The Misteaching of Academic Discourses: The Politics of Language in the Classroom

By Lilia I. Bartolome | Go to book overview

3
A Potentially Ideal Classroom

In selecting a classroom to study, I made every effort to select one in which there would be a minimal teacher bias toward the students' nonstandard language and their active resistance to the her efforts to teach them more standard and mainstream ways of speaking and writing. In this chapter, I describe the participants (the classroom teacher and eight target students) and the context (a bilingual classroom) and explain how they came together to constitute a potentially ideal setting for examining academic discourse practices.1 The purpose of this discussion is twofold. One purpose is to provide the reader with contextual information about the participants and the context in order to better understand the research findings reported in Chapters 4 and 5. The second purpose is to offer this contextual information as evidence of the ideal nature of the classroom setting in which the teacher declares her care and commitment to the students and the students (and their parents) report positive attitudes toward schooling in general and toward their teacher in particular.


The Classroom Teacher

Amy Cortland, the teacher selected for this study, is an experienced bilingual teacher who is highly proficient in English and Spanish and familiar with her school district's bilingual education program. An Anglo native English-speaker, Cortland was selected because she met four key selection criteria. She is: (1) highly proficient in Spanish, (2) familiar and comfortable with Mexican culture, (3) an experienced teacher who has taught school both in Mexico and the United States, and (4) committed to improving the academic and linguistic achievement of all her students. The selection of these key criteria was based on the need to conduct research in a potentially ideal or optimal setting. In such a setting, the teacher would likely assume a role as cultural mentor for her students and effectively instruct them, and the students would likely have ample opportunities to speak and write across a variety of academic discourse settings.

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