Critical Literacy Essay

2333 words - 9 pages

As we enter into the new millennium, a whole host of questions will arise concerning the direction in which our country is heading. As a student who will soon become a decision-maker in the real world, the question of how to go about making conscious decisions on how to approach the issues directly affecting my life and those of my contemporaries seems to be of foremost concern. This essay will attempt to illustrate the crucial role critical literacy skills could take in shaping those decision-making process and their outcomes.What is "Critical Literacy"? The term critical literacy could potentially have a number of meanings in different contexts. For the purposes of this essay, however, I will adopt a narrow view of critical literacy as the ability to critically examine the production of cultural knowledge, specifically the political and economic structures that play an important role in the creation of cultural norms. Critical literacy is a process that begins in the halls of our schools, but is used as a tool by students and teachers to examine broader issues that exist outside the classroom. This narrow definition of critical literacy is preferable to a broader definition in that it is necessary to condense the scope of what critical literacy means in order to avoid the trap of discussing theory without it's applicability to wider societal problems. A narrow definition of critical literacy also serves to make the concepts embodied by critical literacy easier to digest for the reader. A text dense on theory may discourage the true message of constant questioning of the status quo culture from being apparent to the reader. One could spend a lifetime discussing the semantics of what critical literacy should and should not be. This approach, although having merits of it's own, is not the intended focus of this essay.The Politics of Aporia My parents recently made an interesting observation about my generation. They claim that the young adults who are beginning to have a say in the political process are abandoning this valuable endeavor and living lives of political apathy. Frank Rich recently espoused this view in a New York Times editorial. His claim was that political cynicism runs so deep these days that "more Americans care about who is going to be voted off the island in 'Survivor' than who will be the next vice president" (Rich A27). These dire predictions of the downfall of political awareness could be written off as uninformed guesses about what Americans care more about, but unfortunately, recent history seems to indicate that my parents and Frank Rich are on to something. On the national level, one can look to the debacle that was the 2000 presidential election to see how many Americans have simply become soured to the whole political process. The state of Florida was the final battleground in the 2000 election. George W. Bush and Al Gore were separated by less than 1000 votes, and to complicate...

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