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As methodological pendulums swing wildly and politicized education reform climates grow hot then cold, as teachers change their books and their seating arrangements, as laptops are issued, as blackboards change to whiteboards, and even as the complexion and language backgrounds of students change dramatically, a certain feature of classrooms may change very little. It is likely that certain students, those who have always struggled through school, will continue to do so. From one perspective, this persistent inequity in the classroom is rarely affected by policy changes because inequity is handed down from societal injustice at large. While certain critical theoretical perspectives on education (e.g., Freire, 1970; Giroux, 1992; Hooks, 1994) investigate, theorize, and practice education by first analyzing injustices outside the classroom, a linguistic anthropological perspective combines this awareness of larger societal patterns with a close look at how the particularities of interactions shape who gets to learn inside a classroom. Linguistic anthropology provides analytic tools to investigate and critique interactions inside, around, and relevant to these classrooms. The promise linguistic anthropology holds for education, then, is in the analytical insights it provides into the relationship between larger sociocultural patterns and the (re)production of inequity, on the level of person-to-person interaction, inside the classroom (Philips, 1993).
Rymes, B. R. (2002). Relating Word to World: Indexicality During Literacy Events. Retrieved from http://repository.upenn.edu/gse_pubs/191
Date Posted: 15 December 2008