Document Type

Conference Proceeding

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Language study in K‐12 settings should provide a platform for children to develop an awareness of language and its nature; their natural curiosity is well-documented. But in the context of the standards movement, standards set for “the language arts” in the schools neither encourage nor engender such development. Although not alone in such a disciplinary decline—in both general knowledge and the failure to distinguish between ideology and understanding (see, e.g., Battistella 2010)—the news from linguistics seems bleaker. As Mark Liberman noted in his 2007 LSA address, “The current state of ignorance about language among intellectuals is historically unprecedented, functionally maladaptive, and contrary to human nature.” But even with some efforts to bring the study of language into K-12 classrooms, the nature of the language arts curriculum in schools continues to be defined by standards typically reflecting neither knowledge of, or interest in treating language as an object of inquiry, or in building on the small successes that linguists have had toward this end, working both with children and their K‐12 teachers. And insofar the voices behind the Common Core Standards (, are deemed “the language arts experts,” the result is predictable: a set of standards that defines the territory of language as fundamentally usage conventions and vocabulary. And it is such standards that determine how programs are funded and how teachers are prepared. The National Governors’ Association (NGA) Common Core Standards are, moreover, not the first encounter we’ve had with impoverished treatments of language. In the past, however, we have largely ignored the collective poverty of such standards and have considered the creation of test items and the testing enterprise in general as “noise,” confident that our own respective research programs and the teaching we do at colleges and universities were independent of and unscathed by such pursuits. But in fact, we do need to take the standards seriously and respond to them. This LiSC sponsored session provides a collective linguistic educational manifesto of sorts, and thus a serious, explicit, and systematic response to the gauntlet the recently approved standards present. While there have been curricular initiatives in the direction of well‐designed programs that would provide young children with the opportunity to develop an informed and rational disposition toward language, there has been little public discussion of either the full design or implementation of such curriculum, from a range of perspectives. The range of presenters’ work in this session does this, addressing curriculum both for K-12 classrooms—providing the foundation for sustained inquiry about language—and for teachers preparing for, or already in such classrooms, so that they can encourage, as well as respond, to children’s curiosity and inquiry: a desirable outcome in any discipline. Importantly, we welcome critical voices and experiences from both Great Britain and Australia. The session also seeks to engender discussion about the issues raised and the possibility for collaborative and sustained responses.