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Critical Literacy

The Critical Literacy Research Project
Media Studies conference 2007

Session Overview
• Brief overview of research project • Theory or taste? • Our growing understanding of critical literacy • How can critical literacy help in Media Studies? • A unit plan • Activity

Who ? 2007
 • • • • University of Otago project. Four primary schools & one high school Twelve teachers Advisors- Principals Mixed year level

TLRI Research Design
• • • • Research team working days Initial & concluding interviews Videotaping lessons Data gathered on student comprehension pre & post research • Student focus group stimulated recall interviews

Rally Table
• What is ‘critical literacy’? • How does the term relate to media studies?

Theory or taste?

We believe that critical literacy for  classroom practice involves supporting  students to become aware that: • texts are social constructions;  • texts are not neutral; • authors draw upon  particular  discourses (often majority discourses)  and assume that readers will be able  to draw upon them as well; 

­ authors make certain conscious and  unconscious choices when constructing  texts;  ­ which means that all texts have gaps,  or silences, and particular  representations within them;  ­ and, that texts have consequences for  how we make sense of ourselves, others and the world.

• People make choices about wh o and/ or what is included, so · Some thi ngs and/ or people may be exc luded · Choices ar e made about h ow thi ngs and/ or people ar e r epr esente d · All r eader s have diff er ent knowledge and exper iences th at the y bri ng t o t exts · Reader s will make sense of te xts dif f ere ntly So what ? We can develop an awar eness of how t exts i nfl uence our t houghts and act ions

• • • • • Written Verbal Digital (multi-media) Visual “A text is a vehicle through which individuals communicate with one another, using the codes and conventions of society” (p. 3).

Robinson, E, & Robinson, S. (2003). What does it mean? Discourse, Text, Culture: An Introduction. Sydney: McGraw-Hill Book Company.

Underpinning assumptions
• The meanings of words and texts cannot be separated from the cultural and social practices in which and by which they are constructed • Knowledge is socially constructed • Language is not neutral or value free • Language is bound up with power • A emphasis on social change

• The achievement standard asks students to “Analyse the representation of an identified group/culture within media texts.” • They also need to “Analyse messages/values within media texts.”

Key aspects
• Direct teaching of meta-language (discourse, representations, values etc) • Questioning

Text selection
• Curriculum integration

Media Studies & Critical Literacy
• How can we use the theory of critical literacy in Media Studies? • AS 90278 Demonstrate understanding of messages and/or values, and representations within media texts • Unit plan: Students living in Dunedin aged between 18-25.

Unit plan
• Representations of Otago University students living aged between 18-24.

• In order to analyse, students need to, “go beyond identifying and explaining by carrying the study to wider implications, issues and/or ramifications. • Messages are, “lessons, morals or important ideas that a text communicates. • “Values are preferences or tastes or standards or ethics.”

Now, try this..

And this!

Take home messages
• Give it a try! • Need time and space to engage with theory and practice- find a buddy if possible • Experiment with texts! • No one right way

“There is no ultimate paradigm, no final orthodoxy - of critical literacy waiting to be uncovered… there is always somewhere better left to go. Ideas of critical literacy are at best provisional” (p. 4).
Lankshear, C. (1994). Critical Literacy. Belconnen, Australian Curriculum Studies Association. A.C.T:

• What is your understanding of ‘critical literacy’ now? • Any questions?

For more information
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