The Education Library collection includes resources that support a number of activities, including educational research and teaching–both in the Faculty of Education and in K-12 schools. On our shelves, you will find picture books and curriculum items alongside scholarly works. Our hope is that you approach and evaluate all materials in our collection, and those you encounter in other libraries and classrooms, with a critically literate disposition.
What is Critical Literacy?
McNicol (2016) describes critical literacy in the following way: “critical literacy is concerned with the social and cultural contexts in which texts (including not simply written texts, but digital texts, multimedia, visual materials and so forth) are both created and read….The approach taken in critical literacy is not to read texts in isolation, but to develop an understanding of the cultural, ideological and sociolinguistic contexts in which they are created and read” (p. xi). Critical literacy requires us to go beyond what we read on the page to consider the larger narrative in which a text is situated, asking questions about who created a text and why.
Watch educator Dr. Allen Luke further discuss critical literacy, and the role of teaching in developing a critically literate approach to texts, in the following video:
The Learning Exchange. (2018). Allen Luke: Critical literacy.
Retrieved from https://thelearningexchange.ca/videos/allan-luke-critical-literacy-2/
Note that closed captions are available.
Indigenous Materials in the Education Library
The texts by and about Indigenous peoples in the Library collection have been added to our shelves (both physical and virtual) over the course of decades and, together, offer multiple representations of Indigenous peoples. In some cases, those representations are inauthentic, problematic, and inaccurate. Those materials remain in the collection to support current and future research but may be unsuitable for use in K-12 schools, at least without properly contextualizing and carefully considering the purpose behind their use. We encourage teacher candidates to apply a critically literate approach to selecting materials from the Library to support their teaching about Indigenous peoples, perspectives, and principles of learning, seeking authenticity in the texts they choose.
According to the First Nations Education Steering Committee (2016), authentic texts are “historical or contemporary texts that:
- present authentic First Peoples voices (i.e., are created by First Peoples or through the substantial contributions of First Peoples);
- depict themes and issues that are important within First Peoples cultures…;
- incorporate First Peoples story-telling techniques and features as applicable….” (“What are Authentic First Peoples Texts?”)
To get a sense of the varying representations of Indigenous peoples found in our collection, have a look at some of the problematic titles we’ve pulled for the display. Then, compare them with the authentic alternatives. What differences do you see?
McNicol, S. (2016). Critical literacy for information professionals. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/yyoaoxoz
The Learning Exchange. (2018). Allen Luke: Critical literacy. Retrieved from https://thelearningexchange.ca/videos/allan-luke-critical-literacy-2/
First Nations Education Steering Committee. (2016). Authentic First Peoples resources k-9. Retrieved from http://www.fnesc.ca/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/PUBLICATION-61502-updated-FNESC-Authentic-Resources-Guide-October-2016.pdf