Black children are harmed in first through seventh grades when language formed by listening to loved ones and community and their identity is said to be wrong by teachers. Black children develop this cognitive monitoring of speech. This makes Black children unwilling to speak and causes learning problems, including criminal acts into their teen years.
Teachers often fail to let Black students teach them vernacular language. If Black students can teach the teacher, students may translate lessons into their own dialect, thus allowing an understanding between cultural groups.
Too often Black dialect learned in home is said to be ignorant. Some teachers want students to fit into one standard, causing ”cognitive monitoring.” Black students may shut down and not learn because of over-thinking what they are about to say for fear of being taunted and/or corrected.
Being a social studies teacher, I understood that when learning new concepts the task is making learning authentic. Black students ran to my class to learn politics and history because the subject was not decontextualized. Challenge your child’s teacher.
Should your child find the subject a drag, ask his/her teacher how are you making the subject matter apply to his/her world? I taught macroeconomics, making concepts relate to rap music and videos games. Students broke down my classroom door getting in before the tardy bell, ready to learn.
I am telling you that willfully, or unwillingly, teachers block Black learning in grade school using this rule-based modality of correcting ”Black talk” learned at home. These teachers have had little (if any) exposure to our so-called Black home, community dialect. Teachers’ over-correction of “I got no mo’, to what is you sayin’” prevents the process of keeping and learning a new dialect.
Parents must understand how this early practice can lead into special education classes because cognitive monitoring and reading skills are blocked and never developed — not because your child cannot learn, but because he/she is shut down from learning due to over-correction of what was once his/her normal dialect.
Black parents must not dismiss what I am writing in this column. It’s up to you to be the power to stop learning prevention that leads to poor school attendance, skipping classes, and time in juvenile lockup to juvenile court. Once this starts, the process has begun of failure and doom.
Tell your child’s teacher at every conference that while teaching English is appropriate, how is this being done without putting down home-learned language? Demand that your sons’ and daughters’ language not be seen as a problem. Tell the teacher that the diversity is a challenge for both you and the teacher to shift between cultures, their home and their dialect.
At the conferences, ask how the teachers are working within their classroom’s diversity. If no real plan is offered, I would pull my kid out of that class because the learning-Black block starts in the first through seventh grades.
If you want to talk, Black parents, email and/or contact me at the number below.
Lucky Rosenbloom welcomes reader’s responses to 651-917-1720, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.