Harvard Educational Review
  1. Fall 2017 Issue »

    How the Word Gap Argument Negatively Impacts Young Children of Latinx Immigrants’ Conceptualizations of Learning

    Early childhood education in grades preK–3 continues to contribute to future school success. Discrimination, however, can still be an obstacle for many children of Latinx immigrants because they often receive less sophisticated and dynamic learning experiences than their white, native-born peers. In this article, Jennifer Keys Adair, Kiyomi Sánchez-Suzuki Colegrove, and Molly E. McManus detail how this type of educational discrimination is perpetuated by educators’ acceptance of the “word gap” discourse. Drawing on empirical work with more than two hundred superintendents, administrators, teachers, parents, and young children, they recount how caring, experienced educators explained that Latinx immigrant students could not handle dynamic, agentic learning experiences because they lacked vocabulary and how the children in those classrooms said that learning required still, obedient, and quiet bodies. Rather than blaming educators, the authors share this empirical evidence to demonstrate the harm that can come from denying young children a range of sophisticated learning experiences, especially when institutionally and publicly justified by deficit-oriented research and thinking. Using the work of Charles Mills, the authors argue that such a denial of experience to children of Latinx immigrants and other marginalized communities is discriminatory and, too often, the status quo. 
    Jennifer Keys Adair is an associate professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Texas at Austin. Her work focuses on marginalized children’s agency and civic action. As a Young Scholar fellow with the Foundation of Child Development and a major grant recipient of the Spencer Foundation, she works with parents, teachers, administrators, and young children to rethink policy and practice toward systemic improvement in early childhood education. She has received many awards for her research and has published her findings in a wide range of journals, including Harvard Educational Review, Teachers College Record, Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood Education, and Race, Ethnicity and Education. She has conducted research projects in the United States, India, New Zealand, Australia, and throughout Europe with a number of communities and organizations. Adair is currently writing an ethnography about why young children from Latinx immigrant communities are often denied dynamic learning experiences early in school. 

    Kiyomi Sánchez-Suzuki Colegrove is an assistant professor in the Bilingual Bicultural Education Program at Texas State University. Her work centers on better understanding the curricular and pedagogical preferences of Latinx immigrant parents and the relationship between home and school, particularly in the early grades. Using video-cued ethnography, she studies how parents’ ideas, beliefs, and experiences compare across multiple schools, communities, and contexts. Colegrove’s areas of expertise include early childhood education, immigrant parent engagement, project-based learning, and bilingual education. She has published her findings in Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood Education, Bilingual Research Journal, Teachers College Record, and Asia-Pacific Journal of Research in Early Childhood Education. She has conducted research projects with multiple immigrant communities throughout the United States.

    Molly E. McManus is a doctoral student in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research explores the ways that early childhood contexts affect the schooling experiences and development of young immigrant and otherwise marginalized children. She is also interested in the experiences of marginalized parents as they navigate complex sociocultural and bureaucratic systems to support the development, education, and well-being of their young children. Before her graduate studies, McManus worked as a Spanish-English bilingual second-grade teacher in
    Oakland, California. 
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    Fall 2017 Issue


    How the Word Gap Argument Negatively Impacts Young Children of Latinx Immigrants’ Conceptualizations of Learning
    Globalizing Literature Pedagogy
    Applying Cosmopolitan Ethical Criticism to the Teaching of Literature
    The Politics of Recitation
    Ideology, Interpellation, and Hegemony
    In Search of Community
    Lessons from Idealized Independence for Adults with Disabilities
    Teaching Minoritized Students
    Are Additive Approaches Legitimate
    Why Education Practitioners and Stakeholders Should Care About Person Fit in Educational Assessments

    Book Notes

    Achieving Coherence in District Improvement
    Susan Moore Johnson, Geoff Marietta, Monica C. Higgins, Karen L. Mapp, and Allen Grossman

    The Privatization of Education
    Antoni Verger, Clara Fontdevila, and Adrián Zancajo

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