Free Reading Reflection Book Review Sample
Each of the reading that I read for this reflection were related to language in low level socioeconomic children. Each of the readings approaches language and these children was very different. One was a personal account, the second was a study completed by a linguist and the third was a reaction by a linguist, anthropologist and sociologist to a book written by an educator. This presented quite a variety of views on the subject of language and underprivileged children. When I first approached the reading, I did not expect the confusion it would cause in my mind and in my thinking of language development.
I read Richard Rodriguez’s, Hunger of Memory, The Education of Richard Rodriguez first. This was a personal account of a young Hispanic boy growing up in a home where Spanish was replaced by English. The pain and confusion he felt as a child being made to speak English only really hurt me too. As a child he understood how important his native language was to the preservation of his family. By speaking English only he felt alone and out of sync with both Latinos and Whites. The entire time I was reading, I thought, “Why didn’t they speak Spanish at home and let him learn English in school?”
The second reading by William Labov approached the subject of linguistics in African American boys in Harlem. At first I thought that the research and the article were utterly ridiculous and not worth my time reading. When Labov began to explicitly explain how the Black dialect had many constructs that are common in language, I began to understand that of course this is a language and not just some street lingo.
As I began to read “Miseducating Teachers about the Poor: A Critical Analysis of Ruby Payne’s Claims about Poverty”, I immediately researched Ruby Payne and her ideas so that I could better understand the article. I don’t think the authors were completely fair and really picked apart her book. As an educator, I understand that her book is not an empirical study. After reading this analysis however, I recognize that I need to be better informed and educated when approaching a book or idea that is being sold. Poverty in this world is a very real thing. As educators we must be vigilant and sensitive to our student who live in poverty, not knowing when their next meal will arrive. Socio-economic status does not determine ability or intelligence.
As educators, I feel the best way to understand our students is to understand their culture, language and family relations. This involves a little research and a lot of observation. These reading made me think twice about my misconceptions of the poor and their development of language. My view is that while we need to respect our students and their language/dialect, it is equally important to teach them English so that they may be able to better function in this world.
My group and I agreed about children maintaining their home language at home. Most children learn two languages very quickly and simultaneously. Research in ELL has proven that Espinosa). No child should have to feel alienated from their culture, family and self-identity because they are denied the chance to express themselves in their native language. We all agreed
that Rodriguez’ story was a sad representation of this fact. They aspects of culture that children need to feel comfortable in their skin includes language and customs. Schools are already making excellent progress in the area of ELL to help these children assimilate into our society. Of the three readings, we all felt the strongest about this one and agreed in our ideas of the subject.
There was some disagreement about the article by Labov. Some of felt that the language the children of Harlem were using was a type of dialect, others thought I was a language in of itself. Personally, I was a little back and forth on the topic. In the end however, we agreed that these children needed to be introduced to Standard English and help them to incorporate the use of it in situations like school, where it is expected. We also agreed that respect for their “vernacular” should be demonstrated by allowing the children to continue to use it during leisure activities or lunch.
The article concerning Ruby Payne’s book and her misrepresentations brought about the most heated arguments. We tried to define poverty in terms we could understand. We talked about the best strategies to use in educating these children. Socially, what are our responsibilities as teachers? Frankly by the end of our discussion and debate, I had a headache. There were some very interesting points in their research and our discussion that pose more thought for me: should we teach these children about their place on the socioeconomic ladder? How should we approach these children in the classroom and in our teaching strategies? I found the ideas in this article overwhelming and in need of further research for myself. We did agree, that attending one of Ms. Pane’s workshops would be a priority.
These readings and our discussions have certainly made me question the best ways to
primarily learned through spontaneous interactions as babies and small children. How can teachers teach English to these populations of students without seemingly discounting their culture and home lie?
Bomer, Randy, Dworin, Joel, May, Laura, Semingson, Peggy. “Miseducating Teachers about
The Poor: A Critical Analysis of Ruby Payne’s Claims about Poverty. Teachers College
Record. 10.12 (December 2008). 2497-2531.
Espinosa, Linda. “Challenging Common Myths about Young English Language Learners”.
FCD Policy Brief: Advancing K-3.8 (January 2008)
Labov, William. “Academic Ignorance and Black Intelligence”. The Atlantic Online. Web.
Payne, Ruby. A Framework for Understanding Poverty. Aha! Process Incorporated. Highlands,
Rodriguez, Richard. Hunger of Memory, The Education of Richard Rodriguez. David R. Godine:
New York, 1982.
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