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Volume 10 Number 3, Autumn 2013, Pages 1-131   

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Carving Critical Spaces in High-Stakes Systems Through Materials Analysis Workshops

    Mark C. Love

The author reports on an action research pilot study that attempts to introduce critical approaches to a high-stakes educational system through a workshop for in-service teachers centered on curriculum analysis. The workshop briefly introduces critical theories (e.g., gender criticism, materialist criticism, postcolonial criticism, critical multiculturalism, critical media literacy, and world Englishes) and then asks teachers to employ these theories to critically examine the contents of textbooks used in their schools. Having identified problem areas, teachers are asked to share their results with the entire group of 10 teachers. Then they are put back into pairs and asked to reflect on how their texts can be improved using Maley's (1998) 12 concepts of adapting materials. Finally, teachers are broken up into groups and asked to discuss what kinds of critical approaches they are already employing in their classes. Results indicate that teachers are very adept at analysing and spotting inadequacies in the materials but weak at coming up with ways to address these inadequacies. More work at adaptation is thus required in teacher training programs. It is also found that teachers are already employing critical approaches in their classes. More work is needed to investigate the critical approaches teachers are already using.

Keywords: textbook analysis, workshop, critical English language teaching (CELT), high-stakes tests, education in Korea, education in East Asia