Join us for a plenary address to open our biennial graduate student conference, “Making Meaning: Language, Rhetoric, and Enculturation.” This year, we’re delighted to be hosting Shirley Brice Heath, Margery Bailey Professor of English and Dramatic Literature and Professor of Linguistics, Emerita at Stanford University. Professor Heath will be presenting a talk entitled
Lots of talk about everything:
The key to hopeful college entry and realistic expectations of completion
This talk will ask questions like: Why do young adults increasingly report that they find it very difficult to read and write extended texts? Students (often first-generation college attendees) who leave college within the first year or so say they found themselves “overwhelmed” by both reading and writing demands. “I don’t know where to start” becomes a litany. Heath’s research on language socialization patterns in the homes of families clinging to middle-class self-definition spells out the specifics of how oral language fluency with multiple genres, syntax associated with deliberative conversation, and vocabulary outside the “everyday” has decreased over the past two decades. Patterns of entertainment, family time, and home cleaning and maintenance correlate with the dramatic drop in oral language fluency with extended texts. Simultaneously, small-group conversations in schools, particularly at the middle and secondary levels, have fallen away in favor of test preparation that minimizes extended talk. What kinds of societal changes offer the most promising opportunities to pre-college learners for meaningful and extensive practice in oral language? This talk details the “uncommon successes” that result from the odd combination of possibilities currently developing. The talk is designed to make a bold and unabashedly direct plea for research scholars who will dedicate themselves to being part of a new generation dedicated to advancing our understanding of language and its role in learning for the future.
Friday, November 15, 2013
University of Michigan Angell Hall Auditorium A