Investigating and developing an approach to critical literacy by using the South African short story.
This research explores the possibility of transforming teaching/learning practices within the English (primary language) classroom at secondary school level by using a Critical Literacy approach to classroom practice using the South African short story. It acknowledges the limitations associated with the current classroom practice as regards English primary language at most former House of Delegates' schools (HOD) where the researcher is employed as a teacher. This practice is informed largely by a Cultural Heritage approach to the teaching of text and therefore sets out to examine Critical Literacy as an alternative and, arguably a more relevant set of literacy practices. To enable this, an overview of Critical Literacy is presented. In this literacy approach poststructuralist insights are used to investigate relations of power that underpin texts. The study is theoretically located as poststructural and argues that texts have ideological purposes and investigates how the subject is constructed through the discourses that are conveyed by the language (semiotics) of texts. Further the research examines how the current classroom practice at former HOD schools incorporates the use of commercial study guides, which inscribe a simplistic and often crude version of the Cultural Heritage approach, which teacher-colleagues refer to as the 'content-thematic' approach to the teaching of texts. As three South African short stories (part of the repertoire of prescribed literature for in matriculation English in the province KwaZulu-Natal) are selected to explore how poststructuralist insights can be deployed within a Critical Literacy framework, the research first contextualises them in terms of their postcolonial framework, narrative structure and the discourses that underpin them. The postcolonial framework directs attention to the postcolonial discourses that underwrite these three stories. The narratives and discourses inscribed thereby engage with the effects of colonial practices and powers within a Southern African context. By drawing on insights derived from narrative theory, the research undertakes a critical discourse analysis of three short stories which incorporates a focus on the construction of the narratives of the short stories and the reader or subject positioning they intend. In this way the critical analysis of three short stories examines which readings and subjectivities are privileged through these discourses and which are marginalised by the text. In conclusion this research argues for the inclusion of a Critical Literacy approach to classroom practice within the outcomes based national curriculum for education, also known as Curriculum 2005 (Department of Education, 2002). It argues that the curriculum provides a space for the undertaking of a critical approach to textual practice in a more rigorous and concerted manner. It is proposed that Critical Literacy is an integral aspect of a progressive educational initiative - one that is consonant with the goals of a society undergoing political, social and economic transformation and with social justice.