Twice as Less: Black English and the Performance of Black Students in Mathematics and Science

Eleanor Wilson Orr, Author, Elanor Wilson Orr, Author W. W. Norton & Company $15.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-393-02392-3
A veteran high school teacher of science and mathematics offers an unusual approach to the problem of underachievement among minority students. Founder with her husband of the Hawthorne School in the District of Columbia, Orr here describes the results of the school's experimental linguistic program from which her theory is developed: ""Differences between black English vernacular (BEV) and standard English can affect a BEV speaker's concept of certain quantitative relations.'' Observing the functional role of prepositions, conjunctions and relative pronouns in the identification of quantitative ideas, Orr pinpoints misunderstandings that beset students whose first language is nonstandard English. Her belief that BEV is rule-governed and not merely ``bad'' English is supported by data from her students who, for example, confuse ``twice'' and ``half'' or combine ``as'' and ``than'' in their partitive comparisons. The inquiry and explanations are complex, but Orr is generous with illustrations and invites compelling speculation on how the Hawthorne experiment might be replicated by educators seeking to unleash the scientific potential of disadvantaged black students. (August 19)
Reviewed on: 11/02/1987
Release date: 11/01/1987
Paperback - 252 pages - 978-0-393-30585-2
Paperback - 242 pages - 978-0-393-31741-1
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