Laughable intellectual endeavors

SO…

I found this book at the library and absolutely HAD to check it out to see what this woman was saying. First, peep the book:


“Losing Our Language: How Multicultural Classroom Instruction Is Undermining Our Children’s Ability to Read, Write, and Reason”

Maybe you can see the attraction here. I basically checked out the book with the sole purpose of reading parts of it, (as a student reading for pleasure only produces guilt in me, as I know I should be slaving through the original Don Quijote,) cultivating a strong dislike for Sandra Stotsky, and walking away from the experience even more certain that the anti-multiculturalism movement is still alive and well. And, basically, that has been the experience.

Stotsky’s basic hypothesis is that classics have been switched out for “simplistic tales that fail to develop our children’s ability to read, write, or think”. So ideally the traditional Anansi stories of west Africa, tales of contact between Europeans and indigenous populations like “I Heard the Owl Call My Name”, and Afrocentric kids books like “I Love My Hair!” would all be eliminated in the name of better educating children.

Is this lady serious?

She also asserts that “in an effort to incorporate more ethnically varied readings into children’s textbooks and raise minority students’ “self-esteem” basal readers have been systematically “dumbed down””. Totally, Sandra! Making traditionally marginalized kids feel comfortable in their learning environment? WHAT A DUMB IDEA!

Thoughts? Just wanted to share this treasure that will be available at the Carnegie Library as soon as I return it … which will indeed be soon.

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22 Responses to Laughable intellectual endeavors

  1. Fen says:

    First off, perhaps Sandra should read Delpit’s article? That should make for some interesting discourse.
    I do agree with you in that Sandra makes some outrageous claims. I’ve always grown up learning to respect diversity, that different cultures place different values on different texts. I think there’s much to learn from reading texts written by different cultures. Besides the usual “diversity is good” claims, I truly believe that these “simplistic stories” don’t stifle children’s ability to read; rather, they present stories from different perspectives, different angles to think about things. But even that aside, she clearly hasn’t come to terms with the fact that America is a country built on diversity, and not all children learn the same. Presenting the same “classics” to every child might not achieve the academic goal she intends.
    So I’m really interested in what Sandra has to say about all this. I feel she hasn’t had enough experiences with diversity to make such claims. Tell us more about the book after you’re done!

  2. AndrewZ says:

    This is so ridiculous. I’d love to know what publisher, when Sandra here pitched her idea, said, “Yeah, alright! I can get behind that!” Ugh. Ridiculous. She may as well have titled the thing, “I’m a Blatant Racist Grasping at Straws to Find a Politically Correct (or at least acceptable) Way to Vent my Hatred for Everyone Who is Different From Me so as to Boost my own Self-Esteem and that of Like Minded, Closed-Minded People.”

    Anyway, stuff like this kills me. Isn’t America the “melting pot?” Aren’t we supposed to, as Fen says, respect diversity and embrace it? Isn’t understanding the wide variety of cultures the world over important to the development of children? I would really like to see some of the proof that she has come up with for a diverse selection of reading being in any way detrimental to the education of young students. America is diverse. The world is diverse. And the way I see it, the earlier children are made aware of such diversity, the earlier they can start to figure out their place WITHIN the whole, big picture. I think that removing readings that demonstrate diversity will only teach children to separate themselves from the whole and reinforce the tendency demonstrated by people like Sandra to pick the “group” to which they belong and look down upon all those who are in any way different from themselves.

  3. profvee says:

    What a fabulous (by that, I mean, fabulously atrocious) find, hkkeene! I haven’t read this (nor do I plan to) but, indeed, there have been countless books like this which push against the movements toward inclusive classrooms.

    Like the lament for Johnny’s sudden inability to write, most of these claims are founded on some fictional past where everyone (by that, they generally mean people of western European descent) was smart and well-adjusted and highly literate. This time never existed: as AndrewZ says, America is (and has always been) a melting pot. Besides, most educational studies back up Fen’s claim–that learning about different perspectives helps kids be more flexible, smart, etc.

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