Critical Pedagogy and Youth: Accounts of Enactment in Multiliterate Culture
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Curriculum and policy documents in Australia, and specifically Queensland, are underpinned by a socially critical agenda which foregrounds the principles of active participation and social justice. The implementation of these curricula requires teachers to employ the methods and approaches of critical pedagogy. What is in question is the capacity of such pedagogical and curriculum approaches to be genuinely transformative such that young people lead lives where social justice and social betterment are paramount. This study seeks to understand the extent to which young people are prepared to invest in such principles when they are part of a choice generation, with its focus on lifestyle and consumerism. The study focuses on the accounts of a group of high school students for whom emancipation is not a key issue. These accounts are contextualised within the broader social discourses that influence the choices made by these young people. The discourse worlds that are evident in their accounts include youth culture, schooling and broader society. These discourse worlds have been captured as instances by using the participants’ multimodal texts as prompts for learning conversations, semi-structured interviews and focus group interviews. They have been interpreted within a (critical) poststructuralist framework, whereby the transformative possibilities of critical theory could be utilised, viewed through a poststructural lens. The key analytical foci involve the processes of subjectification, and the role of power and hegemony in the heteroglossic lives of these young people. The data were analysed using an approach that is informed by the tradition of critical discourse analysis (CDA). This is a multidisciplinary approach that enables critical engagement with questions of power and subjectivity, while at the same time paying close attention to the specificity of text. The study illuminates the negotiations of these young people as they traverse the complex terrain of their worlds which comprise competing and contradictory discourses of youth, schooling and society. The visual metaphor of a kaleidoscope has been used to (re)present the multifarious nature of both the study itself, and the worlds of the youth participants. The findings from this study indicate that these young people show evidence of achieving the socially critical outcomes which are embedded in their school programs. However, their accounts show little evidence of transforming such outcomes into everyday practices or performances of emancipatory participation. Contradictions in the discourses of schooling have been made visible through the findings in this study. It is concluded that even though schools (as illustrated at the site of this study) may underpin their curriculum with the ideals of active participation for social change; other more potent neo-liberal discourses negate such ideals in the enactment of such programs.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School of Cognition, Language and Special Education
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