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Anne Dyson

Biography

Anne Haas Dyson is a former teacher of young children and a fellow of the American Educational Research Association. Among her previous appointments was as a longtime professor at the University of California, Berkeley, where she received the campus-wide Distinguished Teaching Award. She has spent over 40 years studying the childhood cultures and literacy learning of young schoolchildren, for which she has received numerous awards. Dyson aims, first, to bring respect and intellectual attention to childhood cultures and their relationship to school learning. Young children do not participate in school because they are concerned about the national economy, international competition, or climbing a ladder to academic accolades from a grateful nation. They desire to make sense of their world and to gain companionship in what can be a confusing world. Second, she aims to document the diversity of resources (languages, popular culture texts, semiotic tools, everyday experiences) our diverse school children bring with them with which to participate intellectually and socially in school, especially in written language development. Her most recent book publications are, published in 2016, Child cultures, schooling, and literacy: Global perspectives on children composing their lives, and, in 2021, Writing the School House Blues: Literacy, Equity, and Belonging in a Child’s Early Schooling.

Key Professional Appointments

  • Professor Emerita, Education Policy, Organization and Leadership, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Awards, Honors, Associations

John J. Gumperz Memorial Award for Distinguished Lifetime Scholarship , American Educational Research Association/Language and Social Processes Special Interest Group, 2021

NCTE Early Literacy Educator of the Year Award, National Council of Teachers of English, 2013

AERA Fellow, American Educational Research Association, 2012

Research & Service

My major research interests are related to the social and cultural processes of schooling and literacy, including:
+ethnographies of childhoods and, more broadly, of the experiential qualities of contemporary schooling for all participants
+the development of childhood cultures, especially the role of popular culture in that development, with a particular interest in city kids
+the development and use of written language in contemporary childhoods and cross-culturally
+the politics of identity and language in school, including the role of English variants, like African American Language.
More particularly, my research centers on the intersection of literacy and childhoods. The latter is a relatively new interdisciplinary field which focuses on both how societies conceive of and arrange for “childhoods” and, also, on how children themselves act as agents in the construction of their own childhoods. For example, my current project is based on a longitudinal, ethnographic study of a minoritized child’s transition from a preschool of primarily children of color through a majority white school. The central theme is the child’s negotiating of a sense of belonging, given his identity as “different.” The project demonstrates the intersection of race, class, and both claimed and ascribed academic identity in peer culture, which itself shapes opportunities to be “smart.” It also highlights the contradictory role of written language in children’s journey through school: it functions both as a means of labeling children and as a tool for expression and communication.

Publications

Dyson, A. H. (2023). “YOU’RE HOT LUNCH, AREN’T YOU?”: (Re)Producing Inequity in Children’s Worlds. In Reimagining Diversity, Equity, and Justice in Early Childhood (pp. 23-42). Taylor and Francis.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (2022). Excavating childhoods’ layers: an ethnographic dig into inequities of race, class, and literacies. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 31(1-2), 49-66.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (2020). “This isn’t my real writing”: The fate of children’s agency in too-tight curricula. Theory Into Practice, 59(2), 119-127.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (2020). “We're Playing Sisters, on Paper!”: children composing on graphic playgrounds. Literacy, 54(2), 3-12.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (2019). Composing childhood cultures: Ethnography upside down. In N. Kucirkova, J. Rowsell, & G. Falloon (Eds.), The Routledge International Handbook of Learning with Technology in Early Childhood (pp. 74-87). Routledge.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (2019). COMPOSING CHILDHOOD CULTURES: Ethnography upside down. In The Routledge International Handbook of Learning with Technology in Early Childhood (pp. 74-87). Taylor and Francis.

Dyson, A. H. (2018). A sense of belonging: Writing (righting) inclusion and equity in a child's transition to school. Research in the Teaching of English, 52(3), 236-261.

Dyson, A. H. (Ed.) (2016). Child Cultures, Schooling, and Literacy: Global Perspectives on Composing Unique Lives. Routledge.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (2016). Children’s Writing. In D. Couchenour, & J. K. Chrisman (Eds.), The SAGE Encyclopedia of Contemporary Early Childhood Education (pp. 252-255). Article 21 SAGE Publishing.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (2016). Introduction: Gathering textual children. In A. H. Dyson (Ed.), Child Cultures, Schooling, and Literacy: Global Perspectives on Composing Unique Lives (pp. 3-13). Routledge.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (2016). Making space for missing childhoods: Implications for theory, policy, and pedagogy. In A. H. Dyson (Ed.), Child Cultures, Schooling, and Literacy: Global Perspectives on Composing Unique Lives (pp. 167-179). Routledge.  link >

Dyson, A. H., Marsh, J., Dewayani, S., Comber, B., Kerkham, L., Sahni, U., Genishi, C., Reyes, I., & Lisanza, E. M. (2016). The situated cases: Child agency, cultural resources, language. In A. H. Dyson (Ed.), Child Cultures, Schooling, and Literacy: Global Perspectives on Composing Unique Lives (pp. 15-115). Routledge.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (2015). CHILDREN OUT OF BOUNDS: THE POWER OF CASE STUDIES IN EXPANDING VISIONS OF LITERACY DEVELOPMENT. In Handbook of Research on Teaching Literacy Through the Communicative and Visual Arts: Volume II (Vol. 2, pp. 109-118). Taylor and Francis.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (2015). PLAYING WITH TEXTUAL TOYS: POPULAR CULTURE AND CHILDHOOD WRITING. In Handbook of Research on Teaching Literacy Through the Communicative and Visual Arts: Volume II (Vol. 2, pp. 461-469). Taylor and Francis.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (2015). Research and Policy: The Search for Inclusion: Deficit Discourse and the Erasure of Childhoods. Language Arts, 92(3), 199-207.

Lindfors, J., Dyson, A. H., & Genishi, C. (2015). A Conversation with Anne Haas Dyson and Celia Genishi. Language Arts, 93(2), 147-153.

Genishi, C., & Dyson, A. H. (2014). Play as the Precursor for Literacy Development. In L. Brooker, M. Blaise, & S. Edwards (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Play and Learning in Early Childhood (pp. 228-239). SAGE Publishing.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (2013). Foreword: Why popular literacies matter. Popular Literacies, Childhood and Schooling, xvii-xxii.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (2013). ReWRITING the Basics: Literacy Learning in Children's Cultures. (Language and Literacy Series)). Teachers College Press.

Dyson, A. H. (2013). The Case of the Missing Childhoods: Methodological Notes for Composing Children in Writing Studies. Written Communication, 30(4), 399-427.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (2013). The place of childhoods in school writing programs: A matter of ethics. In J. Larson, & J. Marsh (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Early Childhood Literacy (2 ed., pp. 485-500). SAGE Publishing.  link >

Dyson, A. H., & Dewayani, S. (2013). Writing in Childhood Cultures. In K. Hall, T. Cremin, B. Comber, & L. C. Moll (Eds.), International Handbook of Research on Children's Literacy, Learning, and Culture (pp. 258-274). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd..  link >

Dyson, A. H. (2012). Foreword. In Literacy Moves On: Using Popular Culture, New Technologies and Critical Literacy in the Primary Classroom (pp. ix-x). Taylor and Francis.

Dyson, A. H. (2012). Relations Between Oral Language and Literacy. In C. A. Chapelle (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics Blackwell Publishing Ltd..  link >

Genishi, C., Dyson, A. H., & Russo, L. (2011). Playful Learning: Early Education that Makes Sense to Children. In B. S. Fennimore, & A. L. Goodwin (Eds.), Promoting Social Justice for Young Children (pp. 59-70). (Educating the Young Child; Vol. 3). Springer.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (2010). An Afterword: Opening Curricular Closets in Regulated Times: Finding Pedagogical Keys. English Education, 42(3), 307-319.

Dyson, A. H. (2010). Writing childhoods under construction: Re-visioning 'copying' in early childhood. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 10(1), 7-31.  link >

Dyson, A. H., & Smitherman, G. (2009). The right (write) start: African American language and the discourse of sounding right. Teachers College Record, 111(4), 973-998.

Dyson, A. H. (2009). Writing in childhood worlds. In R. Beard, D. Myhill, M. Nystrand, & J. Riley (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Writing Development (pp. 232-245). SAGE Publishing.  link >

Genishi, C., & Dyson, A. H. (2009). Children, Language, and Literacy: Diverse Learners in Diverse Times. (Language and Literacy Series). Teachers College Press.

Dyson, A. H. (2008). Research Directions: The Pine Cone Wars: Studying Writing in a Community of Children. Language Arts, 85(4), 305-315.

Dyson, A. H. (2008). Staying in the (curricular) lines: Practice constraints and possibilities in childhood writing. Written Communication, 25(1), 119-159.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (2007). On listening to child composers: Beyond “fix-its”. In C. Genishi, & A. L. Goodwin (Eds.), Diversities in Early Childhood Education: Rethinking and Doing (pp. 13-28). (Changing Images of Early Childhood). Routledge.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (2007). School Literacy and the Development of a Child Culture: Written Remnants of the “Gusto of Life”. In D. Thiessen, & A. Cook-Sather (Eds.), International Handbook of Student Experience in Elementary and Secondary School (pp. 115-142). Springer.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (2006). Literacy in a Child's World of Voices, or, The Fine print of Murder and Mayhem. Research in the Teaching of English, 41(2), 147-152.

Dyson, A. H. (2006). On Saying It Right (Write): "Fix-Its'' in the Foundations of Learning to Write. Research in the Teaching of English, 41(1), 8-42.

Dyson, A. H. (2005). Crafting "The Humble Prose of Living": Rethinking Oral/Written Relations in the Echoes of Spoken Word. English Education, 37(2), 149-164.

Dyson, A. H., & Genishi, C. (2005). On the Case: Approaches to Language and Literacy Research. (Language and Literacy Series). Teachers College Press.

Dyson, A. H. (2004). At Last: Diversity as a "Handful": Toward Retheorizing the Basics. Research in the Teaching of English, 39(2), 210-214.

Dyson, A. H. (2004). Children out of bounds: The power of case studies in expanding visions of literacy development. In J. Flood, D. Lapp, & S. B. Heath (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Teaching Literacy Through the Communicative and Visual Arts (pp. 167-180). Routledge.  link >

Browne, A., Dyson, A. H., Hall, N., Marsh, J., & Merchant, G. (2003). Editorial. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 3(3), 219-222.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (2003). Popular Literacies and the "All" Children: Rethinking Literacy Development for Contemporary Childhoods. Language Arts, 81(2), 100-109.

Dyson, A. H. (2003). The Brothers and Sisters Learn to Write: Popular Literacies in Childhood and School Cultures. (Language and Literacy Series). Teachers College Press.

Dyson, A. H. (2003). "Welcome to the Jam": Popular Culture, School Literacy, and the Making of Childhoods. Harvard Educational Review, 73(3), 328-361.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (2002). A Bakhtinian Buzz about Teacher Talk: Discourse Matters in "What Difference Does Difference Make?". English Education, 35(1), 6-20.

Dyson, A. H. (2002). The drinking god factor: A writing development remix for "all" children. Written Communication, 19(4), 545-577.  link >

Browne, A., Dyson, A. H., Hall, N., Marsh, J., & Merchant, G. (2001). Editorial. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 1(1), 5-7.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (2001). Donkey Kong in little bear country: A first grader's composing development in the media spotlight. Elementary School Journal, 101(4), 417-433.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (2001). Introduction... and a Warning. Elementary School Journal, 101(4), 379-383.

Dyson, A. H. (2001). Where are the childhoods in childhood literacy? An exploration in outer (school) space. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 1(1), 9-39.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (2000). On Reframing Children's Words: The Perils, Promises, and Pleasures of Writing Children. Research in the Teaching of English, 34(3), 352-367.

Dyson, A. H. (1999). Coach Bombay's kids learn to write: Children's appropriation of media material for school literacy. Research in the Teaching of English, 33(4), 367-401.

Dyson, A. H. (1999). Transforming transfer: Unruly children, contrary texts, and the persistence of the pedagogical order. Review of Research in Education, 24, 141-171.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (1998). Folk processes and media creatures: Reflections on popular culture for literacy educators. Reading Teacher, 51(5), 392-402.

Dyson, A. H. (1997). Rewriting for, and by, the children: The social and ideological fate of a media miss in an urban classroom. Written Communication, 14(3), 275-312.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (1997). Writing Superheroes: Contemporary Childhood, Popular Culture, and Classroom Literacy. (Langauge and Literacy Series). Teachers College Press.

Dyson, A. H. (1996). Cultural constellations and childhood identities: On Greek gods, cartoon heroes, and the social lives of schoolchildren. Harvard Educational Review, 66(3), 471-495.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (1995). The Courage to Write: Child Meaning Making in a Contested World. Language Arts, 72(5), 324-333.

Dyson, A. H. (1995). What Difference Does Difference Make? Teacher Perspectives on Diversity, Literacy, and the Urban Primary School. English Education, 27(2), 77-139.

Dyson, A. H. (1995). Writing Children: Reinventing the Development of Childhood Literacy. Written Communication, 12(1), 4-46.  link >

Dyson, A. H., & Genishi, C. (Eds.) (1994). The Need for Story: Cultural Diversity in Classroom and Community. National Council of Teachers of English.

Dyson, A. H. (1993). A sociocultural perspective on symbolic development in primary grade classrooms. New directions for child and adolescent development, 1993(61), 25-39.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (1993). From invention to social action in early childhood literacy: A reconceptualization through dialogue about difference. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 8(4), 409-425.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (1993). Social Worlds of Children Learning to Write in an Urban Primary School. (Language and Literacy Series). Teachers College Press.

Dyson, A. H. (1992). Children's Place in the Language Arts Curriculum: Victims, Beneficiaries, and Critics. English Education, 24(1), 3-19.

Dyson, A. H. (1992). Whistle for Willie, Lost Puppies, and Cartoon Dogs: The Sociocultural Dimensions of Young Children's Composing. Journal of Literacy Research, 24(4), 433-462.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (1992). The Case of the Singing Scientist:A Performance Perspective on the “Stages” of School Literacy. Written Communication, 9(1), 3-47.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (1991). Towards a reconceptualization of written language development. Linguistics and Education, 3(2), 139-161.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (1991). Viewpoints: The Word and the World: Reconceptualizing Written Language Development or Do Rainbows Mean a Lot to Little Girls? Research in the Teaching of English, 25(1), 97-123.

Dyson, A. H. (1990). Research Currents: Diversity, Social Responsibility, and the Story of Literacy Development. Language Arts, 67(2), 192-205.

Dyson, A. H. (1990). Symbol Makers, Symbol Weavers: How Children Link Play, Pictures, and Print. Young Children, 45(2), 50-57.

Dyson, A. H. (1990). Weaving Possibilities: Rethinking Metaphors for Early Literacy Development. Reading Teacher, 44(3), 202-213.

Dyson, A. H. (1989). Multiple Worlds of Child Writers: Friends Learning to Write. (Early Childhood Education Series). Teachers College Press.

Dyson, A. H. (1989). “Once Upon a Time” Reconsidered: The Developmental Dialectic between Function and Form. Written Communication, 6(4), 436-462.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (1989). Research Currents: The Space/Time Travels of Story Writers. Language Arts, 66(3), 330-340.

Dyson, A. H. (1988). Appreciate the Drawing and Dictating of Young Children. Young Children, 43(3), 25-32.

Dyson, A. H. (1988). Negotiating among Multiple Worlds: The Space/Time Dimensions of Young Children's Composing. Research in the Teaching of English, 22(4), 355-390.

Dyson, A. H., & Genishi, C. (1988). Research Currents: Paradoxes in Classroom Research. Language Arts, 65(8), 788-798.

Dyson, A. H. (1987). Individual Differences in Beginning Composing: An Orchestral Vision of Learning to Compose. Written Communication, 4(4), 411-442.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (1987). Research Currents: The Emergence of Children's Written Voices. Language Arts, 64(6), 648-658.

Genishi, C., & Dyson, A. H. (1987). Research Currents: On Issues That Divide Us. Language Arts, 64(4), 408-415.

Dyson, A. H. (1986). Staying Free to Dance with the Children: The Dangers of Sanctifying Activities in the Language Arts Curriculum. English Education, 18(3), 135-146.

Dyson, A. H. (1986). The Imaginary Worlds of Childhood: A Multimedia Presentation. Language Arts, 63(8), 799-808.

Dyson, A. H. (1986). Transitions and Tensions: Interrelationships between the Drawing, Talking, and Dictating of Young Children. Research in the Teaching of English, 20(4), 379-409.

Dyson, A. H. (1986). What are we teaching? Applying error analysis to school activities. Reading Research and Instruction, 25(2), 71-79.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (1985). Puzzles, Paints, and Pencils: Writing Emerges. Educational Horizons, 64(1), 13-16.

Dyson, A. H. (1985). Research Currents Writing and the Social Lives of Children. Language Arts, 62(6), 632-639.

Dyson, A. H. (1985). Second graders sharing writing: The multiple social realities of a literacy event. Written Communication, 2(2), 189-215.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (1985). Three Emergent Writers and the School Curriculum: Copying and Other Myths. Elementary School Journal, 85(4), 497-512.

Dyson, A. H. (1984). Emerging Alphabetic Literacy in School Contexts: Toward Defining the Gap between School Curriculum and Child Mind. Written Communication, 1(1), 5-55.  link >

Dyson, A. H. (1984). Learning to Write/Learning to Do School: Emergent Writers' Interpretations of School Literacy Tasks. Research in the Teaching of English, 18(3), 233-264.

Dyson, A. H. (1984). "N Spell My Grandmama": Fostering Early Thinking about Print. Reading Teacher, 38(3), 262-271.

Dyson, A. H. (1984). Research Currents: Who Controls Classroom Writing Contexts? Language Arts, 61(6), 618-626.

Dyson, A. H., & Genishi, C. (1983). Research Currents: Children's Language for Learning. Language Arts, 60(6), 751-757.

Dyson, A. H. (1983). Research Currents: Young Children as Composers. Language Arts, 60(7), 884-891.

Dyson, A. H. (1983). The Role of Oral Language in Early Writing Processes. Research in the Teaching of English, 17(1), 1-30.

Dyson, A. H. (1982). Reading, Writing, and Language: Young Children Solving the Written Language Puzzle. Language Arts, 59(8), 829-839.

Dyson, A. H. (1982). Teachers and Young Children: Missed Connections in Teaching/Learning to Write. Language Arts, 59(7), 674-680.

Dyson, A. H., & Genishi, C. (1982). "Whatta Ya Tryin' to Write?": Writing as an Interactive Process. Language Arts, 59(2), 126-132.

Dyson, A. H. (1981). Oral Language: The Rooting System for Learning to Write. Language Arts, 58(7), 776-784.

Teaching

Dyson, whose courses are consistently rated as excellent, teaches courses in three major areas. First, she teaches qualitative methodology, focusing on ethnographic studies in educational settings. Among her courses are both an introductory level methods course and an advanced issues course for students working on proposals and dissertations. The methods course fills up within a matter of hours. Second, she teaches courses on language and literacy, stressing both their sociocultural diversity and the issues regarding their politicization in the schools. She also teaches a course on young children’s initiation into school literacy, stressing children’s socialization into literacy practices, both official and unofficial (or peer governed) and schools’ institutional processes that privilege certain learners, thereby constructing “success” and “failure.” Finally, she offers a class on popular culture and contemporary childhoods, considering the dynamic relationship between childhoods and consumer culture. In addition to her formal teaching, she consults with a large number of graduate students on their research.

Courses

EPOL 585: Ethnographic Methods in Education (EPOL 585) This course focuses on goals, nature, and methodological means of ethnographic research in educational settings broadly defined. Such research aims to describe and, moreover, to understand the ways of living of teachers, students, administrators, parents, and other participants in relevant social spaces. The class will be grounded in the disciplinary perspectives of cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and cultural studies. We will have an ongoing discussion of how one conducts ethnographic research, and all members of the class will conduct their own mini-study.

EPOL 590: Advanced Graduate Seminar (EPOL 590) Seminar in educational policy studies; sections offered in the following fields: (a) history of education; (b) philosophy of education; (c) comparative education; (d) social foundations of education; (e) philosophy of educational research; and (f) historical methods in education.

EPS 590: Advanced Graduate Seminar (EPS 590) Seminar in educational policy studies; sections offered in the following fields: (a) history of education; (b) philosophy of education; (c) comparative education; (d) social foundations of education; (e) philosophy of educational research; and (f) historical methods in education.

ERAM 555: Ethnographic Methods in Education (ERAM 555) Focuses on goals, nature, and methodological means of ethnographic research in educational settings broadly defined. Such research aims to describe and, moreover, to understand the ways of living of teachers, students, administrators, parents, and other participants in relevant social spaces. The class will be grounded in the disciplinary perspectives of cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and cultural studies. We will have an ongoing discussion of how one conducts ethnographic research, and all members of the class will conduct their own mini-study.