Academic journal article International Journal of Multicultural Education

Campano, Gerald. (2007). Immigrant Students and Literacy: Reading, Writing, and Remembering

Academic journal article International Journal of Multicultural Education

Campano, Gerald. (2007). Immigrant Students and Literacy: Reading, Writing, and Remembering

Article excerpt

Campano, Gerald. (2007). Immigrant Students and Literacy: Reading, Writing, and Remembering. New York: Teachers College Press. 160 pp, ISBN: 0-8077-4732-7 (pbk). $21.95.

Immigrant Students and Literacy: Reading, Writing, and Remembering captures the voice of the immigrant student, a voice that informs practice. Campano argues that collaboration between the teacher and student creates a "second classroom" (p.4) where inquiry into the cognitive and emotional domains of learning is fueled by daily interactions with students as well as the community. The storehouse of knowledge gained from this second classroom informed the author's practice and transformed him into an advocate for validating student diversity as the key to student engagement and success.

Part One of the book provides rich qualitative data through interviews, narratives, personal reflections, student writing, and oral history. Campano, a descendent of a Filipino American, describes his own classroom experiences as a first-year teacher in a predominantly Filipino American community in California where he "negotiated boundaries" to "enable contemporary students from immigrant, migrant, and refugee families [to] become more effective agents in their own educational development by drawing upon their own life experiences, values, and literate practices" (p. 14). Students forged bonds with each other, the community, and the classroom through recounting narratives that created pictures of each individual's cultural and family history that "nourished a rich imaginative landscape" (p. 25). Campano argues that teacher practitioners should use these stories as a "curricular resource" (p. 37).

In Part Two, Campano examines the literacy practices that emerged from validating these cultural identities. He began by redefining accountability as being "mindful of engagement with others, ... learn[ing] productively from and responding] to the experiences of others, and ... cultivating] mutual empathy and understanding" (p.46). This reframing led the author to become active in the community and to encourage students to write about strength found in the "the intermingling of ethnic and class sensibilities" (p. 50). These autobiographical narratives revealed that his students were articulate learners who often chose to remain silent. After voicing their narratives, students began meeting in after-school groups to discuss cultural identity and community concerns.

Critical examination of the ambiguous nature of each individual's complex cultural history fostered greater student empathy and ethical understanding for classmates and community. Multiethnic students sought to define two worlds--the past and the present. Campono explains, "Rather than be passive receivers of history, the students may draw on group experience in order to give new intellectual and ethical resonance to their lives" (p. …

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