If We Don't, Who Will?
Probably many of you feel like you need to re-parent your students. It's a dangerous psychological space to inhabit in my case. In many cases, I can't possibly bridge the divide between how my students have developed and mainstream, middle class, American cultural expectations and competencies. However, if I don't, who will?
Gallagher poses this question to persuade me to give up "a bit of the traditional curriculum" to make room for "learning how to apply reading skills in the real world" (196). I find that my curriculum tips the other way. My students have been in mostly packet based programs or special courses like "skills lab" to help them learn to navigate the world of work or renting or balancing a checkbook. What I fear they lack is what Ruby Payne and other researchers call cultural capital, an exposure to great thinking, literature, and art that would allow them entry into conversations with others who possess this capital, usually their teachers, employers, and others who have significant influence over their long term well-being, and that would help them "read the world" with its myriad allusions and references to cannonical pieces of culture.
Gallagher would not suggest that I abandon exposing my students to cultural capital, but I feel I need to stay aware with my population that "reading the world" requires a healthy dose of both classics, or traditional curriculum and real world communications.