Speech as a Creative Force in the Development of a Literate Mind
College of Education and Human Development, The University of Texas--San Antonio
Last modified: June 26, 2007
Presentation date: 07/20/2007 8:30 AM in Coast Hotel Ballroom
Speaking provides learners with opportunities to imagine and speculate, to contemplate and collaborate with the ‘other.’ Yet, children’s speech in most classrooms has been anything but expressive or inventive. Repressed, or at best, recitation, children’s utterances have not been taken seriously within the institution of schooling. Since the turn of the twentieth century, a silence has permeated---albeit in the library or the study hall, the classroom or experimental laboratory.
In this presentation, I trace how, outside and inside of schools, a) children prepare, psychologically and linguistically—through games, teases, secrets-- to participate in school talk, b) children contribute to the patterns of school discussions, and c) how dialogue is taken up with reflection—and enters writing or reading. These stages of speaking, with time, become the vehicles for creating and advancing one’s own ideas and voice.
To date, the way students naturally talk, as they reflect about school texts and tasks, has been sorely neglected in North American educational funding priorities. I will show, through research that I have been conducting and synthesizing (see Talking Texts, Routledge/Taylor & Francis) that talk is an oral text that is inextricably linked to cognition and learning. In talking, the speaker is propelled to discover new vocabulary and concepts, to reflect and respond to the words of others and formulate their own words and stance.
In essence, without dialogue, the mind would not grow and become a literate mind.