Cynthia McCallister is the creator of Learning Cultures, a curriculum model based on the understanding that people learn most when they are curious, engaged and attentive. Underlying the Learning Cultures model is a theory of literacy instruction called Genre Practice. Genre Practice accounts for the role that social context plays in establishing ground rules for literacy competence and strives to teach students the social competencies and responsibilities required of literate people, in addition to literacy skills
Learning Cultures originates from Cynthia’s extensive experience in pre-kindergarten through high school classrooms where, as a teacher, she has learned how easily reading and writing skills are mastered in the context of social, engaging and playful activities. Experience has also taught her that pleasure and enjoyment are not enough to support high achievement. The classroom needs to be carefully arranged so that engaging experiences result in learning things deemed to be important by the larger culture. The Learning Cultures curriculum is designed to provide students with ample choice and freedom to engage in activities that ensure they meet standards-based learning objectives.
The Learning Cultures model and the theory of Genre Practice were developed by Cynthia over 25 years of experience as a teacher in both rural Maine and New York City, and as a teacher educator, staff developer and school reformer with extensive involvement in a wide range of culturally- and linguistically-diverse schools. Cynthia continues to work extensively with teachers and administrators in a range of diverse K-12 school contexts to improve all facets of the educational experience for students of all ages.
Cynthia holds the position of Associate Professor of Education in the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University. Cynthia has pursued her scholarly career with one foot in the world of academia and the other in the world of public schools, merging insights about how schools work and students learn into a synergistic approach to education that is functional, pragmatic, and accountable to principles of learning theory and developmental psychology. As a scholar, Cynthia’s primary commitment is to translate good theory about teaching and learning into forms of knowledge that are functional at the classroom level. Learningcultures.net is her most extensive publication to date. It represents her effort to freely disseminate useful, high quality information to a wide audience through an accessible and engaging media form.