Writing For Social Action in Our Digital Age

Writing For Social Action in Our Digital Age

Ted Kesler (Queens College, CUNY, USA)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4345-1.ch017
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Abstract

In this chapter, the author first describe the literacy pedagogy that he implements each year with a cohort of pre-service graduate students across two semesters to develop their social justice awareness, based in progressive education and critical literacy principles. The author then describes the social action writing unit of study that arises from this work, emphasizing multimodal forms of expression and especially the use of digital technologies. The author next focuses on two students who represent the digital composing process and products for social justice that students have created. Using multimodal systems of analysis, the author shows how designing multimodal texts informs pre-service students’ understandings of social justice issues. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the convergence of multimodality and social action writing and implications for pre-service writing instruction and action research with classroom teachers in school settings.
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Theoretical Framework

Social action writing applies democratic principles of progressive education (Dewey, 1917/2008) and critical literacy (Freire, 1970). Both Dewey and Freire posited that learning occurs when we have a real need for knowledge. This need arises when we are actively participating in meaningful experiences that extend beyond the personal, and instead, engage conjoint activity towards greater social good. Dewey stated: “If the living experiencing being is an intimate participant in the activities of the world to which it belongs, then knowledge is a mode of participation, valuable in the degree in which it is effective. It cannot be the idle view of an unconcerned spectator” (p. 290). For Dewey, experiential learning generated dispositions and self-reliance for problem solving. Dewey saw democratic education “as a freeing of individual capacity in a progressive growth directed to social aims” (p. 89).

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