Re: [xmca] Fwd: from a valued colleague

From: Phil Chappell (
Date: Sun Mar 12 2006 - 06:45:57 PST

On 12/03/2006, at 2:31 PM, Kristen R. Clark wrote:

> One common thread between the two stories is that either
> through privilege, luck, or family favor certain kids seem to
> develop an
> affect or set of discourses they can access which help them later on

Hi Kristen,

I wonder whether we can dismiss luck and favour here and go straight
to privilege as an explanation?? Interesting sociological and
sociolinguistic research has been done in Australia in class/home/
school differences, with one very important outcome being that the
linguistic resources used to express concepts and prior experiences
during parent/child intellectual activity, such as shared book
reading appears to be a privileged discourse of families with
professional parents (see Geoffrey Williams' work, recently
transferred to OISE in Canada). Parent/child discourse including
conceptual and historical aspects, when recontextualised into the
classroom, affords the privileged child more direct access to
mainstream literacy practices.

I hope that research such as this into such significant parts of
human development makes redundant the "hit or miss" explanations that
we might find in the media.

Some words from Basil Bernstein:

"The privileging of discourse tends to abstract the analysis of
discourse from the detailed empirical analysis of its basis in social
structure. The relationships between symbolic structures and social
structures are in danger of being severed"

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