The author, Richard Rodriguez argues that, that while one suffers a diminished sense of private individuality by becoming assimilated into public society, such assimilation makes possible the achievement of public individuality" (page 39). I think that Rodriguez is saying that you have to change yourself to fit into today's stereotypical American society. He shared his personal story about his spanish speaking family with readers. Reading the story and understanding his struggle as a child really put things into perspective for me. Rodriguez wants readers to know how difficult it was to unwillingly loose his spanish culture just because it was mandatory to speak english in school. For example, his teachers continued to call him Richard when he was referred to as 'Ricardo' at home. Richard and his family lived in the United States and were forced to speak the "American" language, leaving his native language behind. The author explains how heart breaking it was to see his family grow apart as they continued to speak more and more english. It was as if their spanish language was the glue that kept them together. It was saddening to read how little their family communicated after this change. This article reminded me of the culture of power within the classroom that Lisa Delpit discusses. She says, "teachers are in an ideal position to play this role, to attempt to get all of the issues on the table in order to initiate true dialogue" (Delpit, 47). The nuns that approached Richard's family thought they had the power to change the primary language of the Rodriguez home and they did so. Unfortunately this was not a positive part of the families lives. Nowadays there is no issues with language. The United States has over 300 languages spoken within the country, spanish being one of the major ones. Signs in stores and other public places now contain both english and spanish. Languages like Italian, Spanish and French are being taught in many school systems. And in many cases, it is certainly easier to get a job if you are bilingual.
Questions/Comments/Point to Share:
After reading this article, it is obvious that it is very important to connect with students personally. It is crucial to know about their lives at home so the teacher can help the student further. Do you feel that teachers try to know about the culture of their students? Are the cultures of other children used positively in classrooms today? I am sure many of us have heard people say, "This is America, everyone should speak english". Do you agree with this statement? Is english really the primary language anymore?