Part II: Uncovering Schools Hidden 'Language of Exclusion'

Part II: Uncovering Schools Hidden 'Language of Exclusion'

by Macheo Payne, Ed.D., MSW, Senior Director of Equity & Educational Initiatives, Lincoln/ Assist. Professor at California State University, East Bay

Students are more successful if they have to have a positive identity of themselves as a learner. 

The negative framing of the language of exclusion amounts to adults judging the student and their family. These judgements condemn and leave little room for intervention. In this way, these judgements can be seen as excuses that adults bring to the profession of education. These excuses point to conditions outside of the classroom, outside of the school and blame the students neighborhood, culture they live in and even blames their nature. These judgments are not throw away comments, made by frustrated educators but instead become indictments used to justify excluding the students in question from the learning environment  by deeming them incompatible with the learning environment. 

The alternative frames that I offer serve as counter narratives to the common deficit based narratives that blame students. The counter narratives push us to keep the larger context of the school systems and other surrounding conditions in mind, but frame the problem and possible solutions as within the influence of the adults in the schools in partnership with students and families. I call these alternative frames or counter narratives; considerations. Things to consider as we shift toward solutions and alternative ways to reach difficult students.

This table shows 3 'judgements' and 3 alternative 'considerations' for adults to view the problem of challenging behavior.

The negative learner judgements conclude that these students don't value education and were not taught to value education at home. Schools then pity themselves because it's as if the student is not accepting the education that the institution is offering. The 'consideration' for this judgement is that perhaps the student is actually demonstrating a high value for a good education by rejecting what they experience as a substandard education.  

Read Part I: Uncovering Schools’ Hidden ‘Language of Exclusion’