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Reading and writing (into) the academic culture

Tony Thorpe Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education AALL presentation November 2009

Is this our world?

Main Campus - Batchelor

Alice Springs Campus

Both ways valuing culture and traditions for today.

Areas of study at BIITE


Nursing & health work Teacher Education Natural and Cultural Resource Management Health Work Social Science Graphic Arts Building & Construction Media Studies

Further study areas


Spoken and Written English Early Childhood Work Business Studies Own language work Translating and Interpreting Aged, home & community care Sport and recreation Creative writing

Structure of preparation for tertiary studies


Preliminary level units (2)
Learning styles, use of the library, research reports and basic essays.

Core level units including ICT (3)


Critical reading skills, stress management, essays, oral presentations

Electives suitable for different pathways.

Most common difficulties


Avoid (AWOL) Write the way they speak. Experience blockages. Cannot apply models and examples. Copy and paste. (Plagiarism) Supporting arguments.

Culture and writing


Reading involves a number of layers of activity Reading often involves employing a set of cultural understandings as well as decoding skills.

Gees medicine bottle text


Warning: Keep this and all medication out of the reach of children. As with any drug, if you are pregnant or nursing a baby, seek the advice of a health professional before using this product. In the case of accidental overdosage, contact a physician or poison control center immediately.

Interpreting the instructions


Not what might be expected of a normal warning.
Assumptions about the readers knowledge of different kinds of medical personnel.

Other conclusions
Assumptions about overdoses always accidental?
Assumptions about a certain kind of reader responsible citizen.

Cultural orientation to literate events


Ordering of text. Role of narrator and audience. Attitudes to explanation of actions in narrative. Attitudes to conflict, social cohesion.

Cultures of writing
Writer Responsible Reader Responsible

Individualism is highly valued Tolerant of uncertainty Avoidance of emotive language Analysis important
Counterargument included

Social group values prodominate Intolerant of uncertainty Likely to use emotive language Authority
Counterargument neglected

Emergent questions
Is teaching writing, especially expository and academic writing, a values-free exercise? Or is it part of a set of cultural values? Is it sufficient to attempt to remedy missing skills by practising structures of sentences and paragraphs?

Other questions..
Or does the entry into academic study in our context include consideration of cultural values as well? Is there a distinctive kind of way of knowing that is assumed in tertiary education that differs from many everyday ideas about knowing?

Difficulties with expository writing


Avoid the task go to the pub or ice-cream shop. Copy and paste. Manipulate tutorial assistance & lecturer feedback Connecting supporting arguments to the thesis statement.

Possible avenues of research


Survey students
Qualitative discussion

Both Ways Methodology

Staff Development Input

Retention and progression

Learning for life what its all about!