English in Urban Classrooms: A Multimodal Perspective on Teaching and Learning

English in Urban Classrooms: A Multimodal Perspective on Teaching and Learning

English in Urban Classrooms: A Multimodal Perspective on Teaching and Learning

English in Urban Classrooms: A Multimodal Perspective on Teaching and Learning

Synopsis

English in Urban Classrooms is a ground-breaking text that spans a range of issues central to contemporary school English. It extends not only to the spoken and written language of classrooms, but also to other modes of representation and communication that are important in English teaching. This includes image, gesture, gaze, movement, and spatial organisation. The team of experienced and expert authors collectively examine how English is shaped by policy, by institutions, and by the social relations of the classroom. By connecting issues of policy and social context, the book provides a detailed account of factors such as: * the characteristics of urban multi-cultural schools * teacher formation and tradition * the ethos of school English departments * the institutional changes that have shaped school English in urban classrooms * students' experiences of learning. This book offers a fascinating and enlightening read, not only to those involved in English teaching, but also to educational researchers, policy-makers, linguists, and those interested in semiotics and multi-modality.

Excerpt

This book is the direct outcome of a research project, 'The Production of School English', conducted between 2001 and 2003, and funded by the esrc (the Economic and Social Science Research Council). in two ways it is also the outcome of projects of very different kinds. One is the long sustained series of 'educational reforms' now in train since the late 1980s. These have affected all aspects of institutional education in all kinds of ways, yet probably no subject more so than English. While all aspects of teaching, all curriculum areas and all students, are now subject to regimes of assessment and judgements of performance not seen before, changes to the curricula of most subjects have been nowhere near as far-reaching as those in English. That alone is an issue worthy of close attention - namely, what is it about this subject, and its role in the school curriculum, that has made it the focus of such change (see Jones 2003b)?

The other project is altogether more modest in scale: it concerns the work of the sisc group (Subjectivity in the School Curriculum) over a period of about eight years, which culminated in the submission of the proposal for the 'Production of School English' project. the group - initially Jill Bourne, Roger Hewitt, Gunther Kress, Euan Reid and Janet White - had met, from 1992 on, to reflect on the effect of specific curricula on the formation of a pupil's 'subjectivity': the question, broadly framed, of what forms of subjectivity are suggested, fostered, implied, produced even, in the contents and the organizations, the deeper epistemologies as well as the implied pedagogies, of different subjects in the school curriculum. Added to this was the equally salient question of how such differences might or could play out in differential ways in the socially, ethnically and culturally deeply diverse classrooms that characterize schools in so many contemporary societies. the subjects that the sisc group had initially intended to work on were English and Mathematics - less because of the political storms in which English was embroiled during that period than because of the assumed inherent differences between them.

Two 'pilot studies' were undertaken, each tracking English in the classroom. the first was carried out over two terms in 1992, and based on detailed classroom observation and taped recordings of students' and teachers' talk. This gave the group much material for discussion about English; in part this was reported at

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