Teaching As Mentoring

Joan Wink, LeAnn G. Putney, Chyllis Scott, Dawn Wink, Ruthie Wienk


The purpose of this paper is to pay tribute to Richard Ruíz by reflecting on the influence of his three orientations–language-as-problem, language-as-right, and language-as-resource. The authors focus on the effect of the three orientations, not only on society, but also on each of their lives by sharing their individual and personal stories, which connect them to Ruíz’s work with a metaphor of the ripple effect, which becomes visible through the act of mentoring from a Vygotskian perspective.
Like you, we were saddened to learn of the unexpected passing of Dr. Richard Ruíz, who had a long and beautiful career at the University of Arizona (UofA). We carefully followed the heart-felt tributes and accolades that were given to him, and we were proud when the UofA honored him with special ceremonies. His thinking has influenced many, including us.
Richard’s legacy for language planning made us think: When kids who speak other languages come to our schools or communities, what is our perspective, our orientation, and our approach? For example, if a French-speaking student comes to class and is still in the process of acquiring English as a new language, what is our perspective? Or what if that student speaks Spanish—what is our perspective? Do we approach the student as if his or her language is a problem, a right, or a resource? It turns out that we are in the classroom with the students, and our own perspective/orientation matters

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