiro (2014) and Yang (2010) argue that immigration theories must address both historical and contemporary developments rather than examine a segment of either. In addition, Osajima (1998) stresses that though it is important to explore themes of oppression and displacement in the history of Asian America, it is even more critical to obtain an in-depth understanding of personal narratives and world events that challenge a widely accepted push-pull paradigm of Western imperialism resulting in Asian victimization.
Culture, Religion, and Education in Multicultural Environment
Tyulyaeva, Tamara I. [about]
The contents and quality of education largely depends on its ability to consolidate the society, to cope with and prevent an interreligious tension. To achieve this, it is necessary to help children and young people recognize the priority of human rights and freedoms, religious equality and tolerance to different points of view. Tolerance is a sign of self-confidence and awareness of one’s own principles. It is expressed through the desire to achieve mutual respect, understanding, compromise, and agreement on polar interests and viewpoints achieved without violence but mostly by means of clarification and persuasion (4).

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