ERIC Number: ED396305
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1995-Nov
Reference Count: N/A
Ethical Issues in Literacy Education: A Historical Perspective.
McLaughlin, Margaret A.
In American schools today there are a number of legacies from historical and cultural traditions. Writing construction in United States elementary schools was primarily in penmanship even into the first decades of the 20th century. Composition courses were introduced into the college curriculum during the late 1800s when a required freshman composition course was implemented by Harvard University. To this day, it is still the custom to teach reading and writing in separate classes. Students are constrained to write in the Western and masculine Aristotelian form of discourse, conditioned to think in terms of authority, hierarchy, and binary oppositions. Good writing, for example, means writing like a White Anglo-Saxon man. In the United States, literacy education has always been used to shape the values and beliefs needed by prevailing cultural and political forces. Tracking in language instruction programs students for social and economical hierarchies. Literacy instruction attempts to exclude all other discourses with different grounds for the production and organization of knowledge, resulting in far too many students having their voices fragmented or silenced. Ethical educators cannot perpetuate a curriculum which reflects the ideology of only the socially and economically privileged. Skills, drills, multiple choice questions, and formulaic writing patterns fail to reflect the various and evolving purposes for literacy needed for the 21st century. Students must not be denied access to varying points of view. (The Code of Ethics of the Educational Professional is appended; contains nine references.) CR)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers; Historical Materials
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Educational Issues; Historical Influences
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Council of Teachers of English (85th, San Diego, CA, November 16-21, 1995).