HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » Rutgers English Departmen...

Mon Jul 27, 2020, 11:11 AM

Rutgers English Department to deemphasize traditional grammar 'in solidarity with Black Lives Matter

The English Department at Rutgers University recently announced a list of “anti-racist” directives and initiatives for the upcoming fall and spring semesters, including an effort to deemphasize traditional grammar rules.

The initiatives were spelled out by Rebecca Walkowitz, the English Department chair at Rutgers University, and sent to faculty, staff and students in an email, a copy of which was obtained by The College Fix.

Walkowitz sent the email on “Juneteenth,” which celebrates the commemoration of emancipation from slavery in the United States.

Titled “Department actions in solidarity with Black Lives Matter,” the email states that the ongoing and future initiatives that the English Department has planned are a “way to contribute to the eradication of systemic inequities facing black, indigenous, and people of color.”

https://www.thecollegefix.com/rutgers-english-department-to-deemphasize-traditional-grammar-in-solidarity-with-black-lives-matter/

12 replies, 935 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 12 replies Author Time Post
Reply Rutgers English Department to deemphasize traditional grammar 'in solidarity with Black Lives Matter (Original post)
Polybius Jul 2020 OP
mahatmakanejeeves Jul 2020 #1
janterry Jul 2020 #2
madaboutharry Jul 2020 #3
TheBlackAdder Jul 2020 #4
Drahthaardogs Jul 2020 #12
Foolacious Jul 2020 #5
TheBlackAdder Jul 2020 #9
greenjar_01 Jul 2020 #6
Collimator Jul 2020 #7
lapucelle Jul 2020 #8
lapucelle Jul 2020 #10
WhiskeyGrinder Jul 2020 #11

Response to Polybius (Original post)

Mon Jul 27, 2020, 11:20 AM

1. When asked whether the effort to ...

When asked whether the effort to “decolonize the writing center” and incorporate “critical grammar” is a wise pedagogical decision for Rutgers’ student body and university as a whole, Executive Dean Peter March and Rutgers media spokesperson Dory Devlin did not respond to a request from The College Fix for comment on the matter.

Walkowitz also did not respond to a request for comment.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Polybius (Original post)

Mon Jul 27, 2020, 11:22 AM

2. I am not convinced of this initiative

 

n/t

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Polybius (Original post)

Mon Jul 27, 2020, 11:34 AM

3. I think this is unfortunate.

Use of "Critical Grammar" will only serve to hold back individuals in the workplace and professional environments.

This is not a new discussion. It has been incorporated into curriculums in the past and it has been deemed a failure.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Polybius (Original post)

Mon Jul 27, 2020, 11:35 AM

4. The problem is, English is an organic language and writing styles vary by which one used.

.

As a linguistics professor taught, the language can be relaxed, because as long as the message is delivered and understood clearly, in whatever garbled method, then the language was effective.

People can nit pick all day about punctuation and styles, such as the MLA which changes every year. I used to have to write papers and adapt the writing styles each year to match the current MLA guidelines. Primarily there are the APA, MLA & Chicago styles that are preferred by different academic departments. And when taking courses, some semesters I would have to write in all three styles, depending on the class and professor's preference.

In summary: Writing Styles are bullshit, and effectively a cottage industry to sell books and updates.

.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to TheBlackAdder (Reply #4)

Mon Jul 27, 2020, 03:53 PM

12. It has already gotten bad.

I see journalists beginning sentences with And. My English teacher would have flipped.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Polybius (Original post)

Mon Jul 27, 2020, 12:40 PM

5. It's a lie. Please be more discerning.

I read the College Fix story, then read the very long memo that it cited on the Rutgers site. The memo does not say this. In fact, the only reference to the teaching of grammar is essentially the opposite of what College Fix -- a hard-right site -- says (original emphasis):

Incorporating “critical grammar” into our pedagogy. This approach challenges the familiar dogma that writing instruction should limit emphasis on grammar/sentence-level issues so as to not put students from multilingual, non-standard "academic" English backgrounds at a disadvantage. Instead, it encourages students to develop a critical awareness of the variety of choices available to them w/ regard to micro-level issues in order to empower them and equip them to push against biases based on "written" accents.


Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Foolacious (Reply #5)

Mon Jul 27, 2020, 03:21 PM

9. This reminds me of that old Ebonics scare the RWers were pushing.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Polybius (Original post)

Mon Jul 27, 2020, 12:48 PM

6. Cool ultra-conservative source, dude

Cool cool. Cool cool.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Polybius (Original post)

Mon Jul 27, 2020, 01:39 PM

7. I think it is insulting.

Every single person in this country can benefit from learning to communicate--both in speech and written form--a standardized common language. This does not mean that all discourse must be limited to the standardized form. It does mean that everyone can learn it.

The general dialect identified as "black English" is a result of being denied educational opportunities. There is value in preserving stories, songs etc that acknowledge a shared path of survival in the face of oppression. Also, frankly, there is a richness of shared experience that should always be celebrated.

That being said, the idea that one shouldn't "emphasize" traditional grammar is a coded way of saying that proper grammar is somehow "white." Proper grammar and strict standards in speech and writing may have been an advantage offered to privileged people, in the past and that group of people were usually white. But there should not be some assumed correlation between color and the ability to learn proper, formal language standards.

I mentioned before that the black dialect in this country is a response to be denied education. It should also be noted that a black person of the past who spoke proper, standardized speech would have suffered consequences for daring to emulate his "betters" by white people and for posturing by emulating his oppressors by black people.

And it doesn't just happen in the far off past. A year after I left my job at a wireless carrier, a group of supervisors--predominately black women--were speaking critically of my speech manner in an official meeting. A friend of mine--who happens to be a black man--was the one who told me about it and he was loyal enough to defend me. For his trouble, he was censured for not "sounding like us", as the other black people in the meeting told him.

My friend had to defend himself that he IS black--that he gets stopped by the police for no good reason etc. etc. But to the people in the meeting, he was somehow not "really" black because he spoke as an educated person.

At another job that involved phone work, I had a friendly conversation with a black co-worker who stated that she had a "white" voice that she often used with the customers. As the conversation continued, she pointed out that I sounded "white." My eyebrows lifted at that, because I acknowledge that I am white and while I had a lot to learn about the concept of "white privilege" at the time, I had no illusions that I was often treated with more respect simply because of my color. More importantly, I couldn't imagine how else I could sound, other than "white."

But then, I understood her thinking. I often speak of being Italian and my pride in my heritage. What my co-worker was saying is that I didn't sound "Italian" to her--and I can only guess that she meant that I didn't sound like a stock Italian-American character, i.e., someone like Fonzie or Joey from Friends.

So, somehow "white speech" is code for proper, formal speech. And any deviation from that is non-white, or so I can only guess.

Well, as far as I am concerned, "educated" "formal" speech is just that. It has no race, and no ethnic group owns it. Being able to use it when required is the sign of a broad, liberal education and is no indicator of color or class or even base line intelligence. Being able to slip away from it when the situation warrants it can be an indicator of emotional intelligence. Including instruction in such communication in a standardized curriculum extended to everyone does not mean that all other dialects and forms of communication should be eliminated.

Pulling back on that instruction because a certain group shouldn't be expected to meet that standard suggests that those individuals can't meet that standard because of some "inherent" attribute. That is wrong and it is discriminatory.

Let's look at it in another way. Misty Copeland faced racism in her efforts to become a prima ballerina. There were probably people who thought that she couldn't do it because black women couldn't adhere to that standard of "high dance."

There were probably (and still are) people who simply did not want to see a black woman featured as the principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre. Some of those people don't even care about ballet; they just don't want to see a black woman doing something that they see as traditionally white.

There are probably even black people who think that Ms. Copeland is "selling out" by embracing an art form that springs from a European tradition and is associated with wealth and privilege in this country. She should be celebrating her roots and sticking to street dance, is what they might say.

Well, regardless of all those points of view, Misty Copeland wasn't given a pass on her toe points. (I have so little real knowledge of ballet that I will start sounding like an idiot very soon, I'm sure.) When it came time to put in the work, she was held to the same standard. She may have been judged more harshly by some people due to her color, but it was up to her to accept the challenge of the discipline of her art. Nobody with any respect for ballet would have said, "Well, let's not put so much emphasis on 'traditional' toe points because--you know--Black Lives Matter and life is harder for her."

I don't know Misty Copeland and I wouldn't doubt that her life has been harder than mine in specific ways. She's probably been viewed with suspicion when browsing in a store in ways that I would not have been. She and other people of color deserve support in their right to go about in society and do ordinary things without worrying about some ugly-hearted person calling the cops on them--to say nothing about being murdered by those cops.

Lowering the standards of ballet training would not have done her any favors. And again, I don't know the woman--but I would suspect that she would have been insulted if someone had overlooked sloppy toe points because of her color.

Lowering the standards for a liberal education because some people have been denied a chance to receive such an education is not the answer for creating a just society. The actual answer in creating such a world is complex and nuanced and will take a lot of work.

In the meantime, to those who might take issue with my point of view, I would like to stress that there is a difference between being a racist and being a snob. My insistent support of the rules of proper grammar may make me the latter, but it does not automatically mean that I am the former.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Collimator (Reply #7)

Mon Jul 27, 2020, 02:59 PM

8. The new program will actually shift the focus back to grammar.

"This [new] approach challenges the familiar dogma that writing instruction should limit emphasis on grammar/sentence-level issues."

https://english.rutgers.edu/news-events/department/5875-department-actions-in-solidarity-with-black-lives-matter.html

This is a meaningful step forward in Rutgers' Graduate Writing Program whose goal is to prepare emerging scholars (from many disciplines and myriad English language backgrounds) to better understand and observe the conventions of academic writing with a view towards facilitating future publication.


Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Polybius (Original post)

Mon Jul 27, 2020, 03:23 PM

10. "Overall, we rate The College Fix strongly Right Biased

based on story selection and editorials that consistently aligns with the conservative right. We also rate them Mixed for factual reporting due to several failed checks."

snip==================================================================================

Failed Fact Checks

- A significant and growing number of college students support “post-birth abortions,” extending to children as old as four or five. - False

- “Students at the University of Texas in Austin have been advised not to wear cowboy boots or cowboy hats on Halloween.” – False

- California State Universities Offering Segregated ‘Blacks Only’ Housing? – False

-Muslim students removed wooden pews from Wichita State University’s chapel because they lacked a place in which to kneel and pray. – False


******************************************************************************************************



******************************************************************************************************

https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/the-college-fix/


Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Polybius (Original post)

Mon Jul 27, 2020, 03:27 PM

11. Yeah I don't think we need College Fix here.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread