A Focus on Critical Thinking or Linguistic Features?
Abstract: The aim of the study is to research upper secondary teachers’ attitudes towards, and use of, critical perspectives in teaching literature in the subject of English in Sweden. This is done in relation to the inequality issues identified in the Swedish school context, the Swedish National Curriculum for the Upper Secondary School and the syllabi for English, along with a theoretical framework based on the of concepts of critical pedagogy and critical theory. The feminist, Marxist and post-colonial critical perspectives, that deal with power aspects were examined in greater detail, and contrasted with reader-response, structuralist and psychoanalytic criticism. This subject is examined through the use of a dual method, including a questionnaire and follow-up interviews. The participants were all certified English teachers working in Upper Secondary Schools in the Helsingborg and Lund region. Some key findings are that teachers use critical perspectives to a much greater extent than was expected, and that by using critical pedagogy and critical perspectives, teachers express that they can cover many of the requirements in the regulatory documents, such as addressing injustice issues and promote critical thinking skills, while enhancing students’ vocabulary and making them engage in discussions on important topics. The results also show that the participants’ prior teacher education plays an important role in teachers’ use of critical perspectives in their own practice.
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