[lg policy] Fwd: Proven and viable instructional reading program for Black underachieving students..

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at GMAIL.COM
Fri Dec 20 17:54:32 UTC 2013

 Forwarded From: <fsimp123 at charter.net>
Date: Fri, Dec 20, 2013 at 12:37 PM

 Proven and viable instructional reading program for Black underachieving

* An overriding theoretical philosophical and political consideration of
the cross-cultural approach to education designed to accommodate the
culture and language of Black non-mainstream students is;  that any
educational program for Black non-mainstream students must be part of, and
sympathetic to the students' culture, language, experiences and interests..
A second major consideration is the importance of language in the
educational program.. The culture and experience of students are reflected
in their language.. They speak the language of those with whom they
identify and those who are most meaningful to them.. African American
Vernacular English (AAVE) aside from being central to human communication
and identity, has been the convenient whipping boy of programs which have
sought to normalize Black non-mainstream students under the guise of
remedying a defective language and culture.. A basic premise of the
cross-cultural approach is that the repertoire of language skills and
competencies brought to school by Black non-mainstream children can and
should be used to facilitate new learning.. This approach represents an
attempt to utilize the learning that Black non-mainstream children have
experienced outside of school.. The strategy of this approach is to engage
the students by using a starting point in the learning process, the verbal
behavior of the students in their familiar cultural context.. In
educational pedagogy, there is almost universal belief in the Dewey axiom,
"Start where the child is.." In the field of linguistics, this axiom
becomes a battle cry, "Begin with the child's cultural- linguistic
knowledge and experiences as an  educational foundation upon which to
build.." *
*   The cross-cultural approach views language as the common denominator
between what students know and what they are expected to learn.. It
embraces the presupposition that reading, or any other subject matter, can
be best taught by beginning with the verbal behavior that is available to
learners, and utilizing instructional materials that incorporate language
with which the learners already have phonetic, lexical, syntactical and
cultural familiarity.. It assists the learners in comprehending concepts
that otherwise may appear strange and confusing.. It is assumed in the
cross-cultural approach that Black non-mainstream children have the same
cognitive apparatus and abilities as mainstream children; that differences
in academic performance occur because their cognitive apparatus is
differentially triggered by cultural context.. The differential triggering
of the cognitive apparatus cause learning to be more effective for students
"in the streets" than in the classroom.. Similarly, as with the phenomenon
that occurs in reading, the student must perform an additional cognitive
operation in order to grasp many concepts taught in the schools.. They must
translate incoming conceptual material into their familiar cultural
context.. *
*    If one studies as Dr. Simpkins had, the behavior of Black
non-mainstream students at the entering college level, one will observe
evidence of this phenomenon.. The following is one of similar observations
made by him: "Hey, man, what was he talking about? I , ain't understand a
word of that stuff.. I was completely lost, and everybody look like they
know what was going on..I'm gon drop this class;that stuff *  *is hard as
Chinese algebra.." The other student responded, " No, man, hang on in..
That stuff is light..It's just the way he talk that make it seem hard..Dig
it, what the dude was trying to say was.." After the fellow student
finished translating the lecture, the first student said "Damn, man, why
didn't he say that in the first place? Them White folks always be trying to
make stuff hard.." In the above exchange, one student was able to translate
the conceptual material into the familiar cultural context and was
therefore able to help his fellow student understand the concepts. The
problems encountered by these students are not isolated, amusing instances,
they are representative of the difficulties experienced by a great many
Black non-mainstream students at all levels of the school system throughout
this country..Many students sit through classes confused, never
understanding the concepts that are being presented.. Many students manage
to pass classes, some with high grades, by mimicking back the instructor's
lectures and the contents of their texts without ever understanding the
concepts.. The underlying academic problem of Black non-mainstream students
appears to be a mismatch in the two languages and the instructional system;
most teachers do not possess the knowledge and ability to eliminate the
additional cognitive operations that many of these students have to perform
in translating from Standard English to-African American Vernacular English
(AAVE)..Instructional materials can be developed in the students' familiar
cultural context..The cross-cultural approach addresses the problems
encountered by Black non-mainstream students which pertain to the mismatch
in the instructional system.. There are two teaching-learning strategies in
the cross-cultural approach in teaching reading in the "Bridge Program.." *
*    These two educational strategies are designed to accommodate the
culture and language of Black non-mainstream students.. They are designed
to bridge the void which exists between learning in the Black community and
learning in the schools..It is reflected in almost every aspect of the
approach.."Peer Control" is a specific educational strategy designed to
give students control over the learning process and to accommodate the oral
tradition of the Black community..The Peer Control Procedure is autotelic..
The term "autotelic" describes the quality of an instructional sequence
which becomes an end to itself, so that perceiving the sequence is
intrinsically reinforcing. Students tend to engage in Peer Control for its
own sake rather than for extrinsic rewards or punishment.. Teachers have
reported that often students do not want to disengage from their Peer
Control groups when the bell rings to end the class..The Peer Control
Procedure also draws heavily on the "call and response" oral tradition of
the Black community, which is seen in the call-and - response behavior of
the Black church where the audience becomes an active participant with the
speaker ("Between the Rhetoric and Reality" 2009 pp-90-93)..The Associative
Bridging strategy, broadly speaking, is an extension of the Dewey
axiom-start where the children are  and take them where you would like them
to be in a series of steps, utilizing their cultural-linguistic knowledge
as an educational foundation..It is the process of going from the familiar
to the less familiar in a series of steps, associating the familiar
elements with the less familiar elements..The familiar is African American
Vernacular English in the context of Black non-mainstream culture..The less
familiar is Standard English in the context of mainstream culture.. *
*      Associative Bridging uses African American Vernacular English as a
starting point(assuming that the students are most familiar with this
language and possess their most accomplished verbal skills in it)..This
method seeks to to improve the students' reading ability by first teaching
them in their dialect, and then extending that learning via a series of
steps to the Standard mainstream English..Reading in the mainstream dialect
is thus taught as an extension of reading in the students' familiar
dialect..In this way, Black non-mainstream English (AAVE) serves as a
springboard from which to move to the presentation of Standard mainstream
English..The Bridge Reading Program took into consideration that Black
non-mainstream children know  more about  reading and Standard English than
they are able to display on tests..The problem is that there are gaps in
their learning which prevent them from putting it all together.Black
non-mainstream children are immersed in Standard English..They do not spend
as many hours as they do looking at television and movies without
understanding a great deal about Standard English.. Often, they have good
receptive abilities but have not quite acquired productive abilities..They
do not know where AAVE stops and where SE begins..They find it difficult to
perform the fine discriminations that are necessary to"code -switch.."
While they know a great deal about Standard English, the gaps in their
learning prevent them from seeing it as a unified whole..The Bridge Reading
Program was designed to fill these gaps..The goal of Associative Bridging *,
*is to help  the students improve their  reading ability and to enable them
to read the Standard English materials they must read and understand in
school and everyday life..Reading in Standard English is taught as a
logical extension of reading in the students' dialect..The students'
vernacular and Standard English are presented on an equal footing.. Black
cultural expression is recognized, respected, and utilized, while at the
same time, students learn to understand and read Standard English.. *
*  The stories within the program are sequenced so that students start with
Black vernacular, proceed through several steps of Associative Bridging
from Study Books One, Two, Three and Four, and finish with Standard English
in Study Book Five..Associative Bridging is intended for both Junior and
Senior high school students who are under-achievers in reading, although it
is suitable  for adults with reading problems..The Bridge Reading Program
makes effective use of peer influence on learning, providing for
differences in individual learning rates and styles..It provides for
differences in individual levels of achievement and accommodates cultural
differences..There is a need for further experimentation with the
cross-cultural approach to reading..Future studies should be of both an
experimental and field test nature..Measures should be taken of attitudinal
variables such as"sense of control of the environment," student
motivational levels, and interest in reading..Behavior measures such as
time on task should also be taken..It would be interesting to ascertain the
amount of test variance the Peer  Control procedure accounted for, and
there exists a great need to develop materials for students in the
elementary levels.. *
*Another great need is for long-term studies to ascertain whether or not
the gain last across time and is generalized to other subjects..Since the
publication of the Houghton Mifflin Field test on Bridge(Simpkins and
Simpkins, 1975) which have been cited by numerous linguists, I find ,
despite an extensive review of the literature, know of no large-scale
research, or  for that matter any medium-scale research, using the
difference model on reading or any other subjects..Although non dare call
it racism, I firmly believe the stereotyped concepts of African American
Language, embraced by government and foundation research money brokers has
a great deal to do with the poverty of funding for research and development
in this area..The Black non-mainstream student is literally between a rock
( the simulative dialect) and a hard place (the government and educational
establishment plan to implement standardized testing for
retention/prevention)..I hope that this book will enlighten governmental
and educational policy makers to the fact that" there are many roads which
lead to Rome and it is not always desirable take the royal road" "The
Unfinished Business of the Civil Rights Movement: Failure of America's
Public Schools to Properly Educate its African American Student
Populations" 2013, Rosedogbooks.. *

Sincerely, *
Frank Simpkins *


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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