Rodriguez’s Chapter 3 in Teaching Culturally Sustaining and Inclusive Young Adult Literature focuses on the inclusion aspect of the book. Adolescent concerns often center around identity and belonging. Adolescents that identify as members of out-groups, those that are not part of the dominate cultures norms, often have trouble finding belonging or being happy with their identity. The importance of incorporating diverse young adult literature should be readily apparent from the needs of adolescents. While students that identify with minority populations may feel excluded from main stream norms if they can see parts of themselves in literature it can help them feel like the belong at least in our classrooms and hopefully instill a learning space with a sense of inclusion that all are welcome.
Miller’ Queer Literacy Framework offer one literary lens approach to analysis literature beyond just selecting a wide variety of novels. Actively engaging with the novels is necessary to bring students to understand diverse and foreign perspectives. Critically thinking through even diverse texts as Sensoy and Marshall’s piece “Save the Muslim Girl!” illustrates. Young adult fiction, and all literature, can either intentionally or unintentionally reinforce stereotypes and norms. The example used in the piece covers how the typical girl in Western authored literature about Muslim girls puts them in a passive position, condemns the veil and burka wholly, and that they need to be saved by the West. This then puts forth the message that the “East” needs to be saved, that they do not work to save themselves (therefore serving as propaganda pieces that encourage foreign military intervention), and that individuals religious choices can be offhandedly condemned.
Even diverse literature with good intentions can be problematic which just increases the need to apply critical literacy consistently and continuously in a classroom. Approaching topics on marginalized groups in a way that further stereotypes them will only push them away and continue the cycle of suppressing differences while at the same time making a classroom setting hostile. As Ari says in the novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, “I hated being volunteered. The problem with my life was that it was someone else's idea.” Adolescents do not want to be someone else’s idea. They want to be themselves just as everyone does.
Providing mirrors to our oppressed student groups is important to give those students a voice and sense of belonging while telling them it’s okay to be them. However, a great amount of care is needed to select literature that avoids stereotyping. Along with that engaging with the texts is necessary to both critically think on literature so we can further prevent harm and also so that students that do not find themselves looking into a mirror can instead use diverse young adult literature as a window to better understand their peers as individuals.
Resource: The Queer Literacy Framework has been attached so other educators and readers can look it over and potentially use it as a literary lens in their classroom to further student critical reading.
Coffey’s Critical Literacy article sets out to describe what exactly “Critical Literacy” is and how it can be done in a classroom. With how much the term gets bandied about it is surprising that care is not taken to ensure everyone knows what critical literacy is. In summary, Critical Literacy is reading and critiquing the messages that appear, both intentional and unintentional, in texts in order to identify and name relationships. As Freire phrased learning to read consists of learning to name and rename the word and the world. Readers must understand the text and the world in order to recognize patterns and point them out so they can critique the relationships they find.
In Coffey’s piece I found the focus on action an interesting and important part of the puzzle of teaching critical literacy. When acknowledging inherent biases and problems in text and therefore society (word and the world) students can be discouraged that everything is terrible and nothing they do will solve the many problems in the world. As teachers we do not want to encourage nihilism, disillusionment, and apathy. The purpose of critical literacy is to identify the world in order to confront and resist challenges and problems we recognize. Showing students that not only can they be critical readers and leaners but also agents of change will lead critical literacy to be a liberating activity instead of a merely depressing one.
It has been covered many times in education that when students feel the curriculum is related to them and their problems and interests, they become more engaged and better learners. Critical literacy is an ideal spot to help every class become more involved. When students identify problems in texts and curriculum the teacher can extend the lesson into acknowledging, addressing, and working on solutions to those problems. Turning a classroom of students that can use critical literacy to identify problems and then extend that into project-based learning seems ideal.
Instead of acknowledging defeat teachers need to extend critical literacy into action. Projects based on writing letters to activist and politicians, forming research projects, investigating more sources and possible solutions, designing advertisements advocating for social change and more will involve students into problems they care about and provide them with a greater sense of agency.
Critical literacy needs to part of advocacy and change and not merely a pacifist acknowledging of problems. Involving problems solving and projects into curriculum that involves critical literacy is necessary to create a beneficial curriculum for students.
Resource idea: https://www.gutenberg.org/ is a library of open source books. Don't have a book on a certain idea you want to cover in class? Take a look through Project Gutenberg and see if they can have something you can use.
Kumashiro talks on the difficulties of reading literature of any kind in an liberating rather than oppressive way requires using a variety of lenses and asking meta questions like “Why do we say some interpretations are more correct than others.” Reading and learning is an inherently political and biased act since each reader bring their own world and ideas into the discussion. Using literary lenses and asking probing questions as Kumashiro suggests can help students learn to interpret not only texts but also the politics behind texts and interpretations.
Appleman asserts that literary lenses will enable students to read critically. Both Kumashiro and Appleman seem to agree that literature can lead students to thinking critically and fighting oppression. Appleman though calls explicitly for the use of Literary Theory in classrooms to teach students to think about issues that concern them. Kumashiro indirectly leads the reader to the idea that students should be taught to read under lenses in order to prevent oppression. An important part of Kumashiro’s writings is:
The ‘classics’ are not inherently oppressive: They can be useful in an anti-oppressive lesson if teachers ask questions about the ways they reinforce the privilege of only certain experiences and perspectives. Conversely, “multicultural” literature is not inherently anti-oppressive: They can reinforce stereotypes if teachers fail to ask questions about how students are reading them. (Kumashiro, 2015)
With this perspective it allows an educator to potentially teach any text, even one they find oppressive or even just dislike. Having a collection of curriculum, activities, and teaching strategies that allows for questioning and inquiry into any kind of text. A teacher will not always have total control over what they need to teach for any of numerous reasons. Therefore, teachers need to be able to utilize all sorts of materialize in ways that will positively engage their learners.
Appleman covering Literary Theory Lenses offers more direct suggestions for possible ways to cover texts in a variety of ways. By utilizing different lenses, we can show students how to approach text from outside their own from Feminist lenses to Critical Race Theory and more. Freire says the teaching is an inherently political act and most would agree. Learning theories, texts, and hierarchies are all inherently political due to their nature. Everyone has inherent biases and outlooks based on their world experiences. Teachers should not be dissuaded from using different critical lenses because it is “too political” anyone that makes that claim has not seriously considered the work that educators do. Appleman even shows how she engages learners in her book by using Ray Ban sunglasses and short poetry to demonstrate how literary lenses can be applies and help use learn through them. With this sort of open approach learners of a multitude of levels and engagement can learn through hem and become critical readers.
Appleman and Kumashiro offer a way to show students how to become a critical reader which a goal for teachers everywhere. The potential in literary theories covered by Appleman and Kumashiro should not be ignored of forgotten even if traditionally literary theories are though of as to “academic” for K-12 education, they have real and direct meaning for our students.
Today's resource: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/
While having a number of lesson plans you can adapt to the material you have is the goal sometimes that's not possible. TPT has resources other teachers have made that can get you a head start on your lesson planning if you have a time crunch.
Going with the Flow and But That’s Just Good Teaching seem to connect through the idea that creating an effective learning for students must focus on engaging students. Utilizing the ideas of culturally relevant pedagogy and inquiry-based learning would likely create the best environment for students.
Neither alone would likely be able to wholly engage students. If the inquiry question does not interest the students or, even worse, they are not allowed to pursue the question in the way that interests or motivates them then they will not participate in the work. However, even if the teacher tries to make the classroom culturally relevant to their students interests but fails to provide an active learning process then once again the students will not participate due to a lack of involvement in their own learning process.
Also, an important link to both these articles is the idea that both culturally relevant pedagogy and inquiry-based learning is basing the students on a foundation of critical thinking. Going with the Flow wants students to ask pointed questions that are based around guiding the students into critically thinking about what they do, how they can use it, and what they can take away from the material. Importantly culturally relevant pedagogy according to Ladson-Billings “students must develop a broader sociopolitical consciousness that allows them to critique the cultural norms, values, mores, and institutions that produce and maintain social inequities” (Ladson-Billings, 162). The classroom must accept and include diverse cultures and critically evaluate the dominate culture. Going with the Flow compliments this through “meaningful making” the students must make complains or take a stance on the position through their inquiry. By using culturally relevant “essential questions” or include culturally relevant questions during the inquiry process a teacher can combine the cultural relevancy and inquiry model into one whole to promote critical thinking.
Many schools and most educators promote the idea of critical thinking as the goal of education or at least one desired outcome, however; a curriculum that focuses on what Freire calls “banking education” is focused on breadth of content and not on using what the students have supposedly learned. It would seem obvious that trying to teach someone without being able to tell them why would lead to poor outcomes however that is what happens to many K-12 students. Saying to students that they should do the work just so they can achieve a grade or go to college is not good enough. If a student only knows “banking education” it would be wonder if they wanted to go to college and no one should blame them for that. Adults will not accept an answer of “because I say so” and students should be treated as the thinking individuals that they are too.
Ladson-Billings also says that a common thread amongst the high performing teachers were that they were “equitable” and “they encourage the students to ask as teachers.” Having students be inquirers puts onus on them to take charge in their learning and become partners in the educational process. This puts more responsibility and agency on the student. When students are given choice, agency, it has been shown that they become more motivated and involved in their own learning. Letting students use knowledge and create with knowledge creates better outcomes for everyone in the classroom. Students are thinking, reasoning, and feeling individuals and not mere receptacles to be filled from the teachers well of knowledge.
Ladson-Billings and Going with the Flow show that learning should be an active process and that knowledge is a form of creation. Passivity will never be the best way to position the student in relation to both the teacher and learning.
At the end are the two articles I am comparing available for you to pursue. Also, is a lecture summary and guide for inquiry-based learning for your quick reference convenience