Towards a theory of practice: critical transdisciplinarymultiliteracies

Albright, James; Walsh, Christopher S. and Purohit, Kiran D. (2007). Towards a theory of practice: critical transdisciplinarymultiliteracies. In: McInerney, Dennis M.; Van Etten, Shawn and Dowson, Martin eds. Standards in Education. Research on sociocultural influences on motivation and learning. Charlotte, NC, U.S.A.: IAP - Information Age Publishing, pp. 93–116.



In the fall of 1999 NYC was in the heart of an “outbreak” – the now-famous West Nile Encephalitis cases that caused several deaths around the city. In response to the outbreak, city officials began spraying neighbourhoods in the city of Malathion, an insecticide that kills the species of mosquito spreading the virus. As teachers in lower Manhattan, working in the densely populated neighbourhood of Chinatown, the questions this situation brought up seemed rich, and relevant to students’ lives. How is disease spread and what is its etiology? What are some ways to respond to or prevent West Nile outbreaks? Does it make sense to spray neighborhoods with Malathion, in the interest of public health? What could we learn about the epidemic from studying epidemiology and the social consequences of past epidemics?

We proposed a project in which our 8th grade students would learn about this problem and suggest a solution. As part of the solution, they would take responsibility for publicizing their work to other members of the community.

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