Excerpt from Young Adult Novel, Teen Angst? Naah…. ◦“Stuyvesant (high school) had an interesting take on education. The plan, it seemed, was to cram a student’s head full of information, test the student repeatedly, and then move on to an unrelated subject with frightening speed. It was a shock after studying digestion for a month, to hear your biology teacher announce: “Okay, this unit is over. Forget about the human digestive system. On to locomotion in the paramecium” (p. 43).
In Michael Rose’s (2009, p. 19) essay, Why School? He observes: “There’s not much public discussion of achievement that includes curiosity, reflectiveness, uncertainty, or a willingness to take a chance to blunder…consider how little we hear about intellect, aesthetics, joy, courage, creativity, civility, understanding.”
So what is new and why reconceptualize long held efforts to teach students generic strategies? ◦In New(er) times: Traditional textbooks coexist with, or have been supplanted by electronic forms of text and media Students may be more fluid users of these newer forms of text than their teachers There is a clear recognition that disciplines and their discourse communites are unique (e.g. Bean, et al., 2011; Draper et al., 2010; Moje, 2008).
Textbooks: ◦“More staid and static classroom texts once familiar to baby boomer students must now appear as curious historical artifacts to today’s adolescents” (Bean & Harper, 2006).
Reconceptualizing content area literacy requires: ◦A focus on how knowledge is constructed in the disciplines ◦Being less enamored with generic strategies ◦Working in concert with faculty in the disciplines
Elizabeth Moje (2008) notes: ◦“A reconceptualized view of secondary school literacy suggests that a person who has learned deeply in a discipline can use a variety of representational forms—most notably reading and writing of written texts, but also oral language, visual images, music, or artistic representations—to communicate their learning, to sythesize ideas across texts and across groups of people, to express new ideas, and to question and challenge ideas held dear in the disciplines and broader spheres (p. 99)
Disciplinary Uniqueness: ◦The particularities of the disciplines matter and becoming an “insider” requires immersion in acting like a biologist, historian, mathematician, critical theorist, and so on (Draper et al., 2010).
At the same time: ◦Students struggle with complex material (e.g. in terms of technical and general vocabulary, visualization and comprehension) ◦Sophisticated reading and study strategies are needed (and guidance by experts in the disciplines in concert with literacy experts) ◦Viewing texts as non-neutral and in need of deconstruction and reconstruction is more important than ever before (Stevens & Bean, 2007)
For example, in a science class: ◦Conduct a water quality study in your community by sampling home water ◦Analyzing this data for pollutants ◦Writing an account that supports a claim of clean or polluted water ◦To be submitted as a concise but scientifically verifiable report to the county Or, in physics, constructing a roller coaster….
In Moje’s view of metadiscursive knowledge: ◦“To be metadiscursive means that people not only engage in many different discourse communities but also know….what those engagements mean for them and others in terms of social positioning and larger power relations” (p. 103) ◦In essence, the time is ripe for critical literacy in disciplinary practices
Critical literacy in action (deconstructing and reconstructing the Kenny Chesney tune: “The boys of fall.”
References ◦Bean, T. W., Readence, J. E., & Baldwin, R. S. (2011). Content area literacy: An integrated approach (10 th ed.). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt. ◦Bean, T. W., & Harper, H. J. (2006).Content area reading: Current state of the art. In D. Lapp, & J. Flood (Eds.), Content area reading and learning (3 rd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
References cont’d: ◦Draper, R. J., et al. (2010). (Re) imagining content-area literacy instruction. New York: Teachers College Press. ◦Moje, E. B. (2008). Foregrounding the disciplines in secondary literacy teaching and learning: A call for change. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 52, (2), 96-107. ◦Rose, M. (2009). Why school? New York: The New Press. ◦Walker, N. T., Bean, T. W., & Dillard, B. R. (2010). When textbooks fall short: New ways, new texts, new sources of information in the content areas. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. ◦Stevens, L. P., & Bean, T. W. (2007). Critical literacy: Context, research, and practice in the K-12 classroom. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE. ◦Vizzinni, N. (2000). Teen angst? Naaah. Minn. MN: Free Spirit Publishing.