Language, Culture and Power:
Bilingual Families Struggle for Quality Education.
On one hand, Language and Culture is a power for communities to show their ethnic superiority but on the other hand, families of ethnic minorities in the land of cultural diversity and democracy are finding themselves struggling to cope with the issues relating to the change of language in schools, educators and with society at large. Language, Culture and Power by Soto Lourdes Diaz is a case study of Puerto Rican community in an industrial city, on fifteen children who are finding themselves in a struggle amidst their own language and the language being taught in the schools. Political flavor is also adding up in this wide struggle between the educational policies of American Government and children and families of alien culture and language.
Coming from different environment, when children have to study in totally different linguistic circle, they find themselves in a situation of dilemma. But being bilinguistic is very important as Soto Lourdes Diaz says it helps to increase the depth of love relations and compassion between the families among themselves and with other cultures. On one hand, they feel themselves associated with the other children but on the other hand they are finding their own identity hidden behind the walls of the schools making them grasp other language unknown to them.
In the paradigm of a democratic nation like America where every one has right to follow their own language and culture, to force one language over the children in schools is a question to be seriously considered. In many of the surveys conducted on the Spanish children, it was found that they perceive other language as the forced study on their shouldres. Advice given to them to speak English at homes is beyond their comprehension. To force upon Spanish children or the children coming from the ethnic communites to gain knowledge in different language has become a set of doctrinal rules over them. In one of the programs, students remarked that Spanish was not allowed in their schools and felt school as a cage with lions and themselves as a goat. Looking at this, Soto Lourdes Diaz is quite right in perceiving that policy makers never take children’s psychological and emotions into account in their district bilingual schools while making policies.
Twenty year old bilingual program started by office of education happened to be as found by Soto Lourdes Diaz found, nothing less then “a course of systematic oppression.”(Dias 15) In this educational stratagem, doubts are being raised whether these current chauvinistic attitudes can make children responsible citizens. (Prologue) It is quite true that without bilingual language, it is not possible for children to adopt the world at large, but on the other hand depriving them from their cultural roots can only lead to more confusion and can make the whole concept meaningless on which the education is based.
It is very important for us to realize what makes the moral values in set education patterns and what is our collective and ethical responsibility to determine these moral values and to impart quality education in letter and spirit? To make this practically possible, it is very important to create an atmosphere of friendliness and goodwill with all the children irrespective of their religion, caste or culture.
Education is a right of all the children and in such a paradox situation, it is the school administration, school principals and teachers at large who have dubious responsibility. They have to bring them into the vicitude hold of the eduction and make them the responsible citizens. This can be done by imparting them the knowledge of importance of their language as well as English Language. There should be a balance in approach and curriculm should be set in a way children feel like home and not just a goat in the cage of a lion.
From the voice of the children, Dias has raised the most crucial question for every policy maker and educator to ponder upon and think to make the education policies taking the children’s cultural background in view.
The challenges faced by the educationists and politicians focused by Dias increases our responsiveness towards the social justice and equality and towards the bright future for children which lies in the language they can adopt. To give them education in their language along with the English will provide them the knowledge and environment of equality. It will give opportunity to the community and families to create peace and harmony in our enviornment and preserve the respect for other religions and culture. Hereby there would be other advantage too: children with the knowledge of two languages can act as good educators and an example for the others to follow, as they can instill in their own communities ability for them to open their own boundaries of their religious and cultural walls and understand their nation better and with optimism.
Soto, L. D. (1996). Language, Culture and Power: Bilingual Families Struggle for Quality Education. New York: S.U.N.Y. Press.