Presentation Details

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Eleventh International Literacy and Education Research Network Conference on Learning

Resisting Pedagogy: Students' Response to 'Critical Literacy' at a Historically Black South African University

Chrissie Boughey.

In South Africa, the changed demographics of the higher education system following the shift to a democratic dispensation in 1994 has resulted the literacies black students bring with them from historically ‘disadvantaged’ backgrounds being perceived as ‘problematic’. Attempts to remedy this ‘problem’ usually involve the enculturation of black students into dominant academic discourses and literacy practices. In doing this, the idea that uncritical teaching of the conventions of academic discourse will serve to entrench and reproduce the dominance of its power is not necessarily considered.

This paper describes an attempt, at a historically black South African university, to provide students with access to dominant ways of knowing, using language and engaging with written text whilst, at the same time, also equipping them with the tools to critique them. The focus of the paper, however, is on students’ resistance to what went on in the class. In achieving this focus, the paper follows on the work of, for example, Ellsworth (1989) in exploring the ‘repressive myths’ of critical pedagogy. It does this against a background of rapid change in South Africa as previously marginalized communities seek to join a globalising economy.


Chrissie Boughey  (South Africa)
Academic Development Centre
Rhodes University

Chrissie Boughey worked as a language teacher in Britain, Spain and the Middle East before going to South Africa in 1989. In South Africa, she worked initially in the area of student development as large numbers of black students entered higher education following the shift to a democratic dispensation. Since 1999, she has been Director of the Academic Development Centre at Rhodes University and now works mainly in the areas of staff development and policy.

  • Critical Pedagogy
  • Academic Literacy

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)