From the shadows to the light: Learning to read the world of work through photography.
Author(s)Gallo, Melina L.
Contributor(s)Phyllis M. Cunningham.
KeywordsEducation, Language and Literature.
Education, Adult and Continuing.
English language Study and teaching (Continuing education) Foreign speakers.
Photography in education.
Employee assistance programs.
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AbstractSorry, the full text of this article is not available in Huskie Commons. Please click on the alternative location to access it.
This dissertation investigates the ways in which English as a second language (ESL) learners used autodocumentary photography in a learner-centered workplace literacy program to solve problems and facilitate language learning. By using learner-generated photos and stories as the basis for the curriculum in a critical approach to literacy, insights were gained into the ways in which these workers perceived their lives and learning in a new culture. Additionally, the ways in which they adapted to and changed the environment of their workplace were assessed. The conceptual framework guiding this research was based in Paulo Freire's theories of critical literacy and feminist approaches to photography.The primary questions guiding this research were: How do immigrant laborers find meaning in their work and in the U.S. culture as outsiders? What are the outcomes and impact of an ESL curriculum based on learner-generated photography? In what ways does gaining confidence in written and spoken English in the classroom translate into a greater sense of empowerment in other aspects of learners' lives?A critical ethnographic case study was employed. The photographs which learners took were used to initiate and control conversations; build social relationships; share experiences with co-workers, friends and families; and begin discussions of workplace concerns and inequities. This resulted in the fostering of learners' empowerment through change, communication, critical reflection, creation of knowledge, and community building.The interpretation of the findings suggests that workers found meaning in the social ties and financial stability provided by their jobs rather than plans for career advancement or inherent interest in their acts of labor. Learning which took place within the classroom was used in the workplace to improve environmental conditions and safety, build social relationships, and solve problems. It was used outside for community and family purposes, to learn computer technology, and for furthering children's education. The implications for adult education include responsibilities to foster workers' empowerment rather than corporate agendas and providing education as a means of transformation rather than maintaining the status quo.