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Antisocial Language Teaching: English and the Pervasive Pathology of Whiteness

  • 1.  Antisocial Language Teaching: English and the Pervasive Pathology of Whiteness

    Posted 16 days ago
      |   view attached
    We are honored to have Dr. JPB (Justin Pierce Baldwin) Gerald host the #icis_tesol #webinar #interculturalcommunication
    Join us on Wednesday, October 12 at 12:00 PM EST for "Antisocial Language Teaching: English and the Pervasive Pathology of Whiteness."


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    Andrea Lypka
    University of South Florida
    United States
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  • 2.  RE: Antisocial Language Teaching: English and the Pervasive Pathology of Whiteness

    Posted 16 days ago
    Hi All,

    Am I the only person who finds this topic objectionable?  Regardless of what language our students speak, to me it is inexcusable and outright offensive to persons of all races, particularly White, to teach about the "...Pervasive Pathology of Whiteness."  I am reporting this to the moderator of this forum in hopes that this post, and whatever message the person hosting it is sending, will be deleted as a violation of the rules of this forum.

    In peace and tolerance of everyone,
    Allison


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    Allison Widmann, MSW, MPP, Certified TESOL
    ESL Teacher
    Language and Literacy, LLC
    United States
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  • 3.  RE: Antisocial Language Teaching: English and the Pervasive Pathology of Whiteness

    Posted 16 days ago
    Edited by Amber Kelleher 16 days ago
    Allison,
    I am acknowledging that we've seen your post and will respond to you shortly. In the meantime, here is additional information about the purpose of the discussion:

    Dr. JPB (Justin Pierce Baldwin) Gerald will explore some of the tensions in the discipline of teaching English as a second language, with the solution being a full decentering of whiteness. He will discuss the rationale behind his research project, theoretical underpinnings, and key findings and recommendations.

    Thank you,
    Amber

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    Amber Kelleher
    Executive Director
    TESOL International Association
    United States
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  • 4.  RE: Antisocial Language Teaching: English and the Pervasive Pathology of Whiteness

    Posted 16 days ago
    Great, thanks.





  • 5.  RE: Antisocial Language Teaching: English and the Pervasive Pathology of Whiteness

    Posted 15 days ago
    Allison, thanks for opening this discussion. I am extremely interested in the topic of the webinar and will definitely participate.

    However, I do agree the title is tone-deaf and could be changed to reflect the inclusiveness of our field, organization, and goals.  I had shared the link with my colleagues of many different ethnicities/cultures, and several responded "Ouch! But sign me up." They too thought the topic relevant but reminded me that "even" members of the Western/Northern dominant culture (my own background) can be just as sensitive to micro-aggressions as any other group. In other words, it should be a very lively webinar and I'm looking forward to it.

    Thanks.

    ------------------------------
    Charles Hall, Ph.D., dr.h.c
    Legal English, Teaching Training
    International Summer Language School -- TEFL Cert.
    https://isls.zcu.cz/english-isls-2018/?lang=en
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Antisocial Language Teaching: English and the Pervasive Pathology of Whiteness

    Posted 15 days ago
    Edited by Walton Burns 15 days ago

    I think it's helpful to try and read and understand something before having such a strong reaction to it. "Whiteness" is very different than "people who are white". It is easy to google Dr. Gerard and find examples of his writings and ideas: https://jpbgerald.com

    The idea of decentering whiteness is essentially recognizing the reality that our industry tends to assume in explicit and implicit ways that white native speakers are the  model of good English. And of course the reality is the vast majority of English speakers are neither white nor native. 


    One explicit way this hurts our industry is that teachers of color, despite being qualified, even those born and raised in the US or the UK, are often not hired abroad, even when ads call for native speakers. Of course, "native" speaker usually excludes countries like India, Singapore, Ghana, Nigeria, Vanuatu and other nations where English is an official or unofficial national language and taught and used widely. 


    Another subtle way it can influence ESL/EFL teaching is the way models of speech in textbooks often reflect a very particular brand of English as correct, one that comes partly from that flat mid-Western news anchor accent and partly from artificial "educated" accents like Mid-Atlantic. Realities of multi-lingual life, including code switching and grammar that didn't come from attempts to make English more like Latin are not even acknowledged let alone taught. And varieties of English used in international and global settings, such as English spoken in India, Singapore, and other countries where English is essentially a native or first language are discounted, or seen as substandard.


    As a materials writer, I've been quite shocked when asked to write materials for ESLs about historic events but not to mention race. How does one write about Chinese immigrants during the Gold Rush without mentioning the prejudice they experienced including the Immigration Exclusion Act? How does one write about the 60s without mentioning Civil Rights? Why is it assumed that when we teach about the US to our international students we tell events from the point of view of white Americans only?

    It is interesting that when I worked for a global scholarship abroad, many students didn't want to go to New Mexico because they felt it was probably full of Mexicans. And if I had a dollar for every time I had a parent ask if X or Y university had real Americans only or were there blacks, Asians, Hispanics there too, I'd be a millionaire!

    I for one would love to get training and hear different perspectives on this issue and in my view it's 90% white people discussing issues of diversity and inclusion and equity out there, so hearing a well-known, respected scholar discuss these issues seems like a wonderful opportunity. Dr. Gerard has spoken at a number of events, written a great deal of articles, and so far I've yet to hear him suggest that white people are an actual pathology. I think it's important we are open to different points of view and learn but there's no obligation for you to attend this event.


    Best,


    Walton



    ------------------------------
    Walton Burns
    Freelance Writer
    Senior Editor, Alphabet Publishing
    www.waltonburns.com
    www.alphabetpublishingbooks.com
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  • 7.  RE: Antisocial Language Teaching: English and the Pervasive Pathology of Whiteness

    Posted 15 days ago
    Also, I can't believe I accidentally wrote his last name as Gerard instead of Gerald. My bad.

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    Walton Burns
    Freelance Writer
    Senior Editor, Alphabet Publishing
    www.waltonburns.com
    www.alphabetpublishingbooks.com
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  • 8.  RE: Antisocial Language Teaching: English and the Pervasive Pathology of Whiteness

    Posted 15 days ago
    I've been following Dr. JPB Gerald's podcast, Unstandardized English, since discovering it via the Vocal Fries podcast. The VF podcast is about language discrimination (in the perjorative, not listening skill, sense), and I find that Dr. Gerald's scholarship and discussions on his podcast are excellent. The title of his podcast should give an indication of where the pathology lies.

    Frankly, I'm very much looking forward to this. It will challenge your unexamined assumptions. I think he's an excellent choice.

    Our field, teaching English, is not unproblematic (and I chose that phrasing specifically)

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    Amy West, MA Applied Linguistics
    United States
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  • 9.  RE: Antisocial Language Teaching: English and the Pervasive Pathology of Whiteness

    Posted 15 days ago
    Amber, Walton, Charles, and Amy -- thank you for your input. As a professional learning community we should welcome uncomfortable discussions and do our research before forming an opinion.

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    Andrea Lypka
    University of South Florida
    United States
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  • 10.  RE: Antisocial Language Teaching: English and the Pervasive Pathology of Whiteness

    Posted 15 days ago
    Allison, no. You are not the only one who was offended by this title. The title, I believe, is misleading and inappropriate. It's downright offensive. I have been fortunate to have worked in corporate training at airlines which have had a multicultural workforce. My world has never been one in which English instructors were only White. This idea has been bantered around for over 30 years and it gives academics a reason to apply for research grants, conduct expensive studies and authors to write books and make money from those; it's that simple. Organizations can simply hire a multicultural/multinational workforce. Plain and simple. However, in private English schools in some countries, students have made it clear they would go to another school if there was not a White teacher who spoke "standard English." In my opinion, that is absurd and unfair based on my experience working with English teachers of different races, creeds, nationalities, sexual orientation, and colors who speak "perfect English." Some better than I do! However, the market demands what the schools must provide to students or they will simply lose business. What choice do they have? TESOL would make much more of an impact in the world if they were to help organizations create these types of environments in which there is a multicultural workforce. To write a title such as "pervasive Whiteness" is just naïve and offensive.

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    Dean Bush
    Aviation English Instructor
    Dean Bush
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  • 11.  RE: Antisocial Language Teaching: English and the Pervasive Pathology of Whiteness

    Posted 14 days ago

    I think an argument could be made that telling POC they can't have a job because of market demands and nothing we can do is offensive and you seem
    to agree. It's also an uncomfortable conversation, at least I hope all of us would feel uncomfortable there.


    I believe Dr. Gerald is working to change that situation by changing minds and that this is an undeniabke good thing. Marek Kiczkowiak has really shifted the conversation on nonnative speakers. 


    And again whiteness is not white people anymore than Asianness or Blackness means individual people. 



    ------------------------------
    Walton Burns
    Freelance Writer
    Senior Editor, Alphabet Publishing
    www.waltonburns.com
    www.alphabetpublishingbooks.com
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  • 12.  RE: Antisocial Language Teaching: English and the Pervasive Pathology of Whiteness

    Posted 14 days ago

    Count me among those who thank the ICIS for organizing this webinar. Yes, the title is provocative, and the more we are willing to hear what Dr. Gerald means by phrases like "the pathology of whiteness," the more we can learn.

    Valuing "tolerance" or hiring/working with a multicultural workforce does not negate the fact that many institutions and organizations in ELT continue to operate with many unexamined assumptions about "standard" English, the concept of the "native speaker," which aspects of which culture(s) should be incorporated into English language teaching, and other mindsets that tend to privilege whiteness. To pick up on Joyce Kling's point about valuing diversity, equity, inclusion, and access: if we profess tolerance and point to a diverse workforce but do not examine these assumptions, have uncomfortable conversations, and figure out how to do better, we might check the "diversity" box, but we will fall short in terms of equity, inclusion, and access.

    Dr. Gerald is doing a great service to the ELT profession by starting these conversations and pursuing this line of scholarship, and I encourage everyone who hasn't yet done so to read a couple of key articles of his-Combatting the Altruistic Shield in English Language Teaching and Worth the Risk: Towards Decentring Whiteness in English Language Teaching.



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    Karen Schwelle
    Senior Lecturer and English Language Specialist, McKelvey School of Engineering
    Washington University in St. Louis
    United States
    kschwelle@wustl.edu
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  • 13.  RE: Antisocial Language Teaching: English and the Pervasive Pathology of Whiteness

    Posted 13 days ago
    As I've already written, I am definitely very much in agreement with the content of the presentation and hope to be there, but again, the problem is the unintentional insult of the title.

    What if XXX (here the actual presenter is unimportant) had entitled a presentation "the Pervasive Pathology of Blackness" or "the Pervasive Pathology of Gayness," I'm really sure TESOL would not have allowed that.

    Oddly, the fact that well-intentioned people at TESOL didn't find the title even potentially offensive gives MORE credence to the presenter's theme! "Whiteness" is so entrenched in our world that even a direct "insult" (its pathology) is insignificant in terms of limiting its pervasiveness.

    In our field, we have learned and hope to help others understand that names (and titles) do matter.

    Understanding the horrific irony of using this example, I fear that many people who are "white," may feel as Shylock did when he exclaimed, "If you prick us, do we not bleed?"

    Looking forward to the webinar and suggestions on how we can decenter whiteness to further our goals of inclusiveness.


    ------------------------------
    Charles Hall, Ph.D., dr.h.c
    Legal English, Teaching Training
    International Summer Language School -- TEFL Cert.
    https://isls.zcu.cz/english-isls-2018/?lang=en
    ------------------------------



  • 14.  RE: Antisocial Language Teaching: English and the Pervasive Pathology of Whiteness

    Posted 12 days ago
    I am very excited to see this webinar offered and look forward to not only attending the webinar but also reading Dr. Gerald's new book.  Dr. Gerald joins an incredible group of scholars who are working to enlighten and engage us in this critical conversation. I'm happy to share any references to other scholarly publications on this topic - they have been influential to my own work. Thanks for your research Dr. Gerald and I look forward to a productive conversation.

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    Dr. Robin L. Rhodes
    Director of ESOL and Multilingual Student Academic Support
    St. Lawrence University
    United States
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  • 15.  RE: Antisocial Language Teaching: English and the Pervasive Pathology of Whiteness

    Posted 13 days ago

    Hey Walton,

    Could not agree more with having to tell someone who is non-white or a non-Native English speaker they cannot have a job because of irrelevancies to their qualifications is offensive or disheartening; I know, because I have had the dishonour of having to do it.

    When I worked in China as a University instructor, we had a perfect candidate for an opening, but when the admin found out she was black, they rejected her because (and I quote) "We already had a black teacher on staff."

    For everyone else: Whether we like it or not, certain countries/cultures do not share our enlightenment regarding ELTs, and the market demands what the market demands; in International schools throughout China, as well as the cram schools, parents expect English teachers to be white (which I know through numerous interviews with parents and school admin while I tried to start a recruiting business for schools in Tianjin and Beijing), and since they are paying for the lessons, the companies adhere to the expectations of their clients. Is it right? Not for a lot of reasons, but it is what they want, arguably no different than Western demands for diversity and representation hiring (which truth be told can be just as discriminatory, but we allow and laud it because it is "positive" discrimination). As someone who has been on the front line as a teacher and recruiter, no one was listening to me when I recommended non-white/NNES instructors, so arguably I see Dr. Gerald's position as preaching to the converted; I highly doubt the people needing to listen to this are going to.

    Coming back to the issue of the title of the article: I take umbrage with the term Pathology, and I think that is where people might be uncomfortable - the association with race/ethnicity/colour (and let's not deny that "whiteness" is associated with identity) and "disease" is highly problematic and, as others have noted, if we referred to other ethnic groups or sexualities or identities as "pathologies", I agree that criticisms would be leveled as well. I would probably title this something like "The Perception of Whiteness as Qualification" - always drove me nuts during the hiring process how people seemed to think that being white automatically qualified someone for a teaching position.

    My two cents.
    Cheers,

    Rob



    ------------------------------
    Mr. Robin Dahling
    British Columbia Institute of Technology
    Department of Liberal Studies
    Instructor,
    BA English (Hons), CHFS, MA Medieval English Literatures
    ------------------------------