RE: Talk of courses and discussions

From: Kevin Rocap (
Date: Mon Jun 06 2005 - 09:13:34 PDT

Hey Phil,

Thanks for sending your thoughts. I'm not sure I grasped all of it. I need to brush up my Bourdieu ;-) And I think I need to quickly ascend to the concrete.

I'm thinking in a rather quotidian fashion about cross-racial and cross-cultural interactions among, say, English language learners and predominantly white, English-Only teachers, teaching either ESL or academic content in English (with or without English language development affordances for English language learners).

White teachers, not to generalize, but I've seen this often enough, choose topics and content of relevance to them, rather than of interest or relevance to the learners before them, and with little attention to the range of students' prior knowledge (that is to say, at best, teachers seek rather narrow prior knowledge regarding the specific content or information they are seeking to "transfer" to students - not tapping into the range of experiences and/or cultural aspirations and meanings they might tap into). And even the moniker "English Language Learner" which is commonly used, sets out a purpose or "object" of primarily focusing on the labeled student's need to learn English, often to the exclusion of other cultural or academic purposes for interactions with the student, no? While that may not be the student's or his/her family's primary "object" for his/her learning (though an important one, doubtless). And, yes, it seems often possible to discern subtle and not-so-subtle hierarchies of skin color in how classes are organized, which students are put into leadership roles, who/what are visually present on the walls of the classroom and in the corridors. With social relations outside of school, replicated within school activities.

The things I mention are all common types of things multiculturalists and/or critical pedagogists may take into consideration. So, then, I become interested in the force of CHAT concepts for designing more empowering learning environments and potentially for explicating or critiquing in different ways power relationships around race, ethnicity, gender, special needs, language status, etc.

But don't want to force us to quickly in that direction. As I mentioned, I'm sure their are multiple "objects" for this discussion among us.

Thaks for the spur to thought and conversation Phil.

In Peace,

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