The Overuse of Pronouns

Hello! Long time no post! I’ve been super busy with school, work, and attempting to maintain some sort of social and emotional balance within the last few months. Though I should be reading for my English course right now, I need to talk about a disconnect within teacher training that CANNOT be neglected. However, here are a few updates to give you all a heads-up on how my life has been functioning thus far: 

  1. I switched majors! From Elementary Education to English. I will probably make a lengthy post one day to detail exactly why I felt that switching majors was so necessary for me. No need to fret – I still have a deeply invested passion in education, and hope to work with educational systems one day.
  2. I’m working for two education programs currently (ha ha, you can take the girl out of education, but you can’t take the girl out of education..). These two programs are similar, but have a few slight differences in that one emphasizes one-on-one tutoring, and the other works with larger groups of high school students.
  3. I have not had as much time to read leisurely as I’d like to, but I’m still fitting in a few novels here and there. Currently in the middle of a few books: The Color Purple by Alice Walker, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Jazz by Toni Morrison. Also, I’m supposed to be reading the Exodus in the Bible right now, but I’m procrastinating with this blog update because this post is far too important to put off.
  4. I have an obsession with tea (rendered by my recent purchase of a new tumbler that I whole-heartedly adore), so if you feel ever so inclined to send fan mail, tea is my new favorite thing.

So, here is my blog post for the night!!

Though I have switched majors, I am still enrolled in an education course titled, “Inequality in the Classroom.” How AMAZING, right?! This class has riled me numerous times, and although I love its purpose, the primary audience for this class targets students who refuse to “see color/race,” and who would rather be apathetic to basically, everything. Apathy, in itself, is one of our world’s greatest problems. Teachers and future educators cannot be apathetic in any form. It is our job to care – for our students, issues, and ESPECIALLY social justice. It infuriates me so, so much when people “settle” and find complacency in corruptness and injustice. It sounds wrong because it IS wrong.

Any who, in this class today, a girl incessantly repeated the word “they” to describe marginalized groups of PEOPLE with lower socioeconomic status in her school district. Yes, I understand you want to focus on “them,” because “they” need resources and “they” are disproportionately being oppressed. BUT, who in the world are they?  Were they not your peers? Your classmates? Your friends? Daniel? Diego? Kaylee? Precious?

I also understand that “they” protects these specific people and names that you may not have wanted to mention for privacy reasons, but your blatant usage of pronouns to delineate the differences between yourself and “them” was disgusting.

When you take a group of people with similar backgrounds and describe them in a pitiful manner, is that not discrimination? You are certainly not their savior by re-telling to me just a chapter from their narratives. You do not know these people if you cannot tell me that you are their friend, classmate, or even peer. You completely overturned the purpose of this class. We are supposed to be acknowledging the importance of understanding our own privileges and the privileges of our PEERS. By selecting the pronoun, “they,” you are disregarding the beauty of diversity, the strengths of our friends, and the critical urgency to have classes like “Inequality in the Classroom.”

I am upset. Discomfort renders change and progress, but what would have happened if I did not raise my hand to call out this overuse of pronouns? Would the voices of my current students, Natassa, Nyeisha, and Roy, become vacuumed into the overwhelming umbrella of “they”?*

In grammar, pronouns are used as a replacement for the main subject – pronouns are most commonly used to refer to someone/something in place of writing the actual name.

In education, if we neglect the names and the narratives that lie underneath them, we are neglecting our students as people. We cannot shove and subject our students into the simple pronoun, they. Any other word would have worked, really! Your peers, your friends, your classmates. It’s like a huge-ass wall is in the middle between you and they, and the wall had just been too big for you to even slightly peer over. Or, you may have curiously seen everything behind that wall, but you did not bother to understand who was there – you saw what was there. You can’t see who “they” are, but they sit right next to you in-class. They passed your paper down the row. They held the door open for you, and shut it when you forgot to. They are behind you in-line for the restroom. They laughed at the teacher’s lame pun. They are real people.

God, am I still livid or what? Ha ha, I want to be able to change the world, and so do my peers. But we cannot change the world when we do not even truly see who else is living on this shared, wondrous planet.

By the way, I do not mean to attack that girl in my class; I have found this problem among so many people. It’s disgusting. I’m not some divine god who wants to berate you for your actions, and I am not an expert on this. I’m your peer, and I’m a person who understands how my students feel when they are marginalized and labeled as a word, not a name.

More posts are definitely to come. Lots of feelings, lots of emotions. Thanks for reading.


*Names have been changed for privacy reasons, but I wrote these names with the full intention to display the beautiful, unique personalities of all of these students.


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