Läsningens och skrivandets bilder : en analys av villkor och möjligheter för barns läs- och skrivutveckling

Sammanfattning: The child who starts school soon becomes aware that it is important to learn to read and write. When it is educated in written literacy, pictures are used in reading textbooks and other school materials. The child is also asked to draw and talk about pictures in other contexts. Against this background, the aim of the study is to investigate the importance of pictures for children’s learning to read and write. The aim includes a description and analysis of the existing reading and writing discourse. The study problemises relational aspects of school practice, research and teacher education. This problemisation visualises a need for both a change and a development of the field of reading and writing. The thesis starts with a knowledge survey of the field of reading and writing. The survey provides the basis of a text study in which 11 Swedish theses, published between 1996 and 2003, are discussed and related to report materials published by The Swedish National Agency for School Improvement and the Board of Education. The text study is followed by an analysis of pictures, where the empirical material consists both of pictures taken from reading textbooks and reading diagnoses and pictures produced by children. The total result shows that there is consensus about the importance of different methods being applied through balanced reading programmes. At the same time it seems as if the field includes two discourses, a reading and a writing discourse. The dominant reading discourse is characterised by a strong emphasis on the teacher’s competence in terms of being able to see, create progression, arrange in order, settle up and correct for the purpose of providing good preconditions for learning. Pictures are given here a clearly subordinate role. As for the writing discourse, there is a clear shift from the teacher to the child as a meaning carrying and meaning creating subject. To some extent pictures are then recognised as a complementary form of mediation in connection with writing. In the reading discourse it is clear that pictures are traditionally used as illustrations of texts for the purpose of proficiency training. In that case pictures are given a complex role. On the one hand they are criticised for being ambiguous. This ambiguity can lead the child away from effective decoding. On the other hand it is presupposed, paradoxically enough, that there is a one-to-one relationship between picture and text. In contrast, children themselves seem to be able to apply a well-integrated use of picture and text where the intention is superordinate to the convention. The picture-text relation is then expansive: through the child’s involvement the interplay between words and pictures is functional and creates meaning. The thesis shows that a widened text concept, and consideration for the forms of production and presentation that characterise our culture, may yield knowledge contributing to developing the field of reading and writing. In order for this development to be possible, a complementary description of what characterises the respective discourse is required. In this description the concepts of communication and language, society and context and understanding and action function as an active intertriad for handling the teaching of reading and writing not as two separate fields but as a broadened, and at the same genuinely inclusive, field of knowledge.