Discuss about the Literacy development through the inclusion of critical literacies in early childhood play based education.
Literacy development through the inclusion of critical literacies in early childhood play based education This has been an issue of long debate, the critical literacy in the early childhood phase. Firstly, it is very important to thoroughly understand the underlying basic concept behind the critical literacy. The debate highlights the points of how to teach it, how to measure, and how to set the standards. Ironically what is understood from literacy is debatable. Literacy is a unique phenomenon, natural skill to be qualifiable (Salvia, 2012).
It is a set of tools for learning and effective functioning in daily life it also includes reading writing, speaking, listening, viewing and then graphically representing from least proficient to most proficient. It is very important to motivate children to delve into critical literacy from a tender age so that critical thinking can be developed in them. This essay highlights the intersection of critical literacy in society and culture by taking into consideration “critical literacy” and “sociocultural” theories in discussion. The essay also criticizes popular culture for depicting consumerism. The essay also highlights the inclusion of critical literacy in childcare settings and the manner in which it can be adopted to suit the needs of a diverse range of learners.
The early aspect of learning establishes foundation upon which most contemporary human beings develop their conception of the world. Effective literary development is one that contributes and collaborates in the collective growth of the conscious for the greater good of both the person and society. The idea of introducing diverse literary skills was itself new(Anthony, 2009). The critical literacy is typically dominated by the developmental theory with its assumptions of the naturally developing child and emerging literacy. The critical literacy concept of learning has its roots in the critical theory. It puts literacy and language as principle aspect in creating continuation into asymmetrical power relations in the society. It is understanding more simply as a concept based on learning through language and literacy (Brighouse, Ladd, Loeb, & Swift, 2015).
Critical literacy highlights the important role of education in the extent to which the world-wide views are expressed, heard, strengthened or ignored. The critical literacy uses text to refer to a wide range of expressive medium. while seeing it is read uncritically the dominant view in the world always appear to be correct, natural and strongly followed while the view less spoken about less highlighted are either ignored or seem less true or powerful (Fellowes & Oakley, 2010). Critical literacy emphasizes on all texts being fundamentally biased. The perspective behind a written text is based on the beliefs of the writer within the political, social and cultural pools of knowledge. This denotes that critical literacy is a social practice. As Mitchell (2012) states that all content is motivated, there is no neutral stance from where a test can be written or read. An important aspect here is, to be totally independent to critically analyse text to be able to provide views that are ignored. Lee (2015) points that meanings that is constructed of texts are most often the meanings of those who have the most power within a community.
The sociocultural theories by Vygotsky and Rogoff signify the importance of culture and society in literacy and learning of the children (Arthur, et al. 2017). It is argued that the children experience distinct forms of literacy in distinct contexts of the society and learn in different ways. This is also the concept that introduced the children to popular culture. The popular culture includes cartoon, rhymes and programs. It is further suggested that the children tend to use the acquired knowledge from the popular cultures in the construction of identities and play. Along with numerous benefits, popular culture also has some disadvantages. It is asserted that the popular culture tends to develop learning of second language while maintaining the home language. But the popular culture is also criticised for enhancing ‘consumerism’. The most significant example of this is favourite characters of children from television programs on lunch boxes, shoes, shirts, watches and cereal boxes allure children to buy the products. Due to the fact that the popular culture tends to develop racism, gender stereotype and normalisation of violence; it is avoided by the educators.
Critical approach to literacy lets an educator examine the way patterns of inequality are constructed and maintained and explore. Thus critical literacy at some point helps them to understand the social culture theory that is easier to be put into practice if started at an early age. Thus the whole agenda of critical literacy focuses on providing opportunities to make children have connections across time and places, establish healthy and varied relations, encounter different point of views and be able to justify their own opinions (Mitchell, 2012). This in turn will help them not only to enrich their own life but to also be able to face new challenges
This relatively new concept of Critical literacy is quite a new agenda for the early childhood education. Early childhood developers are believed to have complex understanding of child development and early education to be able to provide rich, meaningful, professionally enriching experience for all children. The basic point of introducing empirical and critical literacy at a very young age is to be able to develop well studied professional development qualities in the young budding stars of tomorrow.
Critical literacy basically sees consciousness as socially produced in language and both language and consciousness are areas of struggle and potential change asserts that the context of crucial issues in early childhood (Ni, 2011), the book defines the good start, grow smart approach towards professionalism and career building in the early childhood with the context of introducing critical learning at play school level. The ‘linguistic theory’ by Halliday describes learning of languages as a process ‘meaning making’. Three approaches are presented to integrate critical literacy in the learning of children. These are deconstruction, reconstruction and juxtaposition. Along with that, discussions and questions are also major component of critical literacy (Fellowes & Oakley, 2010).
Candace Koby in her book “Critical literacy in early childhood” explains the extreme influence of the beliefs in the choices that are made and that never let teaching become neutral. It also explains critical literacy as a self-discovery program during which the children are invited to take unsteady steps to crave their own beliefs and ideologies by questioning and finding answers (Haigh, 2016). The Early Years Learning Framework also votes towards supporting children’s critical thinking in the fifth outcome by asserting that the children listen, view and respond towards different types of text for examining the meaning (ACARA, 2011).
While emphasizing on the idea of critical literacy in child care setting the fact also cannot be negated that there has to be balance between the conventional and critical learning.
Much attention and focus has always been given to reading at an early stage of life. Ni (2011) states this has led to dumping down of the childcare setting curriculum. In order to just achieve literacy standards but also to prepare children to be smartly ready to face the tomorrow's world critical literacy practices are mandatory to be introduced as an integral part of the curriculum from a very early age. There are number of ways that the element of critical literacy can be inculcated in the play group curriculum children can be made involved in civil action. The children can be encouraged to challenge the ideologies presented in the texts and more simply giving them a practice to question their own lives and the lives of people they see around them.
A certain group although has total opposite views regarding the effectiveness of critical literacy at a very early age. They believe that introducing this art at a very crisp age can snatch away the natural innocence and growing process of the child. Discussing real issue with the child takes away the charm of reading stories and creating imagination world (Bishop, 2014).
Even for diverse learner’s critical literacy may not equally prove all that effective, as children from different linguistics background relate differently to different symbols and meanings. It is necessary for the educators to collaborate with the families to incorporate a diverse range of text to engage in equal opportunity in critical literacy. Messages construct in the texts do not always tend to present the experience of their families and children and their vision towards the world (Lee, 2015). This will happen in most cases with the children of the minority group. The children may actively and openly start asking questions related to their contemporary and futuristic gender related roles. Such practices may place a toddler in a feud with his guardians regarding gender beliefs and social expectations so in order to include critical literacy at a very young age the full involvement of families along with their complete support has to be undertaken.
Some efficient teaching strategies include an effective pedagogy for critical literacy, shared thinking between children and educators. It is required from the side of the educators to involve the families for reflecting in the discussion about consumerism, racism, etc. Such pedagogy also ensures the reflection of critical text and turning the perspectives of the world (DEEWR, 2009). Critical literacy practice from early childhood can support toddlers and children to understand that content can carry a number of information that may or may not be present expressly. This can help child learn that text can be critically examined along with some skills to go with. Brighouse, et al. (2015) examined critical literacy practices that can be easily included at an early age suggests by comparing various traditional stories with alternative versions, discussions how children can generate gender roles within the dominant cultures. As points out that since infancy children are indulged in the texts of popular culture and their capability to understand good and bad, their heroes, races, social power are all learned from this text (Lee, 2015).
Children dramatic play can also support critical literacy by helping them explore different social roles and characters and negotiating and exploring the basis of assumptions of these characters. Children imaginations can also provide answers and analyse situations like “girls always playing the doll corner”. For new-born children and babies displaying of basic proficiency practices challenge them to build up the expectations that text can be addressed, so presenting basic education at playgroup level can simply challenge youngster's understanding and expectations.
For childcare setting age, modelling of critical literacy practices supports them to develop the expectations that text can be questioned.
Introducing critical literacy at childcare setting level can always challenge child’s understanding and expectations. It can be concluded by accepting the fact that the advent of critical learning shapes our understanding of the world from various perspectives. Scholars come across so many possible texts and messages that they can be trained to develop, understand, interact and respond to any kind of situations in future.
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