"The Literacy Block is Sacred": The Construction of Relationships to Language and Ideology in Elementary School Classrooms
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Language provides a convenient lens for investigating broader social issues. A person’s language is so closely tied to what social roles and positions they occupy that what students learn about language—beyond where to put the comma or what the word amarillo means—is in fact teaching them about more general beliefs connected to the existing social structure. Therefore, for this project I have been looking at language instruction in order to explore the more implicit things schools teach about language and education and how they create and reflect broader social structures and ideologies. Ultimately, language is not taught as a communicative activity in the first and third grades at Churchill Elementary. The curriculum presents language in decontextualized, regulated parts. This fosters a relationship to language that is characterized by a lack of fluency—a relationship that is not conducive to success with language in scholastic settings. These curriculums are responsive to certain widespread ideologies of language and education, such as the idea that written English is the most valued form of language and the need to regulate and constantly assess that is seen in the influence of standardized tests. Through language instruction in the elementary school, the students learn such a relationship to language as well as many of the ideologies of language and education that generate that instruction, both of which have implications for broader issues of social inequality. The issue lies then not with the teachers, but the fact that the very way that the curriculum is constructed – a curriculum influenced by specific ideologies of language and education – is not actually able to produce the universal scholastic success it strives for.
Franklin and Marshall College Archives, Undergraduate Honors Thesis 2009
- F&M Theses Collection