Rearticulating Articulation, Standard English, and other myths.

In Rearticulating Articulation David Russel and David Foster certainly remind us of our sad and detrimental reality.  Our educational system as a whole is no better than any other around the world.  In fact, the issues of transition between high school and college in America are as troubling as those in Germany and South Africa.  The disparity that exists between the ways students learn to write in high school is tremendously different from the skills that they need to have in order to successfully write in college.  In addition, I find that the idea presented by these authors of using the findings of cross cultural studies in teaching and learning writing to lead changes in national policy, curriculum development and professional advancement is insufficient mainly because of one reason.  Most of these studies are based on the idea of studying teaching writing in the light of culture and ideology.  However, the authors failed to consider that culture is a dynamic phenomenon that is constantly changing.  In fact, the factors that characterize problems in students’ writings today may differ from those 20 years ago and from those 20 years from now.  I believe that a more appropriate solution would be to continue to study teaching and learning writing in the light of cultural and ideological elements with a comprehensive evaluative component to this research that ensures the inclusion of the changes that students, teachers and educational systems experience with time.  Furthermore, it is important to consider the idea that even within a nation there are regional differences that need to be considered.  In Costa Rica for instance, the writing that may be produced in San Jose, a sophisticated city with a more modern approach to education will widely vary from scripts produced by the indigenous students in the mountains of Talamanca or from the productions of bilingual students in private schools in Guanacaste, a spot now populated by many European and American immigrants.   It is indeed true that American writing students won’t be any better off than other students around the world until they are equipped with the necessary skills that they will need in college to be able to competitively address their disciplinary discourse as well as with the skills to successful transition from the old ways of using language into the use of academic English.  What is more, those student need to be able to let go of their personal opinions enough to evaluate and integrate the voice of authorities in different fields, but be able to hold on them to form coherent and relevant arguments while they write.

As for the three misconceptions of standard and non-standard English that Ball and Muhammad present (one, there is an uniform standard English with set rules; two, these rules should be followed by all English speakers; three, this standard English must be kept by everyone, especially teachers)  (77), it is time that scholars get a grip on the fact that all this is an illusion.  Although many would like to think as one standard English, the truth is that much like Spanish, English varies tremendously from country to country and region to region that speak it.  In the academic world, English is conceived in one way, but with all the technological advancements and multicultural exchanges prompted by globalization, even academia and the English language itself is changing as it mixes with others.  Finally, teachers need not to safeguard what some think of Standard English when their students’ needs reflect the need to keep modernizing and changing in order to be competitive in the job market.  Think about it this way, a CEO that does not text these days is almost obsolete even if he uses perfect English.

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