ERIC Number: EJ697471
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004
Reference Count: N/A
Constructing Adolescents Differently: On the Value of Listening to Singapore Youngsters Talking Popular Culture Texts
Linguistics and Education: An International Research Journal, v15 n3 p217-241 Sum 2004
In contrast to the commonsense discourse of youth-as-unruly widely circulating in the West, the kind of discourse which has become part of the Singapore public and academic imagination is one that mobilizes constructions of youth as narrowly achievement-oriented, as "exam-smart muggers", who "lack an enquiring mind". This study attempts to complicate this picture of Singaporean adolescents, showing them to be sophisticated meaning-makers who employ texts of different modes to construct shifting subjectivities in their everyday lives. It draws on selected focus-group data my students and I have collected over the past two years from Singaporean 10- to 12-year-olds as they talk with their peers and us about the texts they like to read and watch in their spare time [Lim, L. E. (2002). "Fast cars and magical cards: A study of gendered choices in cartoons". Singapore: Nanyang Technological University, Honours Academic Exercise; Seah, H. L. (2003). Gender differences in the reading habits and attitudes of primary pupils in single-sex government-aided schools in Singapore. MA (applied linguistics) thesis: Nanyang Technological University]. Building on Moss' [Moss, G. (2000). Informal literacies and pedagogic discourse. "Linguistics and Education", 11, 47-64; Moss, G. (2001). On literacy and the social organisation of knowledge inside and outside school. "Language and Education", 15, 146-161] research on knowledge about informal literacies as a "horizontal discourse" (Bernstein), in the discussion of this data I argue that the youngsters whose voices we hear are not entirely trapped within monochrome schooled literacy practices, even though much of what goes on at home may reinforce these; rather, in the spaces they make for themselves, they can be seen engaged in an array of out-of-school activities around texts, displaying special competencies and taking up multiple reading strategies and positions as they navigate them. Having a better understanding of the kinds of "improper" knowledge about literacy that is generated alongside the privileged pedagogized version in many Singapore homes can not only help complicate our current image of Singaporean youth but also help re-envision literacy education in schools in ways that the students' unsanctioned experiences and competencies with texts are recognized and built upon.
Descriptors: Foreign Countries, Literature Appreciation, Literacy Education, Cartoons, Adolescents, Reading Habits, Reading Strategies, Popular Culture, Gender Differences, Applied Linguistics
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Singapore