English instructor Marta Shaffer of California recently unveiled on her TikTok account that she stopped teaching grammar over claims it perpetuates "white supremacy."
According to the Oroville High School teacher, she started this academic year seeking to "undermine" official linguistics by instead teaching "the rules that we actually use to communicate."
Schaffer describes her method as deconstructing the "language of power," focusing on spoken dialects rather than "made-up rules that white supremacy created for when we write papers and stuff."
"As an educator, I constantly worry if I'm the problem. What do I mean by that? Well, public education is an institution that upholds lots of problematic systems in our society like white supremacy and misogyny and colonization, etc.," Shaffer claimed.
"Well, let's look at how we write essays [in which we] start with an introduction that includes a thesis, always cite your sources, use transition words like 'however' and 'therefore.' These are all made-up rules. They were created by Westerners in power," she added.
The teacher said she encouraged students whose academic essays included "African-American vernacular English" and assigned prompts asking for her class to examine how they communicate with their parents at home.
"Just because your teachers, your professors, and your boss may expect you to write and speak in a certain way that may not be natural to you, does not mean that your more natural ... languages are not important," Shaffer stated. "They are just as important, if not more important, than the 'language of respectability.'"
Shaffer admitted that she might come off as a "white savior" to students but has come to embrace her perception as a "cringe white lady," arguing that it's good for students of color to "see their teacher deal with linguistic discomfort, too."
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