“Struggling Learner”…or Struggling Teacher?: Questions Surrounding Teacher Development for Multimodal Language, Literacy, and Learning

  • Marilyn J. NareyEmail author
Part of the Educating the Young Child book series (EDYC, volume 12)


When a child falls short of teachers’ perceptions of achievement, the label “struggling” is often applied and solutions are sought to address the young learner’s “deficiencies.” In this chapter, attention is focused upon teachers’ perceptions of the learner and the factors that contribute to these assessments. Viewing these concerns through selected critical lenses: twenty-first-century learning, social justice concerns, and pedagogical content knowledge, I argue that teachers’ negative perceptions of children’s achievement may be attributed, in part, to teacher education’s failure to prepare teachers who are literate in multiple modalities. As drawing, painting, and other visual arts experiences are common to most early childhood classrooms and as visual texts are critical to twenty-first-century learning, I focus my critique on early childhood teacher preparation and development in visual arts practice and pedagogy. Specifically, common “theories-in-use” regarding children’s visual texts (“art”) are examined, and the question is posed: does teacher education adequately prepare early childhood professionals with the substantive arts learning needed to support young children in multimodal language, literacy, and learning? Inverting the problem frame to position the adult as “struggling,” rather than the child, I suggest structures for critical review of early childhood teacher education programs and practices.


“Struggling learner” Teacher education Assessment Deficit labeling Social justice Twenty-first-century learning Multimodal Espoused theories Theories-in-use Making meaning Children’s art Arts pedagogy 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Narey Educational Consulting, LLCPittsburghUSA

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