"All humans are members of the same body Created from one essence"

"Human beings are members of a whole in creation of one essence and soul. If one member is afflicted with pain, other members uneasy will remain."

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Why is critical literacy important?

Paulo Freire, in The Politics of Education (1985) informs us that in trying "to apprehend subjectivity and objectivity in their dialectical relationships", readers will develop a critical consciousness. He encourages readers to think about texts, to look and look again at the assumptions which underlie the author's words because texts are not infallible. Texts are infused with subjectivity and based on assumptions.

The significance of enhancing critical literacy skills for adolescent readers is very important. Encouraging critical literacy in middle and high schools will help students and teachers to become active thinkers. Using good critical literacy books which present real issues and inquiries that reflect real societal concerns will encourage students to work harder in class. Inquires such as neighborhood crime, pollution, teen issues, or city policies will encourage adolescent readers to interact more with the text and to make connections with their lives.

If teachers focus on presenting authentic Literacy tasks to middle and high school students, they will break the cycle of failure. Good Literacy books will provide them motivations to read and multiple opportunities and "authentic reasons" to engage with texts. Adolescents want to read books that describe real events, people with dilemmas. Freire (1985) explained that critical literacy will help readers create bridges between what they read in the text and the world. He wrote encourages readers to associate "word-and-action." Cervetti et al. added that with the help of critical literacy "students read texts critically, but they also become actors to transform society." Therefore, critical literacy helps students develop their critical awareness beyond the classroom and it helps them become responsible citizens who will not be afraid to take actions against injustices.

But we as educators, how often do we use critical literacy strategies within our classroom? What are some of the strategies we use to engage students in critical literacy? What are some of the activities in which students engage around critical literacy?

As a middle school teacher, I am aware that I need to use books which promote critical literacy. I believe that students who engage in critical literacy debates in the classroom become open-minded, active, strategic readers, and responsible citizens. Therefore, I have found the following critical literacy strategies very useful to use within my middle school classroom: (1) use questions that promote reading from a critical stance; (2) focus on narrative and expository texts which focus on real adolescent issues, (3) examine multiple perspectives and examine a topic from a variety of viewpoints; (4) juxtapose texts, photos, videos, and lyrics.

We can find more ideas in the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. I have used an article written by Maureen McLaughlin & Glenn DeVoogd
called "Critical Literacy as comprehension: expanding reader response."

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