With Netta Avineri and Eric J. Johnson, I've addressed a report in the Washington Post on the many contextual factors affecting children in poverty. The well-intentioned plans to teach poor families of color “better” or “the right” ways to be parents ignores recent work that now points to a culturally sustaining education that builds on the knowledge of students of color rather than erasing it.
Challenges to authoritarian states’ control of language can be so complex that they exceed the states’ ability to manage them all. Electronic expression of resistance and increasing embrace of non-Mandarin linguistic varieties reveal powerful linguistic insights in China, which are evident too in the so-called Umbrella Revolution that took Hong Kong by storm (hah!) in fall 2014.
While a controlling state wishes to limit expression, citizens creatively employ every possible communicative modality—music, video, images, Arabic numerals, puns, Chinese characters, Roman letters, foreign words, writing, speech, sound, vision—and choose among varieties of speech and writing at their own discretion. The resources they employ reveal limits to the officially enforced boundaries—linguistic and conceptual—of China.
An invited forum on the so-called "language gap"has just appeared in the Journal of Linguistic Anthropology . My piece is titled "'Wordism': Is There a Teacher in the House?" Other contributors are Netta Avineri, Eric Johnson, Shirley Brice Heath, Teresa McCarty, Elinor Ochs, Tamar Kremer-Sadlik, Ana Celia Zentella, Jonathan Rosa, Nelson Flores, H. Samy Alim, and Django Paris.
The correct and inevitable guilty verdict in the sad case of the “Atlanta Cheating Scandal” is a reminder that the current system of high-stakes testing drives all participants in schooling to their wits’ ends—and beyond. Surely parents want the best for their children, teachers want the best for their students, administrators want the best for their schools, superintendents want the best for their districts. But when it all boils down to a few numbers, and the numbers can, carefully, surreptitiously, and illegally, be changed, it should not surprise us that the temptation to do so becomes irresistible, in some cases.
[image source: http://www.featurepics.com/FI/Thumb300/20110801/Cheating-Test-1956141.jpg]
(with Lizzie Fagen and Kathleen C. Riley)
[On the American Anthropological Association page of Huffington Post]
In a recent New Yorker article, Margaret Talbot discusses Providence Talks, a project designed to address the so-called "language gap" that, according to 30-year-old research claims, is directly related to an "achievement gap" at school.
But the proposed cures are not necessarily welcomed by disadvantaged households, and the cures, even if implemented, may have unfortunate side-effects.
Both are seventeen. They are too young to vote in places like the US. But we need more of them!
Thirty million words. That sounds precise....enormous....impressive. That is the estimate by some scholars of the difference in words heard by disadvantaged kids in comparison to kids with advantages. And if only poor kids were brought up in families like rich kids....Then poverty and inequality would vanish.
Read more about these False Premises, False Promises.
School Is War, Prison, Factory, Machine, Business, Game, Life….And Other Metaphors: recommending Permaculture
If metaphors organize our thinking and if there is no genuinely neutral way of speaking about anything, then it is worth looking into the dominant metaphors used.
School is a domain that has been referred to in ways that help and in ways that harm. I would like to propose an old-made-new-again metaphor, The Garden, that might help, but this time with a century of ecological knowledge included. I suggest education as permaculture.
Why are people poor? Why do children of the poor not thrive?
The latest explanation for why children coming from disadvantaged households do not rise in this land of equal opportunity, why they do not do well in school, is that they are exposed to “thirty million fewer words” by the time they enter school.
If only it were so simple.
Read it on Huffington Post, or click "Read More"
Susan D. Blum
Who doesn't think there is something wrong with education? Anthropology has a lot to offer when we think about how to raise up our young--in often unexpected ways! Join me as my thinking about higher education unfolds.
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