Monday, March 21, 2011

Preserving Language and Culture

Yet another reaction paper.  I find that I have a lot to say when my opinion is solicited.                        

Preserving Language and Culture
When considering information about culture, I find that I am very protective.  I want culture and language to be preserved and protected.  I do not feel that one nation, language, or culture is superior over another, and I am quickly offended by others who project any sense of superiority.  I want others to embrace my philosophy, but I am not sure how I got here, so that could be a problem. 
In considering Hornberger’s article Language Policy, Language Education, Language Rights:  Indigenous, Immigrant, and International Perspectives, I found some of the statics alarming and sobering.  She pointed out that “many indigenous languages around the world [are] in danger of disappearing because they are not being transmitted to the next generation,” and I find this fact in itself something to ponder on.  Our young people are being robbed of their culture, and this in turn, is being replaced by another part of culture, merging and blending until the former language and culture is gone.  “For example, of the 175 indigenous languages still extant in the United States, only 20 are being transmitted as child languages” (Hornberger pg. 441), and this is alarming.
Some of the trouble comes from law makers and administrators who are predominantly Anglo, and who make statements such as “languages other than English are ‘perfectly acceptable…[but only] as long as they are mediated through individuals and not communities…they should be confined to the private sector’” (Hornberger pg. 447).   Or other issues such as this example that speaks directly to policy “educational policies and practices…of treat the Cambodian students’ native language as a problem rather than a resource, and provide few opportunities for these students to practice and learn the literacy skills needed to become ‘literate insiders’ in the United States’” (Hornberger pg. 448).  I do not know Cambodian, but I am so drawn to the plight of these students.  I would find a way to communicate, reciprocate, and help them become fluent in English (if that was their goal and desire).
In the United States, we want to talk about what a culturally rich, diverse, and accepting country we are, but that is not true.  We are scared.  Anything different is too terrifying to be accepted.  We try to eliminate what is different and made everyone the same.  That is a scary concept.  Hornberger stated “the whole notion of language minority has more to do with power than numbers, anyway,” (pg. 453) and that is so true.  There is power when there is control, but it is not our job as humans to exert power and control over one another.
Hornberger argues “there is also consistent and completing evidence that language policy and language education serve as vehicles for promoting the vitality, versatility, and stability of these languages, and ultimately of the rights of their speakers to participate in the global commi9nity on, and in, their own terms,” (pg. 455) and I agree.
When we speak of education reform, we are speaking of so much, but there are some basic concepts that cover so much.  If we are supporting children and families where they come from, identify their goals, help them grow to where they want to become –without erasing their identity- we have become a nation to be proud of, but not until then. 
Hornberger, N.  (1998).  Language policy, language education, language rights:  indigenous,        immigrant, and international perspectives.     Cambridge University Press.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Operation Return to Veganism

When people find out that I am a vegetarian, there are usually a lot of questions and sometimes statements.  "How do you get your protein?"  "I could never give up meat."  Every now and then I get "are you vegetarian or vegan?" and that one makes me perk up.  The person who asks this question has done a little homework.  I was asked this question just this week, and my answer was "depends on the week, this week, I am vegan."

My return to veganism came about for many reasons.  A brief history of my dietary choices may be helpful at this point.  In December 2005 I saw myself on a video and was shocked at how big I had become.  I decided to do something about it, and in January 2006 I began a low fat diet.  It was during this time we visited some friends, the wife of the family being a bosom companion and, at the time, was vegetarian.  I observed her eating patterns, compared them to mine, and decided eliminating meat would help me reach my weight loss goals.  After about a month, I decided to try veganism.  I lost 50 lbs. and continued to live vegan. 

About a year ago, I was ready to lose more weight.  About 15 lbs. had found it's way back into my life, and I was not happy!  I thought I might reintroduce low fat cheese and eggs in an effort to avoid so many carbs- not vegan choices, but it worked.  I was able to lose 40 lbs.  Now, here we are.

Cheese is wonderful and sinful.  I must purge it from my life.  I need rules and guidelines, or I slip.  Thus, I began Operation Return to Veganism on January 27, 2011.  But, I am troubled by my need to lose weight and fit into a mold of perfection.  Who has set this idea in my head?  No one but me.  It is fine to eat well and exercise in an effort to be healthy, but what if I don't lose any more weight?  What happens then?  Why is it so important to me and to society?

This takes me on another spin.  I find the trends in weight loss alarming and somewhat disturbing, even though I have fallen victim to desiring many of these very trends!  Why must we all strive to be perfect?  No one can attain it!  There is so much beauty in diversity- all shapes and colors. 

Being vegan makes me happy, and I feel fabulous.  That is important.  Exercise can be fun (though sometimes it is awful), and if I am using my body for hard work, nourishing it, and taking time to meditate and de-stress, I will be a better person.  I may not be thin (I won't be thin), but I will be happy. 

(Now, everytime I feel defeated, I need to read my own words!  LOL)

Monday, January 31, 2011

Educational Reform?

The following is a reaction paper I wrote this morning for my Instructional Issues in Language, Teaching, and Learning class.  I liked how it turned out, the feelings it brought forth, and I wanted to share.           
 After reviewing the posts of my peers and the articles from the past few weeks, I find myself wondering, “How do we please everyone, and offer quality education?”  American education has set many standards that are based on research.  Highly educated, well spoken men and women sit in meeting rooms and discuss the future of education for our children.  Most of these people have never gone hungry or experienced a severe communication barrier.  In the meantime, children go to school every day in frustration, fear, and confusion from both sides of the diversity fence.
            Woodson stated, “Negros have no control over their education and have little voice in their other affairs pertaining thereto” (Woodson, 1990 pg. 22), but the same could be said for our children today.  Substitute the word “negros” with English language learners, learning disabled students, impoverished students, or even minority students, and one begins to see what the climate of education is like in the United States. 
            Woodson also gave us this wise statement, “Real education means to inspire people to live more abundantly, to learn to begin with life as they find it and make it better…” (Woodson, 1990 pg. 29).  “Real education” is not something we have going on today.   We have forgotten how to allow our children to explore and learn.  We have become a nation that is preoccupied with test results and assessments.  This form of performance standard leaves behind those who are not performing typically and this usually includes English language learners and special needs children.
            As an educator, I am saddened and elated in the truth contained the statement made by Tamura, “The controversy surrounding bilingual education demonstrates that the debate has less to do with pedagogy than with the symbolic power of language use” (Tamura 1996 pg. 444).  Language is the root of communication and ties communities together.  In order to reach our children, and teach them effectively, we must understand them.  I put this quote here because it goes back to real education.  No matter what language our students are using (pidgin, slang, Spanish, Chinese), we must find a way to communicate with them and reach them.  This is what being a good educator is about.  “Language intolerance has been especially strong when those in power have felt threatened by people they consider culturally different from themselves” (Tamura 1996 pg. 432).  And?  We are all culturally different, and if we are intolerant of difference, we cannot rightly be tolerant of anyone or anything as we are all different.
            As educators we take on a huge responsibility.  If we desire success we need to think about the whole student, the culture they come from, and the language they choose to use.  As a society we have come a long way accepting diversity, but our children are leading us in this area, and we need to follow their lead.  As much as we need educational reform, we also need reform in how we view our fellow man.  Meeting them where they are and appreciating where they have come from is what will make us a superior educator.
Tamura, E.  (1996).  Power, status, and hawai’i creole English:  an example of linguistic    intolerance in american history.  Pacific Historical Review.  Pacific Coast Branch.    American Historical Association.
Woodson, C.  (1990).  The miseducation of the negro.  New Jersey:  Africa World Press.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Experiment #1

This is truly an experiment.  How would it be to randomly put down thoughts, events, musings, revelations, and other life events in one place, and allow other to read it.  Interesting.  So, my experiment begins. 

Today I am feeling defeated by my body.  I am not well and in need of rest.  This is the only reason I have found the time to create this blog.  If my wishes came to fruition, I would not have the time to write, and I would feel wonderful.