Making space for choice, voice and critique: critical literacy workshop in the era of Trump

Charlotte L. Land (Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, USA)
Laura A. Taylor (Department of Educational Studies, Rhodes College, Memphis, Tennessee, USA)
Haylee Lavender (Austin Independent School District, Austin, Texas, USA)
Barbara McKinnon (Austin Independent School District, Austin, Texas, USA)

English Teaching: Practice & Critique

ISSN: 1175-8708

Publication date: 9 April 2018



This paper aims to consider how students and teachers engaged in political work in their design and enactment of critical literacy workshops in one US elementary school facing pressures of accountability and standardization.


As a collaborative team of university researchers and classroom teachers, the authors used a qualitative, thematic approach to analyze data collected across a two-year, ethnographic case study.


Drawing on Janks’ (2012) conceptualization of p/Politics, this analysis identified three ways in which teachers approached their teaching politically: constructing flexible and broad definitions of readers and writers; blurring hierarchies between teachers, students and texts; and viewing literacy as a tool of power. In addition to elaborating on these themes, the findings illustrate how these political teaching practices supported students’ engagement with explicitly Political topics.


The era of Trump and “fake news” calls for people to not only start discussions about important social issues but also be able to engage in these discussions diplomatically and critically – in other words, to not only respond to the world but also to reconstruct it (Luke, 2004) and to imagine it better (Greene, 1995). This study offers a timely examination of ways to reshape reading and writing workshops in more critical ways, helping to prepare students for participation in the civic, career and personal worlds within and beyond school.



Charlotte L. Land, Laura A. Taylor, Haylee Lavender and Barbara McKinnon (2018) "Making space for choice, voice and critique: critical literacy workshop in the era of Trump", English Teaching: Practice & Critique, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 28-43

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