Sunday, November 1, 2009

Surviving the Grammar Game

Today I read a blog on Facebook and I wanted to address it briefly. UIC's education department main focus is on inner- city youth. I am not a part of this department but I have several friends who are, graduates and undergraduates. Grammar is often one of the major discussions that we grapple with when we talk amongst one another as fellow students. The blog caused me to wonder more about "stereotype threat."

A student teacher posted on their blog that irregular "to be" verb usage annoys the heck out of them. They used the exact quote that the student used in class, "The game gone be good." In other words the student was saying the game is going to be a good one. My issue is with the word annoyed.

I began to question one's motives for applying to a college of education that focuses on inner city youths if their language would become annoying in the student teaching phase. I thought it was hammered in to one's head during their rigorous program that the inner city is comprised of people living in lower socioeconomic areas with hardly any resources allocated to their schools and neighborhoods. In addition, if a student has made it to the student teacher phase of their education, to my understanding is the final phase, then, would it not be safe to assume that they have already been introduced to the different dialects being spoken in these poverty stricken areas? If so, why would one continue to pursue a degree that is aimed at the very group whose language "annoys" them? Am I wrong or isn't this too early in their career to be annoyed by an irregular use of the verb "to be" and if this person is annoyed how could he/she help disadvantaged children?

One thing is for sure, inner city kids fully understand what they represent in society. They understand the stigma's attached to their neighborhoods, communities, schools and homes. These are the the stereotype threats that inner city youth face daily. I am more than confident that a student who speaks a different dialect other than that of the teacher is already thinking about how his/her statement will be perceived before responding openly to any questions, or even before asking a question. This could hinder the child's oral or written participation in the classroom because this stereotype threat is looming over them like a dark cloud. Will my teacher think I'm a idiot if I cannot speak the way he/she does? Is it possible for me to learn what I call this "new language?" Is it even worth trying to learn because I will not be accepted anyway? These are just a few of the things I hear inner-city children say all the time. I would like to know if this student teacher should reconsider the career path he/she has chosen because they could probably do more damage than good if the child/student suspects that their lifestyle/language is being devalued.

Feel free to correct me if I am wrong because I am no stranger to errors. However,

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