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Positioning critical literacy as instrumental in creating active citizens of change

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Abstract:

Childhood social economic status (SES) has, and continues to be, the single strongest predictor of educational attainment (Levin, 2007). For over forty years, researchers have shown that almost all of the varied measures of educational outcomes, such as years of education completed, grades earned, referrals to special education, early reading achievement and discipline and behaviour problems are strongly correlated with family income (Bylsma & Shannon, 2002; Canadian Council on Learning [CCL], 2006; Tilleczek & Ferguson, 2007; Ontario Ministry of Education [OME], 2005).Other significant life outcomes such as health status, life expectancy, criminal activity, propensity to political involvement, among others, are also linked with childhood SES (Levin, 2007).
Historically, in recommending strategies for closing the achievement gap, most educational reforms have been implemented at the micro level of in-school initiatives without explicitly acknowledging the direct counterproductive effects of macro level factors, most notably, SES (Levin & Riffel, 2000). In the past, politicians and policy makers believed that poverty could be effectively dealt with at the micro level of school through “fixing” the biased views of teachers and principals and taking a “no excuse” approach to attaining educational success (Flessa, 2007). This currently re-emerging popular opinion seems to be espoused by the Ontario Ministry of Education (Levin, 2007). This view contradicts the long held scepticism of economists and historians that schools have the power to counterbalance structural inequities and the ability to reduce the cycle of inter-generational of poverty (Anyon, 2005; Katz,1995; Rothstein, 2004).
This study utilizes Freire’s (2000) Critical Social Theory and as a practical and conceptual approach to emancipation through education. Freire’s (2000) philosophy emphasizes the importance of an educational system that counteracts the propagation of class inequity by interrogating the political implications of externally imposed curriculums, “banking” pedagogical approaches, and “hierarchical” arrangements within educational settings. Critical social theory calls for educators to become transformational agents, however, agency requires a “critical consciousness” of the deeply entrenched social inequities. Within this context, students and educators are inspired to embrace a greater sense of civic duty as they confront past and current practices that are anchored in class discrimination and willingly become active agents in creating gradual political and social change.
The purpose of this participatory action research study is to explore and understand the process of becoming critically literate from the perspective of low SES students within a grade five classroom. The critical literacy based lessons aim to increase student awareness of class inequity, enable students to realize the power of their own voice, and will hopefully assist in the development of a sense of agency that leads to some form of transformative action

The central question addressed in this research:

a.) What does it mean to be critically literate from the perspective of low SES grade five students?

The research will be carried out in January and February of 2011. It is anticipated this Master’s thesis will be completed mid to late April. At this point, the researcher will be able to share the findings.
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Association:
Name: 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society
URL:
http://www.cies.us


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p494153_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Pollard, Barb. "Positioning critical literacy as instrumental in creating active citizens of change" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Apr 30, 2011 <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p494153_index.html>

APA Citation:

Pollard, B. A. , 2011-04-30 "Positioning critical literacy as instrumental in creating active citizens of change" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth, Montreal, Quebec, Canada <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p494153_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Childhood social economic status (SES) has, and continues to be, the single strongest predictor of educational attainment (Levin, 2007). For over forty years, researchers have shown that almost all of the varied measures of educational outcomes, such as years of education completed, grades earned, referrals to special education, early reading achievement and discipline and behaviour problems are strongly correlated with family income (Bylsma & Shannon, 2002; Canadian Council on Learning [CCL], 2006; Tilleczek & Ferguson, 2007; Ontario Ministry of Education [OME], 2005).Other significant life outcomes such as health status, life expectancy, criminal activity, propensity to political involvement, among others, are also linked with childhood SES (Levin, 2007).
Historically, in recommending strategies for closing the achievement gap, most educational reforms have been implemented at the micro level of in-school initiatives without explicitly acknowledging the direct counterproductive effects of macro level factors, most notably, SES (Levin & Riffel, 2000). In the past, politicians and policy makers believed that poverty could be effectively dealt with at the micro level of school through “fixing” the biased views of teachers and principals and taking a “no excuse” approach to attaining educational success (Flessa, 2007). This currently re-emerging popular opinion seems to be espoused by the Ontario Ministry of Education (Levin, 2007). This view contradicts the long held scepticism of economists and historians that schools have the power to counterbalance structural inequities and the ability to reduce the cycle of inter-generational of poverty (Anyon, 2005; Katz,1995; Rothstein, 2004).
This study utilizes Freire’s (2000) Critical Social Theory and as a practical and conceptual approach to emancipation through education. Freire’s (2000) philosophy emphasizes the importance of an educational system that counteracts the propagation of class inequity by interrogating the political implications of externally imposed curriculums, “banking” pedagogical approaches, and “hierarchical” arrangements within educational settings. Critical social theory calls for educators to become transformational agents, however, agency requires a “critical consciousness” of the deeply entrenched social inequities. Within this context, students and educators are inspired to embrace a greater sense of civic duty as they confront past and current practices that are anchored in class discrimination and willingly become active agents in creating gradual political and social change.
The purpose of this participatory action research study is to explore and understand the process of becoming critically literate from the perspective of low SES students within a grade five classroom. The critical literacy based lessons aim to increase student awareness of class inequity, enable students to realize the power of their own voice, and will hopefully assist in the development of a sense of agency that leads to some form of transformative action

The central question addressed in this research:

a.) What does it mean to be critically literate from the perspective of low SES grade five students?

The research will be carried out in January and February of 2011. It is anticipated this Master’s thesis will be completed mid to late April. At this point, the researcher will be able to share the findings.


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