The role of planning time in inducting preschool children into aspects of schooled literacy.
This dissertation describes a microethnographic study of the induction of preschool children into the practices of schooled literacy at an ex-Natal Education Department, Anglican-affiliated preschool. The sources of data are participant observation and audio-recordings of planning time interaction; interviews with key informants; and site documentation. The principal finding of the study is that planning time, a seemingly inconsequential preschool event, differentially inducts children into literacy practices that anticipate expository reporting. Such literacy practices carry high prestige in Western capitalist society, being the recognised convention for presenting and contesting information. Planning time was originally designed as an intervention program to facilitate nonmainstream literacy acquisition by making the conventions explicit, thus minimising cultural and linguistic discontinuities between home and school-based literacy practices. However at Church Preschool, an essentially closed environment with access controlled by mechanisms such as waiting lists, this event has been co-opted to further maximise mainstream advantage. The data reveals that, despite a rhetoric of openness in making the norms explicit, planning time only inducts nonrnainstream children into elementary literacy practices. Beyond that point, the conventions become increasingly implicit and depend on shared knowledge of mainstream norms. Planning time functions as a covert gatekeeping event that effectively maintains the status quo by guarding access to powerful literacy practices. The tension between the rhetoric of openness and the reality of who gains mastery of the literacy practices suggests that planning time restricts access not on the level of entry, but at the point of acquisition.