“Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.” 

                                                                                  – Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

 

white[1]I created this site to explain what I do, what I believe, and to provide former students and literacy teachers with resources and access to new ideas. The accompanying pages contain copies of my scholarly work (pdf), my project on social media as a literacy tool, information on high quality Young Adult Literature, course syllabuses and materials, and links to sites with additional information.

My Focus:   I am an Associate Professor of literacy, secondary English Language Arts, adolescent literacy, and content area reading at the University of North Florida.

My research and my teaching focus primarily on three areas: 1) finding ways to engage increasingly diverse 6-12 students in literature, in writing/self-expression, and in critical thinking; 2) integrating newer technologies into school curricula and into the secondary classroom; 3) getting teachers and their students to engage in critical literacy; and 4) examining discourse processes and the connections of language to power, to social justice, and to access to and success in formal academic settings such as schools.

In my work I promote the notion that educators need to adopt a much broader view of “what counts” as legitimate literature, language, speaking, and writing in the English Language Arts (ELA) classroom. The traditional English canon and the corporately-produced mass ELA curricula by which it is taught are far too limited in content, in scope, in style, and in representing the experiences and ideologies of a diverse world culture. Traditional ways of teaching English are, quite simply, inadequate for today’s students and incapable of representing the world these students will inherit. It is therefore essential that English educators embrace new literature, new literacies, new technologies, and new modes of self-expression.

At the same time that we need to expand ELA curricula (and school curricula more generally), we have an obligation to help our students become critically literate. There can be no doubt but that young people today are inundated with messages–from mainstream and social media, from curricula, peers, parents, teachers, churches, etc. Many of these messages are conflicting; some are potentially harmful to the student. Today’s educators therefore have a duty to teach students how to deconstruct these messages–to question the author of the message–in order to uncover the underlying ideologies.

Finally, my work also focuses on language and discourse. I believe that while it is important to teach all students the linguistic “codes of power”–the academic, legal, professional (aka ‘standard’) English that they will need to find acceptance in a broad range of contexts–we must also value the rich discursive styles that students use both outside of the school and within the classroom. As Noam Chomskey pointed out many years ago, different linguistic styles cannot be categorized heirarchically–one way of speaking is not inherently superior to another–it is just different. Such differences are what make language interesting. To this end, I examine different uses of language (discourse in context) and culturally-effective ways to engage students in code-switch and code-meshing.

                                                             Foundations and Secondary Education
                                                             College of Education and Human Services
                                                             University of North Florida
                                                             1 UNF Drive
                                                             Jacksonville, Florida 32224
 
                                                                         j.white@unf.edu
 
                                                               john.w.white@colorado.edu

 

cropped-Literacy_Wordle_Orange.png

 

Personal

A native of North Carolina, I have also lived in Georgia, Texas, and Vermont (briefly). I spent the 12 years in Denver and Boulder, Colorado before moving to Florida for my job. When not working, my hobbies include spending time with my wife and two year old son (Desmond), sailing, traveling, reading, and playing with our hound dog, Lula Mae.

Happy Easter copy

 



IMG_1914

Posted in Literacy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment