Critical Literacy: Bringing Theory to Praxis

Elizabeth Bishop


This article takes an activist approach to the discussion of critical literacy in theory and in praxis. Critical literacy has long been considered a powerful schema for critical pedagogical pursuits both inside and outside of schools. First, I address the need to negotiate the language around literacy for activist educational pursuits. I then move to define critical literacy, tracing the history of the topic through its theoretical and practical morphology. Finally, I address contemporary examples of critical literacy research, highlighting the limitations of school-based approaches and proffering actionable elements of critical literacy praxis beyond the boundaries of formal educational contexts. In the end, I recommend conceiving of critical literacy as a learning theory to be applied to the study of youth social and political activist organizing outside of schools.


critical literacy, activist research, praxis

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JCT: Journal of Curriculum Theorizing is an interdisciplinary journal of curriculum studies. It offers an academic forum for scholarly discussions of curriculum. Historically aligned with the "reconceptualist" movement in curriculum theorizing and oriented toward informing and affecting classroom practice, JCT presents compelling pieces within forms that challenge disciplinary, genre, and textual boundaries.

The journal is published by the Foundation for Curriculum Theory and is associated with the Bergamo Conference on Curriculum Theory and Classroom Practice, held in the autumn of each year. JCT is indexed in The Education Index.

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