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ERIC Number: ED408585
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1997-Mar
Pages: 18
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
"Wat'cha Think? I Can't Spell?": Constructing Literacy in the Postcolonial Classroom.
Greenbaum, Andrea
In a beginning level creative writing class called "Narration and Description," two student-written stories were collectively peer edited during each session. The class was required to read the student texts before class, critique them, and, with the guidance of four assigned student facilitators, discuss the texts with the author and the class. In one text, the author's stylized effort at dialect and the pervasive use of metaphors and similes indicated that he was a literate writer, familiar with the tropes of narration. Yet his paper had a few spelling errors, inadvertent tense shifts, and grammatical inconsistencies--like other stories critiqued that semester. During the peer editing session, one facilitator asked the author if the misspellings were intentional in an attempt to construct black dialect. This offended the author, who angrily replied, "Wat'cha think? I can't spell?" The class divided along racial lines, with the African-Americans accusing the facilitator of racism. This event had relatively little to do with spelling and much to do with the power to speak from a position of authority, which some students felt they lacked. Analyzing the incident from the standpoint of postcolonialism, one faces the contradictory and paradoxical challenge of attempting to critique, define, evaluate, and ultimately "speak for" the subaltern group, the African-American students in the class. The subjugation of indigenous language is a potent colonizing instrument of oppression. (Contains 14 references.) (CR)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A