"The daily grunt": middle class bias and vested interests in the 'Getting in Early' and 'Why Can't They Read?' reports.

GRAINGER, Karen (2013). "The daily grunt": middle class bias and vested interests in the 'Getting in Early' and 'Why Can't They Read?' reports. Language and Education, 27 (2), 99-109.


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Link to published version:: 10.1080/09500782.2012.760583


It is a long-standing and commonly held belief in the UK and elsewhere that the use of elite forms of language reflects superior intellect and education. Expert opinion from sociolinguistics, however, contends that such a view is the result of middle-class bias and cannot be scientifically justified. In the 1960s and 1970s,such luminaries as Labov (1969) and Trudgill (1975) were at pains to point out to educationalists, with some success, that this 'deficit 'view of working-class children's communicative competence is not a helpful one. However, a close reading of recent think-tank reports and policy papers on language and literacy teaching in schools reveals that the linguistic deficit hypothesis has resurfaced and is likely to influence present-day educational policy and practice. In this paper I examine in detail the findings, claims and recommendations of the reports and I argue that they are biased, poorly researched and reflect the vested interests of certain specialist groups, such as speech and language therapists and companies who sell literacy materials to schools. I further argue that we need to, once again, inject the debate with the social dimensions of educational failure, and we need to move away from the pathologisation of working-class children's language patterns.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information:

Published in special issue: Language deficit revisited

Accepted: 17 Dec 2012

Research Institute, Centre or Group: Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute > Communication and Computing Research Centre
Identification Number: 10.1080/09500782.2012.760583
Depositing User: Karen Grainger
Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2012 15:21
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2015 20:18
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/5294

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