Archive for the ‘New Press Education Reader’ Category

Chapter 13: Issues of Language and Power

January 8, 2007

Victoria Purcell-Gates is the author of Chapter 13. Her research could be used to prove that schools as they function today don’t work. In a nutshell, children who learn to read at home read in schools and children who come from non-reading homes don’t learn to read at school. What does that say? Schools exercise preexisting concepts.

There are problems with making general statements about education. There is a situational looseness in which the system is expressed very differently simultaneously, sometimes within the same space. Not only are all schools different, all teachers are different, as are all students, so in one classroom two students could have near opposite affective experiences with the same teacher. To say that our schools are failing to educate, doesn’t resonate with people who’ve had positive educational experiences. Teachers are in a position where their failure can be transferred to students. Teachers do their job and students fail or succeed. Statements against our system of educating, are often refuted with tales of teachers or students. Everyone has been to school and your particular experience may be at odds with the general idea that the system isn’t working, but predicting which kids fail or succeed is easy work, and the factors are found outside the school.

Purcell-Gates, I’m just going to ignore her political-correctness for now, offers two suggestions for what teachers can do to actually live up to their name.

  1. believe students can learn
  2. teach in the students language

What I like about this article is Purcell-Gates point her finger in the right direction. If students aren’t learning teachers need to do something. She writes,

“This crucial beginning stance on the part of teachers will help ensure that any failure in the achievement of these children will lead to an examination of their instruction and not a shrugging off of their futures.”