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ERIC Number: EJ880811
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Apr
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 47
ISSN: ISSN-0305-4985
Learning through Literature: The Case of "The Arabian Nights"
Styles, Morag
Oxford Review of Education, v36 n2 p157-169 Apr 2010
In the last twenty years, the teaching of reading in Britain has moved away from an interest in how children take delight in, and make meaning of, their literature to a preoccupation with a mechanistic approach to literacy which breaks down texts into bite-sized chunks and fragments reading into a series of isolated skills. Although an expensive, comprehensive system for literacy has been put in place with its plethora of related materials for teachers and pupils, it has not been particularly successful in raising literacy standards, and it has turned some children away from reading. Using "The Arabian Nights" as a case study (the book most often mentioned as favourite childhood reading of dozens of famous writers from the eighteenth century to the present day, worldwide), I have examined its influence on certain famous writers living in the nineteenth century with particular reference to how it may have shaped their approach to writing fiction. Using a cross-disciplinary approach, I have tried to combine the skills and insights of the literary critic and the literary historian: the former showing how literary texts work and how writers construct them to provoke a range of responses in their readers; the latter exploring the biographical and social context of the emergent writer, identifying and evaluating the factors that contributed to developing their particular creative identity. A further strand is that of the educator seeking to glean insights from tantalisingly fragmentary historical data which may cast light on some contemporary concerns about children's learning, including debates about the teaching of reading. By bringing these different approaches together, my specific intention is to further the understanding of one aspect of learning in the modern world--that of children's reading. The message that my tentative findings suggest is that whatever policy initiatives are taken in literacy, encouraging children to take pleasure in reading whole books of their own choosing should be a priority. (Contains 6 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A