Teaching Literacy in Working Poor America--Rewriting the Script

Have you ever had the dream of making a difference in the lives of children and youth who are growing up in America’s economic or cultural margins?  A new Spring Semester tutorial and summer DukeEngage opportunity in Appalachia are being designed to help Program in Education students explore how literacy education can become a tool for social justice.


For further information contact the program director:

Dr. Deborah Hicks



For information about DukeEngage go to the website: www.dukeengage.duke.edu/

Or contact Lindy Black-Margida, DukeEngage Program Coordinator


About the Spring Semester Tutorial (EDUC 162/172)

In a new Spring Semester tutorial, Rewriting the Script, we will explore how English and language arts/reading teachers can foster more equity and create positive social change for young lives in America’s margins. 


Participants in the tutorial will learn to don a cultural “hat” – like an anthropologist – and to think about literacy as a repertoire of language practices embedded in their students’ cultural lives.  One of the most compelling topics in the workshops will be that of social class.  How can the concerned teacher of literacy tailor her or his teaching to the lives and learning needs of poor and working class students?  We will explore how educators in the United States and around the world have addressed this problem, without resorting to a “deficit discourse” about poor and working class students.  The tutorial will focus on the possibility of teaching critically – of creating a socially responsible literacy curriculum for students growing up in the cultural and economic margins.



About the Instructor and Summer Program Designer

Deborah Hicks has been an educator, researcher, and writer for two decades, focusing her work on the lives of students growing up in poor and working class America.  Her teaching and research have taken her into homes, schools, and neighborhoods in rural and urban settings.  A well-known voice in the education community for her writings about literacy education, Hicks has published books, including most her most recent book, Reading Lives (Teachers College Press), and numerous articles in scholarly journals.  She is currently at work on a memoir of teaching entitled The Road Out, to be published by the University of California Press trade book division.  Hicks grew up in a small town in western North Carolina and was later (in 1988) awarded a Doctorate in Education and Human Development from Harvard University.


Deborah Hicks is currently an Adjunct Research Scholar in the Program in Education.  She lives in Hillsborough.



About the Spring Creek Literacy Project

The tutorial is also intended to provide a conceptual background for students interested in applying (through the Duke Engage program) for a unique summer teaching and engaged learning experience being designed by Deborah Hicks.  The summer project will be a literacy enrichment program for middle school girls (entering grades 6-9) growing up in rural Appalachia.  Pending successful funding, the eight-week program will be held in the small mountain community of Spring Creek – 25 miles (and a 50-minute drive) west of Asheville in Madison County, North Carolina. 




PIE students who are interested in this kind of program are urged to contact Dr. Deborah Hicks or the DukeEngage website for more information, and to join the Spring Semester tutorial to learn more about teaching literacy in poor and working class America.


For more information about the Spring Creek Literacy Project, see the attached Overview.



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