The Power of Talk: How Words Change Our Lives

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This enlightening book shows how everyday speech can be a transforming force in today's schools, creating a more equitable environment for people of all backgrounds. Written by experts on language and diversity, this resource combines research-validated tools and real-world insights for addressing verbal communication issues within the classroom and schoolwide. Readers will find
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Editorial Reviews

Gordon Wells
"In a down-to-earth style, the authors explain how, by paying attention to how we talk, people can make a difference to the quality of life and work in schools. Drawing on real-life examples, they show that by thinking critically about how we habitually interact with others and by making the necessary changes in our own behavior, leaders can model respectful and collaborative ways of addressing and responding to others and gradually change the norms of the whole community."
Karen L. Fernandez
"The authors appeal to educators on both a professional and a personal level. Changing thediscourse will not only improve school achievement for students, but will allow educators to more effectively express their beliefs about equitable and socially just education."
Lynn A. Smolen
"I like the specific strategies in each chapter for helping educators become aware of how language influences beliefs and assumptions. I also like the suggestions for how to develop skills for using language in a more equitable way."
Christine Landwehrle
"I really liked the tone the authors used throughout—it was never negative or condescending. The authors did a good job of explaining the effects of language without preaching or looking down on those who might not be aware of the effects their language has on others."
Theresa Abodeeb-Gentile
"This book will be very useful for teachers and teacher educators. The organization and accessibility of the concepts in this book are a major strength. The examples that are given are concrete and make concepts easy to understand."
David Callaway
"This book needs to be in the hands of every educator and administrator. Too many times, the adults involved in education forget the power of the words they use."
Deborah W. Meier
"Any chapter is enough for a year's worth of conversation, and occasionally a good argument—among students, staff, and families. It is an invitation to a dialogue with one's peers, but it also works as a dialogue with oneself. I found myself both arguing with the authors and shifting my own stance as I went. A must-read."
Susan Roberta Katz
"I couldn't stop reading this book!It masterfullypinpoints how language plays a critical, fundamental role in our daily lives as educators. Most important, it shows us how our deepest thoughts are manifested in language and how we can deal with them in our continued efforts to dismantle gender, racial, and class prejudice."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781412956024
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications
  • Publication date: 1/21/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 200
  • Sales rank: 1,205,023
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Felecia M. Briscoe, an associate professor, focuses her research on the relationship between power and knowledge. Her research interests are concerned with the development of educational equity especially as related to classism, racism, and sexism. She studies how power manifests in discourse. Her most recently published article is titled, “Reproduction of Racialized Hierarchies: Ethnic identities in the discourse of educational leadership.” She has also just completed a co-authored manuscript in which she analyzes the discourse of the U.S. legislation, “No Child Left Behind.” Briscoe has experienced a variety of teaching contexts. She started out as a seventh-grade science teacher in a public school in Las Vegas, Nevada. She also taught at the University of Cincinnati and at Concord College. She has been a member of the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Department at the University of Texas, San Antonio since the summer of 2000. Briscoe earned her doctorate in educational foundations from the University of Cincinnati. She also has an MA in psychology with an emphasis in experimental cognitive psychology and a BS in elementary education with an emphasis in science from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Rosemary Henzeis an associate professor in the Department of Linguistics and Language Development at San Jose State University. She began her career as a teacher of English as a second language and, after receiving her doctorate, worked for 14 years at Art, Research, and Curriculum Associates in Oakland, California, where she assisted school districts in addressing issues of equity and conducted research and evaluation studies focused on bilingual programs, school change, and race relations. She also worked with Native Alaskan, Native Hawaiian, and California Indian groups on issues related to language maintenance, ethnic identity, and bilingual education. In all her work, she seeks to apply scholarly knowledge from anthropology and linguistics to address systemic educational problems.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

About the Authors xi

Introduction 1

Why? The Same Old Problem 1

What? The Book's Purpose 2

How? Achieving the Purpose 4

What Will You Get Out of This Book? 6

More About the Authors 6

Avoiding the Master's Language Tools 11

Overview of the Chapters 11

Where and When Might the Book Be Used? 12

Notes 13

1 The Power of Language: A Medium for Promoting Social Justice and Equity 15

In What Ways Is Language a Transformative Force in Society? 15

What Are Educational Equity and Social Justice? 25

What Are Critical Discourse Analysis and Critical Language Awareness? 29

Conclusion and Summary of Key Points 31

Notes 32

2 Becoming Effective in Using Critical Language Awareness 35

Noticing How Language Constructs Our Social World 36

Relating the Trees to the Forest and the Forest to the Trees 38

Imagining Alternatives 39

Coaching 39

Teaching With Critical Language Awareness 42

Using Memorable Examples, Metaphors, and Quotes 43

Modeling Teamwork, Inclusiveness, and Respect 44

Activity: Observing an Educator 46

Conclusion and Summary of Key Points 47

Notes 47

3 Avoiding Othering: Practicing Including 49

Introduction 49

A Change Agent in Action 51

How Is Othering Harmful? 52

Digging Deeper Into Othering 58

From Othering to Inclusion and Dialogue 62

Activities 63

Conclusion and Summary of Key Points 67

Notes 68

4 Disrupting Prejudice: A Communicative Approach 69

Introduction 69

Abstracting 70

Communicative Model 74

Building A Culture of Evidence 86

Activity: Developing Language Skills for Disrupting Prejudice-The Socratic Seminar 90

Conclusion and Summary of Key Points 91


5 Exceptionalizing or Democratizing? 93

Introduction 94

Exceptionalizing: How It Promotes Inequities 95

The Importance of Context 98

Cognitive Disequilibrium and Exceptionalizing 103

The Context of the Interviews 104

Recognizing Exceptionalizing Discourse 106

Revising for a More Democratizing Discourse 110

Activities for Developing Democratizing Language Skills 112

Conclusion and Summary of Key Points 114

Notes 116

6 Recognizing and Revising Stratifying Discourse 119

Introduction 119

Contextual Factors That Promote Stratifying Language 121

Recognizing and Revising Stratifying Discourse 127

Activities: Developing Language Habits for Social Justice 136

Conclusion and Summary of Key Points 138

Notes 139

7 Contesting Deficit Labels 141

Introduction 141

Redressing Deficit Labels: Habits and Challenges 142

Acronyms as Deep Abstractions 146

Talk Strategies 148

Institutional Action 154

Thoughtful Inaction 156

Activity: Crowning With Deficit Labels 158

Conclusion and Summary of Key Points 160

Notes 161

8 Conclusion: The Power of Talk 163

Revisiting This Book's Objectives 164

Using the Power of Talk for Social Justice 165

A Final Thought 167

References 171

Index 177

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