9.25.2014

Too Long For a Tweet, Too Short for a Blog Post X

http://www.upenn.edu/pennnews/current/sites/www.upenn.edu.pennnews.current/files/imagecache/article-350/images/labov-index.jpg
Here's an excerpt from an article I recently read: "Academic Ignorance and Black Intelligence," Atlantic Monthly (June 1972).


There is no reason to believe that any nonstandard vernacular is in itself an obstacle to learning. The chief problem is ignorance of language on the part of all concerned. Our job as linguists is to remedy this ignorance: Bereiter and Engelmann want to reinforce it and justify it. Teachers are now being told to ignore the language of black children as unworthy of attention and useless for learning. They are being taught to hear every natural utterance of the child as evidence of his mental inferiority. As linguists we are unanimous in condemning this view as bad observation, bad theory, and bad practice.



That educational psychology should be strongly influenced by a theory so false to the facts of language is unfortunate; but that children should be the victims of this ignorance is intolerable. If linguists can contribute some of their valuable knowledge and energy toward exposing the fallacies of the verbal-deprivation theory, we will have done a great deal to justify the support that society has given to basic research in our field.
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