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Critically resp. to the changing nature of public ed: A Hallidayan conceptual framework in action
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Abstract

This paper draws on Halliday’s theories of language, learning, and social change to present a conceptual framework for responding to social, economic, and political changes shaping the nature of public education in the United States. In making a case for a Hallidayan perspective of literacy, literacy development, and school reform, this paper has three parts. First, it outlines how a Hallidayan perspective of teaching and learning provides a comprehensive conceptual and analytic framework and aligned methodology for critically exploring how educational reforms of the past and present shape the nature of current institutional practices in schools, especially in the context of the current standardization and accountability movement (e.g., Gebhard, forthcoming). In turn, these institutional practices shape teachers’ pedagogical practices in local classrooms and ultimately influence students’ abilities to draw on multiple ways of making meaning as they learn to read, write, and critique increasingly dense disciplinary texts across grade levels and content areas. Second, this paper provides an illustration of this reconceptualization of teachers’ work and student learning in action by sharing data from an ethnographic study of changes in multilingual students’ disciplinary literacy practice in an urban high school. These students, most of whom were undocumented students from Guatemala and refugees from Syria, used their expanding multilingual repertoires to gain a purchase on disciplinary literacy practices through their participation in a series of SFL-based curricular units focusing on English language arts, science, math, and history. Last, this paper explores the implications of a Hallidayan perspective of teachers’ work for researchers and practitioners in the transdisciplinary fields of critical applied linguistics, literacy studies, teacher education, and school reform policy.

Summary

This paper draws on Halliday’s theories of language, learning, and social change to present a conceptual framework for responding to social, economic, and political changes that shape the nature of public education in the United States.

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