Literacy today is diverse and complex. According to Snow it is recognised as being “social, community-based, culturally-defined, varied, and potentially transformational” (2004, P.5). For many, including UNESCO (2010) literacy can be seen as “a human right, a tool for empowerment and a means for social and human development”. The role of education is moving beyond the development of knowledge and cognitive skills, towards supporting learners to build their values and soft skills that promote social transformation. As globalisation evolves, climate change continues to perpetuate global inequality and as a global pandemic causes sheer widespread devastation, there is a need for transformative pedagogies that enable people to learn about and take action around humanities collective concerns. There is a growing pressure on literacy teachers and educators to provide lessons that capture this changing landscape and recognise the impact that this changing world may have on their learners. Educators have an unique opportunity to deliver lessons that increase a learner’s social consciousness regarding the world around them, increase the learner’s understanding of empathy and highlight the interconnected nature of the world we live in. Literacy educators are provided with both an opportunity and a challenge to highlight the diversity which now exists in most classrooms. It has been noted that there is a need for a new definition of literacy which highlights the need for such a transformation “we need a radical redefinition of literacy, one that includes a recognition of the vital importance that morality plays in shaping literacy” (Sanders, 1994: 25).
To support this transformative learning approach, Global Citizenship Education (GCE) has been seen as a progressive form of education that can be incorporated into varying literacy lessons. Global Citizenship Education (GCE) is “an educational process aimed at increasing awareness and understanding of the rapidly changing, interdependent and unequal world in which we live” (WWGs, 2020). Global Citizenship Education is explicitly mentioned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as an avenue for addressing the need that all learners should acquire the knowledge and skills to promote sustainable development. Within GCE, methodologies such as ‘Open Space for Dialogue and Enquiry (OSDE)’ (Andreotti et al., 2006) can provide starting points for educators and trainers to begin to engage with these complex topics within their literacy lessons. OSDE is based on the following three principles:
1.All individuals bring to the space, valid and legitimate knowledge constructed in their own context.
2.All knowledge is partial and incomplete.
3.All knowledge can be questioned.
As a framing paradigm within literacy learning, educators are encouraged to view GCE as trans-disciplinary rather than an ‘add-on’ to lessons. GCE approaches include formal and informal learning, participatory learning and both curricular and extracurricular interventions. It should support learners to examine the root causes of global development issues and recognise the interconnected aspects of sustainable development. The sessions outlined below will support the educator to begin the process of including GCE in their literacy lessons.