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Intro To Critical Literacy Key Tenets

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Key Tenets of Critical Literacy
By Vivian Vasquez
clippodcast dot com

Published in: Education
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Intro To Critical Literacy Key Tenets

  1. 1. Dr. Vivian Vasquez American U., Washington DC Feb.2010
  2. 2. <ul><li>Critical literacy has been a topic of debate for some time. Part of the debate is a response to attempts by some educators and researchers to pin down a specific definition for it. </li></ul><ul><li>There is a belief among many critical literacy theorists and educators (Comber & Simpson, 2001; Comber & Thomson, 2001; Luke, 2007; Vasquez, 2001a, 2004) that as a framework for engaging in literacy work, it should look, feel, and sound different, and it should accomplish different sorts of life work depending on the context in which it is being used as a perspective for teaching and learning. </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Critical literacy should not be an add-on but a frame through </li></ul><ul><li>which to participate in the world (Vasquez, 1994, 2000a, 2000b, 2000c). </li></ul><ul><li>There is no such thing as a critical literacy text. Rather, there are </li></ul><ul><li>texts through which we may better be able to create spaces for critical literacies. </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>The world as text can be read from a critical literacy perspective. </li></ul><ul><li>What this means is that issues and topics of interest that capture students’ interests as they participate in the world around them can and should be used as text to build a curriculum that has significance in their lives. </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Key Tenets of </li></ul><ul><li>Critical Literacy </li></ul>
  6. 6. What this suggests is that critical literacy should not be taken on as a topic to be covered but rather should be a different way, lens, or framework, for teaching throughout the day. However, most teachers with whom I have talked about critical literacy have taken on this critical literacy perspective beginning with literacy instruction. As they become more comfortable teaching from this perspective they are better able to extend this way of being across the curriculum and throughout the day.
  7. 7. Students learn best when what they are learning has importance in their lives. Using the topics, issues, and questions that they raise should therefore be an important part of creating classroom curriculum. Multimedia literacy refers to students’ way(s) of making meaning in the world using combinations of print based text and music, art, or technologically based text such as websites, videos, or podcasts.
  8. 8. This tenet focuses on getting across to students’ the message that all texts are created by someone, somewhere, for some reason. The earlier that students are introduced to this idea, the sooner they are able to understand that texts can be revised, rewritten, or reconstructed to shift or reframe the message(s) conveyed.
  9. 9. What this means is that all texts are created from a particular perspective with the intention of conveying particular messages.
  10. 10. Because texts are socially constructed and created from particular perspectives, they work to have us think about and believe certain things in specific ways. For instance, stories that portray females as being in need of rescue, such as Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella, work to convey messages that females are the weaker or less powerful gender.
  11. 11. Just as texts are never neutral, the ways we read text are also never neutral. When we read we bring with us our past experiences and understanding about how the world works.
  12. 12. Discourses are ways of being, doing, and acting through which we live our lives, and our understandings of the world—how we make meaning in the world—happens through these ways of being, doing, and acting.
  13. 13. Discourses are ways of being, doing, and acting through which we live our lives, and our understandings of the world—how we make meaning in the world—happens through these ways of being, doing, and acting.
  14. 14. This suggests that part of our work in critical literacy needs to focus on social issues, such as race, class, or gender and the ways in which we use language in ways that shape our understanding of these issues. How we use language to talk about such issues determines how people are able to—or are not able to—live their lives in more or less powerful ways as well as determine who is given more or less powerful roles in society.
  15. 15. What this means is students who engage in critical literacies from a young age are likely going to be better able to contribute to a more equitably and socially just world by being better able to make informed decisions regarding issues of power and control.
  16. 16. The explanation for this final tenet is deliberately more detailed as this is a tenet that is less talked about or written about, and yet this is the tenet that pushes us to move beyond critique and toward social action. Text design and production refer to the creation or construction of texts and the decisions that are part of that process. This includes the notion that it is not sufficient to simply create texts for the sake of practicing a skill. If students are to create texts they ought to be able to let those texts do the work that is intended. For instance, if students are writing surveys or creating petitions, they should be done with real-life intent for the purpose of dealing with a real issue. If students write petitions, they should be able to send them to whomever they were intended. Helping students understand real-life functions of text is an important component of growing as a critically literate individual (Luke & Freebody, 1999; Vasquez, 2005). Comber (2001) describes functional aspects of critical literacies as including the practice of using language in powerful ways to get things done in the world, to enhance everyday life in schools and communities, and to question practices of privilege and injustice.

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