Thoughts

So, I’ve been thinking alot lately, and I haven’t really had much time to write it down. Which means that I usually forget it. Which sucks. But I promised myself to make a point of writing these thoughts down, so that they wouldn’t fly away with other meeting times and memos.

1) I’ve decided I hate the English language. Black English, Southern English, any dialectical form of it, really. And not because it is what it is, but basically because of what it represents. I can’t escape it, I can’t think outside it, I hate it and love it at the same time. It is responsible for beating my fathers and making my mothers cry. It is the only way I can express happiness, and it is the only way I can express pain. And I look at the language debates about a student’s right to keep their own language, and I wonder, why? Why am I fighting to hold on to the language of the oppressor – the BROKEN language of the opressor at that? None of my ancestors chose to speak English, why should I care if I’m told to say “He is” instead of “He be,”? It’s all in the imperialist tongue. Will I liberate students to allow them use Black English – because that is what they speak at home? or will allowing them to talk as they want simply exaggerate the separation between the White and Blacks? Basically will playing the game validate the game?

I read one of Ossie Davis’s speeches: “English is my enemy” and it’s good, but flawed. He says that the English language is racist and that users of the English language are learning to speak racistly. This isn’t a new idea. In Herbert Kohl’s book I Won’t Learn From You he talks about how one boy, Akmir, decides to not-learn racist language, and takes care to highlight every racist term in his history book and discuss those terms in class. But he ignores anyone who identifies outside the Black/White binary. And he ignores sexist language. In fact, in speaking, he seems to be completely unconscious of using some of the very discriminating linguistic methods he argues against. But I digress.

I’ve read people for and against bi-dialectism. The pros say, “face it, Black English is a decayed, substandard, form of English, and the usage of it and impedes communication with anyone who does not speak it.” The antis say, “saying that my English is substandard is an extreme insult, languages can’t be ranked anyway! Who are you to say which language is better than another? I’m not teaching my students to be anything other than themselves.” While it hurts to say it, I’m going to have to fall on the side of the pros. There is a certain context for everything, and I can’t imagine allowing my students to all turn in papers in their own grammars and try to decipher which is grammatically correct based upon which grammar the student chooses to employ! In a Spanish class, I can’t write an essay in English. Likewise, in an English class I don’t expect students to hand in essays in so-called “Black” English (which is an insult because it implies that anyone who is Black and speaks English, but does not speak Black English, is somehow less part of the “Black” category, and I refuse to let anyone define my Blackness based on some rigid ideological construct.)

2) I don’t feel prepared. Maybe that’s why I’ve been stressed out about all this stuff and applying for colleges. Maybe it’s because I have this foreboding feeling like I’m not going to get in, anywhere, and I’ll be paying back that $26,000 loan from Teaching Fellows. Last night I had a couple of dreams. In one, my mother decided to direct a play and didn’t hold a rehearsal or anything like that, and decided dress rehearsal should be on opening night. I didn’t know my lines or my blocking or anything! This dream probably stems from watching “Waiting for Guffman” but whatever. In the second dream, Mickey Jo decides that we should give swimming lessons. I protest that I haven’t had lifeguard training, that I don’t know how to start, that I’ve never taught someone how to swim before, we didn’t have a pool…she said we should do it anyway. So we’re in the pool, and I’m surrounded by toddlers ready to learn how to swim. One of them is a Gumby-shaped sponge who keeps getting absorbed with water and then unable to stay afloat. I keep having to put him against my chest and pat his back until he coughs up all the water. I turn around for a couple of seconds and all the children are standing under the water, looking at me and waiting for me to save them. Great, my own nightmare of drowning has moved to me having nightmares of being responsible for the drowning deaths of others. Yup, I think I’m losing it.

Okay that’s all, I should probably get back to work.
Next stop…da beach!

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About alburnet

New mom, new natural, and..for the last year...still a new teacher!

Posted on March 11, 2006, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. You are probably more prepared than you think you are – and to worry about it actually supports this. You are considering the possibility that there is more to learn, more to do, more to accomplish – which is true. Experience is probably all you need to make you feel more prepared – and you won’t be getting that on your own. You’ll have help.
    Nobody will throw you into a pool with toddlers on your own, there will be others there to help. All will be well. You may not be ready to go it completely alone right now, but you will be.
    I have faith in you. *hugs*

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