Cultural Production as Reproduction in the Appropriation of Mediational Means In School and Out-of-School Contexts

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This article presents instances of two children, ages 6 and 10, using representational speech, or the language of formal instruction, in school and in out-of-school contexts. I contend that the children purposely chose to use this language in different contexts and made the distinction between it and other mediational means, such as the more familiar language of home, for reasons tied to the authoritative and hegemonic nature of representational speech. Language use is a complex and dynamic process that arises from not only the context but also from the sociocultural backgrounds and interests of the participants as well the mediational means available to them. As such, teachers need to support their students in their contesting of culture in all situations, being aware of the interaction that takes place in the classroom and where ultimately that interaction leads. Helping students recognize mediational means and why they are used in particular situations may lead to real and positive change that allows for multiple perspectives and voices in the classroom and society.