Bridging worlds: What is a critical literacy teacher like you doing in a traditional writing classroom like this?

Yung-chiam (Sherri) Wu, University of Pennsylvania


Methodologically grounded in the framework of practitioner inquiry, this dissertation presents a teacher researcher's story of struggle, a descriptive and analytic narrative of what it means to practice the teaching and learning of writing using a critical literacy curriculum in the highly examination-oriented context of Taiwan. The study was conducted throughout an academic year in a composition class of fifty students which was required for sophomore English majors at a national university in Northern Taiwan. As the hierarchical structure of education in general and the banking model of EFL teaching in particular have failed to provide language learners and teachers in Taiwan the experience of an integrated life, one in which classroom practice is intertwined with rather than separated from the real world, I saw the need for an alternative writing curriculum that not merely connects to but enables us to use language as a passage into interrogating the world. In light of my own experience with the conceptual framework of critical literacy from doctoral training in the U.S., I designed this writing curriculum to be implemented at home in Taiwan. This curriculum was adapted over time to deal with contextual complexity, i.e., student needs and school requirements. These adaptations related to how the curriculum was implemented, interpreted, responded to and/or resisted, and ultimately how together we reframed it. As a result, I discovered that although my students were unfamiliar with the critical literacy curriculum, they were gradually able to make it culturally relevant to their experiences by allowing their cultural assumptions about learning, writing and language to be challenged by this alternative practice of doing writing. Finally, I became aware that what we had strived to accomplish was often devalued in the other classes that my students took. An important implication therefore is the need to generate more collaborations among teachers at all levels of the system in Taiwan to explore teaching from a stance of inquiry.

Subject Area

Language arts|Bilingual education|Curriculum development

Recommended Citation

Wu, Yung-chiam (Sherri), "Bridging worlds: What is a critical literacy teacher like you doing in a traditional writing classroom like this?" (2008). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3310475.