Family Literacy as Apprenticeship
Children [are] apprentices in thinking, active in their efforts to learn from observing and participating with peers and more skilled members of their society, developing skills to handle culturally defined problems with available tools, and building from these givens to construct new solutions within the context of sociocultural activity.
-Rogoff (1995, p. 7) 1
June and Vicky taught me that intergenerational literacy learning is a delicate balance of textual encounters, institutional arrangements, and subjectivities. I learned from them how literate identities are embedded within legacies, transmitted across generations.
June's literate life, demonstrated in the last chapter, may be defined in relation to "schooled literacy," her own and her children's, and to her identity as a "mother." June's belief in the power of literacy over her and her children is seen in her assertion to Vicky, "How you gonna get somewhere without readin'?" Further evidence of this commitment to her children and to school is seen in her evoking my role as a literacy teacher for her daughter.
I came to know Vicky, in part, through reading the expressions on her face. Vicky's smile shows her dimples etched into her face. Her eyes, a deep brown, reveal how she is feeling and thinking. Her eyes light up when she is proud of herself or when she realizes others are proud of her. Knowing how important school is to her mother, she came home from school and reported that she had made the "effort" honor roll or that she got a 100 on her spelling test her mother had helped her to prepare for. June's pride in her daughter reflected onto Vicky's face as a sheepish grin crawled across her face. When Vicky felt good about herself she was playful, witty, and creative.
When Vicky talked to me about things that did not go well at school, or when she had been unsuccessful at something, she cast her eyes downward. When she told me about going into a special-education classroom, she did not make eye contact with me, slouched in her seat, and mumbled. Once I