ERIC Number: ED311397
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1988-Jul-12
Reference Count: N/A
What Educational Difference Does Your Theory of Language Make?
Harste, Jerome C.; Short, Kathy G.
Good language users monitor and understand their own involvement in the learning process. They understand how language is used to make and reshape their world. Everyone needs to be allowed to test his or her personal theories of the world against practice and vice versa. Given the nature of society, it is important that conceptions of literacy begin with the notion of voice and the importance of hearing everyone's voice. Empowerment begins when each individual is able to name the world as he or she sees it. In naming the world through language, differences are noted and transformative conversations begin. From listening to new voices new anomalies can be identified, new conversations can be started, and potentially new behaviors can be explored. Classrooms organized on a theory of literacy that values hearing individual voices must be judged by a different set of performance criteria than has traditionally been the case. Strong communities are not formed on the basis of likeminded individuals, but rather on differences, where the different voices making up the community are heard and listened to. It is by hearing different voices that the resources available in a community of learners become known as well as transformed. Classrooms which place a priority on understanding the role that language plays in enhancing learning become communities of learners, as various examples of children's writing illustrate. New criteria for a good theory of language include (1) allowing each person to have a voice; (2) beginning needed conversations; and (3) providing a mechanism whereby those conversations can continue. (Twenty-five references and six figures of samples of children's writing are attached.) (MG)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A