Building Communities of Learners: A Collaboration among Teachers, Students, Families, and Community

Building Communities of Learners: A Collaboration among Teachers, Students, Families, and Community

Building Communities of Learners: A Collaboration among Teachers, Students, Families, and Community

Building Communities of Learners: A Collaboration among Teachers, Students, Families, and Community

Synopsis

This popular text shows how teachers can create partnerships with parents and students that facilitate participation in the schools while also validating home culture and family concerns and aspirations. It reflects current research and theory in several areas related to literacy development, including family literacy, bilingual and multicultural education, critical pedagogy, participatory research, cooperative learning, and feminist perspectives. Teachers of students who are immigrants, non-native speakers of English, and members of marginalized groups will find this book especially pertinent.

Excerpt

In the past two decades, political and economic dislocations around the world have stimulated a surge of immigration to the shores of the United States. In virtually every city in the country, we find new arrivals from a multitude of ethnic, national, cultural, and language groups. Immigrants bring with them their dreams and aspirations for success in a new land. At the same time, they find themselves struggling to understand a new culture, and it is not uncommon for them to encounter prejudice and racism. These new immigrants may be unable to speak English and are often without the skills or the benefit of a formal education from their homeland. This places an enormous burden on the shoulders of the young students who find themselves caught between two cultures.

The children of new immigrants make up a growing percentage of students in U.S. public schools today. The 1990 national census found that in the total school-age population, one in seven students speaks a language other than English at home. Three-quarters of these students live in households where everyone speaks the nonEnglish language. Between 1980 and 1990 there was an estimated 38 percent increase in the numbers of home speakers of non-English languages aged five or older.

Across the country, teachers are challenged to teach this diverse population of students, who bring to school a wide variety of cultural practices and are dealing with the difficulties of adjusting to a new culture, a new educational system, and in many cases a new language.

Today's educators also face a tremendous opportunity to appreciate the rich and diverse ways in which language is used in the home and within the family and community, and to help their students to do the same. My contention, supported by the research cited in the present volume, is that this challenge of educating all students can be met only by addressing the central question posed in Building Communities of Learners:

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