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ERIC Number: EJ907842
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Sep
Pages: 16
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0895-4852
"Students' Right to Their Own Language": A Counter-Argument
Zorn, Jeff
Academic Questions, v23 n3 p311-326 Sep 2010
This article presents the author's critique of "Students' Right to Their Own Language" (SRTOL), a resolution affirming the legitimacy of dialect from the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). "Students' Right to Their Own Language" remains the official position statement of the guild of college compositionists on dialect difference, lionized to this day as a first principle of "liberatory" English teaching. The sound, kind impulse behind SRTOL was to support the aspirations of poor, nonwhite, and culturally marginalized students. The document itself, however, offered underachievement and provincialism to the students it purported to serve. Even its advocates concede that SRTOL reads as committee prose with the different hands not smoothly blended, but no one has said firmly enough, or demonstrated patiently enough, how little sense SRTOL makes. The author's critique develops six points, all with wide-ranging importance for English education, and more generally for U.S. education, today. STROL (1) never begins to examine a "right" to one's own language; (2) offers no consistent view on the importance of dialect; (3) wildly overrates its "sophisticated" knowledge in sociology and linguistics; (4) both draws on and feeds into a reactionary politics of ethnic-cultural chauvinism; (5) clumps people into homogeneous, internally undifferentiated groups, missing individuals (in particular, individual student-writers) entirely; and (6) tries to shame English teachers for professional work of which one should be proud. Here, the author shows that SRTOL is a shameful piece of work whose ongoing endorsement warps and stains language education in the United States.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States