A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures (The New London Group)

This is by far the best article I have read this semester (and I’ve read a lot of them).  That said, it’s also incredibly dense (in a good way, unless you are trying for a semi-brief but nonetheless coherent blog post).  In keeping with these facts, I want to address a few points this article makes.

I think these quotes frame a decent summary of their discussion of literacy pedagogies: “This is the basis for a cohesive sociality, a new civility in which differences are used as a productive resource and in which differences are the norm.”  “When learners juxtapose different languages, discourses, styles, and approaches, they gain substantively in meta-cognitive and meta-linguistic abilities and in their ability to reflect critically on complex systems and their interactions.”

I find what they say here refreshing as well: “Insofar as differences are now a core, mainstream issue, the core or the mainstream has changed.” “This is the basis for a transformed pedagogy of access – access to symbolic capital with a real valence in the emergent realities of our time.” “The role of pedagogy is to develop an epistemology of pluralism that provides access without people having to erase or leave behind different subjectivities.”  It’s amazingly relevant still, considering the age of the article. The depth of understanding how multiculturality should work within literacy pedagogy is impressive.

“The metalanguage of multiliteracies describes the elements of Design, not as rules, but as an heuristic that accounts for the infinite variability of different forms of meaning-making in relation to the cultures, subcultures, or the layers of an individual’s identity that these forms serve.”

Overall, this is a fantastic piece that I plan on coming back to (hopefully more today, even). The general theme of redesigning the curriculum to reflect the actual fluidity and flexibility of our multi-faceted culture, discourse activities, genre conventions, language uses, and social practices is both intriguing and deserves much attention.  Even now.  Especially now.


3 thoughts on “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures (The New London Group)

  1. Molly says:

    Hi Sarah,
    I agree with you that the New London Group’s article is still remarkably relevant 17 years after its publication. The date is usually the first thing I look at when reading an academic text, and I have to admit I was a bit skeptical when I saw ‘1996’ (funny that the 90s seem so long ago now…). But the article is certainly not “dated” in its content. I particularly liked the quote that you chose, “This is the basis for a transformed pedagogy of access – access to symbolic capital with a real valence in the emergent realities of our time.” It reminded me of another bit that stood out to me: “the use of diversity in tokenistic ways…must not paper over real conflicts of power and interest. Only by dealing authentically with them can we create out of diversity and history a new, vigorous, and equitable public realm” (69). I sometimes find myself challenged with regard to “authentic” use of diversity in my teaching. As a member of white mainstream dominant society, I am acutely aware of my relationship to my minority students and I think I am vigilant about creating a classroom environment that fosters cultural and linguistic diversity, but am I always certain? No…but maybe it’s better that I keep questioning myself so that I can continue striving for that “pedagogy of access.” Thanks for the food for thought!

  2. Steve Krause says:

    This is from the literacy course, right? It’s interesting that you are reading this here because this is the kind of thing I had at one point assigned in English 516, too.

    By the way, 515 is officially called “Literacy and Written Literacy Instruction.” I mention this since we were debating that the other night. 😉

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