Exploring the Rhizomatic Literacy Practices of UAE high schools

Mona Humaid Abdulrahim Aljanahi


New trends in literacy studies shifted their focus from looking at the consequences and gains of literacy to examining its uses by various cultural groups. These new trends try to situate literacy practices in different spheres and contexts as literacy varies across cultural, social, individuals, geographical, and historical timeframes. Wittingly, some scholars argue that the field of education seems to have downplayed the development of adolescents’ literacies since major literacy projects and initiatives seem to favor either child’s early and emergent literacy or remediated adults. This study tried to trace the myriad of literacy practices of high school students at home and school spheres in the United Arab Emirates by using the philosophies of Deleuze and Guattari (1987) as a backdrop against the studies’ exponents. The study used a convergent concurrent mixed method. In the quantitative data base, the participants (n=531) responded to a survey about their literacy practices; whereas the qualitative data base featured indepth interviews conducted with 9 participants. Findings revealed that the UAE high school students’ inside-school literacy practices were uniformed in nature, where students felt that in order to do well they had to adhere to rules and guidelines set by the textbook and/or the teachers. Furthermore, the findings showcased the complexity of students’ literacy practices, particularly outside-school literacies, rendering them to fall under the overarching concept of the rhizome as well as the New London Group’s (1996) definition of Multiliteracies. The findings also revealed that wherever permissible students inject their outside-school literacy practices against the cracks in the walls of inside-school literacy practices. The students also indicated that they predominantly discussed their literacy practices with their friends and same-aged peers, however; they revealed they did not hold discussions with their teachers. The study offers some recommendations for research, teachers and curriculum planners to provide meaningful learning experiences for the students by ways of mitigating inside and outside school literacy practices.