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Presentation
Teaching Language as a Political Act
Literacy, Language, and Culture Faculty Publications and Presentations
  • Roberto E. Bahruth, Boise State University
Document Type
Presentation
Publication Date
10-21-2006
Abstract
"The most powerful act in the world is to name something" Noam Chomsky "Any way of seeing the world is also a way of not seeing the world." Gregory Bateson An important dimension of critical pedagogy includes the questioning of traditional terminology used to explain reality. In the process of schooling people often learn language which supports the thinking of the dominant paradigm. Many become fluent in the language of impossibility as they are schooled. In response to this, I always try to keep in mind two central points as I teach languages: One is to undo the damage of schooling by helping my students to acquire a language of possibility. Second, I try to expose the ideological influences in language and to offer my students a language of criticity where they become fluent in reading the world critically for themselves to get beyond the propaganda of an antihumane paradigm. For instance, we cannot wage war for peace. This is Orwellian double speak. It is a way of using language to control the way people see the world, or in some cases to prevent them from seeing the world clearly at all. Paulo Freire emphasized the importance of reading the harmony or the dissonance between the word and the world, or to say it another way, between what we say and what we do. Language acquisition, and learning in general, take place through a dialectical process across a variety of world views as learners construct meaning. It does not happen through a duckling stuffing process where official bodies of knowledge are force fed to passive students. The former is pedagogical and humanizing, while the latter is antipedagogical and antihumane. I call the difference between the two education and schooling, respectively.
Comments
This is a Plenary Speech given at the 2006 Conference on Modern Cross-Cultural Research. National Sun Yat-sen University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
Citation Information
Roberto E. Bahruth. "Teaching Language as a Political Act" (2006)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/roberto_bahruth/19/