Making Frameworks Work

Collerson (1997) has used terms developed by Halliday to form something of a double decker framework. One framework has piggy-backed onto another. It’s the arched window of frameworks and I can’t get it to stick in my head. The notions of interpersonal and experiential are too similar in my mind and I am not yet able to distinguish the two clearly enough. The over-arching considerations of context and culture are well-placed, a constant reminder.

Kress and vanLeeuwen (1997) make clearer distinctions with the terms referential, interpersonal and compositional. Those terms start to take root and the very word ‘compositional’ brings pictures to mind as well as language and layout.

Callow (2008) serves my purpose best of all. A framework has to work, not just look pretty, and I can see this one working in the classroom. Affective – feelings, emotions and personal justifications. Compositional – actions, setting, imagery, pictures, layout, angles, lines. Critical – the ‘missing’, alternative viewpoints and endings. These things can be talked about on any level, from simple to complex, with children and adults. And so theory is easily transferred to practice.



I have just read the baseline text for the Reframing Literacy course for the first time and I’m feeling quite excited. It was clear, fresh, relevant and evidence-based. It is an antidote to the scaremongering that has accompanied some presentations to teachers about rapidly-evolving technology and the dark unknown of the future. Beyond Current Horizons concludes:

“For the most part, we see future developments as being firmly based in current practices and are therefore not predicting significant changes. Instead, we would argue that many aspects of literacy already present in today’s society that challenge the traditional emphasis on writing will become more prevalent in the decades ahead and that multimodal communicative practices outside of education will continue to drive change within schools.”

No need to panic but there is a need to change. However, help is already at hand. Carrington has constructed a table, based on Jenkins et al (2006):

Table 1: Digital literacy practices in a participatory culture


I like that table a lot and I need to find out how it can be used in school. I also like Marsh’s table which identifies the necessary skills, knowledge and understanding for the digital age:

Table 2: Key competencies in new literacy practices


During times of rapid change – which has been any time since the industrial revolution, really – there is a need to stay calm, examine and analyse the situation and put forward solutions. Researchers need to work fluently with central and local government and schools to feed ideas through the system. We need to hear different theories, be encouraged to question and so develop professionally.

Here’s the text:

Fighting a Dragon

A nervous Supermouse punches an alien dragon.

Supermouse punches a dragon

Must Try To Remember References

Wintle, A., 2012. World of Andrew Motion, poet, novelist and biographer. The Telegraph, 20 April 2012

Hannon, P., 2004, The History and Future of Literacy. In Grainger, T.,  (Ed.) The RoutledgeFalmer Reader in Language and Literacy. London: RoutledgeFalmer, p24 and p30

Session 1: Dragons

“I’m an early bird, partly because I like to have some quiet time and partly because by 9am emails begin arriving, the phone starts ringing and I have dragons to kill of one sort or another.” I know how you feel, Andrew Motion. I have a few too many dragons to kill right now.

The course, ‘Reframing Literacy in the 21st Century, has just begun and there is much to think about. An intense hour spent with a room of eight year olds, trying to get to the bottom of the meaning of ‘interesting’ words, was not dissimilar to time spent with a group of adults trying to define ‘literature’. One child shines when she says ‘gold’ is an interesting word because it is her second-favourite colour and it sparkles.

To help us postgraduates with our dragons, we have a Dungeon Master (aka Julie McAdam) to keep things on track. So here are some thoughts.

Definitions of literacy and literature seem hard to pin down as we wrestle with our own and other people’s ideas of how we communicate and what makes it a good quality form of communication. It is difficult to come up with one set of agreed definitions and this, of course, influences what happens in schools too. Hannon comments that the only certain things about changes to any curriculum are “that they will be decided politically and that they will not be permanent.” It isn’t reassuring to know that such decisions are political. Over the years, various branches of government have done a pretty good job at scaring people about the pace of change, the technologies about which we know nothing, teachers’  ignorance of the jobs children will need to do in the future. Scaremongering is never productive. Hannon sensibly states “… that we teach what is important about written language – those essentials which can be expected to endure in future contexts.”

Another thought is that most people seem to love stories but many people don’t seem to like reading. I have been in a Book Group for eleven years and we all do like reading. We also like to talk a lot, just not much about books. Many children can talk for a long time about a book, especially when they have listened to the story and not read it.

Christina on the course is mad about Dungeons and Dragons. My knowledge of it is very basic so I googled it one night. What a fantastic language all of its own it has! It was quite exciting. I fancy getting a few melee weapons of my own to scare off those dragons. And I’d love it if Christina created a Dungeons and Dragons game as her learning journal.