Critical literacy is an aspect of pedagogy that entails active participation of learners that involves them questioning, examining or disputing the power relations that exist between the readers and the authors CITATION Pau70 \l 2057 (Freire, 1970). It promotes reflection, transformation and action. It encourages readers to actively critique and analyse texts and offer plausible suggestions as to what the underlying message of the text is. It is considered important because it empowers those populations that are considered disenfranchised and susceptible to coercion and oppression. It therefore aims to strike a balance of the social inequities that currently exist. Critical literacy has four principles to it. Firstly, it promotes reflection and action in that when a reader commits to consuming literature or other works, they submit to the right and preference of the author to select a topic and how the ideas he presents should be treated. It is therefore the responsibility of the reader to pinpoint areas of exclusivity and offer alternative opinions. Secondly, critical literacy focuses on a problem and its complexity i.e. learners critically view a problem, raise questions and explore alternative solutions rather than merely viewing the problem from a simplistic alternative. Thirdly, the strategies uses are dynamic and adaptable to contexts in which they are used. This is to mean that there is no definitive technique that can be applied to all situations, each learning experience is unique and requires a different approach. Conclusively, critical literacy provides an alternative path for social and personal developmentCITATION MHa02 \l 2057 (Hagood, 2002).
Strategies that are often employed in the execution of critical literacy vary depending on the age of learners and their level of study. For adolescents, the focus becomes on encouraging them to pose questions that problematize text and evoke critical thinking in them. For instance, in an English literature class, students would be required to read novels and other literary material. Consequently, they would be expected to comprehend, internalize and critique the works. One strategy of evoking critical thinking is by issuing sample questions about the text and then delegating the task of formulating similar questions to the students. By having the students formulate their own questions, the teacher is able to assess the level of mastery of content among the students. However, in senior levels of education, the teacher often serves as a facilitator therefore allowing the students to take initiative and an active role in learning. Secondly, the choice of materials influences the strategies and could include multi-media components such as audio and video. This facilitates faster and more engaged learning.
Some of the activities in which students would engage that revolve around critical literacy would include participating in debates or class discussions and using a variety of texts to discuss the pertinent issues. This would involve newspaper cut outs, magazines and even electronic sites such as blogs. This would therefore promote beneficial discourse. Other activities would include partnered reading in which the students get to select whom they would like to read a particular text with. Lastly, use of connection stems which are prompts for students to make connections when reading the text as well as help them in reflection.
Adolescents in the millennial era exist in the time of proliferation of information as well as technological advancements. It is therefore important to raise the social and conscious awareness of adolescents through critical and reflective learning. This group of individuals are in a precarious stage and therefor e impressionable, hence it is important to shape their ability to examine and analyse critical issues that plague not only them, but the world at large CITATION TBe03 \l 2057 (Moni, 2003).
BIBLIOGRAPHY Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Lisbon.
Hagood, M. (2002). "Critical literacy for whom?",Reading Research and Instruction. In M. Hagood.
Moni, T. B. (2003). Developing students' critical literacy: Exploring identity construction in young adult fiction. Journal of Adolescents and Adult Literacy, 638-648.
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