In recent years, academic literacy has been a subject of heated scholarly and political debates. How academic literacy is defined, whom it serves, and what its purposes are shape both educational policies and the pedagogical practices adopted in classrooms. Any definition of academic literacy, its purposes and its learners also constructs powerful notions of difference. For instance, many traditional definitions of academic literacy posit “out of school” literacy (or literacies) as its opposite; current literacy standards and performance measures create categories of students as able or struggling; and so on. At a time when English classrooms around the world are becoming more multicultural, multilingual and international, how might understandings of academic literacy respond to cultural, linguistic, gender, economic, (dis)ability and other differences? How can literacy be taught to difference without reducing it to sameness? Framing the curriculum around dominant cultural literacy and establishing communal homogeneity, whilst de-legitimizing the Other and announcing ever-new strangers, is not feasible in a new multilingual, multiculural order. There is an increasing need to resist conservative tendencies and to continue a socially critical model of literacy education that is more response-able to the lives of strangers and other forms of difference in a late-modern, globalized society at the same time that it provides opportunities for all students to expand their communicative repertoires and to gain agency in the “design of their social futures” (New London Group, 2000). Articles in this issue respond in different ways to this agenda.
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Field of Research
130204 English and Literacy Curriculum and Pedagogy (excl LOTE, ESL and TESOL)
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