In her paper Arts of the Contact Zone, Pratt enlightens the audience on the diverse ways of communicating/learning. The contact zone means the society, which has substantial influence on how an individual think/act (Pratt 3). Opening her speech with her son’s hobby baseball cards, Pratt proves that each person can use the environment to learn different aspects of life.
Using the baseball Sam “learned about exchange, fairness, trust, the importance of processes, as opposed to results, what it means to get cheated, taken advantage of, even robbed” (33) yet none of the aforementioned aspects would be available in class. Secondly, she alludes from Guaman Poma’s letters to King Philip whereby he writes in Spanish. Guaman “selects and adapts it along Andean lines to express Andean interests and aspirations” (Pratt 36), which shows the importance of transcultural in learning/communicating.
Finally, she describes a course that gave people an opportunity to learn new ideas (38). Pratt refers to her third example as a “safe house” because there are no challenges. Impressively, Pratt’s argument has some similarities/differences with Madera’s claim as expounded in the next discussion.
Pratt uses the term ‘autoethnography’ to describe how a person can affect another’s behavior. While Madera’s focuses on the impact of indigenous practices/language on an individual learning ability.
For instance, in the teacher-pupil relationship the student may only carry out an assignment to impress the teacher. The pupil struggles to act the way the teacher wants. Madera and her classmate are unable to grasp the new language English, which leads to conflicts. However, if the students would follow the teacher’s instructions everything could run smoothly.
Therefore, Pratt’s main claims enable the reader to understand the meaning of ‘one voice’ in a new way. People have to act in a similar way in order to learn easily. Pratt’s claim seems to motivate Madera to press on and learn the new language. Although, Madera has decent writing skills, she lags behind on the communication bit. However, when she forms a healthy relationship with her teacher, she conquers her fears.
Nevertheless, Madera’s message is on the importance of principled censorship both at home and school. According to her “she is determined as ever to speak English as well as possible (Madera 82), which prompts her to return to college twenty years later. Madera’s idea draws some weaknesses in Pratt’s message. Pratt’s message about the negative influence of teaching institutions makes all the schools, colleges and universities to be useless.
Therefore, why are there so many learning institutions around the world? According to Pratt, the society is the only vital asset in learning, teaching and communication (40) but her claim does not conquer with Madera who think the society’s language lead her to adapt poor communication skills (English). Finally, the crucial key metaphors in Pratt’s article include “contact zone” (34) to mean social places.
However, it raises a new meaning in Madera’s paper whereby learning institutions, work and home are places, which open an individual into wider society because she learns and interacts with other people struggling to speak like them. Secondly the metaphor “pedagogical arts of the contact zone” (37) though similar with the first one, the expression enables the reader to understand Madera’s essay in a different way whereby students/teachers/parents collaboration enables a child to face the society’s challenges.
Madera and Pratt papers enable the audience to understand their messages either differently or in the same way. The essays enlighten the society on how to conquer their life challenges and the environment is a vital element during the learning process.
Pratt, Mary. Arts of the Contact Zone. Oxford: Modern Language Association, 1991.