Monolingual methods & the ? of Equity

Teaching Writing in a Multi-Linguistic World

Another thoughtful evening spent thinking about crucial issues in current writing theory and practice.  Thank you Vee for a thoughtful presentation which guided us through Teaching Composition in the Multi Language World (Matsuda).  Your coverage of the article layed the ground work for an interesting discussion, and the choice to share a video from the television show “A Different World” about college students who attend Hillman College (a HBCU- Historical Black College/University) was particularly instructive. One of the characters from the show speaks “African American Vernacular” and had trouble understanding “Romeo and Juliet” by Shakespeare in her First-Year English class. Until she realized, it was all about translation.

This video served as an illustrative entry point for all of us to keep in mind when considering the politics of language instruction in general.  As sense of legitimacy and power conferred in the mastery of language (in writing) requires a certain kind of determination, as well as a ceaseless supply of intellectual curiosity.  As we have read, Writing Centers, tutors, first year Comp programs often create learning environments where the ELL student is an afterthought.  There is little preparation and even less effective policy that truly supports this vast population of learners.  This is a truth despite the dramatic diversity of our local context.  Our own NJ could very well be more multilingual that the UN (or at least on par).  And still, we have little in place to support this multi-linguistic reality in our shared learning contexts.  Our discussion revealed that the ELL reality is not for the faint of heart.  To learn institutionally under such limited resources while experiencing a  dismissal of any previous global, cultural, multi-linguistic knowledge often becomes part of a sting of stigmatization & “remediation”.  What remains is a profound challenge that is rarely confronted comprehensively (whether by educators or institutions).  I am glad that within our discussion we covered an acknowledgement of the psychic truth of ELL experience.  For any academic consideration of these issues (through theory) should always be rooted in a compassionate understanding of that inherent struggle.  What is clear that we need further support from a professional development standpoint.images-3

Thinking about Empathy & Bias

For the second part of class we turned to the recent Studio Visit with Equity Unbound.  The topic of the informal conversation for this cycle was Empathy & Bias, which was a perfect follow up to some of the questions we had been considering re: the mono-linguistic bias of writing studies and composition studies.  This meaningful conversation covered much important ground, from thinking about identity, borders, and translation, to considering intersectionality and the problem of “cultural taxation”.  We also contributed a bit to the #unboundeq twitter feed to add some reflection.  In addition, you are invited to share thoughts in your next blog post:

What is next?

Have a relaxing and replenishing autumn weekend.  I look forward to our time together on Monday.

Sincerely,

Dr. Zamora

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