A Sociocultural Framework in Support of Family Literacy Programs
While working with families through Project FLAME, it became apparent, at least to me, that these families brought a lot of knowledge to the program. I felt that we needed to recognize this knowledge and use it in the planning of program activities. I looked for support from current research that could justify and explain the need for programs that are directed toward linguistic minorities or other marginalized groups to acknowledge and respect the existing knowledge, ways of learning, discourses, and learning repertoires which these communities already possess. The work of Gee (1999), Gutiérrez and Rogoff (2003), Reese and Gallimore (2000), Rogers (2001, 2002), and The New London Group (1996), among others, led to and became the basis for the development of a sociocultural framework to further support program development for Project FLAME. The sociocultural framework should inform and underlie all program activities in order to make the program more relevant to the communities it serves. It also situates the program within a critical rather than functional perspective.
Discontinuities between cultural ways of learning at home and at school have been reported by a number of researchers (e.g., Moll, 1994; Purcell-Gates, 1995; Reese & Gallimore, 2000). Looking at specific cultures, Valdes (1996), Trueba, Jacobs, and Kirton (1990), Foster (1995), Laureau (1989), and Gallimore, Boggs, and Jordan (1974) have reported existing discontinuities in ways of learning between home and school for Latinos, Hmong, African Americans, working-class youth, and Native Americans, respectively. Also, Cazden (1986) and Tharp (1989) have documented existing discontinuities between home and school in such areas as linguistic codes, narrative patterns, motivation, participant structures, teaching strategies, and learning styles. These researchers identify and discuss variability between cultural groups.