Original Research

Are we teaching critical literacy? Reading practices in a township classroom

Glynis Lloyd
Reading & Writing | Vol 7, No 1 | a97 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/rw.v7i1.97 | © 2016 Glynis Lloyd | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 August 2015 | Published: 26 September 2016

About the author(s)

Glynis Lloyd, School of Education, University of Cape Town, South Africa


Despite improvements in educational provision in South Africa since 1994, the opportunities for learners from historically under-resourced schools to gain access to powerful English resources remain limited and unequal (Prinsloo 2012). In this article I will provide a detailed description of literacy practices in a township high school in Cape Town, specifically of the orientations to text that are made available to learners. I will draw on feminist poststructuralist theory, in which the subject is theorised as constructed and contested in language to construct difference. The analysis of classroom discourse and text-based tasks shows that the orientations to reading that were offered were characterised by a focus on the surface meaning of the texts and by an absence of critical engagement, despite the latter being required in the new Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement. The analysis reveals how the power dynamics of our racialised past and dominant ideologies about gender, class and race continue to define teaching in our classrooms in ways that limit access to the English resources that learners in under-resourced schools need for academic success.


critical literacy; orientations to text; gender and race ideologies; classroom discourse


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