[The following is an excerpt from Joshua A. Fishman’s “Reversing Language Shift“. As Firth McEachern pointed out in the previous post below, the La Union LGU effort to reverse language (Ilocano) decline would be multisectoral as in the Catalan model, and that in spite of its limitations in mother tongue transmission, as Fishman asserts here, “education is one of many sectors that must be addressed, at a serious policy level…”]
By Joshua A. Fishman
$15 MILLION FUND TO ENCOURAGE SHARED VALUES
A Grant Benefits a Program that has Helped Children of the Poor
The Rockefeller Foundation will spend $15 million in the next five years expanding a program that seeks to better the educational performance of poor children, especially from minorities, by promoting a shared belief in the value of education among teachers, parents and pupilss….
The [experimental] program requires that the local schools be managed by an ‘active partnership’ of school staff and students’ parents that work to iprove student self-conficence and ultimately their performance.
… The program is based on the belief that like all youth, children from poor families must learn proper values and behavior to be psychologically ready for schooling and must want to do well in school
… Parents have to believe in the school … and the school staff has to believe in the parents. Working together is a way to break down the distrust and suspicion, to show they all have the children’s interest at heart.
(New York Times, January 24, 1990, p.B7)
‘The School Can Do It!’
Most modern RLS (Reversing Language Shift) movements have quickly and naturally, almost as a matter of course, moved to emphasize schools and schooling as the central thrust and process of the entire RLS endeavor. Perhaps it is time that someone asked the question that few of them actually stopped to ask: ‘How much can the school, in and of itself (even the type 4a school, overlooking for the moment that many RLS movements have actually opted for the initially more dubious and problematic type 4b school), reasonably be expected to do for RLS in general, e.g., in connection with fostering the early acquisition and more fluent mastery of Xish, and most particularly, for fostering the cumulative, intergenerational transmissibility of any language which is still all too seldom a mother tongue?’ Clearly, without the intergenerational transmissibility that we have stressed throughout our discussion, every new generation must begin again at ‘point zero’, i.e., monolingual in Yish and in need of a tremendous societal ‘catch-up’ operation in order to merely wind up where the prior generation had left off, without the benefit of the head start that an incremental increase in mother tongue use so obviously provides for any RLS movement. Continue reading