Friday, March 9, 2007

LabelsShmabels

In Chapter five of Representing the "Other," Bruce Horner seems intent on discussing all the labels basic writing students have been given since the beginning of time. I have a hard time reading labels. I don't understand why there have to be labels. Can't we just teach the students we're given without putting them into a category? Who cares about whether it's the "Frontier Field" or the "Border Country?" It's a classroom of people, human beings, who are struggling with writing and need some help. It seems simple to me, but everyone must make their mark on the world and so must come up with a new title for every group that ever existed. The fact is, people are continously trying to come up the "right" label or the "politically correct" label, when in reality, any label is harmful because in some way or another it's a stereotype. (How many more times can I possibly say the word "label" in this blog!) I just wish people would focus more on the PEOPLE instead of what's write or wrong or this or that. How about we write books that explain how to help these particular students, like Mina Shaughnessy has done? I would much rather read helpful, practical advice, examples, ideas, teaching methods... than someones philosophical idea about the label needed. I realize this class is called "Theory of Basic Writing" and therefore THEORY must be discussed, and in ways is important. It is especially important to see what kinds of labels (there it is again!) are being placed on students, because more than likely they will know about that label and resent it, live up to it, etc. Well, I don't think I can say anymore about this topic. My point has been made and I'm now very tired of the word label!

2 comments:

catdance said...

Amen! I was reading a book for a down syndrome event storytime the other day entitled "Don't Call Me 'Special!'" There's a label (sorry) for ya. This storybook talked about how most "special" needs children become frustrated when referred to as special. I suppose anytime that I have felt labeled I feel the incessant need to either live up to it (quite dramatically, I might add), or rebel against it. Either choice could very well be bring about damaging results. Yep - labels bad, "people" good. Besides, we're all "special."

TW said...

I just finished Lives on the Boundary and I think Mike Rose would totally agree with you. The absolute best thing about his approach is that he seems to really try to get to know the individual writer and not worry about pigeon-holing whole groups at once.