Multiple Possibilities: The Multi-literate Lives of Three Children

Jeffrey Wood
2015 An International Journal of Complexity and Education   unpublished
This paper presents findings from an eleven-year ethnographic study which describes how three children used different sign systems to become literate, to define who they are and to construct their literate identity. They each engaged with literacies in powerful and life transforming ways. Each child used multiple literacies to learn, understand and create meaning more fully, and use their motivated interest in a preferred literacy to scaffold their learning of another. In analysing this rich
more » ... eracies use, I have come to understand that literacies are complex in their conception and use and that all sign systems (e.g. art, dance, reading, writing, videogaming, etc.) operate using common semiotic principles. Sign systems as literacies are multimodal, meaning-focused and motivated; they involve specific social and cultural practices which differ depending on site and community. During every literate act the children in this study made extensive use of the semantic, sensory, syntactic and pragmatic cuing systems to make meaning, regardless of the literacies used. Multiple Possibilities: The Multi-literate Lives of Three Children Children use literacies in complex and multiple ways. The use of 21st century literacies has changed how children, and adults, use literacies, and has changed what is possible. These new literacies have reshaped our understanding of who we are as literate beings, both through the use of new literacies and through how we use and understand old literacies. We no longer think of literacy as singular and monolithic but as literacies, something that is multiple and fluid. This paper comes out of an eleven year ethnographic parent research study conducted from 1995 to 2006 which looks at the