Friday, April 17, 2015

Empowering Education by Ira Shor - reflection/connections

While I was reading Empowering Education by Ira Shor, I had so many connections to almost all of the articles that we read this semester. I even got a little excited when some of the recognizable authors (Patrick Finn and Linda Christensen) were mentioned in the article. Originally, this blog was only going to be a connections post, but there were also ideas in the article that I could relate to as well. And because this is the last blog assignment of the semester :( I have decided to do a connections/reflection post.

"If the aim of intellectual memory training is to form the intelligence rather than to stock the memory, and to produce intellectual explorers rather than mere erudition, then traditional education is manifestly guilty of grave deficiency." (pg. 12)

This quote came from Jean Piaget, who I just studied in my psychology class. Piaget's theory on cognitive development is amazing! Even back in his time, Piaget was against traditional schooling. He claimed that learning was not memorizing facts, but instead,  learning comes from experience. Piaget believed that traditional learning lacked knowledge. In my service learning, my fifth grade class struggles with some of the basic concepts, including reading simple words. Their teacher is very authoritarian and imposes order and expects obedience. The students are also forced to learn information that is not interesting to them. I always feel bad because anybody can just tell based on their body language that these fifth graders would rather be somewhere else. As future educators, we need to avoid forcing our students to shove information that they can care less about in their heads. Instead, we need to keep our lessons interesting so that our students maintain their enthusiasm in learning.

"Participation is the most important place to begin because student involvement is low in traditional classrooms and because action is essential to gain knowledge and develop intelligence." (pg. 17)

Throughout the article, Ira Shor, emphasizes on how important it is to have students start the conversations and develop ideas, instead of the teacher just lecturing them the entire time. This quote reminds me so much about our class and how part of our grade is just participating. I have learned so much from this class from just hearing my peers talk. Like Shor did with her classes, our teacher does not tell us about her ideas until after we are all finished talking. If our class was more traditional, we currently wouldn't be having this strong bond with one another. I found this interesting article on the benefits of participating in a class.

"As conscious human beings, we can discover how we are conditioned by the dominant ideology." (pg. 22)

This quote was explained by Paulo Freire. He explains that as young children, we do not know that we are conditioned to act a certain way depending on people and places. As we get older, we  discover that we were conditioned and try to break out of it, but old habits die hard.  Last week, our teacher gave us worksheets that looked like a quiz/test that we had to complete in a limited amount of time. Instead of throwing the papers at our teacher and being resistant (which was actually how our teacher wanted us to react) we all completed the assignment and some of us even developed anxiety while working on them (myself included). This "experiment" that our teacher did just shows that there comes a point in time where it is too late to break out of something that you have been conditioned to do your whole life. Discovering how we are conditioned to act a certain way involves some heavy critical thinking.

"Students learn that education is something that they have to put up with, to tolerate as best as they can, to obey, or to resist." (pg. 26)

If students are dreading to go to school, then their teachers are not doing their jobs correctly. If students are refusing to learn just because their teachers are not doing their jobs correctly is even worse. Students should think that education is a slow learning transition from early childhood to early adulthood rather than a learning obstacle that they just have to overcome. This reminds me of the Jean Anyon study in Literacy With an Attitude by Patrick J. Finn. In Anyon's study, students who came from working class families were stuck with teachers who actually didn't know how to teach. As a result, the students were resistant towards their education. Shouldn't teachers get the hint that when their students get resistant towards learning, something needs to change about the way they teach?

"Existing orthodoxies resist change because the standard curriculum represent more than knowledge; it represents the shape of power in school and society." (pg. 34)

This quote has Lisa Delpit written all over it! In her article, The Silenced Dialogue, Delpit mentions and explains the five aspects of the culture of power. The above quote is spot on with Delpit's second aspect of the culture of power: "There are codes or rules for participating in power, that is, there is a "culture of power'". (pg. 25) Even though some of us may deny this, but we all do not like it when things change because we like to be in control and be familiar with things in our everyday lives. If the orthodoxies changed, then the culture of power would no longer exist. Whatever happened to change being a good thing?

Questions:  After this class is over, what is the biggest aspect that will stick with you throughout your teaching career? Did your views of the world change while taking this class?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome by Christopher Kliewer - Connections

I had so many mixed emotions about this week's article. The emotions ranged from happy to sad to angry. While reading this article I found so many connections to other articles that we had read in the past. The authors that I will be using for my connections are Linda Christensen, Gerri August, and Lisa Delpit. I will also make a personal connection toward the end of this blog. My personal connection is something that I don't bring up often, but this class is practically a family now, so I am now comfortable talking about it.

"School citizenship requires that students not be categorized and separated based on presumed defect." (pg. 85)

Throughout the article, the author, Christopher Kliewer discusses school citizenship and accepting all disabilities and more specifically, Down syndrome.. School citizenship is all about recognizing each student's uniqueness rather than making assumptions and stereotypes. What really bothers me is that even  to this day at some schools, students with disabilities and Down syndrome are still put in classes that are separate from students that have no disabilities. Aren't we all supposed to be created equal? This reminded me of the article, Unlearning the Myths that Bind Us by Linda Christensen. In her article, Christensen argues that we cannot make assumptions on people just because media perceives a group of people a certain way. One of my favorite Christensen quotes is this: "The secondhand information we receive has often been distorted, shaped by cultural stereotypes, and left incomplete." (pg. 127) Teachers that get to work with students who have Down syndrome get to receive the complete firsthand information while other teachers that work with students with no disabilities tend to fall for the stereotypes.

"Like a lot of people in Mendocino, he's [John] accepted for what he is, not what he isn't" (pg. 86)

John is a kid with Down Syndrome and lived in North Hollywood, where he was separated and lonely. When his family moves to Mendocino, California, he easily connects and makes friends easily. The townspeople of Mendocino saw beyond his condition. This can be connected to Gerri August's Safe Spaces because in his old neighborhood, he was excluded just because he had Down syndrome, but his new neighborhood made him feel like an important member of society. Even in his own words, John calls his new neighborhood a "safe space." It seems like people enjoy focusing on the negative qualities of a person rather than their positive qualities, which in my opinion is a shame.

"If a misunderstanding emerges within the act of communication, we tend to fault the party with the least amount of cultural privileges and proceed to clinically identify which element of that individual's communication is responsible for the misunderstanding." (pg. 94)

This quote is sadly true because if something goes wrong, the person that gets blamed is usually not part of the culture of power. When we hear these words, culture of power, we immediately think of Lisa Delpit and her aspects on the culture of power in her article, The Silenced Dialogue. The above quote goes along with Delpit's fourth aspect on the culture of power: "If you are not already a participant in the culture of power, being told explicitly the rules of that culture makes acquiring power easier." (pg. 25) Telling people with less privileges that it is their fault that they don't understand a concept makes the teacher have more power in the classroom.

I am now going to talk about my personal connection that a lot of people don't know about. When I was three years old, I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder because like Isaac from the article, I couldn't talk and had very weak motor skills. The doctors that diagnosed me said that I would never talk or have the ability to do anything. They recommended that I should enroll in private special education schools that are completely isolated from students that have no disabilities. My parents were heartbroken over the news, but they didn't listen to the doctors. My parents believed in me so much that they signed me up for ballet classes, speech therapy and occupational therapy. I spent my preschool years at a private school where all of the students had a variety of disabilities. When I was entering kindergarten, my parents enrolled me in a public school where most of the students did not have any disabilities. I surprisingly adapted there pretty well. Today, I still struggle a little with speech and some motor skills, but the many years of speech and occupational therapy had really paid off. If my parents didn't believe in me so much, I don't know where I would be today.

Points to make:  This article proved that disabilities can become abilities. If people tell you that you can't do something, prove them wrong. The true friends in life are the ones that do not make a big deal about your disability. Instead, they look past that and focus on your abilities. That is how I found my true friends. About sixty years ago, children with Down syndrome were placed in mental institutions. We have come a long way since then, but schools need to stop isolating students with disabilities from students with no disabilities. I found this interesting article on why Down syndrome is decreasing

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Literacy With an Attitude-by Patrick J. Finn Quotes

First off, I want to say that writing this week's blog was a challenge for me because there are so many important and interesting concepts that Patrick J. Finn mentions in Literacy With an Attitude. I can go on and on about all of his ideas, but I don't want to bore the living daylights out of you, so I am going to try to abridge my blog by selecting and explaining three quotes that stood out to me in this week's text.

"All of us-teachers and students-were locked into a system of rules and roles that none of us understood and that did not allow for much in the way of education." (pg. 5)

In the 1960s, Finn was an eight grade teacher who worked in a dominant impoverished black school in the south side of Chicago. The students had to follow the teachers' orders and the teachers had to follow the codes of power in the classroom. Finn is frustrated that working class students are not getting the same literacy skills as students from higher class. Finn thinks that the school still runs like that today and he is not happy about that.  Unfortunately, many schools throughout the United States follow Lisa Delpit's aspects on the culture of power so seriously, to a point where students lack creativeness and freedom of expression. Someday, I hope I work at a school where the rules are reasonable and don't take away students' rights and privileges.

"Anyon's study supports the findings of earlier observers that in American schools children of managers and owners are rewarded for initiative and assertiveness, while children of the working class are rewarded for docility and obedience and punished for initiative and assertiveness." (pg. 20)

Jean Anyon did an eye opening study on schools of different classes. The results were shocking. The higher the class, the more creativeness and the more real knowledge students gained in the classroom. The teachers from high class schools were more laid back and let the students do more of the speaking and teaching. What really disgusted me was that the teachers in the working class school treated their students like animals. Awarding a student for obedience is like telling a dog to sit, shake, roll over, etc. and giving him a treat for listening to your commands. If the dog barked even once or if a working class student said if, and, or but about an assignment, they were punished. I feel bad for these working class students because if they are conditioned to not speak up, they will have a harder time getting a job because they will be too afraid to say what they actually think. I find it sad that so many good teachers prefer to work with higher class students and because of this, the impoverished students get "the leftover" teachers that do not know how to actually teach. In a way, it is like how the wealthy people of Manhattan traveled all of the way to Mott Haven to dump their trash in Jonathan Kozol's Amazing Grace.  Don't they know that they could have given impoverished students hope if they had educated them instead?

"Teachers are supposed to teach, not blame children for what they don't know how to do." (pg. 175)

I absolutely agree with this quote one hundred percent and am glad that Finn mentioned this in his article. According to the article, it seems that high class schools do more real teaching than working class schools, where the teachers make more commands than actually teach. What I find really annoying is that the working class teachers can't even tell their own students how their assignments connect to the real world! I'm sorry, but if a teacher can't even explain that, they shouldn't have the right to teach. Even as a middle class student, I had witnessed moments when my teachers would blame my classmates for not understanding concepts. I remember having the urge to say to those teachers "Hello? you are getting paid to TEACH us, not watch us work on packets that you give us on useless things that will never help us in the real world. You are supposed to teach us instead of babysit us!" Of course, I never said those words because as Finn would say, I was and still am "an obedient student."  In my own words, teaching is educating concepts that students can connect to the real world.

Points to make: I found an article from The Guardian about how parents' jobs affect the academic work of their children. Jean Anyon did a study on fifth grade classes from schools of different class. I loved how Finn described the main themes of each school of different class in one word. For example, the theme of the working class schools was resistance and the theme for the upper elite schools was excellence. In one word, how would you describe the theme of your fifth grade class? Why do you think the best teachers choose to work in higher class schools than working class?

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Pecha Kucha Progress Report

For my pecha kucha, I plan on using Ulucci as my main author because my service learning has shown how poverty clearly exists. My other text connections are Johnson, August, Kozol, and Collier. I chose Johnson as one of my connections, because he talks about how we are aware of problems in the world, but we are afraid to say them. August came to life during my service learning experience because there is this one third grade girl who can be mean and will start making insults to some of her classmates. This reminded me about how classrooms should be served as "safe spaces." Like Kozol observed with the children in Mott Haven, New York, the students come from impoverished backgrounds, but that doesn't bring their happiness down. Lastly, Collier came to life during my service learning because I learned that teachers need to be exposed to many cultures and backgrounds. I am almost done creating my pecha kucha and will plan on what I will say on each slide next.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Brown vs. Board of Education vs. Today's Racial Issues

 First off, I want to say that I don't know about the rest of you, but I liked how this week's assignment was slightly different than the previous weeks. Watching a video, looking at a website, and reading a short(!) article was fun. For this week's blog, I am going to briefly talk about the Brown vs. Board of Education case, discuss what Bob Herbert and Tim Wise argue, and explain what they all have in common with one another.

When the Brown vs. Board of Education occurred, lawyers, parents, students, and members of communities fought to cease legal racial segregation in America. At the time, schools were either whites only or blacks only. So on May 17, 1954, The United States Supreme Court unanimously got rid of anything constitutional that had to do with separation of race. They made education an equal opportunity for races of all kind. According to the website, "The victory transformed the nation." Even though this case played a big role in changing our country to where it is today, it "did not constitute a perfect solution to the problem of unequal opportunity." We can go back and read Peggy Mcintosh's article, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, where Mcintosh discusses all of the opportunities that whites still have over blacks today.

In the video, Tim Wise, who wrote the book Between Barack and a Hard Place, argues how racism is still an obstacle that needs to be overcome. In his own words, he emphasizes that "even with the long history, the ball hasn't moved as much." What he means is that even though we have done a little bit to improve racism, we still have a long way to go. Wise brought up some really eye opening points throughout the video. He explains how we are unaware of the two types of racism : racism 1.0 and racism 2.0. Racism 1.0 is the racism that we all know i.e. stereotypes and discrimination. Racism 2.0 is what Wise calls "exceptionism." His example of that is voting for Barack Obama in the last two elections so that you won't be considered racist for not voting for Obama. Like Brown vs. Board of Education, the victory of Obama changed our country because it broke tradition, but it did not stop racism itself. Listening to Wise explain about racism 1.0 and 2.0 was interesting, because I never knew it actually existed. It reminds me of when I first read Lisa Delpit's The Silenced Dialogue and had no idea that the culture of power existed. Wise brings up another excellent point when he mentions that Obama went to Harvard and if he didn't, he probably wouldn't have become president. But if a white person didn't attend Harvard, he or she would still be eligible to become president. This annoys me a bit because yes, Harvard is a popular university, but there are colleges and universities that are just as great. A person of color is still well educated, even if he or she didn't attend Harvard.

In his article Separate and Unequal, Bob Herbert argues that we tend to avoid the issues of racism. Right away, this reminded me of Johnson's allusion of fire from his article, Privilege, Power, and Difference, and how people are too afraid to speak up and say that there is an actual fire. Herbert also stresses that impoverished students, which are mostly made up of black and Latino should be permitted to attend the same schools as middle class students, so that they can get equal quality of education. According to Herbert, after the Brown vs. Board of Education case, "we are still trying as a country to validate and justify the discredited concept of separate but equal schools." (pg. 1) There has been some progress though because Herbert reports that "some middle-class schools have been willing to accept transfers of low-income students when those transfers are accompanied by additional resources that benefit all the students in the schools." (pg. 3) It is great that these low-income students are finally getting the proper education that they need, however, it would be better if all low-income students had the same opportunity. I remember reading Kerri Ulucci's Pathologizing the Poor and this quote : "As we [future educators] strive to educate all children, understanding the pitfalls and promise of educating children in poverty requires clear eyes, new perspectives, and a determination to break the us/them dichotomy." (pg. 21) By allowing impoverished students to enroll in higher income schools, this is a small step in the right direction, however that is not enough.

The Brown vs. Board of Education case, Wise, and Herbert all have goals in changing America for the better. The Brown vs. Board of Education case was a huge highlight in American history, but Wise and Herbert are pushing for even bigger and better changes. Wise and Herbert hope for all races to be equal and have the same opportunities. No one should be left behind because of their race. The relationship of Wise and Herbert's arguments and the case of Brown vs. the Board of Education makes me think about the chorus of the traditional song, We Shall Overcome.
Oh, deep in my heart
I do believe
We shall overcome

Points to make: I found this PBS documentary that really helped me understand and learn more about the Brown vs. Board of Education case.When will everybody be equal? At least some impoverished students in our country are starting to learn how to fish instead of just receiving them, but when will all impoverished people be able to achieve that skill? I have one of the many answers: It is definitely going to take more than a village to fix these conflicts.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Politics of Service Learning by Kahne and Westheimer -Extended commentary

For this week's blog, I decided to do an extended commentary on Allee's blog because she brought up some excellent points and references from other texts. "The Politics of Service Learning" discussed how important service learning is and how students change their views on the world because of it. 

I agree with Allee that many people only contribute to charity because it is a requirement to graduate at many schools. What makes me sad is that these people don't think or seem to care about how they are changing other peoples' lives. At my high school, we did not have a community service requirement, but that didn't stop me from volunteering to do childcare at my church. Yes, the kids can be rambunctious and quite a handful, but they brighten my day every time I go there. The service learning that is required for this class is one of the best experiences of my life!

In her first text connection, Allee uses the following quote from Johnson's "Privilege, Power, and Difference" article :"But always the purpose is to change how we think so that we can change how we act, and by changing how we participate in the world, become part of the complex dynamic through which the world itself would change" (viii). What I like about this quote is that it is very spot on to the actual idea of service learning. My service learning experience has definitely changed my thinking and my perception of the world. Allee mentions in her blog that Johnson said that in order to change the world, we cannot be afraid to speak up. I absolutely agree with that, but I think that in order for the change to occur, we need to have more than one person to speak up.

Allee's second text connection was on Ullucci's article "Pathologizing the Poor: Implications for Preparing Teachers to Work in High Poverty Schools." I personally loved how Allee mentioned how important it is to not stereotype poor people nor make assumptions about them. Yes, some poor people are lazy and do drugs, but others work just as, if not, harder than the average person. We are currently living in a country that has a horrible economy. Like Allee said in her blog, some neighborhoods that people say are "dangerous" end up being one of the most friendly neighborhoods. I give Allee so much credit for being so brave on her first day of service learning. If someone had told me that I was about to enter an unsafe neighborhood, I would run the other way. Allee went to this "unsafe" neighborhood and met some very welcoming students. This just shows that we can't always believe what some people say until we experience it ourselves. This Kahne and Westheimer quote that Allee selected basically sums everything up in this paragraph:  "The experiential and interpersonal components of service learning activities can achieve the first crucial step toward diminishing the sense of 'otherness' that often separates students - particularly privileged students - from those in need" (8). By helping students, who have less privilege, we can mentor and try to help them become more successful in the world someday.

Who can forget Lisa Delpit and her aspects on the culture of power from her article, "The Silenced Dialogue.?" Ever since I read that article, I have been witnessing some Delpit moments everywhere I go. Allee mentions that people with the power have set beliefs that service learning is just good charity. On one hand, I agree that many people think of service learning or charity as "doing the right thing," but on the other hand, I disagree because there are many teachers out there that emphasize how community service not only changes the others that we are helping, but it also changes ourselves.

Points to share/Questions : I found a community service learning center webpage from the official website of the University of Minnesota. It talks about how students, faculty, and community partners benefit from service learning. There were many points from there that I agreed with.I think that it is a shame that my high school never required community service because I think that it could have changed many of my classmates' views and beliefs. I remember overhearing some of my classmates' assumptions on other people who were not like them and they would say some things that truly disgusted me. Was community service a graduation requirement in your high school? Did you think of it as a change in your perception or just another thing that you had to do in order to get out of high school?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us by Linda Christensen- Hyperlinks

I truly enjoyed reading Unlearning the Myths that Bind Us because I loved how Linda Christensen, the author and a high school contemporary literature and society teacher,  did a whole unit on  stereotyping, racism, and sexism, in stories and cartoons. For this blog, my main focus will be hyperlinks, but I will also reflect and connect.

I remember when I was a child, my parents would read me a fairy tale before I went to bed. My favorite fairy tale was Cinderella because I used to enjoy the part when the fairy godmother got Cinderella ready for the ball. Now, I find fairy tales to be extremely sexist and I don't think I will ever read them to my kids. I want my kids to not believe that they need to rely on someone else in order to live happily ever after. I found a blog post titled Gender Bias and Sexual Stereotyping in Fairytales by Cindy Kasner. Even though her post is almost eleven years old, Kasner's points are spot on and similar to Christensen's. They both talk about how females in fairytales are weak and vulnerable without a man and the man likes the girl because of her beauty. The men are always the brave and heroic souls that saves the princesses' lives. This is nowhere near reality and it makes me sad when people have false hopes about improbable events. Kasner and Christensen both say that the more exposed children are to these stereotypes, the more they will believe it is true. She calls this secret education. Kasner explains about sexism and children's exposure in an interesting psychological view, while Kasner talks about her classroom lesson and how to take a stand against sexism, stereotyping, and racism. They both agree that sexual stereotyping is not appropriate, especially in today's society. Children should not feel like that they have to act a certain way because of what fiction tells them about their sex.

Christensen briefly mentions racism in Disney movies. When I was little, I was not aware that there was racism hidden in these movies, but as I grew up, the racism became more obvious. However this doesn't change my love for Disney movies and I won't stop my kids from watching them. I found an interesting video that shows Disney Racism Examples.   The commenters in the video come from different races and express how they feel about the stereotyping. I don't want to spoil anything on what the commenters in the video have to say, but it is definitely worth watching!  My only complaint is that they didn't include the white stereotypes from Pocahontas, which suggests that all whites are selfish and their goals in life are to exterminate people that are not like them. Most whites believe that they are never stereotyped because they are "the superior race", but that is completely false.

In Christensen's article, the class talks about how all of the Disney princesses are white. One student even said that she will never take her kids to see Disney movies until they show a black princess. The first thought that came to my mind was this :What about Tiana, an African American princess from The Princess and the Frog? I then realized that this article is from 2003 and The Princess and the Frog didn't come out until 2009. I remember when I first heard that there was going to be a black princess, my first thought was this: it's about time! Here is a link from CNN news making it official that Tiana is the first black Disney princess. The people in the video thought that there would be less stereotyping after the movie was released, unfortunately, racism is still occurring every day and will probably occur forever. Another piece of evidence why this article is a little outdated is when Christensen and her students scoff at the idea of a black Cinderella. Not too long ago, Keke Palmer, who was a teen actress in movies such as the Disney channel original movie Jump In (A really good movie by the way), was cast as the first black Cinderella on Broadway. Here is a really short clip of the ball scene with Keke Palmer playing the title character.  This just shows that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors.

Most fairy tales and cartons follow the society rules of SCWAAMP or in this case, SWAMP because they follow the following aspects. I completely disagree with these by the way.
Straightness-Do we ever see a gay prince or a lesbian princess get their true love's first kiss? The answer unfortunately is no.
Whiteness-At least Disney finally included a black princess, but fairy tale authors like the Grimm Brothers never did.
Abled bodiness- All of the Disney princess have freakishly tiny waists and the princes are always fit and good looking. Don't people ever realize that maybe some people suffer from body image issues because of this?
Maleness- A girl needs a man in order to live happily ever or else her life is forever doomed. (sarcasm)
Property ownership- Women are only drawn to men if the man has a huge house or a nice car, or in the fairy tale cases a white horse to reflect his race. (sarcasm again)

Points to make: What were your reactions when you found out the true meanings behind fairy tales or cartoons? Did you immediately stop watching or reading them or did it not affect you in any way? I can't wait to talk about this in class.