Who Gets to be “Critical?”

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Image: Burning the “Book of Sports,” 1643

This year continues to demonstrate the importance of reading the world through a critical lens. But who gets to be “critical?” Who gets access to critical approaches to literacy versus who gets timed reading tests?

Educators who use literacy to challenge the status quo often ground their work in critical literacies. This approach goes beyond reading and writing as mechanical skills, using literacy to critique power and inequity–what Paulo Freire called “reading the word and the world.”

But what does this mean when we ask students to read the word and the world in another language?

I took up this question in a recent article for the Journal of Literacy Research. In the journal’s latest issue, Literacy Research and the Radical ImaginationI wrote alongside a phenomenal group of authors working to “radically reimagine the ways in which research can reposition people and ideas to create new and more inviting spaces for literacy.” (JLR, p. 319).

No small task. Continue reading

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Inventing Illegality

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Image Credit: May Day March

A new week, a new round of policies that endanger more than than they assist.

Through the debates that will rightly follow Trump’s latest round of immigration directives, notice who chooses to employ the term illegal vs. undocumented. And if that distinction doesn’t yet set your ears aflame, here’s one of the many reasons it should.

Earlier this fall, Emmy Award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa explained that you can identify an individual as having broken a law, but “what you cannot do is to label the person illegal.” Hinojosa continued,

“The reason why I say this, is not because I learned it from some radical Latino or Latina studies professor when I was a college student. I learned it from Elie Wiesel, who survived the Holocaust, who said, ‘You know what? The first thing they did was that they declared the Jews to be an illegal people.’ And that’s what we’re talking about at this point.” Continue reading

Analyzing the Inexplicable

 

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A Columbine reference eerily appears in today’s class reading.

We’re discussing how to teach analytical writing—going beyond recounting, adding original, evidence-based conclusions that inform, uncover, and expand our own thinking, and hopefully public discourse.

The book’s author, Kelly Gallagher, uses Dave Cullen’s 2009 account of the Columbine massacre as an exemplar for his students, illustrating how the author “moved past simply telling what happened by delving into why the tragedy unfolded the way it did.”

He goes on to note how the shock-jock reporting and lack of rigorous analysis that followed the shooting has led to years of misconceptions about the tragedy, its perpetrators, and its causes.

The next few days will do the same. Teachers, writers—this is why we exist. How could any of us teach about anything else today?

Please see the following resources on addressing the Orlando tragedy at your school.

– A National Tragedy: Helping Children Cope

– How to Discuss National Tragedies with Kids

– Addressing the Orlando Shooting at Your School

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Happy Bloggaversary!

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Hard to believe it’s been a year since “The Ad(PhD)venture Begins,” but the ChrisKBacon Blog has been up and running for an entire year now.

And since statistics are my new best friend, I’ll report that, according to WordPress, there have been 59 posts and 4,363 views by 2,873 visitors this year.

Wordpress Stats

It’s been a blessing to be able to do this work. I’ve gotten some great feedback on research, made new personal connections, and been able to  join in on some poignant conversations through the Huffington Post.

To mark the occasion, here are this year’s most popular posts:

5. ‘Annoying’ Upspeak, or Policing Women’s Voices? (July 30th, 2015)

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4. “Fortunately,” We Don’t Have Language Learners Here (Mar. 26th, 2015) Continue reading