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ERIC Number: ED172213
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1979-Apr
Pages: 30
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Standard English, Social Mobility, and the Ideology of Merit.
Harwood, John
The system of education in the United States mirrors, creates, and legitimates inequalities of the larger society that supports it. Legally required schooling ranks, sorts, and prepares children for the "real world," and contributes to social maintenance rather than to social change by stressing the "correctness" of some features of English and by rigidly stigmatizing other features prominent in the language of lower-class children. The "back to basics" movement fosters the illusion of merit and sustains competition as an avenue to upward mobility by concentrating public attention on the basics most easily measured by standardized tests. English teachers concerned about social justice, education, and their own integrity might use the following suggestions in dealing with the situation: learn how standard languages have arisen, been exploited, and how they relate to other dialects; learn how much of standard English is truly useful and how much is merely stylistic or even dysfunctional; oppose standardized testing; examine the ideologies of merit, competition, and upward mobility; and seek to raise the social and political consciousness of students and to heighten their rhetorical awareness of the ways language is used either to liberate or to oppress. (DF)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A