ERIC Number: EJ783689
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Nov
Reference Count: 29
Talking about Difference and Defining Social Relations with Labels
Zacher, Jessica C.
Language Arts, v85 n2 p115-124 Nov 2007
In this study over the course of one school year, I set out to look closely at what the diverse fifth-grade students in Ms. Jean's urban class were learning from the social justice curriculum. As a former kindergarten teacher at Gonzales myself, in this project I wanted to know what children said, thought, and did when they were asked to read books that brought up issues of difference and injustice. I also wanted to explore the ways that their in-class discussions were related to their social networks and friendship groupings. One of my main findings was that students learned to label people--by race, class, gender, and other markers of difference--and to label injustices when they saw or read about them. The power of these labels to shape students' learning and social realities is the subject of this article. Because of their expertise with labeling, the classroom was both a safe and unsafe space. In the article I focus on two children, John, an African American boy, and Cody, a white girl, and look at how they labeled injustices in a classroom conversation about racism and then how they used labels to manage their friendship networks.
Descriptors: Social Justice, Grade 5, Group Discussion, Social Networks, Friendship, Labeling (of Persons), Racial Bias, Urban Environment
National Council of Teachers of English. 1111 West Kenyon Road, Urbana, IL 61801-1096. Tel: 877-369-6283; Tel: 217-328-3870; Web site: http://www.ncte.org/journals
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Education; Grade 5
Authoring Institution: N/A