New literacies & criticality
BEd Year 2 Teaching and Learning New LiteraciesSession 4
Social orientations to literacyThe New Literacy Studies (Gee 1996, Street 1995 and others)Literacy as a social practice, not simply a technical and neutral skillLiteracy is embedded in Discourses, i.e. socially recognised ways of using language, thinking and acting in the world (Gee,1996)Literacies, Multiliteracies, New LiteraciesCritical literacy
Traditional orientations to literacySingle (print-based) modalityEmphasis on decoding and comprehension (rather than critical analysis) Emphasis on one, single correct readingView of the reader as passive receptacle rather than active agentNotions of language as potentially objective
Activity: Objective language?The following two texts are taken from news articles, written in the context of the closure of Hong Kong primary schools due to budgetary pressures:
How do the language choices work to construct particular meanings?What are other possibilities for talking/writing about these topics?
Can you stand idly by while Comrade Li takes a bloody axe to the sole source of social and economic advancement for our communitys isolated and underprivileged, our poor and our needy?
The rationalization of primary schools leads to short-term disruption but long term benefits.
Social & historical antecedentsSocial change & upheavalAwareness of oppression/suppression of groups and minorities (e.g. women, ethnic groups)Changing economic patterns (the knowledge economy, globalization, casualization of work)Technological innovationsNew forms of information productionIncreased access to informationThe combined effect of these changes resulted in:Concern about mass indoctrination (Frankfurt school)Challenging (hitherto) dominant truths (Feminism, Postcolonialism)Questioning truth per se (Poststructuralism)
Key critical social conceptsIdeology (Marx, Althusser)
Discourse (Foucault, Gee)
Key concepts: IdeologyIdeologies purport to be the natural order of things, or commonsense:Its well known thatOf course, we all recognize that..Nobody would dispute the fact that
Ideologies involve the recognition of legitimacy through misrecognition of arbitrariness.(Bourdieu, 1977, p. 168)
Key concepts: DiscourseDiscourse refers to ways of behaving , interacting, valuing, thinking, believing, speaking, reading, and writingways of being in the worldforms of life.Gee, 1996, p. viiiDiscourse is a practice not just of representing the world, but of signifying the world, constituting and constructing the world in meaning. Fairclough, 1992, p. 64
Key concepts: DiscourseDiscourses are meaningful & recognizable ways of organizing meaningDiscourses both represent and constitute (produce) reality at multiple levels:KnowledgeIdentities Social relations (including relations of power)Discourses are multiple and overlapping, existing in relation to other discourses Discourses may complement, compete, or contradict each other
Key concepts: PowerA Foucauldian view of power (1977, 1978, 1980)Involves a set of relations rather than a possessionCirculates throughout society rather than being a system of domination of the powerless by the powerfulIs productive rather than merely repressiveHas no ultimate origin or sourceAlways entails resistanceIs interconnected with knowledge in discourse
Critical literacy assumptionsTexts are made and read in particular cultural, historical, and political contexts that condition what meanings can be made. (Mission and Morgan, 2005:15)
There is no clear divide between facts & values
Language-as-discourse and reality are mutually constitutive. (Language doesnt merely reflect reality but also shapes reality)
All text participants are positioned within discourses
Critical literacy practicesReaders adopt a resistant reading positions and challenge meanings and messages in textsWriters can create and circulate texts which counter, challenge, resist dominant discourses Critical text users take up a social justice agenda, challenging racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, exploitation, poverty, environmental destruction, coercive relations of power (Cummins, 1996)
Four Resources model of literacy (Freebody and Luke 1990)
Critical strategiesAnalysis: deconstruct, interrupt, disrupt, challenge
Emotion / outrage
New literacies: Culture jammingChallenges mainstream cultural institutions, particularly consumer culture, corporate greed
Multimodal, new media texts
memes e.g. texts which go viral
Activity Look at the two letters in the SCMP about native English speaking teachersWhat ideologies or common sense assumptions are expressed in these texts?What discourses are being drawn upon in this text?What kinds of oppositions (e.g. good/bad) structure the arguments of this text? How might these oppositions be challenged or broken down? How does power operate in this text?
Critical textual analysis of SCMP letters
Dark Ages vs modern, trainedHighly regulated, internationally recognisedGifted professionalsGet by with native proficiencyRegional accent vs Queens EnglishExposureAuthentic, usefulValid if the first language is English
positive images of English teachingprofessionalup to datelegitimatebackpackers vs qualified professionalsAccent and social classProfessional ELT discourseNative speaker model and dominance
Critical analysis of SCMP lettersBirmingham factory worker, Irish farm labourerStandard EnglishUnderstood all over the world/ not be understoodLow level teachersStrong regional accentTeaching prof easy to enter
Accent and social classRegional = working classMyth of Standard EnglishRisk/ cautionRegional accents = low level teachersRegional accents = low level profession
Critical analysis: A classroom activityLook at this teachers worksheet and instructionsConsider the context in which this worksheet was usedHow do ideology, discourses and power operate in this text? Is the students response a critical one?
Activity: Critical textual analyses Task 1In groups of 3: critically analyse one text Write your analysis on the wiki page
Task 2Create a critical multimodal text which challenges, resists or interrupts a dominant discourse in the text you analysedhttp://bedyear4newliteracies.wikispaces.com/
Critical analyses of everyday textsWhat is the text type, social purpose, creator/producer and audience?How do the different modes employed contribute to the meanings that are being made? What discourses, ideologies and power relations are expressed in the text?
Ideologies: assumptions about/ representations of the social worldDiscourses: knowledge, identities, social relations Power: truth claims and assumptions, silences and gaps, inconsistenciesHow can these be resisted or challenged? For what social ends or consequences?
ReferencesAlthusser, L. (1971). Ideology and ideological state apparatus. In L. Althusser (Ed.), Lenin and philosophy and other essays by Louis Althusser (pp. 127-188). London: Monthly Review Press. Cummins, J. (1996). Negotiating identities: Education for empowerment in a diverse society. Ontario: California Association of Bilingual Education.Dimitriadis, G., & Kamberelis, G. (2006). Theory for education. New York: Routledge.Fairclough, N. (1992). Discourse and social change. Cambridge, U.K.: Polity Press.Foucault, M. (1977). Discipline and punish. London: Penguin.Foucault, M. (1980). Power/knowledge. Brighton: Harvester.Freebody, P., & Luke, A. (1990). 'Literacies' programs: Debates and demands in cultural context. Prospect, 5(3), 7-16.Gee, J.P. (1996). Social linguistics and literacies: Ideology in discourses. London: Falmer
Liberal Studies classroom activityWrite your definition of success in the tulip below.