13 April 2009

Writing is teaching

All writing is teaching. All writers know this. Even without stepping into a classroom, a writer becomes the key player in education because it is the writer's text that is read by teachers and students. The case for multilingual literary criticism becomes stronger in the context of the current pedagogical situation in the United States, where multicultural education is an expressed need. American teachers are looking for multicultural literary texts to help them educate American children. Since it is impossible to remove language from culture, we are really talking here of multilingual literature. Here, for example, is a typical comment on multicultural education: "Experts in multicultural education frequently emphasize the importance of using literature to increase cultural awareness (Piper, 1986; Tway, 1989). The literature used should accurately portray the history, customs, values, and language of a particular cultural group (Sims, 1982). Through sharing carefully selected literature, students can learn to understand and to appreciate a literary heritage that comes from many diverse backgrounds (Norton, 1990)." While writers have enough to think about when they put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), they should feel good that what they write will help generations of previously monolingual, monocultural children get ready for the new century of borderless cultures and languages. Multilingual and multicultural literary criticism, on the other hand, will help teachers "carefully select" quality literary texts.

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