[eDebate] [Reading is Fundamental] Intellectual Exclusion - opening your door....

JP Lacy lacyjp
Wed Apr 16 02:05:39 CDT 2008

Massey, Jackie B. wrote:
> Remember my story about assuming students can read and then offering up your view of debate which forces the question, READ OR GET OUT!  With an a more open view of debate, you can take the student who has a hard time reading and help create an  argument and style that allows them to be competitive.  I am Indian, and we didn?t have this so called mass distribution of paper and opinions forever.  People were still intelligent and articulate without the New York Times or the Heritage Foundation to read from.  They use big words and make us feel smart, but this is not the only way to debate.  A student who can still debate while overcoming the hurdles of reading comprehension allows them to progress in these skills, rather than be turned away at face.
> Would you?  Would you debate if you could barely read?  You never see debate! You show up!  Debate is this   (picture person going really fast at really fast speeds)  Even students who can read very well get intimidated.

I apologize for any vitriol in advance, but as the child of a family of 
immigrants, I can't in good conscience apologize for anyone's lack of 
language competence.

I am a member of the third (sterotypical) generation of 'immigrants' 
from the Philippines. English is among our official languages. In the 
US, we try to read and speak it perfectly.

Can all my relatives read? No.

Do they want their descendants to? Yes.

Would they debate if they did not have sufficient English skills? Yes. 
Arguing is what we do. Politics, board games, playing bad poker...

They all know that good English (and not Filipino English) is what it 
takes in the reality where we live.

Yes, it would be nice if every police officer spoke Tagalog. They don't. 
They don't even speak good Spanish. They definitely can't understand 
Filipino English.

As a matter of self & cultural preservation, it is important for my 
family to learn to speak and read the best English they can. Some are 
virtuosos at mathematics (not a Pinoy forte, according to stereotypes,) 
others chemists, school principals, librarians, Navy Seals, or even 
debate coaches. One thing we have amongst us: Good English.

We could have sat in ESL schools learning bad Tagalog and bad English. 
We didn't. That is a system to continue ghettoizing minority languages. 
What happens when you are arrested by the police who speak no Tagalog? 
Ideally, they understand you. In the worst situation, they shoot you 
while you reach for your ID.

I definitely applaud your effort to give those without basic reading 
skills a voice. They have to be be to speak up for themselves 
especially  now. Debate is an incredibly powerful way to learn to speak 
to people.

But, I hope it doesn't come at the expense of learning how to read the 
legal landscape when it comes to the police, the INS or even the IRS 
(who only write in cryptic English.)

I think we agree: Reading is fundamental. If only as a coping mechanism.

Assimilate only to the extent necessary.


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