Losing Our Language
How Multicultural Classroom Instruction Is Undermining Our Children's Ability to Read, Write, and Reason
Baker & Taylor
Stating that multiculturalism is actually incompatible with superior basic skills, a researcher suggests that it is the content of material used that is negatively affecting test scores and that students should read from the best literature available, not the most diverse. 25,000 first printing.
Suggests that students should read from the best literature available, not the most diverse
Simon and Schuster
American students' reading and writing scores are steadily declining, and the increasing achievement gap between minority and other students is particularly alarming. The latest studies show that 43% of our children test below grade level. Educators, politicians, and parents all blame class size, crumbling schools, and inconsistent standards for this unfortunate trend. Although these are legitimate concerns, the real problem, argues leading educator Sandra Stotsky, is much more basic -- and disturbing -- than we might expect. Traditionally, basal readers, the primary tool for teaching reading in elementary schools, have been the single most important key to academic performance. Yet today, the incorporation of a multicultural agenda into the content of these readers has had tragic consequence for our children's ability to read. Classics of literature have been replaced with simplistic tales that fail to develop our children's ability to read, write, or think. Losing Our Language reveals what the once benign, now politically correct ideology of multiculturalism has come to mean for elementary school reading curriculums in the 1990s. In this insightful book, Dr. Stotsky details the changes that have been made over the past decade in cultural content and teaching strategies used for reading instruction in elementary schools. She asserts that under the guise of an overzealous, culturally diverse agenda, intellectual and literary goals are rapidly being displaced by social and political goals and by the demands of a profoundly moralizing pedagogy. Losing Our Language discusses how, in an effort to incorporate more ethnically varied readings into children's textbooks and to raise minority students' "self-esteem," basal readers have systematically been "dumbed down"; what's more, as the readers have become grammatically more simple and simpleminded, there has been a downward trend in children's analytical powers, general knowledge, and overall literacy. Whereas elementary readers of the 19th century featured excerpts of classic novels such as Black Beauty and Robinson Crusoe, replete with complex vocabulary and sentence structure, today's basal readers present students with ethnic stories studded with aforeign (and, for the purposes of an English vocabulary-building curriculum, impractical) vocabulary. Dr. Stotsky offers overwhelming evidence that today's version of multiculturalism is needlessly limiting the academic achievement of the very children for whom most of these changes were initiated. She recommends that education's aim should be to teach children to read from the best literature available -- and not from the most ethnically diverse sections we can find. This cutting-edge book features interviews with a variety of teachers, in-depth analysis of reading textbooks of the past thirty years (including eye-opening examples from the readers themselves), and a hard-hitting examination of the pressures placed on educational publishers. Today's version of cultural diversity and the development of the basic reading skills children need for academic success are unfortunately and undeniably incompatible. However, in Losing Our Language, Sandra Stotsky offers real hope to parents and educators seeking to regain literacy for our country's children. She gives us a much-needed reminder that ultimately, reading teaches us how to think -- regardless of whether we are rich or poor, black or white.
New York : Free Press, c1999
xix, 316 p. : ill. ; 25 cm