It is quite difficult for me to write about the Critical Literacy & ELT School. Perhaps it’s because I was so involved in it from the beginning and I have written so many emails, reports, posts concerning it that it seems I have nothing significantly new to add. There is also the fact that so many colleagues have written such comprehensive and interesting comments on it that I feel as if everything has already been said.
There is one thing though that may have been overlooked in all this: the apparent paradox the Critical Literacy approach has caused during our sessions there in Brasilia.
Critical Literacy is very much connected to social issues and global justice and most of the OSDE material deals with notions of development, democracy, globalisation, poverty and so on. These are broad topics that call for responsible action inside a community and demand collective engagement. However, in basically all our discussions during the event the personal aspect of CL was dominant. The now almost clichè questions, ’Where does it come from?’ and ‘Where is it leading to?’ where not addressed to these broad issues themselves but to each one’s attitudes towards them. The questions were not, for instance, ‘Where does poverty come from?’, but most of the times, ‘Where does my own attitude to poverty come from?’
Perhaps we have all instinctively realised that any action to change situations of global conflict and injustice must be deeply rooted in our understanding of ourselves and of the other that is close to us. Perhaps we have realised that a profound internal change must be in operation, if we really want to engage to CL in a way that is liberating, instead of doing it in a way that will just confirm our assumptions and our desire to change the other to transform them in our own projections. On the other hand, all this personal approach may well be a way of avoiding a more comprehensive analysis of the historical, economic and political context in which we are inserted.