Saturday, September 28, 2013

Talking Points #2: The Argument of Richard Rodriguez's “Aria"

A) Rodriguez, Richard. "Aria." Tongue-Tied: The Lives of Multilingual Children in Public Education. Ed. Otto Santa Ana. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2004. 34-39. Print.

    Richard Rodriguez argues that a fragment of a child's "individuality" (Rodriguez 39) can go missing as a result of abandoning his/her home language in order to achieve success in the language of public society. Upon reading Richard Rodriguez's piece regarding his personal experiences with the language barrier, I found myself contemplating the very first line of the text: "Supporters of bilingual education today imply that students like me miss a great deal by not being taught in their family's language" (Rodriguez 34). From my perspective, it does seem appropriate for educators/supporters to encourage the teaching of a student's home dialect. In the case of this particular author, however, I perceived that the methods that he, his family, and his school used to aid him in learning English had separated him from developing in the Spanish language, rather than helping him to become a proficient learner/speaker in both languages.
    Towards the start of "Aria," Rodriguez discusses how he considered his primary language (Spanish) to be his "private language" (Rodriguez 34), hence his reluctance to speak it in school. As I read Rodriguez's personal account of his struggle with specific languages and the corresponding dialogue, I took note that Rodriguez seemed to associate the English language as being an expectation of both the educational field and society itself. This enabled Rodriguez to observe that English was perhaps what was to be spoken in public. The "public identity" (Rodriguez 34) of an individual, according to Rodriguez, is formed through the language (i.e. English) taught in school.
    Rodriguez also expresses that he would have perhaps felt more comfortable with the Spanish dialogue in the school setting. However, he does state that incorporating the Spanish dialogue in school would have postponed the process of learning "public language" (Rodriguez 34). The language used in the classroom setting can differentiate vastly from home language, as was the case with Rodriguez. Both Rodriguez's family and school encouraged the teaching of English at home, but perhaps did not carry out this option as fittingly as they should have. Rodriguez's parents and his fellow siblings may not have executed the correct resolution to the issue either, for with the author's parents being more fluent in Spanish, teaching English to their children would prove difficult. Undoubtedly, I am sure that other individuals and schools do enforce these same opinions and policies.
    I believe that there are perks to learning a second language, and remaining fluent in both languages. However, the two languages should be used to one's benefit, not to dismiss him or her of his/her home language. Rodriguez, as a child, had viewed himself to be at a "disadvantage" in school prior to learning English. The author felt as though the instance of speaking English in class helped him to establish a sense of acceptance in school.
    Was Rodriguez upset, presumably, that this element (i.e. the Spanish language) of his identity had been seemingly neglected? He mentioned that upon grasping English, he came to feel as though he had "become" an American, despite the fact that he had always been one. The use of "public language in the home," and the pronunciation of words differing from words spoken, resulted in confusion for the Rodriguez household. What language was to be deemed appropriate in the home environment? The Spanish language no longer served as Rodriguez's "main" language. Rodriguez himself began to contemplate the intimacy of his family. Could this be relative to the American Dream? Public language appeared to have replaced Rodriguez's private one, making it arduous for his parents to comprehend spoken English word (Rodriguez 37). Rodriguez's father grew silent, opting for the absence of words as the new language used at home became more complex, only revealing more of his inner self through his home language. On the other hand, Rodriguez's mother took more charge where the English language was concerned. Their personalities/identities altered as a result of the language barrier.

    Regarding a point to share, it seems as though Rodriguez grew apart from the Spanish language as he further developed his English. He states on page 38 of the text that "At about the time I no longer bothered to listen with care to the sounds of English in public, I grew careless about listening to the sounds family members made when they spoke" (Rodriguez 38). However, it appears that Rodriguez is rather sorrowful when he reminisces of his culture and of his heritage whilst hearing the sound of Spanish dialogue. There is a familiarity to the language, as if the author is reminded of his family, and his mind refers back to his childhood. Had a part of his cultural identity dissipated through the pressure of enforcing public language in his home? The last sentence of Rodriguez's text depicts how a piece of a child's "individuality" (Rodriguez 39) is lost when his/her private language is traded for the public language. This, which I believe serves as the main idea of Rodriguez's text, coincides with Virginia Collier's quote from "Teaching Multilingual Children": "Don't teach a second language in a way that challenges or seeks to eliminate the first language" (Collier 227).

Additional References: Collier, Virginia. "Teaching Multilingual Children." Tongue-Tied: The Lives of Multilingual Children in Public Education. Ed. Otto Santa Ana. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2004. 222-235. Print.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Talking Points #1: Quotes on Jonathan Kozol's Amazing Grace

A) Kozol, Jonathan. Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation. Harper Perennial, 1995. Print.

"There are children in the poorest, most abandoned places who, despite the miseries and poisons that the world has pumped into their lives, seem, when you first meet them, to be cheerful anyway" (Kozol 6).

    Childhood innocence surpasses the hurt inflicted by this world. Children tend to find beauty in things, but as they enter periods of adolescence and adulthood, they are susceptible to becoming  involved in the issues exposed to them since childhood. As children grow older, they may become more inclined to the negative patterns that wrack adulthood. An impending future may result involving these worldly wrongs. Kozol also mentions how the children, although surrounded by drug addiction, pollution, disease, violence, and death, still remain strong in their faith and values. I feel that through this quote, Kozol is demonstrating that despite the harshness of the world and the individual sufferings that accompany it, children view the world with different eyes.

"These are almost the only things she says that have an edge of indignation; even here, it is more sadness than a real indignation. She seems resigned to things the way they are" (Kozol 17).

    In Kozol's text, the sorrow that the people endure as a result of being forced to live this way is evident. Anguish occupies their daily lives, and it is shameful to know that those in power are refusing to take action to right the wrongs, but have rather contributed to the misery that these individuals are afflicted by. Early in the text, Kozol mentions how a waste incinerator was established in the neighborhood of St. Ann's Church, posing cancer risks to children. Citizens of the East Side of Manhattan had successfully protested having the incinerator placed in their area. The city then presented harm to the children of poverty, therefore not resolving the health issue. Kozol also discusses the appalling conditions of the nearby hospitals. The quote above displays the hurt and the anger that the poor in these situations must experience, but are forced to accept. It seems so careless for those in power to dismiss the needs of the people.

"I believe that we were put here for a purpose, but these people in the streets can't see a purpose. There's a whole world out there if you know it's there, if you can see it. But they're in a cage. They cannot see" (Kozol 24).

    David Washington had discussed with Kozol how evil existed in the world, and how so many of the area's population had gone astray. They became lost due to the world's grasp. Some yearn for an escape, but those preoccupied in inflicting unnecessary harm attempt to make others succumb to worldly desires. Those who fail to realize or even search for life's purpose have conformed to the way of the world, which I believe David is describing. They dwell in drug addiction, prostitution, illegal affairs, etc. The people who hope are suffering, but those who choose to do wrong fail to see life outside of the world, merely seeking to do evil.

    Regarding a point to share, there is a quote concerning the "lifestyles and behavior of the poor" on page 21 that Kozol references. I thought to myself how truly wrong it was for the professor quoted to cast judgment on the poor. How can people speak of those in poverty in this way when they themselves have not lived it? I agree with Kozol having said, "I have yet to figure out what she has done that was irrational" (Kozol 22). What I perceive as "irrational" is the judgment, not the individuals who strive but cannot escape from poverty.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

About Me

Hi Everyone!

My name is Elizabeth. This semester marks the second year of college for me. I really enjoyed my first year at RIC, and I'm hoping that this year's experience will be as good as the last. I am looking forward to meeting new people, making new friends, and learning new things. I am majoring in Elementary Education, with a content major in English. I always knew that I had wanted to become some type of teacher, because I enjoy helping others and working with children.

My summer was quite relaxing. I caught up and spent time with friends and family. When I'm not in school, I'm usually drawing or listening to my favorite music. I have considered drawing to be a passion of mine since I was young. Hopefully, this year I will be able to see one of my favorite musical artists in concert (Jeremy Camp). I wish I had been lucky enough to go and see Mumford & Sons in Oklahoma! Jeremy Camp is coming to Worchester in December, so that's a better fit for me.

I am taking this class because it's a part of the requirements for the Elementary Education program. I am looking forward to getting to know everyone.

Here are my most recent sketches: