Contains Cannibalism and Barry Manilow

This was my “trigger warning” for our Becoming a Reader class this week in which we rounded off our work on traditional tales with a rendition of The Story of the Grandmother – and the meeting at the crossroads with Bzou, the werewolf –  and a look at how culture informs our reading of a text, for which we used Copacabana.

I rather like this session: “What’s a ‘showgirl’?” “What do we understand by a ‘dress cut down to there’?” and just who did shoot who[m]?  It allows me to present the work of Hilary Janks and Mary Roche not just as ways to look at children’s reading but also at us as adults becoming readers. I am fortunate to be able to explore this further with Mat in his Reading for Pleasure MA module tonight.

Janks makes a powerful point – or set of points – here:

“…decoding is often equated with reading and is associated with functional or basic literacy….The interrogation of texts, reading against the text, is tied to critical literacy and implies that readers recognise texts as selective versions of the world; they are not subjected to them and they can imagine how texts can be transformed to represent a different set of interests.”

and if I had one wish for our third year students, or maybe even just a wish arising from this module, it would be that their time at Brookes  has allowed them to develop just this critical literacy –  that policy, just like Garner or Shakespeare or the EPPE review, can only ever present selective versions of the world. I’m not asking for cynicism, or a world in which the principal graduate attribute is becoming a Radio 4 listener – but for an engagement with ideas which asks about viewpoint and opinion and world view in a critical way.

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