International Research Conference, Lancaster UK, 18 - 20 July 2016
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Social Justice through critical pedagogies in Literacy on an Initial Teacher Education Course

Kim Gilligan, University of Sunderland


According to Giroux (2014) the role of education should be to promote collective responsibility for social problems and to promote social justice. He suggests however that any previous purpose of education, related to social justice, is being eroded by the onslaught of neoliberal agendas across the world the outcome of which, he suggests is the deconstruction of the radical and critical imagination. This paper will argue that there is an imperative on teacher educators to resist the erosion of critical thinking through their commitment to a continued emphasis on pedagogical approaches within their institutions that encourage critical reflection at every juncture. This is particularly important in areas of social justice where teacher educators can have an influential impact on how the next generation of teachers think about social issues like migration and the impact that these processes have on their classrooms and the pupils within them.

The paper will explore some ‘close up’ research undertaken with a group of year two initial teacher education students concerning the concept of resilience and how this often referred to, desirable teacher competency can be used subversively to arm trainee teachers against the pressures of particular ways of thinking emerging from neoliberal agendas. It explores the use of children’s literature texts as a focus for critical thinking on a core English module that includes a focus on ethnicity and issues of social justice. It explores particularly the use of two key texts Armin Greder’s The Island and the Australian book by Shaun Tan titled The Arrival.


Social justice, vernacular cosmopolitanism, resilience.

Link to Full Paper


Conference Organisers

Paul Trowler
Lancaster University, UK

Alice Jesmont
Lancaster University, UK

Malcolm Tight
Lancaster University, UK

Paul Ashwin
Lancaster University, UK

Murray Saunders
Lancaster University, UK

Chrissie Boughey
Rhodes University, South Africa

Suellen Shay
University of Cape Town, SA

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