Thursday, June 12, 2008

African American Vernacular English

I just finished reading the Richardson article for today's class.  The article talked a lot about African American Vernacular English (AAVE), and how student's "mother tongue" is discouraged in the schools.  The article also discussed how this can lead to various student behaviors, one of which being students "acting out" or having "bad attitudes."  
I started thinking about my experiences in schools thus far.  I remember various times, especially in my second student teaching placement, where I had students (second or first graders) acting out to an extent that they needed to be removed from the class.  There were a few really defiant kids, who often needed to be physically removed by my CT.  I remember one or two times where African American children were being removed from the class, and one of the paraprofessionals from the classroom next door (an African American man) happened to be in the hall.  I watched, as he talked to those kids, and noted how they responded to him completely differently than the white teachers.  I naively thought that it was only because he was black himself, but now I realize that a huge part of it was his ability to communicate with them in their "mother tongue", which the white teachers did not have the ability to do.
So now I ask, how can white teachers reach African American students in a way that he was able to, when we have no experience in speaking AAVE?

1 comment:

BSwitzer said...

At the Middle School I was at in the RCSD for 2 years we had African American sentries and I would have never gotten away with talking to the kids the way they did. This is no knock on them, they were great. Your right, it is all about how they communicate. I could try and be calm with an unruly student and if they didn't react well, the sentries would yell and curse at them. The kids more times than not responded immediately.