Critical Literacy

Essay by sweetiepie76789College, UndergraduateA+, July 2004

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As we enter into the new millennium, a whole host of questions will arise concerning the direction in which our country is heading. As a student who will soon become a decision-maker in the real world, the question of how to go about making conscious decisions on how to approach the issues directly affecting my life and those of my contemporaries seems to be of foremost concern. This essay will attempt to illustrate the crucial role critical literacy skills could take in shaping those decision-making process and their outcomes.

What is "Critical Literacy"?

The term critical literacy could potentially have a number of meanings in different contexts. For the purposes of this essay, however, I will adopt a narrow view of critical literacy as the ability to critically examine the production of cultural knowledge, specifically the political and economic structures that play an important role in the creation of cultural norms.

Critical literacy is a process that begins in the halls of our schools, but is used as a tool by students and teachers to examine broader issues that exist outside the classroom.

This narrow definition of critical literacy is preferable to a broader definition in that it is necessary to condense the scope of what critical literacy means in order to avoid the trap of discussing theory without it's applicability to wider societal problems. A narrow definition of critical literacy also serves to make the concepts embodied by critical literacy easier to digest for the reader. A text dense on theory may discourage the true message of constant questioning of the status quo culture from being apparent to the reader. One could spend a lifetime discussing the semantics of what critical literacy should and should not be. This approach, although having merits of it's own, is not...