Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Theory and resistence in Education, ch 6

Giroux, Henry.(2001) Theory and Resistance in Education. Greenwood Publishing

Chapter 6: Literacy, Ideology, and the Politics of Schooling
In this chapter, Giroux talks about the perceptions and definitions of literacy. One definition fo literacy sees it as something that is functional or beneficial for economic mobility, and is divorced from context. New literacy continues with this idea of literacy being functional by adding media and tech literacy to its definition. Giroux wants to critique these definitions by including the study of literacy as a political structure where “ideologies are constituted and inscribed in the discourse and social practices of classroom life.” He looks at three ideologies and their influence on literacy: Instrumental, interactionist, and reproductive. Instrumental is the ideology that sees knowledge as the “celebration of fact”—objective accumulations of data, empiricism, formulaic, and value-free with little value placed on ethics or history. Interaction ideology sees learning as an “interaction between the person and his objective world.” If focuses on how meaning is constructed, is more psychological and focused on the person and is concerned about personal growth, happiness, etc. It contains two sub-groups: cognitive-developmental and romantic. Reproductive takes on the question of “how a social system reproduces itself” and looks at the social, economic, and political aspects of schooling and how schooling is largely seen as an “ideological state apparatus” that ensures the continued existence of the status quo. One aspect of this ideology is examining the “hidden curriculum” that is inherent in classroom practices and feed into existing social structures, as well as critically analyzing the interplay of power and control. Examining “power, culture, resistance, and social change” are important aspects of this ideology. Finally, he introduces the idea of critical literacy which can produce “oppositional forms of knowledge and practice” referencing the thinking and writing of Paulo Freire in his explanation when he explains that literacy “is a quality of human consciousness as well as the matery of certain skills” and that our role as educators is to enter into dialogue about the “concrete situations and lived experiences that inform their daily lives.” In other words, the purpose of literacy should be to teach skills, yes, but to put those skills to use in helping to make sense of and change the world.
This was a very dense chapter and I admit I struggled through a lot of it as I don’t have much background in literacy studies, but once I was able to make sense of it, the idea of critical literacy really resonated with me and re-enforced my approach to teaching writing. I’ve always seen writing as a tool of empowerment and I’m very passionate and excited about this part of my “mission” as an educator. It ties in well with another article that I read that I didn’t post here because it was more of a handbook on implementing critical research projects in schools, which I love and hope to introduce in my classroom.

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