“Grammar [is] an indication of class and cultural background in the United States…there is a bias against people who do not use language ‘correctly’” – Linda Christensen, Reading, Writing, and Rising Up: Teaching About Social Justice and the Power of the Written Word
When I read this, I thought ‘yes,’ then ‘no, now I’m confused.’ As I discovered, after reading further, writing for the person who hasn’t been raised in the “language of power,” can be difficult because they stop and think about grammar. Their thoughts get stopped by the “grammar cop,” and their writing slows down, and becomes a laborious, dreadful thing. Always thinking about grammar and syntax and how to put words together as if it was a science project depletes and deflates the spirit and creativity of writing, or at least it can.
I grew up in a home that spoke the “language of power,” so my writing always was “acceptable” and academic. But, I hated writing, and struggled to get words on the page. Over the years my writing has improved, and I’ve gotten more confident in it, but even now I still doubt the veracity, or importance of my words. What has helped the most over the years hasn’t been grammar study (though it has helped), but rather the continuation of writing. Being in graduate school has forced me to write, then write some more. What used to be laborious isn’t as hard anymore, and based on the feedback from my professors, my writing has improved significantly.
As I finish up my studies at Arcadia, I understand more and more that writing is a tool for power and sharing your voice. For students of poverty, or students who are not of the dominant language group, writing can empower them, not only through raising awareness through their voice, but writing improves their overall literacy development. This development can’t be through learning how to write “correctly” first then write, but rather writing to improve writing. This is how it has been for me, and writing has become a tool for my voice, rather than a task to dread.
Why study English education? I think it’s because science is too boring (to me), and business is too meaningless (for me), history is too much (for me), but English is just right for me. Language means something, writing means something, and the importance of literacy has grown on me over the last couple of years.