Thursday, July 12, 2007

Critical practice

Reading Joanne Larson has prompted some thinking about literacies as critical practice (as opposed to critical literacy). I thought the work of our group illustrated ways of moving beyond the highly regulated routines and normalizing discourses of state policy on literacy that have become all too prevalent. Using literacies as critical practice has involved teachers in creatively and collaboratively envisaging something more ambitious than the atomized experiences of contemporary schooling. Giving children voice and agency in matters that are significant in their lives troubles the narrow view of literacy often associated with passive and immersive book reading and provides pupils with the possibility of new ways of thinking about themselves and their world. The projects we have been involved in here have shared four common themes. Firstly they have been created in a context that is relevant to pupils by focusing on aspects of their environment and how they are portrayed and positioned in it. Secondly, they have been engaged in a variety of kinds of guided investigation in which some of these issues of representation have been explored, discussed and deconstructed. Thirdly, they have provided pupils with the tools and technologies to experiment with alternative representations and counter-narratives. And finally, they have involved pupils in multimodal production and publication in ways that have embodied some sort of transformation. This is important work that is neither ‘literacy as tool’; ‘literacy as place’ and probably not ‘literacy as a way of being’ but certainly is literacy as a meaningful practice.


Anonymous said...

Hi Guy
That's a really useful summary, thanks. But don't you think literacy as a critical practice IS critical literacy? I think critical literacy can refer to both texts and practices and so don't see a problem with the use of the phrase.

Guy Merchant said...

Well, first off I showed the wrong link! So, I'd been reading this and reflecting on how critical literacy is still 'rooted in autonomous literacy and an outsider mindset' and wondering how it might be differently framed. I was also worried about how and when looking at something like school as text became a literacy practice.