“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world,” Malala Yousafzai
No single gift is more precious and empowering than the gift of reading. Simply put, when students read more, their lives improve. Academic literacy rates are positively correlated to life expectancy, educational outcomes, and earning potential, while low literacy rates are negatively correlated to incarceration, dropping out, and unemployment. To open a book is to unlock a whole host of academic and professional opportunities that might not otherwise be available.
With this in mind, the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Educational Initiatives founded the Center for Literacy Education (CLE) in 2017 with the generous support of a Notre Dame family from Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. The CLE’s goal is to transform literacy scholarship and practice in today's urban and multicultural urban schools. Led by inaugural director Dr. Ernest Morrell, a nationally known expert in literacy studies, the CLE especially targets students from vulnerable populations attending public and Catholic schools.
At Notre Dame’s Center for Literacy Education, we believe that literacy education should be:
- Liberatory // Reading is not merely a useful skill, but a vehicle for increased quality of life, particularly for our most vulnerable students
- A matter of social justice // When people are illiterate, their choices are limited. They cannot access all the information that empowers us to act as informed citizens.
- Equitable // Our most vulnerable students experience the greatest need for improved literacy education. Students of color, students from immigrant families, and students of low socioeconomic status are more likely to earn low scores on literacy proficiency tests. This achievement gap has grave implications for their future.
- Holistic // Improving literacy is not simply about earning higher test scores; reading develops the mind, body, and spirit of each child.
- Multicultural // Students should read diverse texts; they should read from authors who share their experiences, gain exposure to cultures different from their own, and investigate how different social contexts affect diverse characters.
The model is grounded in three areas to create sustainable transformation:
(1) Forming talent, including teachers and future Ph.D.s;
(2) Expanding access to high-quality literacy instruction in classrooms and out-of-school spaces such as summer camps and community literacy centers, both in the United States and internationally; and
(3) Conducting research to uncover effective teaching practice.
The CLE fosters collaboration between Notre Dame's Department of English, the College of Arts and Letters, and the Alliance for Catholic Education’s Teaching Fellows program. The CLE harnesses the shared expertise of these groups to determine what is known about powerful literacy teaching and learning and what we will need to know in order to meet the challenges and opportunities of literacy education in the future.
The Center for Literacy Education is located in Visitation Hall, at the heart of campus behind the Main Building and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Come find us!