The Powerful Words of Amy Tan, Maxine Hairston, and Mike Rose
The power of words is immeasurable. Words help people to voice their opinions and express their thoughts and feelings. Our everyday lives are shaped by communication and in general language. A persons language can often influence success and happiness. America is viewed as a melting pot for numerous different people and their respective languages. Language is so vital in our society that a person of diverse ethnic background can face many tribulations throughout their everyday life.
Many renowned writers and other professionals have expressed their personal opinion about the value of words over the last few years. Chinese-American author Amy Tan is one of the many writers who understand the importance of the simplest words in the English language. Tan, author of the Joy Luck Club, was born and raised in San Francisco by her Chinese parents. Tan graduated from high school and pursued her college education at five different universities from 1969 through 1976. Contrary to what her teachers had always tried to push on her, Tan steered away from studies in math and science and earned her B.A. in English and Linguistics. She describes that her educational choices were rebellious in nature. In Tans essay she describes the hardships of growing up with a mother who encountered problems with the English language. When I was growing up, my mothers limited English limited my perception of her, Tan explains. She describes situations where her mother was treated rudely and explains that apologies were always proposed when Tan would interrupt with flawless English. Tan also discusses the educational problems that multicultural students have within the classroom today. She points out that the educational system is in need of a change because they also have teachers who are steering them away from writing and into math and science, which is what happened to me. Amy Tan calls for an educational system where children from all cultures are encouraged to follow through on any goal no matter what language they hear at home.
Maxine Hairston also has vast experience dealing with language. She is a Professor of Rhetoric and Composition at the University of Texas. Hairston describes what she feels is the ideal college composition class in her 1992 essay Diversity, Ideology, and Teaching Writing. She explains that with changing demographics, we face an ethnic and social mix of students in our classrooms, which holds true in schools around the nation today. Now more then ever the landscape of our educational system is changing. Hairston introduces a composition course structure that would be centered on the students and their experiences. Hairston suggests utilizing each students life as a lesson and in turn to enlighten students to cultural differences. She proposes an interactive classroom where students collaborate with other writers, this process of decentering so one ca understand the other...