Pedagogy and the Struggle for Voice: Issues of Language, Power, and Schooling for Puerto Ricans

Pedagogy and the Struggle for Voice: Issues of Language, Power, and Schooling for Puerto Ricans

Pedagogy and the Struggle for Voice: Issues of Language, Power, and Schooling for Puerto Ricans

Pedagogy and the Struggle for Voice: Issues of Language, Power, and Schooling for Puerto Ricans

Synopsis

How often are the perspectives of Puerto Rican students recognized, listened to, and taken into pedagogical account? Not very often, according to this incisive study which deals with the struggles that these students confront in U.S. schools. Puerto Rican students struggle to make sense out of and fashion a voice from the multiple and often contradictory realities that comprise their daily existence. This book challenges generally accepted perspectives and practices among teachers and calls for new pedagogies that respond to the complex needs of these students.

Excerpt

About sixteen years ago I first became interested in the significance of language, the nature of cultural difference, and the processes and conditions through which children come to know, that is, come to be aware of, the social world, themselves, and the meanings that inscribe their experiences and relations. This interest was sparked by a five-year-old Puerto Rican child in my kindergarten class. As I vividly recall, she spoke to me one day about language, describing in a metalinguistic sense, how language functioned to help frame her understanding and expression of the world. "Sometimes I two-times think," she said. "I think like in my family and in my house. And then I think like in school and other places. Then I talk. They aren't the same, you know."

Buffy was bilingual. Her languages, however, were not contextually separate. Since her mother was English-dominant and her father Spanish- dominant, both languages were used in the home. Yet, even at the age of five, Buffy was aware that her ways of speaking and interacting at home were divergent from those of others in the school and in Anglo-dominanted society. She also knew that the ways of "others" were by far the more acceptable. As she told me on numerous occasions: "It makes me feel funny, all alone . . . different."

By listening to and observing Buffy, I began to become more cognizant about the complex interaction of language, culture, and experience and the ways this interaction informed my own as well as students' relations. While it was not until quite a few years later that I began to formally study and more fully understand this interaction, these early revelations served to . . .

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