Dialogue and Creativity in Literacy Classrooms
English educational policy shares an international trend towards prescriptive curricula linked to measurable outcomes and high stakes assessment. This has been particularly noticeable in the field of literacy, where the National Literacy Strategy demands conformity to strict objectives and teaching patterns. Constraints on students' opportunities to make creative and critical responses to text have increased.
Two recent government initiatives appear to signal a change of direction. Firstly, arising from comparative international research into classroom interaction, the government has commissioned teacher-training materials aimed at establishing Vygotskyan dialogue in classrooms, encouraging more reflective student contributions. Secondly, in response to anxieties about the narrowing of the curriculum, the government has launched material encouraging a greater emphasis on creativity.
This session will examine the political and philosophical foundations for this apparent change of direction, arguing that it constitutes an attempt to reconcile a child-centred view of the right to literacy with a commitment to a market-driven view of literacy as a commodity within global capitalism. I will also argue that there are contradictions between the Vygotskyan quest for consensus between teacher and learner, and the more individualist search for creative and critical response. Using examples of classroom dialogue, I will attempt to identify ways in which teachers can work with and around prescribed curricula to facilitate critical and creative responses to text. Implications for the role of the teacher as a reflective professional within authoritarian policy contexts will then be discussed.
Hunt George (United Kingdom)
Lecturer in Language in Education
Moray House School of Education
University of Edinburgh
Formerly a primary school teacher with the Inner London Education Authority, Mr Hunt has worked in literacy education for 25 years, and has participated in projects in Dominica, Mongolia and Tanzania.
Person as Subject
(30 min. Conference Paper, English)