Posted by Irresponsibility
Some wrong-end-of-the-stick grabbing chump has meandered across Dumbing Down pt 1: “English Too Hard for Children” and decided I’m a foul elitist for thinking youngsters should be taught to read and write proper English (nt txt spk).
That doesn’t rattle me. I am a foul elitist by pretty much any standard. Book-camps where children are forced to read the classics sound hunky-dory to me. Not, however, for the reasons Mr. ‘You’re Such a Word Bully’ supposes.
People who think kids should allowed to rot in (presumably blissful) semi-literate ignorance are far more dangerous than word-pushers. Their faux-egalitarianism actually reinforces existing social hierarchies because, like it or not, language equals power.
Language is the spark of culture. It is how we learn, how we construct value systems, how we understand ourselves and the world. Not having full control of a language is like not having full control of your bladder: embarrassing.
I didn’t appreciate this until I washed up in Mexico and instantly turned from an adroit wordsmith into a tongue-tied ignoramus. Turns out being unable to express yourself is frustrating and demeaning. It makes you feel dumb, even when you know you’re not; it makes you keep quiet when you want to speak up; it corrodes your confidence; it makes work, socialising and even grocery shopping a minefield.
Insisting that children are competent and confident in their native language isn’t about snobbery or “shaming” them. It is about protecting them from the shame of spending their lives baffled and beset by words.
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