Early childhood education in grades preK–3 continues to contribute to future school success. Discrimination, however, can still be an obstacle for many children of Latinx immigrants because they often receive less sophisticated and dynamic learning experiences than their white, native-born peers. In this article, Jennifer Keys Adair, Kiyomi Sánchez-Suzuki Colegrove, and Molly E. McManus detail how this type of educational discrimination is perpetuated by educators' acceptance of the “word gap” discourse. Drawing on empirical work with more than two hundred superintendents, administrators, teachers, parents, and young children, they recount how caring, experienced educators explained that Latinx immigrant students could not handle dynamic, agentic learning experiences because they lacked vocabulary and how the children in those classrooms said that learning required still, obedient, and quiet bodies. Rather than blaming educators, the authors share this empirical evidence to demonstrate the harm that can come from denying young children a range of sophisticated learning experiences, especially when institutionally and publicly justified by deficit-oriented research and thinking. Using the work of Charles Mills, the authors argue that such a denial of experience to children of Latinx immigrants and other marginalized communities is discriminatory and, too often, the status quo.
How the Word Gap Argument Negatively Impacts Young Children of Latinx Immigrants' Conceptualizations of Learning
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Jennifer Keys Adair, Kiyomi Sánchez-Suzuki Colegrove, Molly E. McManus; How the Word Gap Argument Negatively Impacts Young Children of Latinx Immigrants' Conceptualizations of Learning. Harvard Educational Review 1 September 2017; 87 (3): 309–334. doi: https://doi.org/10.17763/1943-5045-87.3.309
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