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Education and Language

In: Social Issues

Submitted By christophermcox2
Words 1067
Pages 5
Christopher Cox

Patricia Huhn

English 121

20 February 2012

Education and Language

Education and its effects on the individual is the primary focus of the essays by Richard Rodriguez, Leslie Silko, Firoozeh Dumas, and Gloria Anzaldua. Rodriquez’s “Achievement of Desire” illustrates how education can take the place of one’s cultural tradition in pursuit of knowledge. The loss of language is the focus of Silko’s speech, “Language and Literature from a Pueblo Indian Perspective”. “The F Word” by Firoozeh Dumas shows how profound words in one language can be funny in another, as well as hurtful. In “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” by Gloria Anzaldua, she talks about how the education system tried to remove her culture by taking away her language. The two authors take opposite views on education and how it directly affected their lives. While embracing education by becoming a scholarship boy, Rodriquez shows how his desire for knowledge overcame his families’ desire for cultural tradition. Anzaldua expresses her feelings about how education continually tried to forcefully remove her Spanish heritage. The term “scholarship boy” came from Richard Hoggart’s The Uses of Literacy and means that the student must move between two culturally extreme environments during their progression of education. In Rodriquez’s account of his early educational experiences, he demonstrates Hoggart’s core definition of being a scholarship boy to the tee. While finishing his dissertation in the British Museum, Rodriquez reflects on how he managed his success from early to higher education. He talks about how he admired his early teachers and based most of his views on what they said and taught him. Books, not his Spanish heritage, became his primary focus and really his passion. Throughout his entire essay, Rodriquez shows his education progressing from a comfortable balance between his home life and his school life to an over dominating school life that consumes every other aspect of his life, including his interaction with his family. Language and its oral presentation are the dominating views of Leslie Silko in the “Language and Literature from a Pueblo Indian Perspective”. She believes that language in its oral presentation form presents the soul of the person and society to the audience. By examining the story of an individual or small group of people, Silko demonstrates how that on story can tell the story of an entire society of people such as the Pueblo Indians. Her essay compares to all the other essays in the importance of language to a group of people and their identity as a society. Unlike the other authors, she focuses on the oral presentation of language not the written presentation. Silko’s essay relates the closest to Anzaldua’s essay because they both draw their true identity from their language.
“The F Word” by Firoozeh Dumas shows how one language can contrast another language and cause friction between the individuals in conversation. Words in one tongue can be profound and funny in another when they merge in one society. Dumas’ experiences with her name when she first moved to America caused her to change her name due to the friction between Farsi and English. She shows the reader how hurtful a word in language can be and how someone can strip that word of its meaning and power. The core of a word is its very identity and Dumas explains this in her essay. Her essay compares very closely to Anzaldua’s and Silko’s in that their identity comes from their language and culture. It contrasts Rodriquez’s by first accepting the new name and then changing it back to her original family name in Farsi.
Anzaldua identifies differently with her education than Rodriquez. Even when she writes, she lets her language vary from Spanish to English, back to Spanish, and then to English again. A person that is not well educated in Spanish may find the essay difficult to read and follow because of these transitions. Her overall view is that education tried to remove her very identity, her language, and force upon her education by taming her wild tongue. In her essay, she describes many dialects and slang that her tongue can speak and goes into detail about each one thoroughly describing each to the reader. To Anzaldua her language is her very soul and she shows how an attack on her language is an attack against the identity of her people, the Chicano. She refers to her language at the end of the essay as “stubborn, persevering, impenetrable as stone, yet possessing a malleability that renders us unbreakable.” She conveys to the reader that in her opinion, her Chicano Spanish and other Spanish languages will last the time against Americans and their English. Rodriquez loves his education and is only somewhat disappointed in his lack of culture. His main disappointment is his family and what his pursuit for knowledge has caused them. Anzaldua, however, takes a more hostile approach and believes that American education in general is trying to root out the Spanish heritage of her people by systematically removing her very identity: her language. Silko’s oral presentation of language shows a different side than all the other essays. Rodriquez embraces his education by continuing with each success to move forward in his pursuit of academia. Dumas also accepts her American name but then transitions back to her Farsi name and shows the true power of a word and name. Anzaldua believes her education should have come through her native tongue and not the Anglo teachers at school. Silko, Dumas, and Anzaldua all contrast against Rodriquez moving against his language and culture to further his education. Dumas and Silko both embrace their education in order to spread awareness of their native languages and the power of language.
Education and language is the very core of a society. This principle is demonstrated throughout all four of these essays. Rodriquez, Silko, Dumas, and Anzaldua characterize these qualities even though they take opposing views on their education and the way language has affected their lives.

Works Cited

Anzaldua, Gloria. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. New York: Aunt Lute Books, 1999. Print.

Dumas, Firoozeh. Funny in Farsi. New York: Random, 2003. Print

Rodriquez, Richard. Hunger of Memory. New York: Godin P, 1982. Print.

Silko, Leslie. “Language and Literature from a Pueblo Indian Perspective.” English Literature: Opening Up the Canon. Ed. Leslie Fiedler and Houston Baker Jr. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1979. 54-72. Print.

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