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Trauma= My best work

Disclaimer, this blog post was written from my perspective only, these are my personal connections with the readings. Anyways, this is probably by far my favorite reading and blog post. I wouldn’t say for a good reason per say, but I did enjoy reading both very much. As soon as I started reading both works, I was like “Wow, super relatable, we love writing about trauma”. Because it’s true, my best work comes from my traumatic childhood experiences that I thought I suppressed, and seems to only come out when I am writing absolutely anything. As a creative writer, not a scholarly one, I am always tapping into my darkest memories to produce a piece of work. To me, I consider it a type of healing. Whomever my audience may be, I know that the work I have produced will either be relatable, a healing experience for them, or an opportunity for my mental health to be heard. 

As addressed in “Expressive Writing, Emotional Upheavals, and Health by James W. Pennebaker and Cindy K. Chung.   “ Researchers have relied on a variety of physical and mental health measures to evaluate the effect of writing.  Across multiple studies in laboratories around the world, writing or talking about emotional experiences relative to writing about superficial control topics has been found to be associated with significant drops in physician visits from before to after writing among relatively healthy sample” (pp 9). According to this reading, I am wasting my money on therapy and I should just continue to write poetry. Honestly, I’ll take that. It is already hard enough to have the courage in publishing something so raw and connected to one’s mental state. It would truly be an accomplished feeling having your thoughts put out there to share with someone who might be feeling a similar way. 

Another study within the reading that caught my attention was the forms of writing related to trauma. Pennebaker and Chung mentioned that many writers with trauma will choose to type out their work rather than physically writing by hand. This practice involves writing a lot slower and sort of forcing the individual to become very  deeply connected with their emotions and thoughts. I never honestly thought about differentiating that concept until now. I used to write poetry in my journal a lot before it became too accessible. Meaning, I would write out every single anxious thought I had in my head regardless of where I was. The more I wrote throughout the day, the more I was able to open my journal and feel anxious all over again. 

Next, Sonya Huber brings us back to my favorite theme, which is voice. She says this very interesting line “ No matter what genres you’re writing in, the notion of voices in your work may help you explore a full range of options for what you want to write about and how”. As  any student, writer, or just anyone, I will look over my work. I have noticed my voice is a very sarcastic regular old Joe tone. Throughout the voice of my poetry however, it is someone just coping with the past memories and trying to survive another day. I do go through phases when I combine my poet voice with my creative writer voice, because they are two different people. But that’s what the power of voice is, you can make yourself whoever you want, but people can still figure you out..if that makes sense.  

What Even is Standard English

As I was reading this weeks selections I could not help but think of a close friend, Mary-rose, of mine who teaches middle school English. (I’ll send these articles to her. I dunno if she’ll read em but worth a try) She’s a stickler for the grammatical rules that Vershawn Ashanti Young talks about in his article. I’m afraid that she would be more likely to agree with Stanley Fish than with Young but I cant blame her for this , she was taught this way. To work and teach within these lines that are considered Standard English. (I am in no way saying she’s a bad teacher for this either, i wanna make that clear. Shes doing something I could neva. Teach. and doing it pretty well IMO)

The narrow, prescriptive lens be messin writers and readers all the way up, cuz we all been taught to respect the dominant way to write, even if we dont, cant, or wont ever write that one way ourselves. That be hegemony. Internalized oppression. Linguistic self-hate.

(Young 112)

I had a little trouble reading Youngs article, so instead of reading it in my head like I do with all academic writings, I decided to read it out loud and treat it more like a conversation. It felt as if I was talking informally with friends but with topics that are heavier and reserved for academic settings. Anyway, I essentially turned his article into a highlighter coloring book. If I were to place all the quotes in this post I’d essentially be quoting entire pages, so ill limit it to the ones that I found important. “Fish himself acquiesce to this linguistic prejudice when he come saying that people make theyselves targets for racism if and when they dont write and speak like he do”(Young 110). I love that this point was brought up, cause its Victim blaming 101. Oh you were denied _____ because your English is not academic, developed, standard, or refined enough. as Young says in the next lines Black English and its user don’t oppress themselves, but its the negative connotation that Black English has been given.
“A whole lot of folk could be writin and speakin real, real smart if Fish and others stop using one prescriptive, foot-long ruler to measure the language of peeps who use a yard stick when they communicate”(Young 112). I love love love love this quote. When I came across it I had to stop reading cause it felt as if a brick of realization hit my head. If we only change our perspective, our “standard” English lens then we can teach various cultural perspective, dialects etc. It sounds so simple to do, but as the phrase goes…easier said than done.

I want to point out that April Baker-Bell’s article We Been Knowin: Toward an Antiracist Language & Literacy Education did a wonderful job of giving its reader a taste of the bigger picture in just half a page.

We Been Knowin also signifies that communities of color, especially women of color, queer and trans people, people with disabilities, and people living in poverty BEEN knowin what has and has not worked. Our lived experiences have continually taught us how to think about freedom and collective liberation, and have laid the foundation for what must be done today. Though this article will reflect Black people’s epistemologies and language and literacy practices, I want to point out that systems of oppression that perpetuate anti-blackness are interconnected with and cannot be separated from how other communities of color experience racism, systemic injustices, and inequities. Indeed, sexism, classism, ableism, ageism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and other forms of oppression do not serve our collective liberation. This complexity suggests that an antiracist language and literacy education has to be intersectional.

(Baker-Bell 2)

This was a fantastic point to preface her article with. As I read the article, I not only thought about the injustices, racism, and anti-blackness surrounding language but how these systems of linguistic oppression also effect other communities. As Baker-Bell mentions above women of color, the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities, and people in poverty. (Also correct me if I’m wrong but I’m sure this is the only article so far to mention people with disabilities.) On her second page she has already made it clear the injustice surrounding language effect more than one community, and that this is not only a issue for user of Black-English, but for everyone who is oppressed.

If you, for some reason, didn’t think Baker-Bell started off on the right foot then her next section Antiracist Critical Media Literacies sure was the right one. (second right foot?) The way media outlets use language for certain event is a clear indication of the necessity for Critical Media Literacies but especially antiracist ones. Living in this era of almost weekly mass shootings its difficult NOT to see the racist depictions by the media. How Baker-Bell mentions that Trayvon Martin, a victim, is criminalized while his murderer is portrayed as a “upstanding positive” person”. How white perpetrator are depicted by the media as Lone wolves or as having problems with mental health. It’s why antiracist critical media literacies are so important to teach, and understand. Educators need to adopt a “language that explicitly names and richly captures the types of linguistic oppression that is uniquely experienced and endured by Black Language-speakers”(Baker-Bell 7).

So I have to admit that I messed up on this weeks reading for Bad Ideas About Writing. We were assigned “African American Language is Not Good English” by Jennifer M. Cunningham BUT I mistakenly read the previous chapter “There is One Correct Way of Writing and Speaking” by Anjali Pattanayak. Once I realized this, I went back and read the assigned chapter. However, I believe these two chapter work wonderfully together and I urge everyone to read it.
“In the writing classroom, teachers can help students navigate Standard American English expectations while not suggesting a linguistic hierarchy. By speaking about language choices in terms of difference rather than deficiency and in relation to academic and nonacademic conventions, we can value both (or any) languages”(Cunningham 91). Cunningham illustrated her ideas extremely well in this quote. Once we rid ourselves and classrooms of this linguistic hierarchies we will take the steps to creating a proper multicultural, multilinguistic pedagogies.

Linguistics

English is a peculiar language because there are so many contrasting ways to use words. “I couldn’t care less” used to confuse me when I was younger because the statement sounded like the person did care a little bit. “I could care less” sounded like the care could in fact stop caring at any point. Obviously the former means that they don’t care at all and the latter means the opposite, but the way the words are set up it confused me.

English is not the only language that people speak in this country. Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Dakota, Cherokee, and other languages are spoken by other people. And yet English is treated like the ultimate end goal for everyone that lives in the United States. And it’s always the standard, “professional” English that is always expected of us. The white man’s “perfect” English is the only dialect that is acceptable in the system’s eyes. African American Vernacular English, AAVE, is seen as rude and ghetto, at least until it’s time for white people and non-black people of color to take words from AAVE for clicks and views.

There is no one way to speak English. Vershawn Ashanti Young’s ‘Should Writer’s Use They Own English?‘ hits the nail right on the head. With the way standard English is held as the ultimate goal of English language classes, there’s no room for tolerance of linguistic or racial differences. It is not incorrect for a black person speaking African American Vernacular English to form sentences with said language. English-based Creole languages such as Jamaican Patois and Gullah are valid languages too. They aren’t spoken the same way as “standard” English is, but that’s the thing about differences. Not every language and dialect is the same. Communities develop with their own sense of language. Just because two people share the same mother tongue doesn’t mean that their dialects will be the same.

It’s not right to claim support of people’s differences while touting standard American English as the only language that is valid for everyday speech. Black students will not trust their teachers nor will they readily participate their classes if their own language and dialect is invalidated by the system and those who work for it. Black people are already dehumanized daily, as we’re constantly made out to be thugs, brash, wild, predatory, and criminals. Black Americans’ languages are commonly used against them by racist white people, as memes and jokes about them mock their accents. Black women are the frequent targets of misogynoir, as even black men will dress up in wigs and feminine clothing solely to make jokes about brazen black women acting ghetto and messy.

Modern day minstrelsy is popular. Online Content Creators such as Shane Dawson, Jeffrey Star, Tana Mongeau, and many others have built their large platforms off of anti-black stereotypes and racist behaviors. Slurs, Blackface, screaming, racist skits, they’ve done it all. And it doesn’t help that many others online also adopt AAVE when they want to be trendy and funny, as seen on Twitter and TikTok. The amount of times I have seen someone use AAVE when they clearly do not speak it at all is astounding. Black Vernacular is not a trend to be adopted when someone wants to sound cool or be funny. It’s a real diverse linguistic family of languages and dialects.

The Shifting Landscape of Language Education

This week, we read three pieces of writing focused on how “African American English” (Cunningham) or “Black English” (Baker-Bell and Young) should be positioned in the classroom. (For the sake of simplicity, I’ll use “Black English” and “Standard English” going forward.) All three writers want teachers to teach students that Black English has value and is not wrong and encourage teachers to use students’ knowledge of Black English to their advantage in English classes. While this same idea runs through all three articles, the writers have areas of both agreement and disagreement.

None of the writers is in favor of teaching only Standard English. Cunningham wants teachers to  show the value of both languages by “speaking about language choices in terms of difference rather than deficiency” (Cunningham 91). Baker-Bell, points out that Standard English has been “language…used to oppress Black students,” which therefore cannot “empower them” (Baker-Bell ??). All three writers believe that Black English should play some role in the English classroom, but Cunningham and Young strongly disagree about how it should be used. Cunningham advocates treating Black English and Standard English as two distinct and separate languages and never blending them, believing that “[c]onflating the two into one linguistic variety is confusing at best and damaging at worst” (Cunningham 91). Instead, she suggests “code-switching” as a way of “teaching academic English without devaluing a writer’s identity” (Cunningham 85). Where Cunninham wants a separation, Young wants a blending, which he calls “code meshing” (Young 114), believing that it will “benefit everybody” because it can “add flavor and style” (Cunningham 114) and “help [students] be more rhetorically effective” (Young 116). Cunningham also takes issue with Cunningham’s definition of “code-switching,” because his own definition involves blending rather than switching (Young 113). Baker-Bell only mentions “code-switching” one time, putting more emphasis on her recommendations for how “Black Language” should be included in a classroom (Baker-Bell 9).

I found all three of the articles to be informative, and they all helped me to look at Black Language in a classroom setting differently. Even so, I can’t agree with Baker-Bell’s assertion that English teachers should “become conversant with the features of Black Language” (1) or Young’s recommendation that English teachers should “know everybody’s dialect, at least as many as we can” (111) as they are highly impractical. While it would be fantastic for a kid to walk into a classroom and find that the teacher is familiar with their language, regardless of what it might be, the suggestion that teachers should learn one or more other languages before teaching is just impossible to implement. I think that a more practical, and useful recommendation is for English teachers to learn how to use a student’s knowledge of one language to strengthen the other (just as learning Spanish in high school strengthened my knowledge of English grammar). While I don’t think a student should be chastised for blending languages, I think that there is no point in teaching Standard English if you continuously back off on enforcing the rules that govern it. If language exists to foster communication, the further away we get from everyone following one set of rules, the more confusing things become. 

A change is definitely necessary when teachers are sending students a message that some part of who they are is wrong or invalid, but a solid solution still escapes me. When we discussed multicultural classrooms, it became clear that it’s not feasible to include a representation of every culture in the curriculum, no matter how nice that would be. And as much as we want to support ESL students, no teacher can be expected to learn every language in preparation for every type of student that might join their class. I do not know what an appropriate change would look like, and none of the writers has given me a practical and specific vision of it, either. But I am interested and open to seeing what develops as a result of Cunningham, Baker-Bell, and Young’s influence on pedagogy.

Max Beaton 2023-11-20 02:25:02

The past few weeks we have been discussing voice heavily in class, and this week’s readings were a perfect culmination of those discussions. When it came down to it, all of those articles and conversations seemed to boil down to a single point: everyone has a unique voice when they write that should be encouraged rather than suppressed. Of course, we as writers should always be seeking to improve our skills and carefully craft our writing to appeal to our audience, but there are more ways than one to do that. Even though the English language has its rules, those rules can–and should–be broken when necessary. The English language is also not simply one language as each of this week’s articles point out, but a collection of various similar languages. Both written and spoken English differ slightly from Britain to the United States, for instance. Even within the U.S. itself, the English language is noticeably different in downtown Philadelphia than in a small town in Texas. Don’t even get me started on the Midwest. When I was in the Army, I met a woman from Minnesota who knew no other word to describe a water fountain than “the bubbler” and she wasn’t joking. Long story short, people have different regional dialects and should be encouraged to embrace them.

Interestingly, Jennifer Cunningham, the author of the chapter African American Language is not Good English went a step beyond merely describing African American Language as a regional dialect and argued that it is indeed its own unique language. According to Cunningham, the African American Language shares more in common with Niger-Congo languages grammatically than Standard English. While I am unsure if Cunningham’s classification is “a step to far”, I do find her argument to be compelling and her logic sound. However, the official classification of Ebonics aside, one fact is clear: it has its own unique rules and has a rich cultural history.

Now that I have established my position regarding Ebonics and other derivatives of the English (or not English?) language, I feel it necessary to offer a more critical point of view on the matter. In higher education there is a growing movement to support each student’s unique voice, but in K-12 public education I can see how that is somewhat of a pipe dream. I can say, as a middle school teacher, that teaching one language is difficult enough and that students require some sort of “default” language to aid in their communication with the general population. In creative writing projects (and certainly dialogue between characters), students should be encouraged to write however they feel comfortable, but on more formal assignment I understand why Standard American English is a requirement. As students grow their knowledge in reading and writing they should be exposed to more unique styles and vernaculars. In time, and with any luck, they will settle wherever they feel most comfortable in regard to their writing style.

IT’S A BLESSING, NOT A BURDEN . . . DUH!

Fellow classmates – we back again!!

The combinations of the selected readings were an emotional journey in itself – from an overview of the origins of African American Language (AAL), then to an in-depth analysis of how society views dialects other than “Standard” American English (SAE) as lesser than, to how racist pedagogical and linguistic ideologies have seeped its way into our expectations for immigrants, and students’ who’s at-home language differs from English. Again, what I’ve gathered from the selected readings is that remaining uninformed about linguistic differences and the complexity involved, in my opinion, is a form of avoidance to change.

There were several key points brought up amongst the authors on how to effectively notice racist language, and how to counteract linguistic prejudice within the classroom and beyond. Although somewhat aware that African American Language is linguistically a language of its own with rules and conventions, I must have forgotten about the emotional pain tied to identity and self that is forcibly stripped away from this community (and others alike). Emotions come from lived experiences and personal encounters, and the debate on whether African American Language is an independent form of spoken and written communication is an argument I cannot personally identify with through an emotional standpoint of frustration. But is certainly an argument that I’m willing to become more educated on to initiate my own version of revolutionary pedagogy toward resistance (Baker-Bell, 2). I feel the need to commence my own revolutionary pedagogy of resistance. A resistance where I search for and read about peoples’ lives and personal stories that are opposite of my own, so that I can begin to understand the emotional injustices that define their sole purpose of existing. Or understand the cause they feel an overwhelming need to challenge and fight against in this very lifetime.

In Steven Alvarez’s essay, Official American English is Best, he mentioned a point on immigrant assimilation that supports the white supremacist credo against bilingualism and plurilingualism, ultimately revealing that “U.S citizens should not be inconvenienced with the burden to speak, read, or write in languages that are not English” (Alvarez, 93). I have a problem with the use of the word burden in that sentence to describe how “problematic” assimilation is for American English speakers. The point above speaks volume to Western privilege and ignorance. The point above is a perfect example of a thought process that avoids change. The narrative is twisted within the quote above, like how Baker-Bell noticed the unfortunate patterns of mainstream media outlets portraying the minority victim as the criminalized, aggressor (4). We all hold internal, preconceived prejudices and perceptions about the world around us; however, it becomes an “us” problem (or an “I” problem) when we let our preconceived prejudices turn into tangible frustration, hate, or avoidance. The tangible avoidance here is domination and elimination of all those who don’t speak fluent “Standard” American English.

 The burden to encounter and navigate other languages is funded by ignorance and is absent of empathy. I think back to our class conversation we had after Cindy’s discussion lead on grieving a language that was once spoken within your family lineage, or even household – a concept I’ll never truly grasp but one that hurts my heart. Western society, backed by U.S. History with roots as deep as political imperialism and slavery, has become numb to how attitudes impact family dynamics not of their own race, religion, culture, or language. As if having to mentally translate a Spanish construction sign on your drive to work is much more frustrating than noticing how your mother’s Dominican dialect has lost its cultural flavor over the many years of assimilation or listening to your Nona’s heavy Sicilian accent for the last time because no other family member can speak it with such cultural authenticity.

Also, as an educator, I see so much beauty in language because it’s how we communicate with one another. When your dog’s ears fall flat with a low, monotonous – Roouuff sound, you know he’s sad or lonely. When your baby whimpers around 12 o’ clock and slams their tiny fists on the table, you know they want lunch. I am not comparing the language styles of a baby or a dog to non-native English speakers. Rather, I am proving a point on patience, and physical energy transmission. A dog and a baby don’t know “Standard” American English, but we still comprehend and offer unconditional love. We form our own language of understanding through trial and error. Many people disengage from or ignore other languages because they fear that they may offend their language in attempting to speak it or translate it. I tell myself not to be afraid, because they are humans too, who would probably prefer our attempt of communication rather than looking at them all befuddled. Language of all kinds help create and define the human experience. So, how rude of some to not even attempt to understand or learn more about the other languages that surround them. It’s their loss, though because they will only have effective, meaningful conversations with those who look exactly like them, and that is a very limiting lifestyle. Instead, I’d like to think of this so called “burden” as a wonderful blessing.

Antiracist Pedagogies

I still think that the position of voice in writing is quite crucial. I also believe language plays a huge role in voice. Many students who have English as a second language may have a different voice than people who wrote in English their entire life. I always knew that the English pedagogies have never considered “Black language” to be linguistically “appropriate”. It is no news to me that once again, Black people are treated as inferior, and it is truly heartbreaking. As a society, and as a group of intellects, it is our job to change these discriminatory approaches. 

Anyways, here we go on to We Been Knowin: Toward an Antiracist Language & Literacy Education by April Baker Bell. This reading brings up imperative points about the lack of respect Black language gets when involved in the realm of ELA. She literally says “As language and literacy researchers and educators, we cannot continue to push respectability language pedagogies that require Black students to project a white middle class identity”(8). As eductors, how can we force a group of students to let go of their voice, and latch on to someone else’s voice. What happened to Individuality? Equality? And Respect? On page 9, I found what April Baker Bell said to be very compelling in the sense that the first step in antiracist language is to tackle racism as a whole. Which makes loads of sense since, generational racism is a real thing. We’re being taught by algorithmic racism that has been passed down from years, thus developing racist pedagogies. 

Next runner up is African American language is not good English by Jennifer M. Cunningham. This one was a really good one that I would love to show my students. Cunningham solely focuses on African American Language and how it is literally derived from English vocabulary with African grammar. She stresses that African American language LITERALLY cannot be wrong as it is basically English. Considering we have educational and professional settings that do not accept African American language, deeming it to have many errors. Truthfully I forgot what page I am about to quote from so I apologize. “ These errors are not mistakes but, instead, occur when a communicator does not understand or is not aware of differences between one language and another or when, how, or why to switch from one language to another”. Cunningham discusses how it is not the writer’s fault that a teacher with a literal Masters degree cannot understand an individual voice (Sarcasm is real). 

Majority of the articles were very informative and an interesting read. I just feel like as said in April Baker Bell’s piece, the first step is to acknowledge racism within educational systems as a whole.

A Language A Day Keeps Ignorance at Bay

Before reading these articles the only thing I knew about African American Language is that it sounds different than what is seen as traditional English. I had no idea that it combines African grammar with English vocabulary. While I am quick to accept Delpit’s suggestion that we view African American Languge as different than, but not inferior to Standard American English, I wonder if that comes more out of my thirst for equality over anything, seeing as I was so ill-informed on the language itself, now, I still stick to the same stance, but at least have a better foundation for explaining why that is.

Ball and Lowe point out that what a lot of teachers may see as mistakes in English are really not that at all, but instead are formations caused by switching between languages with different rules. These are things to note but not criticize. While the origin of African American Language does not have one clear-cut origin, standard English does not as well. There is a reason the plural of goose is geese but the plural of moose isn’t meese, and this has to do with the language of origin related to both of those words. Language is a living entity in that it evolves over time. Shakespeare used words and phrases that today have no clear-cut definition, yet we do not deny his works their status and significance as often as we do African American Language.

The point of language, to me. and the point of English to me are one and the same in that the goal of both is to communicate, that is it. The goal of both is to express something to another or to convey something to someone. So while African American Language may remove the verb to be from its sentences, the phrase “She read” does not in any way negate the fact that based on the words used the reader can more likely than not understand the idea that somebody is reading.

April Baker-Bell points out how language is weaponized today against the African American community in the media and how groups like Black Youth Project and Dream Defenders work in opposition to this. Yet, there is much work to be done, as many teachers leave educational training programs not recognizing that this is a form of English with roots that can be traced back generations and has roots in Scottish, Irish, and other world Englishes and that to me speaks volumes as to why English cannot be the official language of America, as there isn’t even one set in stone version of English to begin with. 

Alvarez points out that America has 325 recognized languages, however truthfully I expect it to be more, I’d bet we’re approaching one for every day of the year. With this being said, I understand the desire to have one official language for ease of operation and communication in America. Yet, the beauty in America is in the diversity of the culture. The fact that Americans today can travel from New Jersey, move to Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, and New York and notice changes in the language used in each place is a beautiful thing as it speaks to the rich heritage of the nation as a whole. Alvarez points out that immigrants learn English quicker now than at any other point in history, and while this is a incredible, I wish now more than ever that I had paid more attention during the world language classes I was given in my educational experiences.

This is an area I have little knowledge of and while these articles were all comprehensive, I think they were only scratching the surface regarding what I still need to learn on the subject.

Ring the Multicultural bell

I’d like to preface this by saying that I love the phrase Paradigm Shift. It’s an incredible way to explain the changing of ones approach in a way that holds more weight. onto the readings.

I liked how bell hooks started this chapter by stating a very important fact that most of us do not think of. “Let’s face it: most of us were taught in classrooms where styles of teachings reflected the notion of a single norm of thought and experience, which we were encouraged to believe was universal” (hooks 35). Students are taught with this norm from day one, and educators are taught to teach it. From day one we are molded by this system so much that we grow accustomed to it. To break free of this system and create one that adopts multiple cultures you need a level of self-awareness. (it is my belief that to ever grow as a person, educator, professional etc. self awareness is necessary.) hooks mentions that its necessary to understand that no education is politically neutral. She also makes a comment that the choice to only teach works by old dead white guys (my phrasing not hers) is a political decision. (quick side note: I love the works of old dead white guys. Blake, Wordsworth, Lord Tennyson, etc. BUT I’m well aware that only having their perspectives blinds me to the plethora of writers and art that reside in the rest of the world. FIN of side note). This decision however is one that we are accustomed to seeing, but the lack of awareness is what makes it dangerous and alienating to multicultural students.

I want to highlight a very important part of this chapter, her mention of Toni Morrison. From the few books I’ve read of Morrison I cannot fathom the idea of not teaching or analyzing her work without ever making reference to race or ethnicity. It’s such an important part of her work that to deny or exclude it tokenizes her works, her life, her experience, her struggles.
Another very important part of this chapter I wish to highlight is when hooks writes:

Teaching in a traditional discipline from the perspective of critical pedagogy means that I often encounter students who make complaints like, ‘1 thought this was supposed to be an English class, why are we talking so much about feminism?” (Or, they might add, race or class.) In the transformed classroom there is often a much greater need to explain philosophy, strategy, intent than in the “norm” setting. I have found through the years that many of my students who bitch endlessly while they are taking my classes contact me
at a later date to talk about how much that experience meant to them, how much they learned

Hooks (42)

I wanted to mention this because I was one of these students. I once took a class on Romantic Era Literature in which the reading material was still written by old dead white guys however it was centered around slavery. Most don’t realize that the era of romanticism was at its height from 1800-1850…..and on 1865 the 13th Amendment outlawed slavery. In order to teach this era critically there is a greater need to explain the philosophy, strategy, intent of these writers in this time period. All of this to say that our self-awareness is crucial in creating a transformed classroom in which we can better teach multicultural students.

“Tutoring ESL Students: Issues & Options” by Muriel Harris and Tony Silva gave me flashbacks of last semester when taking Writing Pedagogies (A course I highly recommend to anyone specially educators and those wishing to be part administration). These flashbacks consist of the friendship I made with Edna. She is Columbian and has a good grasp of the English language. We became close last semester during class discussion when she would speak Spanish to me and I would respond either in Spanish or English. It was the first time I was able to express my thoughts and ideas in my mother tongue. Reminiscing aside, the quote “is the student’s lack of language proficiency in English keeping her from expressing a rich internal sense of what she wants to write about?” sent me into a spiral of wonder (Harris & Silva 528). Language barriers are one of the biggest challenges for educators today. I keep thinking about all my ESL teachers and the ways they taught me. It’s hard to recall since my brain felt as if it was being reprogrammed to the English language. BUT what I do remember is the size of the classroom. 3 students. Me, my sister and another kid whose name eludes me. I believe that the size of this class gave “individualized attention” to us. Perhaps that’s why I learned English so quickly, who’s to say.