“Please—a little less love, and a little more common decency.”

radical eyes for equity

I wish that people who are conventionally supposed to love each other would say to each other, when they fight, “Please—a little less love, and a little more common decency.”

Slapstick or Lonesome No More!, Kurt Vonnegut

I was a public high school English teacher for almost two decades in the rural upstate of South Carolina.

My first years were nearly overwhelming—as they are for most beginning teachers. And I would concede that much of that struggling could easily be categorized as classroom management challenges (although having five different preps, 15 different textbooks, and classes as large as 35 students certainly didn’t help).

Yet, then and now, as I approach the middle of my third decade teaching, I tend to reject the terms “discipline” and “classroom management” because they carry connotations I cannot endorse.

First, framing classroom management as something separate from pedagogy, I believe, is a mistake. In…

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The Politics of Teaching Grammar

radical eyes for equity

The pronoun/antecedent debate about “they” has continued at the NCTE Connected Community’s Teaching and Learning forum—mostly by advocates of prescriptive grammar.

That many English teachers continue to beat the drum for prescriptive rules is troubling—as I noted earlier when calling for descriptive grammar and conventional awareness. Troubling on one level since prescriptive grammar is solidly refuted by linguistics and the history of the English language [1]; troubling on another level since one staunch defense of the rules posted at the forum by an English teacher included a dangling modifier—highlighting that prescriptive grammarians often by necessity are themselves picking and choosing which “rules” to emphasize (an ironic type of descriptive grammar).

Another post called for ELA teachers to “hold the line with pronoun – antecedent agreement” because “[w]hile I think that grammar is a reflection of society, this is really about singular vs. plural.  It is not a political platform.”

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Why Do the Privileged View Equity as “Hard Work”?

radical eyes for equity

Let’s start with this: Privileged people in the U.S. embrace what amounts to a lie—that success is mostly the result of effort, notably that education is the key to success.

However, the evidence is overwhelming that being born wealthy trumps effort (including educational attainment) by people born into poverty and especially by black and brown people regardless of socioeconomic status.

White, wealth, and male privilege remains the most powerful combination in the U.S.

Let’s also note that formal education, instead of eradicating inequity, often works to reflect and even expand the equity gap for impoverished, black, and brown children [1]. And “other people’s children” experience much harsher disciplinary policies in those schools, such as zero tolerance, that reflect and perpetuate race and class inequity as well.

And it may be that the root of this disturbing gap between what the privileged claim and the reality of being born and living…

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