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Framing Peace and Radical Hope: Confronting Precariousness

... It is also crucial to CLDs' uses of predominantly non-standardized Englishes (e.g., African-American English Vernaculars, Spanglishes) in classrooms such as the ones in which I worked where these continue to receive little acceptance (see Pennycook, 2013;Siegel, 2012). Radical hope can be useful, too, for literacy teachers and educators who wish to extend the benefits of students' linguistically diverse repertoires to monolinguals who must also leverage varied English literacies to grapple with social, economic, and cultural challenges in a global society (Smith, 2016;Smits & Naqvi, 2015). ...
... 2. In what ways do these pedagogical literacy insights either obstruct or enhance the students' ability to hope through literacy? I use the term "hope" here to refer to optimism for the future and "radical hope" to refer to actively pursuing a path that is measured yet possibly dangerous while demonstrating optimism (Lear, 2006;Smits & Naqvi, 2015). I use "cultures" to represent the various ways in which differences are represented (ethnic, religious, gender, race, language) by individuals as they interact with each other in a diverse world (Ladson-Billings, 2014). ...
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The search for hope through literacy in the face of increasing anger seems to move beyond a mere optimism for good things to happen. In doing so, as Lear (2006) explains, it reflects a need for “radical hope,” one that extends beyond passively responding to “culturally devastating” events to using literacy to respond to conflict, violence, and other forms of offense with courage, practical reasoning, “good judgement,” and a tolerance for danger (Lear, 2006, p. 133). This search involves learning how to respond to the noise on either side of a great divide represented most often in social media with its convergence of literacies via Englishes that threaten to destroy our very sense of humanity in much the same way that attempts to monopolize (the English) language have often wrecked their own oppressive havoc. With the proliferation of English literacies in America and across the globe, made possible not only through massive global and cultural flows, but more so, through the supposed ‘liberation’ of literacies in a litany of social media outlets where we daily seem to read each other’s minds, we have come to a tipping point as it were, one where we must reckon with our decision about and commitment to an advocacy for literacies via our Englishes to bring about hope for the future. In this paper, I use insights from conversations with nine middle-school students from three classrooms. These conversations were used to describe pedagogical literacy insights gained from the students’ reflections on their experiences with Englishes and with English literacies via writing in the English language arts and literacy (ELAR) classroom that either obstructed or enhanced their ability to hope through literacy. As one who worked closely with the instructional coach, principal, and district personnel to support teachers and students for an academic year, I was also interested in understanding how students’ iterative crossing of home and school cultures influenced their experiences with English literacies in writing and by extension, the ability to find (radical) hope through literacy. Often, we have good intentions in our efforts to improve CLDs’ literacies. Rarely do these students share their candid truths about our efforts. This study honors students’ truths by presenting them in the context of hope and inviting others to do so.
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