Between Criticality & Colonialism: Unsettling Perspectives on Literacy & Language Education in Scotland

Activity: Other activity typesTypes of Public engagement and outreach - Media article or participation


Language and literacy education in the decolonial project seeks to centralise indigenous knowledge systems in order to transform established colonial relations of power (Maldonado-Torres, 2012; Tuck & Yang, 2012), while critical pedagogies enable a ‘speaking-back’ to power (Freire & Macedo, 1987). Each perspective comes with its own vision of transformation, educational practice, and assumptions, especially where English still holds a position of cultural and linguistic power. Scotland, both as an instrument and beneficiary of colonialism as part of the British empire, as well as a victim of colonisation, represents the tenuous negotiations of identity with history, politics and power. While moves have been made in education to regain a Scottish identity through the inclusion of Scots language and the positioning of Scottish literature in the secondary English curriculum (McCall, 2002; Unger, 2010), questions about criticality and (de)colonisation still need further exploration (Millar, 2006; Akdag & Swanson, 2018).This has implications for the interpretation and implementation of the policy (Costa, 2015). Through a thematic content analysis, I explore how Scottish English language and literacy educational policy constructs criticality and notions of (de)coloniality, if at all. I then consider the potential for critical literacies to serve as a means for transformative social-semiotic action and interaction in the decolonisation of English language and literacy education.
Period17 Feb 2020
Event titleStrathclyde University Research Seminar Series
Event typeSeminar
LocationGlasgow, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • critical literacy
  • literacy
  • Scotland
  • Curriculum for Excellence
  • English
  • language
  • power
  • diversity
  • colonialism
  • decoloniality