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ICEC projects engage children in activities created to enhance their emotional and physical well being as well as their academic development. These activities recognize the importance of their home languages and languages privileged within their local communities. The activities are sensitive to their cultural heritages, national identities and religious beliefs. Three key ideas about literacy are central to each of the projects.
The first idea is that Literacy is a Human Right. Just as it is the right of everybody’s child to (1) learn language, (2) learn about language and (3) learn through language, so it is the right of everybody’s child to (1) become literate, (2) to learn to read and write and (3) learn through reading and writing to actively participate in the world in which they live.
The idea that literacy is a human right fits with the findings of research on conflict resolution and post conflict reconstruction which emphasizes the importance of activities which focus on individuals and groups and that are sensitive to the importance of cultural heritage, national identities and religious beliefs. The focus is on work within groups before between groups. Children and their teachers learn about themselves before learning about the lives of children in other groups or settings.
The second idea is that Literacy can be Used for the Common Good. Again the idea is for local initiatives and international collaborative activities. Such initiatives can be accomplished through the establishment of virtual communities between groups in remote geographical settings, or in local settings through the production of musicals such as the musical represented in the Music Camp graphic which is presented on the next page of this proposal.
The third idea is Literacy For Mutual Aid. Again the graphics are important in illustrating the role that literacy can play in the reconstruction of the social fabric of the lives of children, teachers and communities in which they’ve been disrupted. The use of literacy for mutual aid is considered of particular importance in the lives of children who have experienced mass trauma.
For literacy to be a human right that can be used for the common good and mutual aid it must be thought of as much more than a skill to be transferred. ICEC supports Allan Luke’s definition of literacy:
Literacy is a malleable repertoire of practices, not an unchanging or universal set of skills. Learning to be literate is like learning to be an artisan in a guild, to play an instrument in an ensemble, like acquiring a craft within a community whose art and forms of life are dynamic, rather than a robotic acquisition and authorization of core skills. Once we understand this we can find the resources, grounds and normative purposes for teaching literacy not from textbooks and skill taxonomies, but by attending closely to what children and communities actually do with texts, old and new, print and multimodal, traditional and radical. This requires something more than common sense, and that we get out of the staffroom, get away from the teachers’ guidebooks and draw upon all skills as teacher intellectuals, and psychologists and sociologists, linguists and ethnographers. The systematic engagement with these everyday texts, discourses and practices is at the heart of teaching and learning. And it is in these artifacts and practices that you will find the generative domains, text and practices for lessons, units and classrooms events (p. xi).
Literacy is at the heart of all of the activities of ICEC. Literacy is dynamic, a craft as well as a skill. It is: (i) central to the music camp represented in the graphic; (ii) of critical importance to the support of traumatized children; (iii) essential to peace education and conflict and post conflict initiatives; and (iv) indispensable to any efforts to restore the social fabric of children’s everyday lives. ICEC supports local literacy activities and projects and considers all children who participate in these activities to be intelligent, imaginative and linguistically talented, and with important ideas to share. These projects aim to enhance the emotional health and well being of children while at the same time ensuring their intellectual engagement in activities which will further their academic learning. All activities encourage children to participate in conversations about language and literacy, science and technology, and literature and art.
ICEC multiliteracy pedagogical practices incorporate the use of technology and provide opportunities for children to engage with other children around the world.