Original Research

‘I got content with who I was’: Rural teachers’ encounters with new ways of practising literacy

Toni Gennrich
Reading & Writing | Vol 7, No 2 | a109 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/rw.v7i2.109 | © 2016 Toni Gennrich | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 September 2015 | Published: 15 July 2016

About the author(s)

Toni Gennrich, School of Education, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa


In a context where Foundation Phase literacy teachers’ personal literacy often involves operational and technicist practices rather than creative, this paper argues that it is by exposing teachers to experiences of working with different genres of text for an extended time, in different fields, that teachers are able to imagine the possibilities these genres afford. Using a Bourdieusian framework of habitus, field, capital and doxa and applying imagination to the theorisation of these concepts, I examine the effect on a group of rural teachers from Limpopo province of being removed from their classrooms, and being given the opportunity to complete a 4-year Bachelor of Education degree at the University of the Witwatersrand. This case study used reflective journals and focus groups to trace shifts in the ways these teacher-students enacted literacy and thought about teaching literacy. Findings from this study suggest that teachers of literacy can change deeply entrenched ways of thinking about and valuing literacy by reflecting on the discontinuities between old and new ways of practice and, through anticipatory reflection, to imagine possibilities of teaching and enacting literacy differently. This requires critical imagination, awareness and agency. This paper discusses, in particular, Elela’s experience with poetry and Kganya’s experience with a drama script, assessing the effect this had on their personal literacy practices and how they imagine teaching literacy in the future.


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