In the final chapter of Negotiating Critical Literacies which is devoted to original research, Nathalie Wooldridge describes how she sought as a Master's student to investigate what critical literacy looks like in terms of approaches to text and curriculum planning. She and a group of secondary school teachers working in high-poverty areas in South Australia taught and critiqued five critical literacy units and in the process unearthed a number of questions pointing to the importance of the critical reading of teaching itself.
Coming under scrutiny were issues surrounding teacher positioning: the risk of intruding on student lives in the name of inclusiveness and authentic action, the difficulty of developing critical literacy skills from a position of limited teacher background knowledge, the ability of the teacher to guide student energies into problem-posing exercises, and the danger of imposing a single view on students rather than acknowledging "complexity. The volume by Comber and Simpson belongs squarely in this tradition but is based on the recognition of a particular need for descriptive qualitative research carried out, in Comber's words, in "classroom and school communities where critical literacies and innovative pedagogies are being created.
To this end, Comber and Simpson have put together a collection that invites reflection and carries the reader on an engaging journey through a multiplicity of classrooms and cultures throughout the Commonwealth and the United States. Background information in the form of treatments of national educational systems as a part of sociopolitical history is carefully researched and illuminating, most notably the well-organized discussions of Singapore and South Africa.
A central theme to the volume is that critical literacy practices entail many routes to empowerment. Dyson, for example, describes transformation through literacy: how female students use a popular film character to resist community gender norms; while Sahni's discussion explores this theme as well as the transformation of literacy itself: how teachers and students involved in critical literacy can challenge social practices which serve to maintain an underclass. Vasquez suggests that empowerment can be opened out by critically examining and revamping language-teaching methodology, notably whole language approaches to reading and writing instruction.
Stein focuses on the empowerment of the English classroom through the rejuvenating force of popular culture.
Cruddas and Watson, in perhaps the most unusual study represented, describe a project with multivalent possibilities for empowerment: through the transformations involved in the collaborations between differentially-positioned participants in professional writing teams, through the resulting transformations of the status of traditional folk narratives, and through the usurpation of exclusionary print literacy practices.
Routes to empowerment suggested by this volume include the empowerment of teachers as well as they examine their own positioning and work toward transformation through self-questioning and the analysis of failure. Hilary Janks, for example, notes the surprising lack of success she experienced in introducing critical literacy teaching materials to an alternative school setting.
Despite our poststructuralist belief that "meaning is dialogic," she observes, what we are up against is the fact that "our educational practices, which privilege rational deliberation, reflection, and debate, teach students to seek closure" p. Wallace and Wooldridge both foreground teacher authority, Wallace focusing on how it is managed, both well and badly, through teacher choice of footing in the foreign-language classroom, Wooldridge raising a number of questions surrounding the problems with teacher power that come from limitations in teacher knowledge and understanding.
Issues of primacy and immediacy of voice are implied here, and it is perhaps in the book's potential for "turn[ing] on the sound," p. Described in the chapter by Clarence-Fincham, a Black female freshman, new to a South African university, is assigned the task of interviewing a White administrator.
She comments later on the experience: What I learnt from the interview was that things didn't occur as I expected them. I was so tensed since it was the first time that I had to interview a white man. What I discovered was that he appeared to be a kind somebody.
Negotiating Critical Literacies with Young Children
While I was. I was surprised by the question. I responded with yes but still felt hesitation so I said no. He himself provided me with coffee. Still asking myself why he was lowering himself like that, the man bumpered us with answers of the unasked questions The interview was absolutely wonderful. It changed my conclusions about the whites whom I regard as superior.
I was brought to the conclusion that some are just like myself, willing to help and to socialise p. In the Vasquez chapter, children in a Canadian kindergarten class discover that theirs is the only age group to have been excluded by the administration from a school-wide social function. They create a tape-recorded petition reading, in part: Today there's something going on in the gym and we want to know why aren't we invited?
Because only the grade ones and twos can go so that's not fair to us or to anyone. And maybe. But we figured out something. If we have dances here then they won't have dances there and if they have dances there we won't have dances here. And that's not fair to us or to the whole world because we don't get to go p.
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Tina, a third-grader in a high-poverty American urban classroom described by Dyson, writes a story remaking Emily, originally a minor background character in a popular children's film, "preteen, blonde, and quite pretty" p. She was tough. Her and her boy friend [Colt] was eating pizza. So one day they were going to school.
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Then they went into the room. Bad boys, they love to beat up kids. School is over now. Colt was going away. Emily found him. The bad boys had him.
Emily can whip some butt. So she did. Other studies included here look at non-English speaking African students' experience in their first year at university Jenny Clarence-Ficham , the empowerment of young students in rural India Urvashi Sahni , and a critical examination of examination-based literacy in Singapore Yin Mee Cheah. All of these studies share a common focus on language use and its links to the social structures and power hierarchies of a specific teaching context, and they offer compelling analyses of the intersection of these three elements.
Negotiating Critical Literacies in Classrooms serves two purposes.
Investigating Junk Mail: Negotiating Critical Literacy at the Mailbox
For those teachers already engaged in critical literacy pedagogy, it offers helpful discussions of teachers' attempts to address the dilemmas and challenges of implementing critical literacy pedagogy and curricula around the world. For those new to critical literacy, this collection will serve equally well as an introduction to its theory and practice. Critical literacy work is not simple, and it can be risky. For students who are accustomed to more traditional approaches to education, or for whom the questioning of canonical texts or dominant discourses is not deemed to be an appropriate classroom focus, the use of critical literacy curricula would need to be carefully undertaken.
Yet the goals of critical pedagogy are so clearly relevant to the world of TESOL that to dismiss it as too risky for our classrooms seems short-sighted. As Anne Dyson, one of the researchers included in this volume, notes, "[In order] to move beyond the taken for granted, to become more conscious of ideological choices and of the social consequences of words, we all benefit from interaction with those positioned differently in the social world" p. Return to Table of Contents.
Editor's Note: Dashed numbers in square brackets indicate the end of each page for purposes of citation.. The result of the study revealed that by providing careful language scaffolding as well as classroom structures and conditions, teachers can involve the students in critical discussions of real concerns.
In fact, in an equitable environment, the students can work, formulate, evaluate, and question reading and writing about real-life issues.
Negotiating Critical Literacies In Classrooms Simpson Anne Comber Barbara (ePUB/PDF) Free
Evidence accumulated through such studies corroborate the fact that critical literacy approaches pedagogy in a way that is much needed in today's educational systems across different contexts. Deploying democratic approaches to education that is underscored in many educational contexts depends on the extent to which developing critical literacy is considered and valued by teachers. In fact, the practice of critical literacy invites students to become active agents in education rather than agents that are exploited unconsciously and used as a tool for distribution of power and inequality.
As the literature has illustrated, there are a number of obstacles that constrain the practice of critical literacy. The present study was an attempt to investigate the state of critical literacy within the realm of TEFL at Iranian universities. Iranian universities are centralized educational settings in which decisions regarding course aims, objectives, and syllabi are determined and exported to the teachers by higher educational authorities.
Teachers have little voice in determining course contents, materials, and assessment policies. Activities regarding significant decision making and leadership policies are strictly under the control of head offices and authorities at the ministry of higher education with little room for local teachers and educators.
Centralization of educational policies and planning has rendered teachers and students at the lower level of the educational hierarchy just insignificant cogs in the machinery of focused centralized schooling. The injunctions and commandments issued by the head office are inflexible and stringent and must be categorically followed by disempowered teachers at the bottom rung of the organizational ladder. This rigorous hierarchical arrangement of policy making is entirely different from a decentralized method of exercising a chain of harmonized agents who work in concert to materialize a set of consensual, clear objectives.
Much to Iranian teachers' chagrin, the head office of the ministry of higher education makes high stake vital decisions and policies without elicitation of teachers' views and opinions at the relevant local educational settings with respect to the curriculum development, syllabus design, materials developments, evaluation policies, etc.. As a consequence, almost all pedagogical and academic procedures are systematically specified and consistently perpetuated at a centralized location by certain individuals at the top of the organizational structure.
These injunctions are indoctrinated, disseminated, and have to be closely practiced by teachers and meticulously followed by students. A decentralized structure formed by a chain of harmonized interrelated agents must replace the current state of affairs. Such a chain of interaction, mediation, feedback, and agreement is the part and parcel of egalitarian transformative democratic education which ensures students' creativity, innovation, and deep levels of thinking.