Words at Work and Play: Three decades of literacy research
Wednesday, April 4 at 6PM in the Robert Scott Small Building, Room 237
Featuring Dr. Shirley Brice Heath
Dr. Shirley Brice Heath first introduced us to the Piedmont towns of Trackton and Roadville in Ways with Words, her classic study of children learning to use language at home and at school in two communities only a few miles apart in the southeastern United States. Heath raised fundamental questions about the nature of language development, the effects of literacy on oral language, and the sources of communication problems in schools and workplaces.
Research thirty years in the making
What happened to those original 300 families?
By following her subjects into adulthood, as well as including the next generation, Words at Work and Play not only picks up where their story left off (in the early 1980s), but also traces the radical changes working class families made in terms of their daily habits, life-choice values, and perceptions of identity; many of this same group would identify themselves as middle class by the start of the 21st century. Along the way, Heath also notes significant shifts in family and community life, including: the use of electronic media; the impact of community organizations and after-school programs (what Heath calls the “out-sourcing” of care); and the vital role of play.