London Group. "A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies." Multiliteracies:
Literacy Learning and the Design of Social Future. Bill Cope and Mary
Kalantzis, eds. New York: Routledge, 2000. 9-37.
"Designing social futures" comes not only as this first chapter’s subtitle
but also as the second phrase in the subtitle of the NLG’s larger book:
Multiliteracies: Literacy Learning and the Design of Social Futures. The New
London Group is concerned with the proliferation of information, its circulation
in multiple channels, including mass media, and, as well, the ability of
education to prepare students for life in the face of unprecedented waves of
information. Specifically, they focus on three scenes or phases of life: working
lives, public lives (citizenship), and personal lives (or lifeworlds). In
accounting for each of these scenes or phases, they hint at notions of network
understanding, particularly intermixed with digital encounters (Ulmer’s
electracy, noted in one margin).
To put it another way, one of the questions motivating the NLG’s work might
be: How have new and emerging information technologies reconstituted the
literacies most viable for work, citizenship and personal life? How must
"Local diversity and global connectedness mean not only that there can be no
standard; they also mean that the most important skill students need to learn is
to negotiate regional, ethnic, or class-based dialects; variations in register
that occur according to social context; hybrid cross-cultural discourses; the
code switching often to be found within a text among different languages,
dialects, or registers; different visual and iconic meanings; and variations in
the gestural relationships among people, language, and material objects" (14).
Consider this alongside Canagarajah’s notion corrective, code meshing. This also
bears on the emphasis on futures and the static quality of standards.
The second major consideration of the essay (beyond that changing contours of
literacy in work, citizen-publics and personal lives) is schooling: What
schools do and what we can do in schools.
"The role of pedagogy is to develop an epistemology of pluralism that
provides access without people having to erase or leave behind different
subjectivities. This has to be the basis of a new norm" (18). The new norm
relies heavily on notions of pedagogy as "design." This, they break into three
sub-sets: available design, design and the redesigned. This reminds me of the
tension Urban sets up between accelerative and inertial forces in culture (Metaculture).
Available Designs are precursors and antecedent forces; Design is agency, in
effect, and the redesigned accounts for what comes of the dialectical
"Our view of mind, society, and learning is based on the assumption that the
human mind is embodied, situated and social" (30). This stance folds together
four teaching activities: situated practice (33), overt instruction (33),
critical framing (34), and transforming practice (situated, reflective) (35).
- Related sources:
- Lave, Jean, and Etienne Wenger. Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral
Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1991.
- Dewey, John. Democracy and Education. 1916. New York: The Free
- Halliday, M.A.K., Language as Social Semiotic: The Social
Interpretation of Language and Meaning, Baltimore: University Park Press,
1978; London: Edward Arnold, 1978.