The term critical reading appears frequently in educational literature but the meaning attached to it varies widely. Much of evidence regarding both the abilities inherent in the skill of reading critically and the factors related to such competency. Research in critical reading that is focused on high school students is especially teeny .In this chapter reports of research on literacy, critical literacy, critical reading as one aspect of critical literacy and critical thinking as an introduction to reading critically are included. Pertinent theoretical articles are cited when they help to clarify purposes, structure, or findings in area of critical reading.
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2.1. The role of literacy in modern society
We need to understand more than our individual experiences, in modern society we must be able to get and give information and most information is passed through the written word, and anyone who finds reading difficult is seriously handicapped in the civilized struggle for a place in the world. In some sense, children are sent to school so that they will learn to read. Future academic success depends on how well they master the reading skills.
Bialystok (2001) says that literacy is the central purpose of early schooling. Research shows that Literacy is a key concept that enables one’s to access and negotiate the world around. Literacy help to communicate effectively, gain respect from peers and authority, participate in communities in a meaningful way, and fully contribute to society. Alliance for Excellent Education. (2004)Additionally , Tankersley, K. (2005) states that “The ultimate goal of literacy instruction is for students to be able to process text at the level of evaluation, synthesis, analysis, and interpretation”.P48.
2.2. Notions of Critical literacy
Critical literacy can push the learner into the zone of “All this learning really isn’t so great”. According to Wink (2005) Critical literacy means that we understand how and why knowledge and power are constructed by whom and for whom. In supporting this view Christie (2005) states that “Critical literacy intended to capture a pedagogical concern to develop users of literacy who are critical and questioning about what they read, as well as discriminating about how they use writing themselves. Stevens & Bean (2007) are justified in saying that active questioning of the stance found within, behind, and among texts is the highlighted role of Critical literacy. Thus, Critical literacy supports students to ask regular questions about representation, benefit, marginalization, and interests. Further that how children are helped to make sense of what they read is more concerned in Critical literacy than The mechanics of how learners taught to read .Meier (2009). Uygulama (2009:129)add that “in classroom practices ,students are expected to contribute with their own experiences, opinions, criticisms”. Clearly ,Critical literacy provide an environment for genuine two-way communication in the classroom. Gregory & Cahill (2009) they further claim that in the classroom, a focus on critical literacy encourages a deeper look at texts; specifically examining the relationships among texts, language, power, social groups and social practices.p:11
A similar view is taken by Alagozlu(2007)who goes further to say that :
“Critical literacy practices seem to be important since them open new horizons in teaching English as a foreign language, therefore students who learn to think critically can transform their thinking in an easy way into some practical action to make a better society. He also emphasizes that ” With a view to making curriculum synchronize with the modern society, critical literacy reveals a new perspective, i.e., critical literacy in EFL teaching is therefore highly significant”.
McLaughlin & DeVoogd (2004) highlights four principles to elaborate what critical literacy means.Critical Literacy focuses on:
a. issues of power and promotes reflection, transformation, and action;
b. the problem and its complexity;
c. using dynamic Techniques
d. evaluating multiple perspectives
2.3. Critical thinking
Rudinow et al (2004) define “Critical Thinking as a natural development of your reasoning capacity with many useful applications in your daily life”.p:11 Verlinden ( 2005:25) added that “Critical thinking involves making judgments in the uncertain conditions”. He also states that Critical thinking provide a better chance of making decisions that are not based on faulty reasoning.
According to Paul & Elder (2006) Improvement the quality of thinking by using skillful level of thinking: analyzing, assessing, and reconstructing is the highlighted mood of Critical thinking. In supporting their view, they stress that “Critical thinking, then, has three dimensions: an analytic, an evaluative, and a creative component. As critical thinkers, we analyze thinking in order to evaluate it. We evaluate it in order to improve it”.p.xx. Thus, critical thinking is the systematic monitoring of thought with the end of improvement.
(Harris & Hodges, 1995 cited in Taffe & Gwinn 2007)support theses researcher ‘s idea by saying that critical thinking applied to literacy as critical literacy, which is not only the ability to read and write, but also the ability to use reading and writing to think about, evaluate, and solve problems.
Based on all these facts, Alagozlu(2007)believes critical thinkers judge about an idea and thought by establishing logical relationships based on reliable evidence. Furthermore, Students can recognize the following aspects in a text based on critical thinking framework :
The main ideas of the text (Critical reading attempts to evaluate, develop and argue the central claims of the text).
2- judgements about context
3-kinds of reasoning the text employs
4. reliable evidence the text uses5-the strengths and weaknesses of an argument.
According to Alagozlu(2007) “Integrating critical thinking at education might make students aware that they are important as individuals. Such an integration will make them believe that their ideas/thoughts, decisions, evaluations are of great value in their education both in the mother tongue and in a foreign language”.
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