An English teacher from California took to Twitter to express her view that grammar is a form of racism and that it turns off students’ minds. She believes that essay writing is based on rules arbitrarily created by whites and those in power, and that using standard English is not enough to dismantle white supremacy. She recommends the book Linguistic Justice by April Baker-Bell to apply an anti-racist black language pedagogy as Action Children in Need reports.
“These are all made-up rules,” Ms. Shaffer says, “they are arbitrary and created by Westerners and those in power.”
A former student, reporting on his own English teacher, finds her methods rigorous but at the same time effective in teaching him the skill of writing a five-paragraph essay.
One of the publishers of Linguistic Justice is the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). This professional association claims to be “a leading partner and professional home for English and language arts teachers at all levels.” According to its own information, it has 25,000 members.
“The Marta Shaffers of this world do not like rules. Where some see the ladder to success, they see rigidity and oppression. In their fevered brains they conjure up images of a sea of people who are denied the right to self-development by the rules. Such teachers are products of the modern university system, where radicals teach revolution even in grammar,” Action Children in Need comments.
Language and grammar are organic and constantly evolving. It is important for teachers to encourage their students to find their own voice and language, but at the same time, they should also give them the skills to communicate in an academic manner. There is no doubt that there are problems in the educational system that need to be addressed, but this should not mean that grammar is inherently racist. A well-rounded education that recognizes the diversity of languages and cultures while promoting clear and concise communication is essential for students’ futures.
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