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Who has the power/ Who is allowed to decide?

Desiape's picture

After reading “The Consciousness of the Verbal Artist,” there were some aspects of the chapter that left me feeling uneasy. I found myself agreeing with the final adages of the importance of learning through different vernaculars, the colloquial in conjunction with the academic. This offers students a chance to bring a personal addition into the classroom and allowing them the chance to find validation in their personal practices within classrooms, a place where deviance from status quo is often labeled wrong and less than, thus creating a contrasting image of school.

I found there was something within the analysis as a whole that I was not completely comfortable with. Though I am not fully able to put my discomfort into words, I think it stems from the idea of the difference between students as active members of the classroom and agents in their own education (as well as in the education of others with in the classroom, including the teacher) and students as subject matter, stagnant and meant to be manipulated and used in whatever manner the teacher deems appropriate. The latter places students at a deficit in the idea that they are subjects to be studied and are subject to the whim of the analysis of the researcher/ teacher.

As Paris and Kirkland reference African American Language (AAL) and speak of how it is a method of “resistance to Dominant American Language (DAE)” (p. 179), I struggled with the idea of whether or not such a conclusion was based on the third party researchers or if the users of AAL felt that way. I reflected on my own connections with ‘Ebonics’ or AAL, I never thought of my use of these vernaculars as resistance, rather I viewed my use of these vernaculars as a means of communication. With Paris and Kirkland making that connection, it places connotations onto my use language in a manner that, I feel, is not valid based on my personal use. Paris and Kirkland take that power by analyzing conversations and not asking the students about their own connections to specific vernaculars and their choices behind its use, thus confining them into what Paris and Kirkland think of them and stifling development.

In Sleeter's (chap. 6) idea of "students as curriculum," there seemed to be a collaborative nature behind curriculum. Sleeter references Freire’s idea that “to teach is not to transfer the comprehension of the object to a student but to instigate the student, who is a knowing subject, to become capable of communicating what has been comprehended.” (p. 106) I feel that some parts of the analysis of Paris and Kirkland goes against this idea of Freire’s and the spirit of Sleeter’s work. Rather than “instigat[ing] the student,’ teachers teach the student as subject matter, touching on appropriation as well as diminishing the worth of the students’ personal connections and agency in regards to the language.