Does faith help literacy?

New research at Goldsmiths will set about answering that question by looking at how faith impacts upon becoming literate, in particular when families move to a new country and need to learn a new language.

Professor Eve Gregory from the Department of Educational Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London, together with Dr John Jessel, Dr Charmian Kenner, Dr Vally Lytra and Mahera Ruby, has just been awarded £620,000 by the ESRC to examine children’s participation in faith literacy activities.

The three year project will take place in London with twelve families from four faiths. These are: West African Pentecostalist; Tamil Hindu; Bangladeshi Muslim; and Polish Catholic. These faiths are highly significant in the lives of many newcomers who have migrated to London.

The research aims to develop collaborative ethnography, whereby both children and older members of each faith will participate in data collection and analysis. Over the three years, the research will: build up a detailed picture of language and literacy practices in each setting; analyse ways in which children aged between 5 and 12 go about learning in formal and informal contexts; investigate the change in faith literacy practices over time through an intergenerational book making activity; and examine the importance of faith literacies in children’s everyday lives.

The research will culminate in a joint event to celebrate children’s faith literacies across all groups and an international conference for wider dissemination of findings.

The project starts in September 2009.

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