NCTE Students’ Right to Their Own Language

This semester, I am teaching an upper-level multicultural American literature course. Each of the students in this course are education majors, so as I prepared the syllabus, I was thinking about texts that would help them think about their own pedagogy in the classroom. With this thought in mind, I added texts such as Jacqueline Jones Royster’s “When the first voice you hear is not your own,” Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue,” and Richard Rodriguez’s “Aria: A Memoir of a Bilingual Child.” I had students construct the reading schedule, and they decided to save these texts for the end of the semester so they could bring their accumulated knowledge that they learned to help them think about pedagogy. Along with the above texts, I also assigned the NCTE’s 1974 statement Students’ Right to Their Own Language. We began with the NCTE’s statement, and the committee’s discussion of the statement presented students with some overarching pedagogical issues that I want them to consider over the course of the semester.

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Multicultural American Literature Syllabus

This semester, I am teaching “Multicultural American Literature.” Today, I want to share my syllabus and my thoughts while creating it. To begin with, I wanted this course to look at multiple time periods, not just something like a twenty-five to fifty year span. As such, there are texts from the late eighteenth century all the way up to the twenty-first. Along with this, I also wanted to teach and read texts that I have never read before, so I included works such as Hala Alyan’s Salt Houses and Omar Ben Saeed’s slave narrative. Another thought that went into constructing the course had to do with having students learn about pedagogy. That is why I include Rodriguez, Royster, Tan, and the NCTE’s statement “Students’ Right to Their Own Language.”

In conjunction with teaching texts that I have not read or taught before, I also wanted to expand on the projects such as the archives projects that I have done in previous courses. This semester, since I no longer have access to archival materials such as those at Auburn, I plan to have students do an “Unessay.” My hope is that students will find this liberating and let their creativity show through the productions they create. I will update you on this project when the semester is over.

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“I am as good as anybody”: 1619 and American Myths

The reaction to the New York Times 1619 Project has ranged from overwhelming approval to unabashed criticism. This criticism stemmed from those who do not see, or more importantly do not want to see, the ways that race and the institution of chattel slavery has influenced every aspect of our nation from its foundations to the present. The project states that its aim “is to reframe American history by considering what it would mean to regard 1619 as our nation’s birth year.” The project traces the ways that the arrival of 20 enslaved Africans to the colony of Virginia in August 1619 laid the groundwork for America.

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