Thursday, 18 June 2015

Dismissing children's languages- Michael Rosen

This article appeared in The Teacher magazine, May-June 2015 from , former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen, on children’s languages being dismissed.

‘Realising potential’ – a motto to cherish:
teach by its aspiration – or perish.
‘Realising potential’ – a motto for today,
the inspiring axiom of AQA,
one of our great examination boards
stuffed with education’s overlords
who rule and regulate what must be taught,
the courses and papers which must be bought.
Along with their colleagues, at OCR
they know it’s time to raise the bar
to show the nation what’s worth knowing,
what’s to keep and what’s for throwing.

The method they’ve used is called ‘priorities’,
what they’ve done is target minorities.
Learned people who know their stuff
say some languages aren’t good enough.
So students fluent in Gujarati
Polish, Turkish or Punjabi
Bengali, Farsee or modern Hebrew,
many young bilingual students who
could get themselves a stunning grade
find instead they’ve been betrayed.

Blocked off from using what they know
many of these will not be slow
in figuring what the deal is here
the price they have to pay is dear:
languages in education come marked with a label
giving them positions in a language league table;
some hold a place as wisdom’s fount
while others now just do not count.
This insight they now find is matched
by the fact that language comes attached
to people: families, students who
find themselves at the back of the queue.

This nugget of wisdom, you recognise
it leads your pupils to the highest prize:
doing the best they can possibly do
informed and supported in their work by you.
All that needs is that spark that fire
to lead them on, higher and higher.

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