Teaching Multicultured Students: Culturism and Anti-Culturism in School Classrooms

By Alex Moore | Go to book overview

7

Working with Bidialectal Students

‘Standard English’, Power and the Pathologization of Difference

It is very important that children in our primary schools learn…to read and spell, and to write in proper English.

(Thatcher 1987, emphasis in original)

It would be perverse for schools to acknowledge and value the language of Punjabi or Italian children, while criticising and rejecting non-standard British dialects.

(Edwards 1987)

By bidialectal students, I mean students who may habitually operate in one dialect of a specific language (for example, ‘standard English’) in one set of situations (such as the school classroom) and in another dialect of the same language in other situations (such as the school playground or the home).

In terms of school experience, there are clearly likely to be significant areas of difference between bilingual and bidialectal students just as there are likely to be key similarities. The bidialectal students whose experiences I shall be describing were, for example, all ‘simultaneous bidialectals’ (as is typically though not inevitably the case), while the bilingual students I have written about were all ‘sequential bilinguals’. 1 They were also able to make immediate ‘surface sense’ of the vast majority of their teachers’ instructions, because—in the receptive sense—they were already fluent in the forms of English used by their teachers. Similarly, it was not difficult for them to gain extra guidance if needed from other English-speaking students in the classroom. In common with bilingual students, however, these bidialectal students were, as we shall see, systematically marginalized by a culturally biased school curriculum, imposed by central government, that was outcome-monitored through public tests and examinations and that typically pressed teachers into the service of reproducing and validating dominant cultural forms and values whether they wanted to or not. As with the bilingual students, this essentially curricular marginalization was typi-

-126-

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Teaching Multicultured Students: Culturism and Anti-Culturism in School Classrooms
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Figures vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Series Editor’s Preface xi
  • 1 - Themes and Perspectives 1
  • 2 - Marginalizing Bilingual Students 16
  • 3 - Bilingual Education Theory 43
  • Notes 59
  • 4 - Symbolic Exclusion 62
  • 5 - Partial Inclusion 82
  • 6 - Partial Inclusion 101
  • 7 - Working with Bidialectal Students 126
  • 8 - Exercises in Illumination 153
  • 9 - Afterword 175
  • References 186
  • Index 196
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