ERIC Number: EJ1126586
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Abstractor: As Provided
Unseen WEIRD Assumptions: The So-Called Language Gap Discourse and Ideologies of Language, Childhood, and Learning
Blum, Susan D.
International Multilingual Research Journal, v11 n1 p23-38 2017
Claiming to rely on "science," many well-intentioned "experts" offer advice on how to "close the gap"--word gap, language gap, achievement gap--between disadvantaged and advantaged children. Based on both research and personal experience, this advice promises magic solutions to apparently complex and intractable problems by coaching disadvantaged parents in how best to speak to their young children. One significant shortcoming, however, is that the research is often circular, mistaking correlation and causation, and it is based on limited populations--what Henrich et al. (2010) termed WEIRD populations of Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic people, often majority undergraduate college students in North America. The unseen assumptions about what is "natural" or "optimal" may be evident when cross-cultural evidence is brought to contrast with the assumed proper way to socialize children into language--ways familiar to White, middle-class, professional North American practitioners. This article reveals three of the dominant ideologies governing the "gaps" discourse: parochial understandings of language, childhood, and learning. Ultimately, I argue that accepting diverse aspects of all these concepts can give rise to flourishing human beings.
Descriptors: Language Attitudes, Language Acquisition, Academic Achievement, Achievement Gap, Socialization, Correlation, Disadvantaged, Advantaged, Socioeconomic Status, Undergraduate Students, Family Environment, Children, Discourse Analysis, Language Usage, Teaching Methods, Child Rearing, Child Development, Cultural Differences, Applied Linguistics
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A