Delpit & Dowdy (2002). No Kinda Sense.

Delpit, L., & Dowdy, J. K. (Eds.). (2002). No Kinda Sense. In The skin that we speak: Thoughts on language and culture in the classroom. New York: The New Press.

“She be all like, ‘What ch’all talkin’ ’bout?’ like she ain’t had no kinda sense.” (p 33)

“The real issue was our concern about what others would think. … Consequently, those of us who reach for or attempt to maintain middle-class acceptability work hard to stamp out the public expression of the language with which we enjoy such a love/ hate relationship.” (p 37)

“Through his study of second-language acquisition, Stephen [page break] Krashen distinguishes the processes of conscious learning (rule-based instruction) from unconscious acquisition (‘picking up’ a language in a social setting). Krashen found unconscious acquisition to be much more effective. In further studies, however, he found that in some cases people did not easily acquire the new language form. This led him to suggest what he called an affective filter. The filter operates ‘when affective conditions are not optimal, when the student is not motivated, does not identify with the speakers of the second language, or is overanxious about his performance, … [creating] a mental block … [which] will prevent the input from reaching those parts of the brain responsible for language acquisition.’ In other words, the less stress and the more fun connected to the process, the more easily it is accomplished.” (p 39-40)

“When instruction is stripped of children’s cultural legacies, then they are forced to believe that the world and all the good things in it were created by others. This leaves students further alienated from the school and its instructional goals, and more likely to view themselves as inadequate.” (p 41)

“… they sought to help teachers understand that no language form was better than another from a linguistic or cognitive standpoint. … If students are to acquire a second language form in school, teachers must not only see their students as nondeficient, they must understand their brilliance, and the brilliance of their home language.” (p 42)

“Secondly, if we are to invite children into the language of school, we must make school inviting to them. In almost every school I have visited, private conversations with children will elicit the [page break] same response: Almost no one in the school ever listens to them. There is no more certain a way to insure that people do not listen to you as to not listen to them. Furthermore, by not listening, teachers cannot know what students are concerned about, what interests them, or what is happening in their lives. Without that knowledge it is difficult to connect the curriculum to anything students find meaningful.” (p 42-43)

“We have not fully realized the extent to which the media and general American belief systems have permeated the consciousness of African American children. Many have internalized the beliefs of the larger society that they and people who look like them are less than the intellectual norm. From media portrayals of African American criminals, to news broadcasts which ignore the positive models of African American maleness, to a focus in schools on slavery rather than on the brilliance of the African intellectual legacy, children come to believe that there is nothing in their heritage to connect to schooling and academic success.” (p 46)

“I propose that the negative responses to the children’s home language on the part of the adults around them insures that they will reject the school’s language and everything else the school has to offer. What can it mean to a child who encounters an adult whose goal is to ‘Speak Out Against Ebonics’? It can only represent the desire to speak out against those who are speakers of Ebonics — to stamp out not only the child, but those from whom the child first received nurturance, from whom she first felt love, for whom she first smiled.” (p 47)

Selected References

  • Krashen, S. D. (1982). Principles and Practices in Second Language Acquisition. New York: Pergamon.
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