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Veni grant for Jeroen Dera

Date of news: 5 November 2020

The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded a Veni grant to fourteen young researchers from Radboud University and Radboudumc. Jeroen Dera (RICH) is one of the lucky ones to receive the grant.

Jeroen Dera has been awarded the grant for the project Uses of Literature in the Classroom: Legitimizing Literature in Upper-Secondary Education. With the project he will investigate how the value of literature is negotiated in upper-secondary education. ‘Since completing my PhD, I have published a lot about literature education in the Netherlands’, Dera responds by e-mail. ‘I have done that work largely in my own time, driven by a deeply rooted urge to better understand Dutch literature education and to give it new impulses. This grant offers me the opportunity to conduct much more extensive and in-depth research in the coming years on the way the role and function of literature is shaped in secondary education.’

Jeroen Dera

Perspectives

A new feature of Dera's project is the combination of three perspectives: teachers’ beliefs about the uses of literature, teachers’ didactic practices, and adolescents’ literature conceptions.’ Research into literature education often focuses on teachers' views or the effectiveness of a particular didactic. What you rarely see, however, is that teacher views are studied in relation to their didactic practice on the one hand and the ideas of their students on the other. However, this interaction is where the essence of literary education truly lies’, Dera writes. ‘I find it interesting to investigate which areas of tension can arise. For example, there are teachers who indicate that they think it is very important that their students read literature, because literature enriches your world view, makes you look at things differently. In the meantime, the same teachers sometimes have their students read texts in which the known world view is more readily confirmed, for example in the field of gender, class or ethnicity. And the students, in turn, look for something completely different in such a text, for example being carried away or identification. How do all those functions of literature relate to each other in education?’ Ultimately, the answer to that question can be incorporated into the development of teaching materials.

Crucial

Research into the role of literature in education is of fundamental importance, says Dera. ‘Firstly, there are all kinds of stories circulating in the media about the quality of our literature education, usually with a negative tone, and those stories are almost always based on anecdotes or personal experiences. With my research I want to offer a counterweight to those stories. Secondly, we see that Dutch youngsters read less and less often. Research into reading and literature education is crucial now.’

Veni grants for fourteen Radboud researchers