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Twice as Less: Black English and the Performance of Black Students in Mathematics and Science
     

Twice as Less: Black English and the Performance of Black Students in Mathematics and Science

by Eleanor Wilson Orr
 

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"Eleanor Wilson Orr’s book makes a major contribution toward our understanding of the ways in which language differences can affect the performance of black students in fields that do not seem to be closely connected to language skills". —John B. Slaughter, former director, National Science Foundation
Does Black English stand between black students and

Overview

"Eleanor Wilson Orr’s book makes a major contribution toward our understanding of the ways in which language differences can affect the performance of black students in fields that do not seem to be closely connected to language skills". —John B. Slaughter, former director, National Science Foundation
Does Black English stand between black students and success in math and science? A teacher for over thirty-five years, Eleanor Wilson Orr discovered that many of her students' difficulties were rooted in language. This is her account of the program she established to help them reach their potential. In the light of the current debate over Ebonics, she has written an introduction for the reissue of this important study. "This book is not naive about Black English Vernacular and it is untainted by racism. It is a deeply thoughtful discussion of the possibility that subtle nonstandard understandings, or a simple lack of experience with standard understandings, of prepositions, conjunctions, and relative pronouns can impede comprehension of basic concepts in mathematics and science. Eleanor Wilson Orr has filled her book with evidence and so put the reader in a position to judge what conclusions are justified. This very original and possibly very consequential work deserves the close dispassionate study of sociolinguists, psycholinguists, educators, and everyone who cares about the advancement of Black Americans". —Roger Brown, Harvard University

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A veteran high school teacher of science and mathematics offers an unusual approach to the problem of underachievement among minority students. Founder with her husband of the Hawthorne School in the District of Columbia, Orr here describes the results of the school's experimental linguistic program from which her theory is developed: ``Differences between black English vernacular (BEV) and standard English can affect a BEV speaker's concept of certain quantitative relations.'' Observing the functional role of prepositions, conjunctions and relative pronouns in the identification of quantitative ideas, Orr pinpoints misunderstandings that beset students whose first language is nonstandard English. Her belief that BEV is rule-governed and not merely ``bad'' English is supported by data from her students who, for example, confuse ``twice'' and ``half'' or combine ``as'' and ``than'' in their partitive comparisons. The inquiry and explanations are complex, but Orr is generous with illustrations and invites compelling speculation on how the Hawthorne experiment might be replicated by educators seeking to unleash the scientific potential of disadvantaged black students. (August 19)
Library Journal
Orr believes that the structure of the nonstandard English spoken by many black students is a direct cause of their failure to do well in school, especially in mathematics and science. She examines and illustrates the function of standard English prepositions, conjunctions, and relative pronouns in the expression of quantitative relationships, arguing that speakers of black English have problems in understanding concepts. As co-founder of the innovative Hawthorne School in Washington, D.C., she was able to test her assumptions on student transfers from the public schools, 98 percent of whom were black. She developed teaching methods that appear to prove that the problems are correctable, even at the high school level. Likely to be controversial, certainly an important work. Shirley L. Hopkinson, Library & Information Science Div., California State Univ., San Jose

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393317411
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
10/17/1989
Edition description:
REISSUE
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.70(d)

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