Sunday, January 05, 2014

My Reflection on Lisa Delpit's Book - Pashew Nuri

The influences language and color have on our life and the changes it makes is just unbelievable. Most of us has been pre-judged by the way we look and speak on daily basis. By the look I do not solely mean color but the appearance of you face as well. I have enough living personal examples in the regard of language influences. Those cultural misinterpretations which led and leads to misunderstanding and the aftermath is a cultural clash. Educationally speaking, the aftermath will be a culturally and epistemologically illiterate being, as we can see every day in our life. Language and look differences affect educational process, it slows it down and makes us constantly busy with it and remember the quality education necessary.
Firstly, the effect of color is so dangerously stereotyped in nations, to assume some certain color brings misery and bad luck, and this clearly be seen somewhere like America. Delpit states that our skin is the appearance of each one’s contact with the rest of the world: “a means to negotiate our interactions . . . how we perceive our surroundings and [how others] perceive us” (p. xvii). The appearance and the looks we possess create expectations whether we are clever or dummy. Those assumptions leave negative side effects on the educational side but also in the personal side. This makes the minorities to otherwise themselves and forget about their own origins, which is another different calamity.
These stereotypes in a student-teacher and teacher-student interaction within the bounds of school period make a negative difference in the two processes of learning and teaching. I think it will not cost so much to just remove the s from skin as Delpit said and eq from equality.
Secondly, linguistically speaking the language, dialects, and accents we use daily also affect our learning as students and teaching as teachers. Deplit says there is much smoke and little light around the linguistic issues that might affect … failure” (p_xxi). Language is based on culture and is very personal and because of that in order to honor the individuality of the speaker, we as teachers should honor all languages and dialects.
“People are stereotyped by their language, dialect, and accent and these aspects become a determinate of how people view both the intelligence and socio-economic status of the speaker … if these languages are viewed negatively by society as a whole, what can be done in the classroom to help my students overcome this societal view?”(Waters)  what teacher can and are able to do to foster a multicultural habit and behavior?
The first step in change is to recognize that there is a shortcoming in the academic world to meet the needs of these children.  Gloria J. Ladson-Billings address this idea in the first article of chapter three.  Students viewed as less intelligent and incapable of learning or achieving based solely on the language they speak is, in essence, giving them “permission to fail” in the classroom (Delpit & Dowdy , 2002, p.110).  The reason that students who are viewed as less able to achieve is twofold.  First, as Victoria Purcell-Gates points out, “socially and politically marginalized people are held in disdain by those who hold the power…there is always a generalized belief that they cannot learn as well as those in power” (Delpit & Dowdy, 2002, p.132).  The second reason is that “language seems to play a central role in this class-related denial of educational opportunity” (Delpit & Dowdy , 2002, p.133). 
Reducing in those stereotypes and its’ negative manifestation in the school life as it is related to education. Teachers and school must know that “children of poverty are learners, have been learning since birth, ready to learn at any time, and will learn” (Delpit & Dowdy , 2002, p.135). To know these things is important to tie it to teachers’ life and examine their thoughts and ideas about the subject and how they manifest in the classroom. There is a nice story of a teacher has shed some lights on this book and tell her story by saying:
“I am from a very small town in Missouri and did not have much exposure at all to anyone different than myself.  When I went to college as an undergrad an undisclosed number of years ago, I was absolutely thrilled to be around people from all over the United States and other countries.  I have always delighted in meeting and learning about other people’s lives and have always felt a pull to work with ELL students.  What I discovered at West Boulevard, though, is that there are more students than those identified ELL that are also learning Standard English as a second language. I have several students whose primary language is AAE and I think it is only fair that they are taught Standard English with love and respect of their own. I have learned that Ebonics is not gibberish, deceptive, or only spoken by people of less intelligence or lower socio-economic status.  I have learned that it is a language associated with a rich culture and spoken by all sorts of people with unlimited abilities and potential.  I have learned to respect and appreciate both the language and the people that speak it.  I only wish Ernie Smith’s teachers would have felt the same way (Waters).
If we talk about the language and race implications in the school and classroom, there is no doubt that it effects the teachers academic and professional performance and the students learning environment as well. It takes a lot of time to understand that, not only the students but the teachers also, because it is clear for everyone that there are a lot of teachers who do not understand the differences and their affections on the teaching and learning performances, he/she thinks just like the students think, who do not allow for the possibilities to happen.
In the classroom, students coming from different backgrounds possessing different accents and dialects, changes the teachers instructional method if the teacher is not formerly aware of the case. That is why for the teacher is important to know his/her kids well and design the method suit their cultural background as Paulo Friere calls in the pedagogy of the oppressed as ­Problem-posing method, where the teacher knows much about the students and he does not act as the authoritative in the classroom but as a learner just the students.
This experience is not unusual for the teacher, and should not be, but if it is he/she should evaluate child's strengths and needs as it is the key to pinpoint the issue, and then come up with a different instructional program that facilitate the child's development. He/she is to be aware of the cognitive and the sociocultural aspects of the kids to be on the caution of anything offensive from any source, as offending the words, accents or the way of uttering the words is offending the culture due to the strong connection between language and culture, I fact the language builds the culture.
It is critical that the school settings provide a supportive and safe environment in which kids can safe and sound to use and practice any words any words or accents he/she owns as long as it does not offend the others’. If it contradicts then it their must other alternatives be found. Yet at the same time the teachers should expose the kids to language differences and make them feel and believe that the way you feel about your own language and culture for others is the same, we need to tolerate and accept the differences and be happy for it is our way of success and living together.
I personally had students from cities who speak different accents, even it is not a big issue over there but yet for some times you need to be well aware and plugged in for those time coming up. For example, if a student is from Slemany City he/she for the question word why, says (Bo-بۆ) but if he/she is from Hawler just like me, says (Lo – لۆ). So here in the classroom if I ask a question with (Lo) the Slemany guys may feel as he/she felt, that I am bias but when say (Bo) fro the next time, I mean using both accents at a time, a compound accent, the student’s attention will not be on my performance or the biases but rather on the topic we are studying which is the whole case.

I think the teachers inside the classrooms can be the very first and the outstanding step toward the change of kinds of these issues. The teacher can give and make the level understanding of differences in accent, dialect and pronunciations that these are to be respected as they are here not to prioritize one and minor the other, but to know more about the other and get in touch in the beauties and wisdom of the others’ differences.

Reference:
Delpit, L., & Dowdy, J.K. (Eds.) (2002). The Skin That We Speak: Thoughts on Language and 
Culture in the Classroom. New York, NY: The New Press.
Waters, M., Adria. Reflection on The Skin That We Speak: Part I . Retrieved from

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