Gratitude expressed for saving minority language, culture, identity

Here is an article on saving a minority language, culture and identity. What has been done to value, celebrate and preserve your language?

Diversity in the classroom.

Below are three links to Anne Burns’ talks on the development of teacher education over the last decades. Teacher preparation includes the need to prepare teachers for a significant increase in diversity in the classroom. In many places this is already a fairly common state. How has your teacher education or professional development prepared you for broad diversity in your classroom? What recommendations can you offer your colleagues related to linguistic and cultural diversity in the classroom?

Anne Burns 1 of 3 on developments in language teacher education.

Anne Burns 2 of 3 on developments in language teacher education.

Anne Burns 3 of 3 on preparing teachers for diversity in the classroom.



Mother Tongue-based Multilingual Education

There is a great deal more attention given to the languages used in children’s education these days. This attention is a result of a growing realization that starting children in a foreign language such as English is significantly less productive than beginning them in their mother tongue.  While many governments and aid groups are working hard to provide universal primary education for all children across the globe, ignoring the language issue means those efforts often result in less effective education. Children need to begin their learning through a language they understand and speak every day. Using their mother tongue, or first language, enables children to understand the teacher and comprehend the lesson. Building on learner’s everyday experiences and home culture also aids learning considerably. Literacy in the mother tongue has a significantly positive impact on developing literacy in any other language subsequently. Children thrive when their mother tongue is used in school. Beginning with the mother tongue also helps them achieve higher proficiency in second and third languages, like their national language and English.

This post from Australia indicates that mother tongue-based bilingual education contributes toward inclusive and equitable quality education for all learners and particularly for speakers of non-dominant languages. For the full story click here.

Likewise, Indonesia is addressing the same issue of inclusive and equitable quality education for minority language speakers. Educators state that when the national language, Bahasa Indonesia, is used in schools children cannot follow what the teacher is saying because they don’t hear that language at home. They become embarrassed that they don’t understand and keep quiet in class as a result, essentially remaining disengaged. For the Indonesian story click here.

Likewise Bangladesh is struggling to implement mother tongue-based multilingual education as an effort toward addressing human rights issues. When children are educated in their mother tongue they learn better and read better, empowering them in multiple ways. See their story here.

Many countries around the world are working hard to strengthen education programs by adjusting language policies from dominant language education to mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTB MLE). Celebrating all languages in the classroom is a strong means of supporting and valuing diversity.

University of Regina Conference: Public engagement and the politics of evidence

The conference proceedings of the University of Regina Conference on Public Engagement and the Politics of Evidence are now available at  First Nations scholar Dr. Marie Battiste gave a critical perspective of the Canadian initiatives in higher education  that aim to empower indigenous scholars within mainstream higher education through indigenization of education ( Indigenization of education includes provision of more equitable opportunities for indigenous peoples in higher education as well as representation and teaching of indigenous knowledge. However, according to Dr. Battiste the analysis and solutions are created out of a Eurocentric perspective without considering or including the experts among indigenous people in either analysis or response. Thus activities are based on assimilation while ignoring the contexts from which indigenous scholars originate – oppression, poverty, class hierarchy, white dominance, privilege and discrimination. Battiste suggests that any decolonization initiative needs to address issues of self-determination, indigenous knowledge reconstruction, damage done by past systems, discourses of deficits and benefits of assimilation among other topics.

One participant asked Marie to respond to the negative, deficiency narratives that arise with each initiative of indigenization of education. These negative discourses suggest that indigenization of higher education is a “form of damaging accommodation that is an affront to academic education”. Marie’s response focuses the need to move forward and engage everyone as complicit in the futures of indigenous people. Rather than viewing indigenization as a step backward, we must see the process as moving forward toward a better future for all.

This conversation is an interesting contrast to the last post on this site about the hiring of minority teachers in Boston. It appears that mere hiring of minority teachers during a crisis does not actually address issues of equity. On going conversation with leaders in minority communities to understand their perspective, the context within which they live and work and their own ideals and desired futures would contribute more to crafting initiatives that may truly contribute to social equity. Simple hierarchical decisions made by dominant leaders will not create change, nor does it acknowledge that everyone is complicit in the futures of both minority and majority students.


Diversifying the Teaching Force

U.S. schools continue to struggle to diversify the teaching force. Teachers representing various backgrounds bring greater diversity to the classroom and connect with children of various backgrounds as well.  However, the teaching force still remains predominantly mono-cultural. One researcher from Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education says that the issue is not attended to until a crisis occurs, such as the retirement of minority teachers. Further difficulties stem from a shortage of minority students entering education programs. See the full article here.