Academic journal article K@ta

Addressing Political "Confusion Syndrome" Discourses: A Critical Applied Linguistics Perspective

Academic journal article K@ta

Addressing Political "Confusion Syndrome" Discourses: A Critical Applied Linguistics Perspective

Article excerpt

Abstract: This paper aims at extending our understanding of a problematizing practice in Critical Applied Linguistics by exploring issues pertaining to political "confusion syndrome" Discourses. Central to this practice is how EFL teachers and learners depart from their reluctance to explore political issues. Being scaffolded with a working model of such Discourses and a suggested simulation practice, they are hoped to learn how to sympathize with politicians' confusion.

Key words: political confusion syndrome Discourses, Critical Applied Linguistics, a problematizing practice, voice

Confusion is pervasive among people around the globe. Much of such confusion is expressed by means of people's verbal and non-verbal expressions. Confusion can be temporary: selecting the best answer in a difficult, multiple-choice test; or choosing whether one should turn right or left in a foreign city. Some confusion brings about lifetime (or at least more permanent) consequences: choosing Lady A or Lady B to be a wife; or applying for job X or job Y. Still other confusion is more subtle but insidious and cultured within a society. Somewhat recently, the former Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso (2002-2007) was taken aback (and I believe some confusion can be implied) when some Australian police almost detained him in Australia for his alleged involvement in a massacre of Australian journalists in Timor Leste in 1975 (Seth, 2007).

It is for this very last example that this paper is devoted: The Discourses of political confusion syndrome. Such confusion syndrome entails someone's capacity involved in political discourses to confuse other people. It also includes the possibility of the people's being confused and making political discourses even more confusing or complicated. The observation of confusion here starts from that of the government. Stereotypically, government officials may be confused themselves when challenged by people of their own country or people from foreign countries, and then create confusing statements to the people. While this phenomenon is too pervasive in the world's society, some insights from Critical Applied Linguistics, which is "an approach of teaching similar to that of [critical pedagogy]" (Davies, 1999, p. 145), may shed more light on this taken-for-granted issue. As Pennycook (1994) puts it:

To teach critically implies a particular understanding not only of education in general but also of the critical educator? In order to pursue critical pedagogies of English, then, we need a reconcep-tualisation of the role for teachers and applied linguists that does away with the theory-practice divided and views teacher/applied linguists as politically engaged critical educators. (p. 303)

What evolves from my discussion is my suggested framework of political confusion syndrome Discourses based on reflections on local or foreign government officials' and politically engaged people's statements or attitudes taken mainly from the mass media. These data, however fragmented, are likely to be studied more systematically in the light of my proposed framework and Critical Applied Linguistics (henceforth CAL) which emphasizes "problematizing practices" (Pennycook, 1999, 2001, 2004, n.d.). A problematizing practice "?gives us a way of working in language education that ... keeps questions of language, discourse, power, and identity to the fore" (Pennycook, 2004, p. 330). Hence, this practice in CAL focuses on how language teachers challenge their own pedagogical approaches that do not address social and political phenomena critically. Uncritical approaches are pervasive in language classes where teachers do not highlight the capacity of languages to contain within them many contesting discourses in which power relations and multiple identities (socially and politically, inter alia) exist. Furthermore, a problematizating practice (or simply "problematization") is "a perspective that insists on casting far more doubt on the categories we employ to understand the social world and on [static] assumptions about awareness, rationality, emancipation, and so forth" (Pennycook, 2004, p. …

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