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Souto-Manning Receives Research Award

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Maria Souto-Manning

Mariana Souto-Manning, Associate Professor of Education in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching.

Mariana Souto-Manning, Associate Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching, has received the 2009 Early Career Researcher Achievement Award from the National Conference on Research in Language and Literacy (NCRLL).

NCRLL was founded in 1932 to stimulate and encourage research in the teaching and learning of language and literacy, and to recognize and reward outstanding achievements in that field. The award is for a body of work, but the nominating committee cited in particular “Freire, Teaching, and Learning: Culture Circles Across Contexts,” Souto-Manning’s book about the renowned educator and philosopher, Paulo Freire (published this month by Peter Lang); and “Teachers Act Up! Creating Multicultural Learning Communities Through Theatre,” co-authored with Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor, to be published in April by Teachers College Press.

In accepting the award at the National Council for Teachers of English annual convention in Philadelphia on November 20, Souto-Manning recalled her childhood in Brazil. “I am the granddaughter of a woman who struggles to draw her name,” she said. “She had to drop out of school very early to take care of younger siblings and worked as a domestic employee all her life.” Souto-Manning went on to describe what it was like to come to the United States as a teenager and not know English. “I am an immigrant who 15 years ago struggled with words… and turned to children’s books to learn a new language. I am that student whose family did not have the cultural and linguistic resources to help with homework, who lacked English. Yet, I am here, standing before you today receiving an award for research on language and literacy.”

Souto-Manning grew up in the northeastern state of Pernambuco, Brazil, where Freire also was born and raised. She was heavily influenced by Freire’s blurring of the lines between teacher and student and his incorporation of democratic ideals, not just as a goal of education, but as a method as well.

In graduate school at the University of Georgia, Souto-Manning examined Freirean culture circles and their transformative potential for girls and women who, like her grandmother, had dropped out of school. That led to many papers, book chapters and books about teaching and learning in bilingual, multicultural settings, for which she was recognized with the Early Career Researcher Achievement Award.

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