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THE VILIS TOKPLES SCHOOLS OF PAPAU NEW GUINEA

This chapter begins with an important reflection Delpit shares from her personal life. More
specifically she states, “Unlike the academic world in which I spend most of my time, in my
home world, heritage- not title and position – is central to my identity. To be disconnected from
that identity means losing not only the ability to explain one’s essence to others but also any
potential for self-knowledge as well” (77). I have chosen to include this passage because I find
her self-awareness remarkable. Her ability to own and reconcile the different parts of her is
something that many attempt but successfully fail to do over the course of a lifetime. She
connects this ownership of multiple identities to the support of multilingualism further
connecting it to her time in New Guinea. Although this is supposed to be a summary I can’t help
but interject my opinion on the information provided in this section; I was fascinated. The
struggle to decide on an “appropriate” “accepted” language in a land that is so linguistically
diverse is so foreign to my own experience here in America. The rejection of Tok Pisin despite it
being widely spoken is the result of a limited grammatical structure- linguists don’t believe this
language would translate to sufficient literacy instruction in the schools. Delpit poses the most
important question on page 82, “With seven hundred local languages, only two hundred or so
with written orthographies, how could mother-tongue education be provided for the nation’s
children?” I began to think that while a language like English could open otherwise closed doors
for these children, that should not come at the expense of devaluing the languages spoken in their
villages. This mirrors the idea of bilingual education that Delpit reminds us on the bottom of
page 82. I thought it was interesting that Delpit’s research revealed that, "children learn to read
only once, and if they learn to read in a language they already understand orally, they become
literate much more quickly and effectively than do those who learn in a foreign language” (88).
This statement reinforces the notion that their native languages, which might not include a
written language, should not be neglected. The most important take away of this section however
is the reiteration that these students need a social and moral education as well as an academic
education. This kind of education would also have to be done through a language that is
authentic to their communities and their culture.
“HELLO, GRANDFATHER”: LESSONS FROM ALASKA
I’d like to begin my reflection on this section again by restating a passage from the text that was
written early on in her essay; a passage I feel sets the tone for the remainder of the piece. Delpit
explains, “In our Western academic worldview, we assume that literacy is unequivocally good,
and that everyone should aspire to be literate. Most of us have not taken the time to think about
possible drawbacks or political implications of this ideology. Literacy can be a tool of liberation
but equally it can be a means of control” (94). This statement triggered me to think of the article
I read for the last exploration that shared an anecdote about a minority student who felt silenced
in a class with a group of linguistically dominant peers. I thought it was also important how
Delpit shared her community experience mirrored that of Alaskan communities- the “put the
book down and go play” reiterates the importance of community over individualism. This made

me think of the young adult novel The Absolute True Diary of a Part Time Indian. Without
getting too much into the basis of that text, it supports the notion that different cultures value
different practices. The narrator in that story felt disconnected with his community when he
chose to advance his education at a predominately Caucasian school. The Native American
reservation couldn’t understand why he would want to do that while the members of his new
school community all found that type of pursuit perfectly valid. But, back to Delpit. She
reiterates the need to acknowledge and again validate the importance of human connectedness
and relationships in inner city schools. She also discusses the difference between literacy and
orality and explains the increased importance and awareness of the oral delivery of a message in
certain communities. It is interesting, another aside- yesterday in my clinical placement (rural
setting) we introduce the idea of tone to students. My teacher explained to students that how you
say it is often more important that what you are saying. Several of them struggled to understand
what she was trying to say even with examples. After re-reading this section with that experience
having happened just yesterday I am wondering if the same lesson would have been more readily
understood if it had been conducted in an inner city school. I found that one of the most
important topics discussed in this section came at the end like the last section. Delpit talks about
the relationship between parents and their children in Alaskan communities. More specifically
she discusses the disconnection between Anglo teachers and Native parents when it came to
school attendance. She explains, “parents believed so strongly in the necessity of respecting
children’s thinking that they would say if the child did not want to come to school, then the
school must not be a place that welcomed the child” (101). While this ideology might seem
completely foreign to our cultural values it does not mean that they are wrong or invalid. We
must begin to accept and understand that different cultures have different values and different
opinions on certain matters. Moreover, one is not better than the other. As Delpit explains- there
is something to be said for fostering independence and autonomy in a child’s education. We
could learn something from the Native Alaskan population as opposed to trying to have them
assimilate into our way of thinking.
TEACHERS’ VOICES: RETHINKING TEACHER EDUCATION FOR DIVERSITY
This section primarily focuses on minority teacher’s candidates feelings of isolation in their
respective teacher education programs. In the section Delpit italicizes and expands upon these
sentiments. The first deals with these candidates feeling like their personal educational
experiences weren’t validated by their teacher education program. The idea that “no one would
listen” was something that was shared and supported by several minority students of different
cultural backgrounds. Another important finding revealed that teachers reported instances of
racial and cultural stereotypes not only to themselves but to their students of color. She separates
these biases into four categories: bias toward children of color by nonminority teachers, bias
against the candidate by parents and/or children in predominately white school, bias towards the
candidate by other teachers, and bias towards the candidate or stereotypic attitudes directed
towards the cultural group by the university curriculum. All of these biases would inevitably lead

to feelings of isolation- the result, several teacher candidates end up abandoning the profession. I
think viewing teacher education as “something to get through” is a serious problem that needs to
be addressed. Delpit poses a series of questions on page 124 that support by opinion. More
specifically she asks, “How can we structure education to encourage the active participation of
students of color and for that matter all students? How can we best prepare our “mainstream”
students to teach in the pluralistic society to which they will matriculate? How can we improve
the education of minority children who are likely ono comprise the majority of children in our
public schools?” All of the answers to these questions relate back to the need to have strong
teacher education programs. If we fail to include and validate minority candidates than we will
have this disconnect present in our schools as well.
Hornberger, N.H., (2014). On not taking language inequality for granted: Hymesian traces in
ethnographic monitoring of South Africa’s multilingual language policy. Multilingua.
33 (5/6), pp.623-645
This article discusses the shift in multilingual education in South Africa through the
experiences of an ethnographer. Readers are made aware of the shifting emphasis to
incorporate nine African languages in addition to English and Afrikaans into higher
education. The ethnographer seeks to answer, “How is post-apartheid South Africa’s
multilingual language policy affect Black African learners’ academic opportunities?” It is
important to have an awareness of South Africa’s constitution of 1996 and how that
document impacted multilingualism. In addition, Hymes’ focuses his study on two
specific educational programs that are attempting to provide education that is
linguistically diverse. The most important take away from his research found that the
education programs that, “take and build on Black African learners’ home languages in
additive rather than subtractive ways offer the best avenues for their academic learning
and socioeconomic mobility in post- apartheid South Africa” (640). Also equally
important- his conclusions on the issue of language and power: “So long as schools and
educational institutions at whatever level continue to define some people as inferior on
the seemingly neutral ground of language the for educational and applied linguists must
be to seek ways to counter that reality in favor of more socially just education” (640).
This statement echoes similar views expressed by Delpit in the second section of her text.
Busch, B. , (2011). Trends and Innovative Practices in Multilingual Education in Europe: An
Overview. International Review of Education . 57 (5/6), pp.541-549
This article focuses on the shift that occurred with regards to multilingual education in
Europe from the 1960s to today. More specifically Brusch argues that in the 1960s
multilingual education’s emphasis was on the identity of the speaker and the fight to have
ownership in homogeneous communities. This was impacted by the post-colonial world
and regionalist movement. There was a surge of energy dedicated to strengthen the rights
and policies for non-dominant languages. In today’s world, globalization has caused this
focus to change. Multilingual education programs are more concerned with embracing
learners’ diverse, “multilingual repertoires”. This article asserts that multilingual
education is important, arguing even further that is a, “necessary right for all learners as it
represents a resource on the individual and societal level encompassing intellectual,

cultural, economic, social, civic, and human rights dimensions” (Lo Bianco 2011).
Multilingual education is not just an opportunity to learn about language moreover it also
encompasses all of the different areas mentioned above. Brusch explores different
potential structures for multilingual education:
1. Facilitating the transition to the dominant language
2. Providing early access to a high prestige foreign language (mainly English); “elite
multilingualism
3. Supporting individual (and collective) language maintenance and literacy
acquisition
4. Fostering bi-and multilingualism for all learners
Each has their own drawbacks and problems but I’m sure these brief statements make
some problematic possibilities for obvious than others.
BRIEF ADDITIONAL ANALYSIS / IMPORTANT TAKE AWAYS
“The widespread method of using two languages simultaneously in class in an
unstructured way tends to benefit the dominant language. Furthermore, as topics are
generally treated in both languages learners soon understood that they can “choose” the
language in which they participate which usually will be the stronger one” (Brusch 547).
This point is interesting and one that I had never considered before- the idea that we
would naturally gravitate towards the language that has been subconsciously accepted as
more powerful. This triggered me to refer to the other article to find a passage I recall
highlighting and annotating. Referring back to the issues of multilingualism in postapartheid South Africa the article explains, “In conversations with schoolteachers and
university faculty, the seemingly irreconcilable tensions between parents’ demand for
English as the language of power and students’ bi-literacy development needs surfaced
repeatedly, as did the challenges of negotiating multilingualism in classroom and
curriculum” (Hornberger 637). These two quotes read and analyzed in conjunction lead
me to question whether or not our world is truly ready and capable of accepting and
implement multilingual education programs.