Avoiding new literacies : ideology, dyslexia, and perceived deficits

Barden, Owen (2016) Avoiding new literacies : ideology, dyslexia, and perceived deficits. In: Disability, avoidance and the academy : challenging resistance. Routledge Advances in Disability Studies . Routledge Taylor & Francis, pp. 45-56. ISBN 9781138858664

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This chapter elaborates Bolt's (2012) concept of critical avoidance through reference to Brian Street's seminal ideological model of literacy (Street, 1984). According to Bolt, critical avoidance occurs when avoidance of disability is replicated at the curricular level, and results in a general lack of informed engagement with disability as well as the perpetuation of tropes and stereotypes associated with impairment. I suggest that critical avoidance is manifest when students labelled as dyslexic are subjected to normalising pedagogies away from the mainstream class and curriculum, and consequently discursively represented as literacy 'strugglers' or 'failures' with Special Educational Needs. Such remedial pedagogies are predicated on the idea of encouraging independence in and through normative literacy skill development. In setting out his ideological model of literacy, Street (1984) critiqued the fallacy inherent in conceptualising literacy simply as a set of individualised cognitive-technical skills to be learnt and ignoring the sociocultural context in which literacy practices are embedded. Attending to the sociocultural context means recognising that texts are enmeshed in, and representative of, power relations, with the artefacts and practices of the professional normative class (Mitchell, this volume) conferring, communicating and consolidating higher social status. Literacy can thus be viewed as tool of oppression as much as one of liberation, one which maintains the hegemonic status quo and demands a substantial 'illiterate' population. I argue that dominant literacy ideology therefore neglects, dismisses, diminishes, belittles, and hence critically avoids the literacy practices of minority groups, illustrating such avoidance through contrasting current UK education policy and rhetoric with emerging, socio-technically mediated literacy practices amongst a small group of students labelled as dyslexic; practices which are meaningful to and motivating for their users, and therefore have powerful implications for agency and learning. In doing so the chapter highlights the ideological aspect of critical avoidance at the curricular, institutional, political and policy levels.

Item Type: Book Section
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Education > Disability and Education
Depositing User: Susan Blagbrough
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2016 12:37
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2016 12:37
URI: https://hira.hope.ac.uk/id/eprint/648

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