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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Moray House School of Education : Education

Postgraduate Course: Teacher Literacies (EDUA11367)

Course Outline
SchoolMoray House School of Education CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course focuses on understanding the importance of, and developing, digital, inter-professional, linguistic, political and statistical literacies. The teacher's role is constantly changing in the context of local, national and global developments: the course considers a range of teacher literacies that are central to transformative, activist teaching in contemporary times, whilst acknowledging that teachers will need to further develop these and other literacies over their professional careers. Preparing teachers for a changing world is a theme underpinning the programme as whole, but it is in this course that we explicitly consider the knowledge, skills, capacities, habits and dispositions associated with the particular forms of literacy that teachers will need to develop.
Course description Academic Description
Contemporary education systems exist within a complex web of contexts characterised by (among other things) the intensification of neo-liberal policy objectives, high and growing levels of material inequality, the increasing global movement of people, rapid developments in digital communication, and the need to mitigate potential worldwide catastrophes such as global warming. These and other factors combine to produce school-level contexts that require teachers to develop sophisticated understandings of the world around them if they are to lead change rather than be buffeted by it. Following the work of Habermas, skilled teachers need to be critical readers of their own professional lifeworlds, and they need to know how to enable pupils to develop similar critical reading capacities.

Critical reading as used here means more than simply not taking things at face value: it implies a critique of the status quo. A teacher who is a critical reader of her or his lifeworld has the knowledge, skills, capacities, habits and disposition to interrogate how schooling has been complicit in reproducing inequalities, and to teach in ways that produce newer, more equal social relations and economic outcomes. Critical reading involves extensive and detailed knowledge of a range of theories that interrogate power and privilege, in order to use such theories to critique and develop practice.

Critical reading can thus be understood as a process which will already have started before students enter the programme. In earlier courses in the programme, students will be developing critical reading skills in relation to university-based and site-based work, and will be engaging with critical theories. This course aims to engage students in explicit discussion of the importance of critical reading of their educational lifeworlds, to establish robust entry levels of each of the modes of literacy, and to enable students to develop the knowledge, skills, capacities, habits and dispositions associated with a career-long commitment to their own critical reading and that of their pupils.

In order to understand and break down the knowledge and skills associated with critical reading of a teacher's lifeworld, the course has been conceptualised according to five distinct but interrelated modes of literacy, reflecting contemporary forms of communication. These are outlined in alphabetical order, as there is no intention to prioritise any one: all are important, intersecting and indispensable.

1) Digital literacy: the knowledge and skills to learn and to work confidently, creatively and safely in online and digital environments, and a critical understanding of the possibilities and limitations of digital media in teaching for positive social change.
2) Inter-professional literacy: the knowledge and skills to understand the (sometimes competing) priorities of distinct professional groups, and to work in ways that acknowledge and are sensitive to distinct workplace cultures
3) Linguistic literacy: the knowledge and skills to consciously access one's own linguistic resources, to understand how language works and constitutes perceived reality, to understand the relationship between language and power, and to learn and work confidently in multi-lingual environments
4) Political literacy: the knowledge and skills to read 'everyday' events politically, to understand the connections between the local and the global, to work confidently with the ideas and forms of thought used to articulate political issues, to identify and deconstruct dominant narratives, and to understand the (educational) policy process
5) Statistical literacy: the knowledge and skills to think critically about statistical information, to use statistical tools to develop and communicate practice, and to make robust educational decisions based on statistical information

The habits and dispositions associated with critical reading of one's lifeworld cut across multiple literacies. They are developed through a conscious foregrounding of questioning a text (be it statistical, digital, written, oral, pictorial or in any other form) to identify how it functions as a vehicle for social stasis and/or social change.

Outline Content
The course will in part be based upon a problem-based learning (PBL) approach which will require students to develop and demonstrate the habits and dispositions of critical literacy, as well as to assimilate and use key knowledge. The content will therefore support students in addressing the three substantive tasks (see sections on student experience and assessment) as a relevant and student-centred way of introducing key ideas. The following will be covered, though not necessarily in the order presented:

Critical theory and critical literacies: Habermas, Husserl and educational lifeworlds; identifying and contesting dominant narratives (Fairclough, 1995); minimal and maximal notions of citizenship (McGlaughlin, 1992)

Reading education policy: neoliberalism and marketisation (Apple, 2005); statistics, the governed soul and the new managerialist project (Rose, 1990, Lynch, 2014); GERM resistance (Sahlberg, 2012)

Critical readings of education: Friere and education for democracy; teacher unions and activism; feminism and the relationship between the personal and the political (Fraser, 2015); education and the media

Reading statistics: key statistical methods; uses and abuses of statistics; statistics in practitioner research

Critical literacy: deconstructing texts (Fairclough, 2005); inter-textuality; reading between and beyond the lines; meta-linguistic strategies

Schooling as a site of struggle: reading school micro politics (Ball, 2013); multiple and intersecting cultures (pupil, teacher, interprofessional, community) (Epstein, 2010)

Teaching for critical literacies: strategies and approaches to teaching children to become critical readers of their lifeworlds (Comber, 2016; Dixon, 2011)

Student Experience
Seminars: 20 hours
Structured (PBL) group activities: 100 hours
Self-directed study, including reading, preparing for seminars, student-directed group work and working on individual assessed task: 80 hours

From the outset, students will be encouraged to use their existing knowledge, and particularly their site-based experiences, as the basis for interrogation. Seminar sessions will normally require students to complete preparatory work, often drawn from site-based learning experiences, and will be active in nature. Activities will vary according to students' interests and requirements and the research background of staff teaching each session.

Group work will be focused on the following three PBL tasks:

1) Working in groups of 3-5 people, students will identify and analyse a set of statistics relevant to education in Scotland, and use them to write at least two news stories which provide politically contrasting interpretations of the 'facts' and seek to persuade an imagined audience accordingly. Students will decide on the format their stories will take. The stories will be accompanied by an account (details to be negotiated) of how the group approached the task, including their use of particular linguistic, cultural and multi-modal devices to make persuasive cases.

2) Small groups of students will constitute themselves as multi-agency teams working on a whole-school development issue. Each member of the group will lead on preparing a submission from the point of view of one professional or community member, and the group as a whole will work on an account of how the topic was identified and analysed, how conflicts were resolved, and final outcomes arrived at.

3) In response to a local, national or global crisis or contentious issue, each student will develop a teaching activity designed to enable pupils of their chosen age range to ask questions and develop age-appropriate understanding. The activities will be presented in class (probably as an in-role teaching activity) to other students in role in small groups, with peer and tutor feedback.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand how multiple literacies underpin teaching in contemporary times
  2. Deconstruct verbal, pictorial, media and statistical texts drawing on a range of specialised skills associated with the five teacher literacies
  3. Design creative teaching activities to enable pupils' development as critical readers
  4. Analyse their learning on this course in relation to relevant core concepts of social justice, sustainability, global perspectives, digital and statistical literacies and professional inquiry skills.
Reading List
Apple, M. (2014) Official Knowledge: Democratic Education in a Conservative Age (3rd edition). Abingdon, Routledge.
Cope, B. & Kalantzis, M. (Eds.) (2015) A Pedagogy of Multiple Literacies: learning by design. Basingstoke, Palsgrave Macmillan.
Gould, S. J. (1991) The Mismeasure of Man (2nd edition). London, Norton & Company
Tyson, L. (2015) Critical Theory Today. Abingdon, Routledge
Wolf, A. (2002), Does Education Matter? Myths about Education and Economic Growth, London: Penguin.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Use knowledge, skills and understanding In applying a range of strategies and techniques of enquiry associated with digital literacy, inter-professional literacy, linguistic literacy, political literacy and statistical literacy.

Identify, conceptualise and define new and abstract problems and issues through the application of teacher literacies.

Develop original and creative responses to problems and issues in school contexts.

Use a wide range of ICT applications to support and enhance their work, and adjust features to suit specific purposes.

Undertake critical evaluations of a wide range of numerical and graphical data relating to education.

Demonstrate leadership and initiative and make an identifiable contribution to change and development and/or new thinking.
Keywordsteacher literacies
Course organiserDr Shereen Benjamin
Tel: (0131 6)51 6147
Course secretaryMs Mairi Ross
Tel: (0131 6)51 4241
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