Overly critical of ‘different’?

I am so glad that I ain’t the only one who had an issue with plagiarism in America. And I am exceedingly glad that Kinchloe is American. I vividly recollect the expression on a teaching assistant’s face in my first semester here as a Master’s student. She was trying to tell me that the essay she had reviewed was too good to be something I could come up with on my own. She told me that plagiarism was a serious offense in America and that she was doing me a favor by giving me half the marks for that work and to make this my final plagiarized work before she reports me. I just looked at her, unable to find meaning in what she had said and too surprised to form words to respond.

I had only just come to the country and I was trying to build my ego up after realizing that being the best student in my English class does not necessarily mean that Americans will hear me when I speak. I had become a shell of my usual chirpy self and couldn’t participate in class discussions. To me, that meant, I would have to do my assignments well which included making sure my essays were on point. So imagine my shock when the teaching assistant thought me incapable of writing that essay. Hey, did I say I was the best English student in my class?

This brings me to Kinchloe’s inference to Pierre Bourdieu’s notion of cultural capital. I definitely identify with this sentence ‘In the same way that money is a form of “economic capital,” membership in the dominant culture affords individuals ways of knowing, acting, and being (cultural capital) that can be “cashed in” in order to get ahead in the lived world.’ When I was in my country, I will usually be the first to raise my hands to share my opinions. I don’t know whether this changed as I became older or it is because I am uncomfortable to share my opinion here in an accent. The former might be so if I behaved in a similar way when I go to my country but I don’t. I actually talk more then and act vastly different from when I am here. Not fully understanding the codes of the dominant cultural capital, definitely has an effect on how I talk and act here.

As teachers, I think it is important to key in on those that might be marginalized in any way, and try to be inclusive of them in the classroom. If care is not taken, this might lead to picking on these students. So, it takes considerable effort and creative thinking to do that. I hope I am able to achieve that feat with time.


Hi Iris! Could you help me understand how your post connects to what Freire has to say about Pedagogy please. Thanks!


Hi Jyotsana, I know you didn’t ask me since I draw some connections I figured I’d chime in :) I think Iris focused on another one of the reading assignments the one by Kinchloe as mentioned in the post. But from Freire’s work, I drew a connection with this topic from Chapter 2 of Pedagogy of the Oppressed:
“It follows logically from the banking notion of consciousness that the educator’s role is to regulate the way the world “enters into” the students. The teacher’s task is to organize a process which already occurs spontaneously, to “fill” the students by making deposits of information which he of she considers to constitute true knowledge. (2) And since people “receive” the world as passive entities, education should make them more passive still, and adapt them to the world. The educated individual is the adapted person, because she or he is better ‘fit” for the world. Translated into practice, this concept is well suited for the purposes of the oppressors, whose tranquility rests on how well people fit the world the oppressors have created and how little they question it.”
“The more completely the majority adapt to the purposes which the dominant majority prescribe for them (thereby depriving them of the right to their own purposes), the more easily the minority can continue to prescribe. The theory and practice of banking education serve this end quite efficiently. Verbalistic lessons, reading requirements, (3) the methods for evaluating “knowledge,” the distance between the teacher and the taught, the criteria for promotion: everything in this ready-to-wear approach serves to obviate thinking.”


Thank you for sharing! I can definitely relate to your experience. I have the same feelings of inadequacy (because of my accent) that sometimes hinder my communication by making me too self-conscious. I also thought that maybe I had changed over the years but then I realized it is more prevalent in situations where I am the minority and that I can still express myself how I used to in my native language or with different audiences.

katherine phetxumphou

What a thoughtful response, and I’m sorry you experienced that when you first started here. I am student who even though was born in the US, English is not my first language. I find that I am a better writer than a verbal communicator as well. Way to not that bad experience shape the rest of your world.

Your email address will not be published.