“How are we growing and engaging in society? Who are we allies for? How does that play out in our own lives? How do we bring that to the classroom? How we can create experiences where our students can unpack those elements of their identity and their experiences?”
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Language is identity, as we have been exploring in each and every podcast in the It’s About Language series: identity of the individual, identity of a group, identity of a culture. Since identity is a key issue for all human beings, celebrate the exploration of our identity through language. But what of the identity of others? How does our language separate us from the experience and identity of others? Indeed, can others become invisible to us, as we make assumptions and base norms on our own language and experience, failing to look outside ourselves? This podcast Episode 15 with Dr. L.J. Randolph (read his bio) takes a firm look at the separation and injustice that can result.
“I think social justice pedagogy [in the language classroom] has to do with mattering. Who matters? How do we know that this person matters in the context of what we are teaching?”
When we seek to learn or understand the words and language of another, we may be in a classroom studying about cultures far away. But each day we are also in the classroom of life, each day coming across those whose experiences, words, language, and cultures are different from ours. Are we paying attention? Do we realize their language and experience differs from ours?
“I’m looking at how our communities overlap and how we interpret the same situation, the same experiences differently based on our identities and our own perspectives, even though we are in the same community.“
How does what each of us does in the “classroom of the world” ensure that all in a community and nation–their experiences, words, languages, and racial, national, and ethnic backgrounds–are included, central, honored as normative, each in their own way?
“I’m always thinking about what’s going on in our own neighborhoods, our own communities. What am I thinking about? What are our students thinking about? How can I incorporate that into the classroom in a way that promotes their language proficiency? I’m not saying you abandon the language learning aspect of the class in order to discuss these issues. I think they are inextricably linked.”
Enjoy the podcast, and check out L.J. Randolph’s biography and resources.
Who matters in our society? Who is invisible to you? How might our own language and “culture of experience” lead either to justice and inclusion, or to exclusion and injustice?
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