August 04, 2005

Brooklyn College prof: proper English is language of "white oppressers"

Priya Parmar is an Assistant Professor of Adolescence Education for Brooklyn College's School of Education. Parmar insists that rap music is the be-all, end-all to help teach literacy to inner city students. In addition, Parmar calls the English language the language of "white oppressers."

All this, along with her personal biases against white students in her classes, comes out in Parmar's course, "Language Literacy in Secondary Education," where she insists on politicizing her education course.

Parmar's controversial course at Brooklyn College, "Language Literacy in Secondary Education," typifies the professor's preference for politicized pedagogy. Required of all students who intend to become secondary-school teachers, the course is designed to teach students to draft lesson plans that teach literacy. Parmar's syllabus informs students that the principal focus of these lesson plans must be "social justice."

Another theme animating Parmar's course is her aversion to the proper usage of English. To insist on grammatical English, Parmar believes, is to exhibit an intolerable form of cultural chauvinism—a point reinforced by the a preface to the requirements for her course, which adduces the following quotation from the South African writer, Jamul Ndebele: "The need to maintain control over English by its native speakers has given birth to a policy of manipulative open-mindedness in which it is held that English belongs to all who use it provided that it is used correctly. This is the art of giving away the bride while insisting that she still belongs to you."[7] Students are expected to share Parmar's antipathy toward grammatical rule-based English, as she does not countenance dissent: In December of 2005, for instance, several disaffected Brooklyn College students wrote letters to the dean of the School of Education taking issue with Parmar's hostility toward students who dared voice their support for the correct usage of English.

Nor was this the only confrontation between Parmar and her students. Evan Goldwyn, a Brooklyn College student who took Parmar's course, caused a campus storm when he wrote a lengthy critique of the course detailing his objections to Parmar's teaching methods. Topping Goldwyn's list of grievances were Parmar's pronounced bias against English and her alleged bigotry against white students. "She repeatedly referred to English as a language of oppressors and in particular denounced white people as the oppressors," Goldwyn wrote. "When offended students raised their hands to challenge Professor Parmar's assertion, they were ignored. Those students that disagreed with her were altogether denied the opportunity to speak."

An English class as a source for political and philosophical discourse? What happened to teaching the subject matter at hand?

Posted by mhking at August 4, 2005 08:41 AM | TrackBack

I wonder how **Ms. Parmar** speaks the Engliah language. I doubt she improperly speaks it herself, but lowers the standards for others. Hmm....

Posted by: shay at August 4, 2005 10:43 AM

So she's fine with male students referring to her as a bit*h and a ho? Does she encourage misogynistic attitudes towards herself or is she "different?" Or does she separate hip-hop street culture from the language?

If she can do that, then she can surely separate antiquated white oppression from proper English.

Posted by: elgato at August 4, 2005 11:58 AM

Why are so many pretty women kooks?

Posted by: Steven J. Kelso Sr. at August 4, 2005 08:09 PM
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