Pumpkin soup and grammatics: a critical literacy case study with Year 2

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Critical literacy and the discourse analysis which it employs have usually focused on texts which are ultimately viewed negatively for such problems as bias, use of stereotypes and the marginalisation of minority populations and dissenting views. Classroom practices in critical literacy have relied mostly on content analysis as a tool for developing students’ critical orientation to text. This paper argues for the need to examine the language of texts in order for critical literacy to take account of form and not only content, and in particular the value of systemic functional grammar as a tool for understanding and talking about text. It also argues for the inclusion of more positive discourse analysis in the classroom critical literacy program.

The case study describes classroom work with Year 2 children reading and talking about the picture book Pumpkin soup by Helen Cooper. The main data used are transcripts of classroom talk in which the children demonstrate beginning critical understandings of the constructedness of narrative. The development of these understandings is interpreted using the Vygotskian notion of ‘Zone of Proximal Development’.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBridging the gap between ideas and doing research
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 3rd Annual Postgraduate Research Conference
EditorsTerrence Neville Hays, Rafat Hussain
Place of PublicationArmidale, Australia
PublisherUniversity of New England
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)1921208244
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


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