Social in/justice and the politics of 'evidence' about language in education policy (MOSAIC Seminar)

Room 524, School of Education Building
Thursday 2 May 2024 (14:00-15:30)
Ian Cushing
Dr Ian Cushing, Manchester Metropolitan University

MOSAIC Group for Research on Multilingualism Seminar Series 2023-24

Speaker: Dr Ian Cushing, Associate Professor, Manchester Metropolitan University 

Teachers in England are under increasing pressure to demonstrate that their practice is ‘evidence-based’ and ‘research-informed’, especially in relation to issues of spoken language and especially when considering the education of marginalised children.

This talk takes a critical look at the kind of ‘evidence’ about spoken language which underpins current education policy. Dr Cushing shows how current policy relies on both flawed theories of language (in particular, ‘oracy’, the ‘word gap’, and ‘tiered vocabulary’) and flawed theories of social justice, which rest on deficit framings of marginalised children and the reductive assumption that modest tweaks to spoken language is a route to social justice. Dr Cushing shows how these narratives deflect attention away from broader determinants of oppression and show the various mechanisms of surveillance which position teachers as under pressure to demonstrate fidelity to these ideas about spoken language and social in/justice. 


Ian Cushing is Senior Lecturer in Critical Applied Linguistics at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. His research examines the intersections of race, class, and language in educational settings, and he collaborates closely with teachers on developing anti-deficit alternatives. His monograph, Standards, Stigma, Surveillance: Raciolinguistic Ideologies and England’s Schools won the 2023 British Association of Applied Linguistics book prize. His current research is funded by the Spencer Foundation and the British Academy/Leverhulme. 

This a free seminar and open to the public, staff and students. 

Please note, the seminar will not be recorded and is in person only