School of Doubt CrossPost: Literacy Privilege

Note: This article was originally posted on School of Doubt. Go there for the whole thing, or read the beginning below.

If you use social media, chances are you’ve seen the following Glove and Boots video floating around on the internets:



Now, as an educator I absolutely 100% believe that we should be doing our best to teach students to comfortably engage with and communicate in standard literary English. It is a crucially important skill to have in a knowledge economy, and, like it or not, our society routinely uses mastery over the standard language as a marker for overall intelligence, educational attainment, and social class. Not making sure that all of our students have access to the opportunities and resources that such language skills provide would be irresponsible.


This doesn’t mean we have to approach the topic of standard and divergent language use in a way that casts non-standard varieties of English in a negative light. Treating non-standard language as inferior or unworthy of being taken seriously is a huge and long-standing cultural problem, and one I am currently trying very hard to counteract with my own academic work on dialect music in the Renaissance.

Literacy privilege is A Thing, and we would all do well to remember that people don’t make linguistic “mistakes” because they are “stupid” or “lazy,” but for a wide variety of reasons that we as readers or listeners are unlikely to be aware of.

Keep reading this article over on School of Doubt!



Dan is the glorious editor-in-chief of School of Doubt. He holds a PhD in historical musicology and is now studying Higher Education at a major Canadian university. Outside the academy, Dan performs stand-up comedy when he's not busy playing JRPGs with his cat, Roy. He occasionally tweets as @incontrariomotu and blogs about geeky stuff at The Otaku Skeptic.

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