A new campaign aims to encourage K-12 teachers to make learning the correct punctuation of each and every one of their students’ names a top priority. Mispronunciation, according to its proponents, can give fragile students feelings of “anxiety and resentment.”
The “My name, My Identity” campaign posits that teachers should be extra careful not to mispronounce student names, especially if the students belong to minority groups or are immigrants. The initiative has the backing of the National Association for Bilingual Education and the Santa Clara County Office of Education.
Rita Kohli, an assistant professor of education at the University of California at Riverside, told the National Education Association’s primary publication that mispronouncing student names is a form of “microaggression.”
“Names have incredible significance to families, with so much thought, meaning and culture woven into them,” Kohli told NEA Today. “When the child enters school and teachers – consciously or not – mispronounce, disregard or change the name, they are in a sense disregarding the family and culture of the students as well.”
Kohli worked on a 2012 study which found that students whose names were routinely mispronounced often felt they’d been singled out on purpose.
“Students often felt shame, embarrassment and that their name was a burden,” Kohli said. “They often began to shy away from their language, culture and families.”
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