chapter  44
Vetting the Versatility Approach
WithJulie Sweetland
Pages 12

John R. Rickford has been a leader in efforts to apply the insights of language variation research to the educational needs of speakers of vernacular varieties. This chapter reports on part of a curricular intervention designed in line with the principles of Rickford’s ‘Versatility Approach,’ a model in which teachers seek to expand students’ linguistic repertoires—both standard and vernacular. By exploring how elementary students responded to writing prompts that encouraged the use of African American Vernacular English, the study concludes that multiple benefits accrue from focusing some instruction on expanding and exploring black children’s vernacular repertoires. These benefits include increased engagement, increased self-efficacy in writing, and a shift in the language ideology enacted the in the classroom. Importantly, these benefits need not come at the expense of other valued academic outcomes.