Challenging Myths of the Deficit Perspective: Honoring Children's Literacy Resources

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Young Children


The article discusses the deficit perspective that often distorts teachers' vision when interacting with children from marginalized communities. A deficit perspective attributes many children's school failures to perceived deficits within the children, their families, and their cultures. In contrast, a transformational perspective identifies and values the rich cultural practices embedded in diverse communities. Also relevant is the concept of multiple literacies. As a practice affected by culture, literacy takes various forms, in and out of school: reading for pleasure, reading for information, reading silently or aloud with others, memorizing and reciting significant texts. Participating with families in their worlds and learning from them is key in understanding the wealth of knowledge in homes and communities. By reaching beyond taken-for-granted ways of teaching and learning in schools, deficit perspectives can be challenged. Schools can develop creative uses of time and energy so that teachers can be directly involved in children's lives, attending religious or sports events, for example, or joining families for meals. These efforts can lead to broader visions of learning.

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