Everybody loves a good sports/literacy metaphor, no?

from Gee, James Paul, and Elisabeth Hayes. Language and Learning in the Digital Age. New York: Routledge, 2011. Print.

Learning to read, write, and speak specialist social languages associated with school content (or learning social languages anywhere) is like learning a sport and joining a team. Lectures, skill and drill, and practice by yourself take you only so far in trying to learn to play basketball. A large part of such learning rquires playing with others on a team (formal or pick up). It is the team sport and how the game is played that give its moves, skills, and facts meaning, purpose, and motivates people to learn them. So, too, with any social language.

One core problem with school is that the social languages around which school literacy is based are tied to ‘teams’ that students are not part of and do not get to join (e.g. scientists in science labs). Further, the ‘sports’ these teams play, such as physics, biology, literary criticism, social science, or geometry, are not necessarily ones learners want to play. Worse yet, they are no longer the type of sports most productive academics and researchers play. (63)


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