Volume VII, Issue 1
Seeing the Possibilities: Global Literature and Cultural Inquiry Across Multiple Contexts
I have come to believe that our work should not be a closely guarded secret, something to which we alone have access. Instead, I now know that our work is most powerful when it is done in the service of the common good. After all, what is the purpose of research in particular, and education in general, if not to improve the human condition?
Sonia Nieto (2017)
We began working on the Spring 2020 issue of WOW Stories: Connections from the Classroom some months before the COVID-19 health crisis, a situation affecting every aspect of life, especially, education and schools. No one in the field of education could have anticipated the profound impact the pandemic would have on their work, students, and literacy practices. The goals, however, remain the same, as Sonia Nieto notes, “to improve the human condition.”
The vignettes featured in this issue of WOW Stories exemplify the notion of research and teaching that works toward the common good, notably, stories of how educators across a range of contexts, from university to preschool classrooms, use global literature to foster knowledge of, and appreciation for, people living in other parts of the world whose lives differ from their own. But, even more than this, the authors of this issue see their engagement with students and global literature as an opportunity to develop what Johnson calls in her vignette “a socially responsible reader”. She argues that this type of reading invites readers into a space of nepantla, “which is to hold two competing ideas in an attempt to understand them both.” In times of social upheaval, such as what we are experiencing, this ability seems more significant than ever.
In the first article titled “Critical Conversations about Global and Multicultural Literature,” teacher educators Maria Perpetua Socorro U. Liwanag, Xiaoming Liu and Huili Hong describe how students in their university children’s literature courses viewed the use of language variations in global and multicultural children’s literature. Through their discussions around global and multicultural literature, teacher candidates learned more about diverse texts and developed a more inclusive lens. Similarly, Holly Johnson describes her process and experience teaching the first iteration of an international children’s literature course in “Using International Literature to Think about ‘Home’ with Teacher Candidates.” In this vignette, Johnson describes her initial goals for the course, her process for selecting texts, and the instructional engagements she implemented, all framed within the broad theme of Home. Rocio Herron and Julia López-Robertson take us into Herron’s preschool classroom in a story that starts with a chance encounter that led to a university and school collaboration centered around global literature and inquiry. They provide a description of how Herron facilitated inquiries with young students and their families around their personal cultures, and how López-Robertson was able to bring teacher candidates to Herron’s classroom to experience sharing diverse texts with students. Lastly, Priscila J.B.M. Costa, in “Codeswitching in Picturebooks and the Representation of Spanish-Speaking Cultures: A Reader Response Approach,” shares from a larger case study she conducted examining instances of code-switching in Spanish-English texts with a Spanish-English teacher and mother through a reader response lens. Her analysis and findings further shed light on the complexities of language, literature, and global inquiry.
The authors of these vignettes share a common goal–an unyielding commitment to intercultural education through the integration of multicultural and global literature within their diverse teaching contexts. Their purpose is to develop students’ knowledge about the world, including global perspectives and skills, in order to interact effectively in an increasingly diverse and globalized society. These educators and researchers chose not to keep their work a “closely guarded secret,” and inspire us with the possibilities offered by interactions with global literature in realizing alternative ways of being in the world—for the common good.
Tracy Smiles & Mary Fahrenbruck, Editors
Nieto, S. (2017, August 23). On reconciling divergent ideas: A life-long quest. Acquired Wisdom Series, S. Tobias, D. F. Fletcher, & D. Berliner (Eds.). Education Review, 24. http://dx.doi.org/er.v24.2285.