Allan Luke

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Allan Luke is an educator, researcher, and theorist studying multiliteracies, linguistics, family literacy, and educational policy. Dr. Luke has written or edited over 14 books and more than 140 articles and book chapters.[1] Luke, with Peter Freebody, originated the Four Resources Model of literacy education.[2] He is currently a Research Professor at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia.


Luke received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1972. Luke received his teaching certificate in 1976 and his M.A. in 1980, from Simon Fraser University in Canada.[3] He taught primary and secondary school in British Columbia and lectured at Simon Fraser and British Columbia Institute of Technology[1] before taking a position at James Cook University, Australia in 1984.[4] He received his Ph. D. from Simon Fraser University in 1985.


Luke continued to teach at James Cook University until 1995. From 1996 to 2003, he served as Dean of Education at the University of Queensland, and Deputy Director General for Education for Queensland from 1999 to 2000. Until 2003, Luke was the Chief Educational Advisor to the Queensland Minister of Education. From 2003 to 2005, Luke was the Foundation Dean of the Centre for Research in Pedagogy and Practice at the National Institute of Education at Nanyang Technological University, in Singapore. Since 2005, Luke has returned to Australia and currently works as a research professor at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia.

Four Resources Model[edit]

In the early 1990s, Luke and Peter Freebody of Griffith University introduced the Four Resources Model in literacy education.[5] This model seeks to reconcile the debates between Whole Language, Phonics, critical literacy and others. This model postulates that in order to be a fully literate citizen, a person needs:

  1. coding competence (the ability to decode text, i.e. phonics)
  2. semantic competence (the ability to make meaning, i.e. comprehension)
  3. pragmatic competence (every day, functional literacy, i.e. writing a check, reading the newspaper, filling out a job application, etc.)
  4. critical competence (the ability to critically select and analyze texts, i.e. avoiding scams, determining reliable sources of information, etc.)

Luke and Freebody assert that no one of these resources is sufficient by itself but that each is essential. Further, the resources are not meant to indicate a sequence of instruction. Different resources should be present in instruction in varying amounts, depending upon the needs of the students. Luke has also stated that critical competence, far from being an upper level topic, can begin to be developed in year one of education and before. [2]

Personal History[edit]

Allan Luke is a second-generation Chinese-American, nephew of Hollywood actor Keye Luke, who grew up in Echo Park, outside of L.A.'s Chinatown. In 1973, he moved to Canada to attend Simon Fraser University. He later married German-born Carmen Luke and they had a daughter. Carmen Luke went on to publish major work on feminism, sociology and media literacy. When his daughter was in primary school, he worked as a substitute teacher in the primary schools of Fraser Valley. He studied primary education with Kieran Egan. In 1975, Jonathan Kozol, who had just published The Night is Dark and I am Far From Home, came to SFU as a guest lecturer. He introduced Luke to the works of Paulo Freire, including Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Luke describes this as a life-changing event. [2]

Luke initially had difficulty finding a job as a primary teacher, which he believes was due to prejudice against Asian people still prevalent in Canada at the time. In Armstrong, British Columbia, he was hired at a rural secondary school teaching English, drama, and Spanish. When the first wave of Vietnamese immigrants arrived in Canada in 1976, he was asked to teach ESL, although he had no training or background in ESL at the time.

Luke worked toward his Ph.D. in Sociology of Literacy, which was a new field. At the time, literacy was thought to be a cognitive and psycholinguistic process that had little to do with social factors, including class, race, and identity. He was supervised by Suzanne DeCastell, a Canadian philosopher of education and literacy scholar. As he reached the end of his Ph.D., he received a job offer from James Cook University in Australia. He moved there with his wife and daughter in 1984 and became the first non-white professor on faculty. Luke taught reading/language arts methods and was assigned to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teacher education program. Indigenous Australians had only recently acquired rights and many were entering higher education for the first time (see History of Indigenous Australians). Luke taught the first generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers and Ph.D.s.

Awards and honors[edit]

  • 1989 Educational Press Association of America Merit Award
  • 2000 Honorary Doctorate for contributions to Thai education from Rajabhat University
  • 2002 Inducted into the International Reading Association Hall of Fame
  • 2002 Honorary Professorship from Beijing Normal University
  • 2002 Gold Medal of Australian College of Education for lifetime achievement
  • 2003 IBM/Bulletin Australian Educator of the Year
  • 2005 Honorary Doctorate from Simon Fraser University for contributions to international education
  • 2005 American Educational Research Association Curriculum Studies Book Award

Collaborators and Co-Authors[edit]

  • Carmen Luke
  • Peter Freebody
  • Suzanne DeCastell
  • Courtney B. Cazden
  • Jacob Mey
  • James Gee
  • Judith Green
  • Elizabeth Moje
  • Donna Alvermann
  • Phil Graham
  • Barbara Comber
  • James Ladwig

Suggested Further Reading[edit]


Albright, J. & Luke, A. (Eds) (2008) Pierre Bourdieu and Literacy Education. New York: Routledge.

Carrington, V. & Luke, A. (1997). Literacy and Bourdieu's sociological theory: A reframing. Language and Education, 11(2), 96-112.

Freebody, P., & Luke, A. (1990). Literacies programs: Debates and demands in cultural context. Prospect: Australian Journal of TESOL, 5(7), 7-16.

Freebody, P. (1992). A socio-cultural approach: Resourcing four roles as a literacy learner. In A. Watson & A. Badenhop (Eds.), Prevention of reading failure (pp. 48–60). Sydney: Ashton-Scholastic.

Luke, Allan (2008) Another ethnic autobiography? Childhood and the cultural economy of looking. In: Hammer, R. & Kellner, D. (Eds.) Critical Cultural Studies Reader. Peter Lang, New York.

Luke, A. (2004). Two takes on the critical. In B. Norton & K. Toohey (Eds.), Critical pedagogy and language learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Luke, A. (2003). Literacy and the other: A sociological approach to literacy research and policy in multilingual societies. Reading Research Quarterly, 38(1), 132-141.

Luke, A. (2003). After the marketplace: Evidence, social science and educational research. Australian Educational Researcher, 30(2), 87-107.

Luke, A. (2000). Critical literacy in Australia: A matter of context and standpoint. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 43 (5), 448-461.

Luke, A. (1997). Genres of power: Literacy education and the production of capital. In R. Hasan & G. Williams (Eds.), Literacy in society (pp. 308–338). London: Longman.

Luke, A. (1988) Literacy, Textbooks and Ideology. London: Falmer.

Luke, A. (1992). Reading and Critical Literacy: Redefining the "Great Debate". Paper of the 18th New Zealand Conference on Reading. Wellington. May 10-13, 1992. Full text available from ERIC.

Luke, A., O'Brien, J., & Comber, B. (1994). Making community texts objects of study. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 17(2), 139-149.

Muspratt, S., Luke, A., & Freebody, P. (1997). Constructing critical literacies. Sydney: Allen & Unwin; and Cresskills, NJ: Hampton.

Trinity College: 4 Resources Readings


  1. ^ a b "Simon Fraser University". ‘’Honorary Degree Citations: The degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, conferred on Dr. Allan Luke’’. 2005. Retrieved 2007-10-28. 
  2. ^ a b c Curriculum services of Canada. (2007). "Dr. Allan Luke: the new literacies" webcast. Retrieved from
  3. ^ Centre for Research in Pedagogy and Practice, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University. (2007). Allan Luke. Retrieved from
  4. ^ Institute for Teaching & Learning, The University of Sydney, Australia. (2003). Graduates for the world: Vice-Chancellor’s teaching and learning showcase of scholarly reflection and inquiry, keynote speaker bio. Retrieved from
  5. ^ Freebody, P., & Luke, A. (1990). Literacies programs: Debates and demands in cultural context. Prospect: Australian Journal of TESOL, 5(7), 7-16.