Friday, January 20, 2017

Notes and a draft for an undergraduate class on multilingualism, reductivism.....

Notes and a draft for an undergraduate class on multilingualism, reductivism and the negation of a given idea or inability to understand it: From "Intersexuals" to "Puerto Ricans need to change their phonology"

What makes an individual deny the validity of an idea even when he is confronted with evidence that supports it?

Often, the person fixates on his position and uses a particular -- a given detail, an element of a whole -- to make generalizations about the phenomena under discussion. Among many reasons for such behavior are age-related developmental stages and/or socio-cultural factors influencing the subjects.

This fixation on an idea can also result from a corpus of religious beliefs, moral or cultural mores that are embedded within the culture that make it difficult for an individual to discard them without some form of internal transformation.

An age-related example:  Six-year old José continued to conjugate irregular verbs following the rules used for regular ones. "Cabo" instead of "quepo", "sabo" instead of "sé". He had generated his own rules following a logical approach, unable yet to understand that linguistic rules have "exceptions" that were arbitrarily set up by adults. Many extensive studies explore the relationship between age-related developmental stages and how children conceptualize a given phenomenon. If after a certain age José continues using logic to conjugate verbs, then socio-cultural factors need to be explored to find out what other factors might be influencing his conceptualization of language rules.

Luis is an intersexual person with primarily masculine physical qualities but with internal female organs, and a small undeveloped vagina under his testicles. Sexually he desires men. Although, he has explained his condition to some members of his family, they continue to deal with him from a religious perspective, completely ignoring his biological make-up. He looks like a heterosexual man, therefore he has to be one.

Is Puerto Rican cuisine a form of Iberian gastronomy?A socio-cultural example: During a discussion on the classification of Caribbean cuisines between two subjects, the fixation on an idea by one of them serves to explain what drove him to ignore evidence that would disprove his point. While there was enough evidence to demonstrate the validity of the idea presented by subject #1, the other subject (#2) kept his focus on a particular piece of evidence to maintain his position on the question. The first subject argued and provided enough evidence to demonstrate that Puerto Rican cuisine was a variation of Creole Caribbean cuisines. The second subject used the "sazón' component of the cuisine to argue that PR cuisine has the same "sazón" as Iberian cuisine' therefore is part of it. The first subject covered other aspects of PR cuisine, and argued that although this cuisine had been influenced by Iberian traditions, African and Arawak cultures also shaped it as did the agricultural produce grown on the Caribbean island that were very different from the ones grown in the Iberian climate.

When Jabibonuco (an Arawak that was taken to Spain by the early colonizadores) first saw snow, his joy was so great that he went out and danced and sang while the snow kept falling on him. He was interrogated regarding such behavior, and he indicated that when it rained in his lands back in the Caribbean, his people would dance and sing to thank nature and its supernatural forces named Yukiyu and Juracan, for giving them water and food. Thanking nature was considered a pagan ritual by the Spaniards, and as a result the Inquisition Tribunal condemned him to be burned alive. The fixation on the ritual by the Soaniards did not let them  understand the larger cosmological foundation driving Jabibonuco to express his gratitude and love for nature.

The liberal proto-bourgoisie professor of Bilingual and Multicultural Education at CUNY continued to make a statement that for some of us is a racist and anti-historical perception of the Puerto Rican people. She kept stating that Puerto Ricans are docile, "sumisos", ignoring the fact that she was working in a teacher education program that was set up after Puerto Rican students and faculty had worked very hard, including the use of civil disobedience tactics, to transform various aspects of the City University of New York where she was teaching. What made this otherwise intelligent woman be so fixated on such misleading and poorly informed concept? Were her ethno-ego needs as a non Puerto Rican Latina driving her to present Puerto Ricans as almost childish, or her needs to feel good about herself as a liberal led her to think like the "patrón" on the Facundo Cabral song that says, "pobrecito mi patrón, piensa que el pobre soy yo".

Carmen, seven years of age, was asked to indicate if there was more or less water in a narrow bottle taller than in a wide bowl on a table in front of her. Because the bottle was taller than the bowl, she said that there was more water in the bottle, although the amount poured in both utensils was the same. For Carmen more meant size related to height and not the quantity of water as such.

Ruth, a teacher educator from Colombia attending a conference on Bilingual Education -the majority of teacher educators were Puerto Ricans- wanted to develop an educational program aimed at changing Puerto Rican's children pronunciation of Spanish because she believed that that was the reason for their failure, ignoring all the scientific evidence collected from the 1950s on that demonstrates that there is not a cause-effect relationship between mastery of phonological standards and learning to read and write, and, avoiding the fact that when comparing groups of Latinos, proportionately, there are more Puerto Rican college graduates and students attending universities in PR and the USA than any other group of Latin-Americans. What was quite ironical is that this teacher educator spoke English with a very thick Spanish influenced accent and she had no problem getting a degree from a USA university. Another cultural related ego trip did not allow the speaker to recognize the successes of Puerto Rican students. ¡'n'dito!

(un ensayo en marcha)

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