This study is a discourse analysis of the everyday lived experiences of particular students identified and marked for early intervention. I investigate the resilience of the epic search for the simple truth about literacy pedagogy, and place this as a back drop to a study of the social practices involved in 'failing' to learn school-based literacy in the first three years of school. The epic search for the one 'truth' about literacy has become an industry in itself and is at the foundation of so many of the social practices portrayed as natural and essential within education institutions. I argue that there is no one way to teach literacy that "works', but that instead all methods work to do something to someone in some context.
I define literacy as social practice, and marry this with key notions taken from the works of Foucault. I take a critical approach to the analysis of literacy events and practices, considering literacy and literacy pedagogy as socially, culturally, politically and historically constructed. I have problematised taken-for-granted assumptions about the way literacy pedagogy should be, as a way to reflect upon pedagogy and the micro politics of schooling. I suggest that what gets named - and what is left unnamed - as a 'problem' at various levels of the institution matters in relation to the access that particular students have to literacy pedagogy.
The thesis therefore develops an analytic framework that has allowed me to frame the relationships between subjects, institutions, discourses and social practice. I have injected the exploration of broader social formations with the specificity of what people do and say within the everyday experiences of learning - or 'failing' to learn - school-based literacy. My analysis remains attentive to the detail of discursive practice and text within an investigation of discourse as social practice and the power relations of literacy pedagogy within institutions. While the analysis might appear to focus on the construction of deficit and failure, its aim is to work towards a strong, renewed focus on the power and potential of literacy pedagogy in classrooms.