Debbie Williams

Olelo huna: A rhetorical critique of literacy policies in Hawaii

Debbie Williams

  • School: Purdue University (0183)
  • Degree: Ph.D.
  • Date: 1996 pp: 387
  • Advisor: Lauer, Janice
  • Source: DAI-A 57/11, p. 4625, May 1997
  • Subjects: Education, Adult And Continuing (0516); Education, Bilingual And Multicultural (0282); Education, Curriculum And Instruction (0727)
  • ProQuest Document Number:
  • ISBN: 0-591-21324-9
  • UMI Number: AAT 9713619

Abstract:

    My study seeks to challenge the current approach to adult literacy methods in the state of Hawai’i, as used by organizations affiliated with the Laubach Literacy Action organization. I also call into question the state government’s current emphasis on economic criteria for examining the success of its literacy programs. In order to lay cultural groundwork for the reader, in chapter one I outline major social, cultural, and economic factors which are unique to the state of Hawai’i and which bear on literacy practice. To lay theoretical groundwork, chapter two details the major literacy theories, ‘functional,’ ‘cultural,’ and ‘critical.’ In this chapter, I illustrate the link between ‘functional’ (or ‘basic’ literacy) and E. D. Hirsch’s ‘cultural’ literacy to argue that though differing in emphasis, the two views share the same narrow, oppressive view of literacy and thus, the two are actually undergirded by the same theory of literacy. This theory approaches literacy as the skill of reading and writing which transcends cultures and affects cognitive change: it results in praxis which cannot empower the individual. I offer ‘critical’ literacy theory as an alternative, with its holistic approach to teaching and theory, and its stress, not simply on the ability to read the word, but on the ability ‘to read the world.’ Chapter three traces the interchange between the competing literacies of the Hawaiian language and the standard English dialect, examining the social, political, educational, and economic factors which facilitated the replacement of the Hawaiian language with the standard English dialect. Chapter four examines the view of literacy as demonstrated in the Laubach methodology and in the documents generated by the Governor’s Council, illustrating their undergirding in functional literacy theory. Chapter five offers suggestions for revising policies and procedures for adult literacy education framed in critical literacy theory and utilizing principles from the whole language approach and androgogy, an adult learning theory.