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The Case for an Educational Revolution. A Research Analysis of Twelve Historical English Texts Presented by Diane R. Phelps University at Buffalo Dept. of Learning and Instruction December 3, 2010.

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The case for an educational revolution

The Case for an Educational Revolution

A Research Analysis of Twelve Historical

English Texts

Presented by Diane R. Phelps University at Buffalo Dept. of Learning and Instruction

December 3, 2010


The case for an educational revolution

Once the treasure of good English is yours , you can walk with kings. None can take it from you. --Hadida, 1927


The case for an educational revolution

  • Texts for advanced grammar school level and beyond:

  • Albert Cook (1895) Exercises in Old English

  • Simon Kerl's (1862) A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language for the Use of Schools.

  • William Swinton's (1880) English Grammar and Composition: A Grammar Containing the Etymology

  • and Syntax of the English Language.

  • John and Helen Erskine's (1910) Written English: A Guide to the Rules of Composition

  • Sophie Hadida's (1927) Pitfalls in English and How to Avoid Them

  • Texts for compulsory elementary education:

  • Richard Edwards and J. Russell Webb's (1867) Analytical Third Reader

  • J. Madison Watson's (1868) Independent Fourth Reader

  • Daniel Webster's (1876) Webster's Youthful Speaker

  • Joseph A. Turner (1879) A Handbook of Punctuation

  • John Kennedy's (1890) A Stem Dictionary of the English Language for Use in Elementary Schools

  • George Lyman Kittredge and Sarah Louise Arnold (1908)The Mother Tongue: Book II An Elementary

  • English Grammar

  • William Frank Webster and Alice Woodworth Cooley (1910)The New Webster-Cooley Course in English: First Book, New York State Edition with Selections for Memorizing.


The concept of language thoughts disentangle passing over the lips kennedy 1890

The Concept of LanguageThoughts disentangle passing over the lips.--Kennedy, 1890

Kerl (1862),The pupil should constantly bear in mind, that language is made to suit the world, and not the

world to suit language. The properties of words arise generally from the nature or relations of objects" (p. 5).

Swinton (1880),Language is the expression of thought by means of spoken or written words. Grammar is the

science that treats of the principles of language" (p. 1).

Kennedy (1890), Language is the external representative of thought. It is not only the means of expressing

thought, but it is also the necessary means or condition of extended thinking (p. iii, preface).

Kittredge & Arnold (1938), language is the expression of thought by means of spoken or written words"

(p. xiii). They continue, "All language, however, is really the expression of thought by means of signs;

for spoken words are signs made with the voice, and written words are signs made with the pen" (p. iii).

Erskine (1910), To teach language is to help another to develop the power of communicating his

own thought and feeling, of expressing himself. This is to develop the life of that self, since clear definite

thought and clear direct expression are inseparable (p. iii).


The case for an educational revolution

The Study of Language"Language is one of the most delicate and complicated instruments which men use, and a study of its laws and their application is a worthy occupation for the mind. "--Kittredge & Arnold, 1908

Kerl (1862) contends that language can be studied practically, historically, and metaphysically. He

categorizes language analysis as metaphysical (p. 85). A sentence is merely so much of discourse as makes a complete thought in the view of the person uttering it; a proposition is a single combination of such

words as make a predication, judgment, or thought; and a phrase is merely two or more words rightly put together for thought, without expressing a predication (p. 58).

Swinton (1880) the study of the English language is intertwined with the study of grammar

because language is composed of sentences and sentences are made up of words.

Etymology and syntax are the two principal divisions of English grammar (p. 2).

"The study of grammar contains four components: orthography, etymology,

syntax, and prosody(p. 2).


The study of language continued

The Study of Language Continued...

Kennedy (1890) stated that there are three aspects of language study. These include: analysis, etymology, and philology (p.v).

There are three aspects of language study, occurring properly in three successive

stages, and having sharply defined limits, viz.: first, analysis, which ends with

stem values, following a language to its foundation-stones, and stopping there;

second, etymology, which considers the antecedent history of stems; and third,

philology, which considers the collateral relationship of stems. The first subject

should never be omitted at all, and should be taught systematically in the six

years prior to high school; the second subject should never be omitted from the

high school; and the third subject should be a feature of every college course (p. v).


The case for an educational revolution

The Catch-22 of Living, Changing Language"Language not only exists, but lives, grows, and decays. It is not a dead mechanism, but a living organism. Words and modes of expression, are constantly coming into use; others, passing out of use; and others, assuming new burdens of meaning, and perhaps losing their old."--Kerl, 1862

Alsup et al (2006) "Living in a cyber world has transformed the very nature of literacy

itself (p. 284).

Kittredge and Arnold (1908)

Language never stands still. Every language, until it dies (that is, until it ceases to

be spoken at all), is in a state of continual change. The English which we speak

and write is not the same English that was spoken and written by our

grandfathers, nor was their English precisely like that of Queen Elizabeth's time

(p. xvii, Development of Language).


Rationale for the study of old english

Rationale for the Study of Old English

Cook (1895)

The author's experience in the teaching of Old English has persuaded him

that exercises for translation into Old English would

serve a useful purpose. A sufficient reading knowledge is often

acquired before there is any adequate mastery of forms. Such

mastery is of the first importance, considering that Old English

is studied quite as much for the light it sheds upon the subsequent

development of English speech as for any other reasonyet it is

not easy to induce the student to make the requisite effort

[to study Old English] when he no longer finds especial difficulty in

reading the text (p. iii, preface).


The new words of yesterday

The New Words of Yesterday

Kittredge and Arnold (1908)

New words and phrases are always springing up, whether to name new

things and ideas or merely for the sake of variety in expression. Thus within

the memory of persons now living the words telegraph, telegram,

telephone, dynamo, and the like, have come into existence and made

good their place in the English language.

(p. xix, Development of Language)

[cell-phone, internet, mouse pad, digital voice recorder, camcorder, fax

machine, walkman, pac-man, type-writer]


That dang slang

That Dang Slang!

Kittredge and Arnold (1908)

Now and then, however, a slang word gets a footing in good use and so keeps its

place in the language. Thus, mob, snob, boss, chum, were originally slang, but

are now recognized members of the English vocabulary (p. xix).

Erskine (1910)

The surface objection to slang is the vulgarity it suggests. The deeper objection is

that the speaker is too lazy or too stupid to find the exact word for his idea; there-

fore he uses a formula-which is a substitute for a thought. When a boy says of a girl,

"She's a peach," he is using a perfectly good word; and if we had not heard the

formula before, we should think it original and striking, if a bit cannibalistic. But when

we know that the same word may be diverted to the praise of a cigar or a hair cut,

we understand that the boy has expressed himself, more than he has expressed

his thought (p. 12).


The case for an educational revolution

Hadida (1927)

Do not pick up every new, popular, and pertinent expression that

you hear on the vaudeville stage.. .Such a word is "movies." At first

the purist said "moving picture theater." A long expression for a popular

amusement could not possibly survive. Now, those who were strong in

their opposition to the word "movies, which they considered inelegant,

are using it (pp. 4-5).

Well- chosen words, correctly pronounced and grammatically used, are

the hall-mark of enlightened persons. They constitute your passport to

culture and advancement. They are indispensable to progress in business

and society. They mark your station; they open and close doors to

further opportunity, to fuller enjoyment (p. iv).


The importance of brevity for new word longevity

The Importance of Brevity for New Word Longevity

  • Pokemon (Pocket Monster)

  • SCUBA (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus

  • LASER (light amplification stimulated by the emission of radiation)

  • cell phone (cellular telephone)

  • LP (long play album)

  • DS (dual screen)

  • LCD (liquid crystal display)

  • CRT (cathode ray tube)

  • TV(television)

  • DVR (digital voice recorder)

  • VCR (video cassette recorder)

  • PC (personal computer)

  • PSP (play station portable)

  • CD-ROM (compact disc read only memory)

  • RAM (random access memory)


Slang words to avoid

Slang Words To Avoid

Hadida (1927, pp. 5-6)

  • by gosh

  • by golly

  • kid

  • listen here

  • damn (profane)

  • guy

    Kerl (1862, p. xi)

    Low, vulgar, or provincial expressions should be avoided. Such are, "To get into a

    scrape," "To play the 'possum,". . . ."To bark up the wrong tree,"To get the hang of "To

    have a fair shake at," and many others, which we decline to quote for fear

    the learner should catch them.

  • cut it out

  • swell

  • hooch

  • booze

  • what's new


Evolving english

Evolving English

Kittredge and Arnold (1908)

  • A construction which is ungrammatical in modern

    English cannot be defended by quoting Shakspere [sic].

    (2) Shakspere [sic] must not be accused of "bad grammar"

    because he does not observe all the rules of modern

    English syntax.

    (pp. xx-xxi, General Principals)


The uncouth passive verb form

The Uncouth Passive Verb Form

Kerl (1862)

Our language occasionally needs forms to express in the continuative

Passive sense those verbs whose perfect participles imply completion;

and, as necessity makes slaves of us all, the foregoing uncouth passive

forms [The ship is being caulked. Your friend is being buried.. .Such form

are avoided by the best writers.] are rather gaining groundThe uncouth

forms are used in only the present and the past indicative; for such forms

as had been being built, might be being built, might have been being

built, die of sheer ugliness (p. 236).


Educational trends of yesteryear

Educational Trends of Yesteryear

Swinton (1880)

Soon after (the publishing of Progressive Grammar in 1872), however,

The experience of the school-room led the author to believe-as a like

experience was leading many others to believe-that a method of

language-training quite different from that mainly in vogue was

necessary: there arose, in fact, the thought of language as one thing,

and of grammar as another thing; and in this view it seemed that a

suitable apparatus of elementary instruction was yet to be supplied.

This conviction took shape in the books known as Language Primer,

Language Lessons, and School Composition(p. iv, preface).


The case for an educational revolution

Swinton (1880)

This book also works well with the recent "broadening

and readjustment of the scheme of language-study in

the public schools." A "progressive and graduated

course of training in the mother-tongue.. .beginning

in practice and ending in theory" is now the trend

(p. iv, preface).


On sentence complexity

On Sentence Complexity

Kerl(1862)

Critics have too generally condemned long sentences.

Some of the long sentences in our old English

writers carry rich clusters of thought with them, and

are like bomb-shells in effect.

Grammars, too, are generally filled with such sentences

as, "The sun shines," and "The sky is blue;" while long

and difficult ones seem to be studiously avoided (p. 85).


The case for an educational revolution

(Examples of Text Bias from 1862 to 1910)

1862

  • features classics by such authors as Milton, Coleridge, Shakespeare, Aesop, and E.A. Poe

  • traditional Judeo-Christian values from Harper's Magazine and the Bible also featured

  • Prejudices: "Law and lawyers abound in tautology and redundancy, and sometimes in

    needless technical terms" (Kerl, 1862, p. 283).

    1867

  • Themes promoting morality and spirituality

    (select readings: Never Sulk or Frown, Obeying Orders, and Business First and Pleasure After)

    Excerpt from Please get it now, Brother : "Children, are you kind to one another? Or are you

    cross, and selfish, and fretful! Remember, the time will come when your brother, or

    sister, or playmate, will die" (Edwards & Webb, 1867, pp. 26-27).


The case for an educational revolution

1868

  • Perennial classics (Hawthorne, Dickens), re-written, abridged, or otherwise

    specially adapted to illustrate the principles of rhetorical delivery"

    (Watson, 1868, p. v).

    In determining their character and classification, the hypotheses have been

    assumed, that, in the main, what healthy, intelligent children from seven to

    twelve years of age really like is really best for them; that fascinating stories,

    lively conversations, and vivid descriptions are preferable to facts of science, or

    other writings that are chiefly didactic; and that exercises in reading should be

    nearly on the level of the average child's mind-what it is just awake to, or

    aiming atrather than what, while suggesting maturer thought and feeling, is

    beyond its present comprehension (pp. v-vi).

    Remind you of anyone? (Vygotsky)


The case for an educational revolution

1868

  • Select readings: The Wonderful Pitcher, The Fireman's Dog, The Cat's Pilgrimage,

    and Tom Twist.

  • However, we also find the promotion of Judeo-Christian values: Supporting Mother, Helping Father, and The Drunkards Son

  • Theme of Temperance

    The Temperance Song

    Now if we have to work in the shop, field, or study,

    And would have a strong hand and a cheek that is ruddy,

    And would not have a brain that is addled and muddy,

    With our eyes all banged up, and our noses all bloody-

    How shall we make and keep ourselves so, do you think?

    Why, we must have nothing but water to drink (Watson, 1868, p. 152).

  • Theme of Death

  • Death of Little Paul, Somebody's Darling, Wreck of the Hesperus, First Snow-Fall


The case for an educational revolution

Watson, 1868, p.171 The Three Fishers


The case for an educational revolution

1872

Progressive Grammar (Swinton,1872)

Published because many educators felt they were failing

"to teach the art of speaking and writing the English

language with propriety.

This text is an attempt to break loose from the shackles

of purely technical grammar--to strip it of fruitless formalism, and to introduce the constructive element

(p. iii).


The case for an educational revolution

1876

  • Some readings are whimsical, some promote Judeo-Christian values

  • Most readings are Patriotic (Webster, 1876)

    Examples:

    An Appeal to Arms by Patrick Henry (p. 154)

    Boston by Ralph Waldo Emerson (p. 179)

    Flower of Liberty (p.190), and Old Ironsides (p. 130) both by Oliver Wendell Holmes

    Paul Revere's Ride by Longfellow (p. 13I)

    The War Inevitable-1775 by Patrick Henry (p. 103)

    1880

  • Very great care has been taken to make it a working class-book"

    (Swinton, 1880, p. v).

  • Select authors: Shakspeare [sic], Milton, Byron, Scott, Irving, Longfellow, Pope,

    and Coleridge


The case for an educational revolution

1908

  • Sentence exemplars a reflection of harsh realities of life:

  • "When he had swum until his strength was exhausted, Tom threw up his arms and sank

    (p. 113, Compound and Complex Clauses).

  • "Whichever road you take, you will find it rough and lonelyp. 179, Compound Relative Pronouns

  • "My friend became haggard and despondent" (p. 186, Interrogative).

  • "Hundreds in this little town are in danger of starvation" (p. 209, Numerals).

  • "Egbert stood motionless, horrified at the sight" (p. 232, Verbs).

  • "I will shoot the first man that runs [Threat.]" (p. 239, Future Tense).

  • "The bridge will be swept away by the flood" (p. 247, Conjugation).

  • "The bank was robbed last night" (p. 247, Conjugation).

  • "To toil is the lot of mankind" (p. 268, Infinitive as Modifier).

  • "The poor dog did nothing but whine piteously" (p. 268, Infinitive as Modifier).

  • "The birds refused to sing on that sullen day" (p. 271, Infinitive as Modifier).

    --from Kittredge and Arnold, 1908


The case for an educational revolution

1910

  • Webster and Cooley (1910):A precursor to the "happy" and contrived

    elementary readers common in American classrooms from the 1940's to the late

    1970's. (ie. Fun with Dick and Jane)

  • Examples of readings from Webster and Cooley's (1910) 'happy' reader

    include: Good Times at Home, Vacation, Autumn Pleasures, Holidays,

    Kindness to Animals, Adventures, Interesting Cities, Birds, Knights and

    their Adventures, Discoverers and Explorers, and Outdoor life and Pleasures.

  • Examples of contrived sentences to illustrate the Use of "Went" and "Gone"

    1. The children went to their father when his day's work was done.

    2. Every evening they went to his study.

    3. We often go to our grandfather's home.

    4. We went last year and he made us a swing.

    5. We have gone there every summer that I remember.

    (Webster and Cooley, 1910, p. 5)

  • Classic selections for study and memorizing as required by New York State Syllabus, 1910.

    Selections by such authors as Tennyson, Longfellow, and Wordsworth.


Practical elocution

(Practical Elocution)

"Words should drop from the lips as beautiful coins newly issued from the

mint,--deeply and accurately impressed, perfectly finished, neatly struck by

the proper organs, distinct, sharp, in due succession, and of due weight."

--Austin as quoted by Kerl, 1862

Let the examination bring out clearly the true and full meaning of each sentence,

and so fill up the "skeleton of words: as to form in the pupil's mind a beautiful

reality. Such a filling up, and only such, will give proper meaning to words and

invest this meaning with life and animation. It will surely break up the dead

monotony so often found, let thoroughness be the motto. Let whatever is done be

well done. --Edwards and Webb, 1867, p. 21

Literature voices a wider range of the good, the true, the beautiful than any other

art; and of all arts it is the most conveniently available. It would be well if not

only the dictionary, but the arithmetic, the geography, the grammar, indeed, every

branch of study, could be saturated with song.

--Kennedy, 1890, p. vii


The case for an educational revolution

Errors and Corrections"We should not make little fishes talk like whales. "--Kittredge & Arnold, 1908, p. xxi

Erskine (1910)

In familiar speech our verbal deportment is often careless, and even when werise to the best

manner we are capable of, our spoken word is almost never so Dignified nor so accurate as our

written speech. (p. 11).

  • Zealous Purists: Turner (1879), Kerl(1862) and (to a lesser extent), Hadida (1927)

    Of the exercises to be corrected.. .I have read some work or works from every State in the Union, in order that

    the book may show all the various kinds of errors which are now current, like undetected counterfeit money, in

    the various parts of our country. If children imbibed no errors at home, it were well to exclude such exercises

    from grammars; but when a person has already caught a disease, I suppose it is best to convince him of his

    condition, and show him how to get rid of it. (Kerl, 1862, p. iii)

  • Holistic Naturalists: Kittredge & Arnold, Erskine (1910), Webster and Cooley (1910)

    Do not touch the body of the pupil's composition with disfiguring marks.. .No exercise in school life needs

    more tactful yet thorough handling than an exercise in criticism. None is more valuable.

    (Webster and Cooley, 1910, p. xii)


Motivating students webster cooley 1910

Motivating Students-Webster & Cooley (1910)

Give the poem or story first as a whole, without interruption or comment: as a

whole, because only in its unity does it reveal its great central meaning and

beauty; without comment, because each listener is entitled to "the joy of

discovery,"-to his own personal interpretation, no matter how crude and faulty (p. vii).

Rules of grammar do not fashion speech; they record its crystallization. They

never establish habits of correct usage, though they may serve to make that usage

more intelligent and self-directive. They may throw light on the path of effort, but

it is the effort, the determined effort, the repeated effort, that conquers (p. v).

Encourage expression in various forms, --viz: drawing, painting, modeling, constructive exercises,

conversation, oral and written reproduction of a story, dramatizing, recitation of a poem, writing

from dictation, and original stories and descriptions, oral and written. These reinforce one another.

For example, a child can better describe in words that which he has drawn, painted, or made; and

He enters more fully into the spirit of what he reads after he has acted it out in dramatization (p. viii).


Style and usage

Style and Usage

Kittredge and Arnold (1908)

One may speak or write grammatically and still not speak or write in what is

called a good style. In other words, language may be grammatical without

being clear, forcible, and in good taste.. .Good style, then, is impossible without

grammatical correctness, but grammatical correctness does not necessarily carry

with it good style (p. xvii).

The rules of grammar get their authority from usage (p. xxii). In addition,

"by usage is meant the practice of the best writers or speakers, not merely

the habits of the community in which a person happens to live (p.xvi).

Never to use a word that does not add some new idea, or modify some idea

already expressed" (Daniel Webster as quoted in Kerl, 1862, p. 283).


Platitudinous ponderosity designed to be read aloud in mock heroic style webster 1876

"Platitudinous Ponderosity.designed to be read aloud in mock heroic style (Webster, 1876)

In promulgating your esoteric cogitations, or

articulating your superficial sentimentalities, and

amicable, philosophical, or psychological

observations, beware of platitudinous ponderosity.

Let your conversational communications possess

clarified conciseness, a compacted comprehensible-

ness, a coalescent consistency, and a concatenated

cogency.

Eschew all conglomerations of flatulent garrulity,

jejune babblement and asinine affectation.

Let your extemporaneous descantings and

unpremeditated expatiations have intelligibility and

veracious vivacity, without rhodomontade or

thrasonical bombast.

Sedulously avoid all polysyllabic profundidity, pompous prolixity, psittaceousbacinity, ventriloquial verbosity and vaniloquent rapidity.

Shundouble entendres, pestiferousprofanity, obscurant or apparent.

In other words, talk plainly, briefly, naturally, sensibly, truthfully, purely. Keep from "slang;" don't "put on airs;" say what you mean; mean what you say.

And don 't use big words (p. 60)!


The case for an educational revolution

On Punctuation"There is probably not, in the compass of human knowledge, a more chaotic subject than punctuation. --Kerl, 1862

Turner (1879)

Punctuation for the purpose of making meaning clearer was invented by the Alexandrine

grammarians, but this system was forgotten by the time of Charlemagne (786-8 14). The

present system was introduced by Aldo Manuzio (1449-1515), a celebrated Italian printer,

whose name is preserved in the Aldine editions of the classic authors. The system now in

use is substantially that of Manuzio (p. 28).

Of all the points the dash (--) is perhaps used the most lawlessly in being used interchange-

ably with nearly all the others.. .It is mainly rhetorical in its functions, but is also to some

extent grammatical (p. 61).

A perfect style, then, is so transparent a medium for the thought as to become itself invisible,--a trainof words presenting the meaning so well and impressively that it passes by itself unobserved

(Coleridge in Kerl, 1862, p. 283).


Five perennial dilemmas of english education in america

Five Perennial Dilemmas of English Education in America


Students lack preparation for everyday life

Students Lack Preparation for Everyday Life

It is generally admitted, at least by those persons who frequently have occasion to

write the English language, that the knowledge of this subject, obtained in our

Schools is not sufficient for the various requirements of life.

--Kerl, 1862, p. iii

Out of 191 million adults in the US, as many as 44 million cannot read a newspaper or fill out a job application. Another 50 million more cannot read or comprehend above the eighth grade level.

--Roberts, 1998, Illiteracy on the Rise in America


Students lack preparation for writing in college

Students Lack Preparation for Writing in College

A certain mass of errors, due to carelessness as much as

anything else, appears in the writing of every Freshman class; and we have assumed that those same errors probably trouble the average graduate of the High

Schools, whether he is a college student or not.

--Turner, 1879, p. vii

Currently, he notes (Kirst, 2003), 45 percent of undergraduates in America

attend Community colleges, up 10 percent in the past decade. For these

students, as well as those who attend nonselective four-year colleges, the

real issue is not whether they will be admitted, but whether they can pass a

placement exam to exempt them from remedial courses.

--Rigoglioso, 2005, from the Stanford Report


Teachers do not have enough time to properly cover the curriculum

Teachers do not have enough time to properly cover the curriculum

In our schools, there is time for the practical only.

--Kerl, 1862, p. 85

Findings indicate that the context of curriculum decision making

is dominated by the state curriculum framework at all three

participatory levels. The dominance and acceptance of the state's role and

district reinforcement tended to preclude teacher

empowerment. Teachers cited lack of time as the major barrier

to effective decision making.

--Andersen and Klein, 1990

(from A Study of Curriculum Decision Making in a Time of Site Based Management)


Prioritizing the practical over the aesthetic

Prioritizing the Practical over the Aesthetic

The motive actuating much of the elementary education of the day is so

practical as to have grossly materialistic, if not actually sordid, tendencies. How to

get rich receives more attention than how to see a sunset or how to despise a lie or a mean action.

There is a demand for dime novels because of the intensely

practical nature of our universal education. The moral, the aesthetic, the spiritual

needs and conditions seem to have been only too completely overlooked.

--Kennedy, 1890, pp. vi-vii

The federal No Child Left Behind Act, MCAS, and declines in state aid have had

a profound effect on the role of arts and culture in our schools. Unfortunately, No

Child Left Behind does not mandate testing in the arts and MCAS does not assess

student abilities in the arts. As a result arts, humanities and even the sciences are

increasingly marginalized in the curriculum, since schools and districts inevitably

prioritize those subjects that are tested.

--Hunter, 2004, from Culture is Our Commonwealth


What constitutes good english anyway

What constitutes good English anyway?

A common species of nonsense and pedantry is the grandiloquent use of

learned language, when the speaker or writer has nothing to say, or does

not himself comprehend, or only in a shadowy way, what he pretends to

explain or prove to others.

--Kerl, 1862, p. 285

A common current myth about American English is that it is being ruined by massmedia. Even Prince

Charles has claimed that the "bloody " Americans are ruining the English language. Noted writers such as E. D. Hirsch (1987) and Edwin Newman (1974) assert that English is in its postmortem stages

because of so much linguistic variation. However, according to Robert MacNeil and William

Cran in their book Do You Speak American?, this variation is a result not of linguistic misuse or decay, but rather of America's increasing diversity and ongoing population shifts.

--Orosco, 2005, Do You Speak American? (Bilingual Research Journal)


The perpetual call for education reform in america

The (Perpetual) Call for Education Reform in America

Public education is based largely on the principle that it is easier to form

than to reform-that it is easier to take children and make men of them than

to restore them to manhood after they have become profligate. Communities

have learned that the hope of the future lies in the improvement of the children.

When Germany lay crushed under the iron heel of the first Napoleon...the great

philosopher Fichte sent forth the famous utterance: "There is still one thing that

we can do for Germany; we can improve our children, and they will save our

history." Immediately the German free-school system sprang into existence,

And all are compelled to admit that Germany still has a history.

Kennedy, 1890, p. 97


The perpetual call for education reform in america1

The (Perpetual) Call for Education Reform in America

English education, positioned as it is between theory and

practice, between university and school, between bureaucratic hierarchy and community, holds a unique position to help

re-direct attention in the debate from argument and

disengagement toward a genuine dialogue that might serve as the basis

for reforming schools in ways that support our

teachers and tap their expertise,

promote our political and economic interests in the global

marketplace, and foster traditional American values of justice and equal

opportunity.

Alsup, 2006, p. 286


In conclusion

In Conclusion

we need to remember that the perspective we gain by looking into the past can only serve to add clarity and conviction to the dialogues which are necessary on federal, state, and local levels today. We must remember our origins as we embrace today's new

literacies. Learning from the mistakes and successes of those who have gone before us can only serve to provide modern American educators with a better informed teaching stance for the problems which face us in the 21st century.


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