chapter  2
"I Would Sing Every Day": Skepticism and the Imagination
Pages 19

For many teachers and teacher researchers like me, Shirley Brice Heath’s (1983) close analysis of the different oral and literate tradition of three communities, one African American working-class (Trackton), one White working-class (Roadville), and one made up of both Black and White middleclass people, helped us first realize how knowledge of the cultural practices of different communities could help us in our work. Heath’s work addressed the differences between talk at home and at school and, along with other such studies (e.g., Au, 1980; Boggs, 1985; Cazden, 1988; Foster, 1983; Gee, 1990; Labov, 1972; Lee, 1993; Michaels, 1981; Philips, 1983; Vásquez, PeaseAlvarez, & Shannon, 1994), helped us become critically aware of the different experiences children have with print, with questions, and with norms of talk and participation in various contexts. This literature has also helped us to regard behaviors we had puzzled over in the classroom with more respect and understanding, to see how we contributed to these behaviors, to recognize and value the knowledge that children came to school already possessing (e.g., Brookline Teacher Researcher Seminar, 2004), and even to design curriculum that built on cultural strengths we had not previously valued as relevant to academic endeavors.