|Rodriguez's Ideas of Individuality|
Richard Rodriguez, author of Aria, argues that children who are forced to conform to society lose part of their individual identity. Being born into a Spanish speaking family, he spoke Spanish at home, but his parents were asked to start speaking English to help their children learn the language everyone was speaking.
Rodriguez mentions that, "they do not seem to realize that there are two ways a person is individualized. So they do not realize that while one suffers a diminished sense of private individuality by becoming assimilated into public society, such assimilation makes possible the achievement of public individuality" (39). This part clearly shows Rodriguez's argument about individual identity. In order to be a part of society you have to conform to the social norms that surface in public. Once conformed to society you now are apart of that culture, but by conforming to one culture you lose a part that made you stand out.
While it may be necessary to conform to some aspects of society in order to succeed, I feel it is necessary that you remain true to your private identity. I think it is very important to keep the values and cultures you were born into as it makes you who you are, but for Rodriguez it was keeping him behind in his classes. In order for him to succeed he had to completely change himself and finally one day "I moved very far from the disadvantaged child I had been only days earlier. The belief, the calming assurance that I belonged in public, had at last taken hold" (36). Fitting into society means more opportunities and Rodriguez had finally felt like he belonged, but it was at the expense of his family and culture.
By speaking only Spanish, Rodriguez did not participate in the culture of power so he felt that in order to be a part, he had to change to conform to the culture of power. If Rodriguez's school supported the learning of bilingual classes, he could be versed in both languages and not have to give up on one of them. In his school, they could have provided Rodriguez with the codes of power that would have allowed him to succeed without transforming his private identity.
Points to Share: The success rates seem to be low for bilingual students because the are taken out of class to learn English, which makes them fall behind. I think in elementary schools there should be English and Spanish classes because students at this age can learn languages faster. By learning two languages it can help them in the future and it would allow more people in the culture of power.