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.

Social Justice Event : Stories In Stone:America's Colonial African Cemetery

On February 18 my friend and fellow classmate, Christy, and I attended an event in the library called Stories in Stone: America's Colonial African Cemetery. Before the guest speaker spoke, there were raffles for t-shirts in honor of the anniversary of the unity center, and a sweatshirt with a hood that honored Trayvon Martin, which included his birth and death date on the back. Christy won the sweatshirt. After the raffles were over, Keith Stokes, the guest speaker of the event, began his presentation.

Mr. Stokes studies the history of Africans and in this event, he talked about slavery in Newport, Rhode Island in the late 1600s. Before he got to his main presentation, Mr. Stokes briefly talked about African American history month and how the founder, Harvard historian,  Carter G. Woodson,wanted to have it in February because of the February birth dates of Frederick Douglas, who was a famous slave, and Abraham Lincoln.

At the beginning of the presentation, Mr. Stokes argued that there were too many African historical discussions on slavery and not enough on where they came from or their personal backgrounds. I agree with that because not only did I learn only about Africans as slaves in my history class, but many films portray Africans and other people of color are rarely any of the title characters. When Linda Christensen, the author of the article Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us, and her class were watching cartoons in one of their units, "people of color and poor people are either absent or servants to the rich, white, pretty, people." (pg. 130) Even if a lot of blacks did have ancestors that were slaves, they should not feel ashamed about that.

I learned that The first Africans arrived in Newport, Rhode Island around 1652 and the first documented slave ship called the Seaflower arrived to Newport via Barbados, which carried fourteen slaves in 1696. Most of the slaves came from the African countries Ghana or Guinea. I knew that Newport had wealthy people because of the popular mansions, but I was surprised that slavery actually occurred in Rhode Island. I always thought that slavery took place in the Southern part of the United States. Another shocking fact was that by 1755, seven thousand Africans lived and made up twenty percent of Newport's population. One in three families owned at least one slave. This reminded me a bit of Lisa Delpit and her aspects of the culture of power from the article, The Silenced Dialogue. Aspect number four is "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) That aspect of power made me think about the African slaves first arriving to Newport and then having the white people telling them what to do. This increased the whites' power and when a slave was punished, the power of the whites increased even more. What I didn't find out until later in Mr. Stokes' presentation was that most of the slaves in Newport were teenagers and younger! I can never imagine permanently moving to another continent just to get educated on becoming a skilled worker and serve for a wealthy family. Unlike slavery in the South, the slaves and the white families shared space in the house. Because of this many white men had affairs with African women.

I have been to Newport several times and enjoy looking at the old architect. What I never knew was that most of the buildings were built by the African slaves! They also changed Newport by establishing The African Union Society and an African school. The Africans even brought their culture and rituals to Newport. One of their rituals was when someone in the African community died, they would wear white, sing, and chant. It is amazing that their masters accepted some parts of their culture. Unlike the African slaves, Richard Rodriguez from Aria, was not only forced to speak his nonnative language, but he eventually lost his family culture by becoming "an American", which was sad and so wrong. Not all of the African culture was accepted by the whites. Like Rodriguez, the masters gave the slaves American names, which can also relate to Delpit's fifth aspect of the culture of power. Once these slaves were eventually free, they returned to their original African names. Overall, it seemed that slavery in Newport wasn't as brutal as it was in the south, even though these slaves still had a rough life.

The final part of Mr. Stokes' presentation was a slideshow of a famous cemetery in Newport called God's Little Acre, where many of these African slaves were buried. Watching this part was sad because many of the headstones included African babies and young children that died from yellow fever and cholera and did not have the medicine that we have today to help save their lives. At the end of the slideshow, Mr. Stokes included this powerful quote from Tess Gerritsen, who wrote the novel, The Sinner "The ones that are truly dead are those who are forgotten." That quote really spoke to me because when we talk about memories of people who have passed away, it keeps their spirit alive, but if we don't think, say, or remember anything about a person, then that person is truly dead and forgotten.

Here is a link on more information about slavery in Newport, Rhode Island. What I don't get is why we only focus on the negative discrimination of blacks in the south in our history classes. We never actually learn about any positive accomplishments of the African community. Mr. Stokes did an excellent job on not making his presentation so sad and negative. According to Mr. Stokes, racism is relatively new and the whites use it to sustain power and control. This made me think of Delpit's fourth aspect of the culture of power "the rules of the culture of power are a reflection of the rules of the culture of those who have power." (pg. 25) In other words, whites have the power and they can get away with reacting negatively to those who do not come from the same culture as them. In conclusion, Mr. Stokes emphasized that instead of watching movies, which often dramatize history, we should read reliable resources or got to a historical society. I think that while movies are entertaining, they are not one hundred percent accurate. Overall, I am glad that I attended this event and got to listen to an interesting and accurate story on slavery in Newport.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Safe Spaces- Gerri August, Reflection

"Safe Spaces" was one of the most interesting articles that I had read in this class. I had so many emotional connections while reading this article. I was happy, sad, frustrated, disgusted, angry and so on. Just so you all know, I am a huge supporter of the LGBT youth, so none of these negative emotions were towards them, but instead towards the ignorant people that were mentioned. For this blog, I am going to answer some of the reflection point questions that were asked throughout the article. I will answer them based on my own views and experience.

What messages did you receive about the LGBT when you were in school? Which messages were explicit, which were implied? (pg. 89)
Sadly, none of the schools that I attended did not give any messages about the LGBT youth. I remember not being aware of LGBT until I was in sixth grade and that was only because my friends were talking about lesbians. I asked them what a lesbian was and they laughed at me because they thought that I was stupid and na├»ve. I later asked my parents about it and they finally told me what lesbian, being gay, bisexual, and transgender was. Looking back at it now, I wish I was educated at a much younger age about this.  In the article, August argues that more teachers need to educate students about LGBT youth so that the LGBT students feel safe and included. In her own words, August states "What happens inside classroom walls reproduces the prejudices that exist outside these walls: straightness and gender conformity are assumed; LGBT identity is deviant." (pg. 84)  This reminds me of the first letter in SCWAAMP that American society values: straightness.  What irritates me is that some people go so far and think that being gay is a sin or crime. It seems that they don't realize that like race, lesbianism, gay, and bisexualism are not something that these people randomly chose to be.

As a parent, how would you feel if your child were in Zeke's or Sean's classroom? How would you respond to a friend who objected to Zeke's lesson? How might you respond to your child's questions that arise in response to Who's In a Family?
 If my child was placed in Zeke's or Sean's classroom, I would be happy, but I would be especially thrilled and impressed if my child was in Zeke's class. Even though Sean included books on other races and LGBT, what he did was nothing compared to Zeke's powerful lesson.  Zeke who is a kindergarten teacher, did an entire lesson on different kinds of families. He read books to his students about same sex parents and afterwards wanted the students to know that gay and lesbian parents are exactly like heterosexual parents when it comes to caring and loving their children. Zeke used a teaching method called integration and interpretation. August persuades "if applied across all disciplines and grade levels, integration and interpretation of LGBT experiences and contributions can transform our classrooms into safe spaces." (pg. 90) Instead of thinking of school as a torture chamber, LGBT would feel more safe if more material included things that they can easily relate and connect to. If I had a friend who objected Zeke's lesson, I would tell my friend that I respect his or her opinion, but this is the twenty first century and young children need to be more aware of what is actually happening and we can no longer pretend to our children that LGBT does not exist. If my child ever had questions about the families in Who's in a Family, I would say that no family is perfect. Families of all kinds occasionally have their disagreements, but they all love, take care, and look after one another. I would finally tell my child that friends may come and go, but families are the friends of many ages that you are naturally set up with for life.

As an educator, can you identify opportunities to incorporate LGBT voices into your curriculum? What support would you need to take this step?
Throughout the entire article August emphasizes that curriculum and communication are important in a classroom. When it comes to this August states "neglect one, and the other is bound to suffer; improve one, and the other will likely benefit." (pg. 85) As a future educator, I definitely want to include all races and LGBT in my curriculum. I would make sure that LGBT students can easily connect in my lessons. My personal goal is to teach my students the values of kindness, acceptance, and respect because it seems like so many people these days lack these characteristics. Finally, I would want my students to gain an understanding on what is actually going on around them. None of my students will be left in the dark. Instead, each student will have a spotlight on them that reflects their uniqueness. I know that some of the students' parents will object, but I would remind them that their children also have the right to know what is happening around them. I would need support from my family, friends, colleagues, and the principal. If any objections occur, I would point out what I just mentioned above.

Points to share: Many people seem to think that LGBT is recent, but that is completely false. Homosexuals were around since the beginning of time. LGBT is a culture that more people need to respect and accept. Not too long ago, I found out that one of my friends is gay, even though I thought he was straight. I now want to slap myself for making such an ignorant assumption! After my friend told me that he was gay, I had more respect and liked him even more as a person for being so brave because unfortunately, coming out is very risky. I found this blog post by the U.S. department of education that was very similar to this article. It talked about a conference in San Diego, California that discussed about making schools more safe for the LGBT youth.  If more schools contained material that included the LGBT culture, more of them would proudly come out of the dark and cold closet that unfortunately, still exists.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Aria by Richard Rodriguez- Connections

Richard Rodriguez talks about how he grew up only speaking Spanish at home. Because of this,  he was always afraid to speak up in school because his school only taught in English. His teachers would pressure him to speak when he didn't even want to.  Eventually, he learns enough English that  he finally feels like he is a part of American society. While reading Rodriguez's article, Aria, I couldn't help but think of two articles: The Silenced Dialogue by Lisa Delpit and Teaching Multilingual Children by Virginia Collier. I also thought about my parents while reading this article. In this blog, I am going to talk about the connections between the two articles mentioned above and my family.

As a first grader, Rodriguez felt like an outcast because his teachers assumed that everybody spoke English all the time and everywhere.  Rodriguez himself writes "What they [the teachers] understood was that I needed to speak a public language." (pg. 34) Throughout the article, Rodriguez refers to English as the public language and Spanish as the private language. Reading this made me think of Lisa Delpit's article, The Silenced Dialogue, and her five aspects on the culture of power. Rodriguez's conflict in the classroom reminded me of 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." (A Silenced Dialogue, pg. 25) This relates to Aria, because by not speaking any English in the classroom, Rodriguez refuses to be a participant of the culture of power. His teachers give him a hard time when they wanted him to speak, which makes them have even more power in the classroom. Eventually, Rodriguez does speak up in the classroom and becomes a participant of the culture of power.

At the end of his article, Rodriguez, argues that there needs to be more bilingual education, especially in America, because "they do not seem to realize that while one suffers a diminished sense of private individuality by becoming assimilated into public society, such assimilation makes possible for achievement of public individuality." (pg. 39) Rodriguez's point is that by adding more bilingual education, students who do not speak English as their first language, will be included and have the equal opportunity of success in American society. This reminded me of Virginia Collier's article, Teaching Multilingual Childen. In her article Collier, provides seven guidelines on how teaching English to second-language learners or teaching English speakers a second language can be an insightful experience. Rodriguez's conclusion made me think of Collier's fourth guideline: "Teach the standard form of English and students' home language together with an appreciation of dialect differences to create an environment of language recognition in the classroom." (pg. 227) Collier and Rodriguez want students to not only succeed, but want each student to be recognized as an individual, no matter what language they speak. I find it sad that as a child, Rodriguez did not receive the recognition that he actually deserved in his classroom and that his classmates were never taught a second language.

My personal favorite part of Aria was when Rodriguez and his family would practice their English and then all of a sudden switch to Spanish and so forth. Rodriguez mentions a memory in his kitchen where he heard his parent talking in Spanish until "at the moment they saw me, I heard their voices change to speak English." (pg. 35) This quote reminds me of the occasional times at home when my mom, whose first language was German because her parents originated from Germany, will call my Omi, (German for grandmother) and they will start to talk in English, but all of a sudden speak German and then back to English and so on. Whenever I hear these conversations, I feel like I am listening to a language symphony orchestra where the English language is like the brass section and the German language is the strings. My dad also didn't speak English as a first language either.  My dad's family came from Quebec, so at home, my dad spoke nothing but Canadian French. Unlike my mom, my dad hasn't spoken French in years. Even though both of my parents were born in America, my mom and dad spoke nothing but German and French respectively until they started kindergarten. Unlike Rodriguez, both of my parents have told me that their teachers were really  accommodating, including, and accepting. My parents never fell behind and caught up with the English language and their peers very well. I always feel guilty for not speaking a second language as fluently as my parents. In my opinion, learning a second language should be more imperative in America. Americans have a tendency to only learn and speak  English.

The points I would like to make is that no matter what country you end up living in, learning and speaking the main language should be required. It annoys me when people move to different countries and refuse to learn their native languages. I have great respect towards people that speak a second language at home, however when they are out and about, they need to speak the language of whatever country they live in. When it comes to educating students who do not speak English as a first language, we, as future educators, should include material in their language and have the English speaking students learn their language as well. This way, everybody can have an easier time communicating with one another and no student would feel left out.  I also think that students need to start learning a second language at a very young age, because learning a foreign language in high school or even middle school can be difficult and it comes to the point where it is too late to teach something that is completely new to students. It makes me sad and guilty when I hear that young children from other continents can speak more than one language fluently and we have the tendency to only speak our native language. I understand that people have American pride, but if we don't learn a second language, we look selfish and seem to not have any interests in  different cultures.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Amazing Grace by Jonathan Kozol- Quotes

In his article Amazing Grace, Jonathan Kozol travels to the South Bronx in New York to explore and understand the culture and neighborhood. South Bronx is one of the poorest neighborhoods in the United States. Most of the residents are suffering from terminal diseases, crime rates are high, and the residents are so desperate for money that they turn to drugs or prostitution. Because crimes can occur in their homes, the residents' safe haven is the local church, St. Ann's  The people who live in this area are mostly Hispanic or of color. Based on this fact, one can tell that one of the reasons why they have ended up where they are is because of our country's  ongoing issue of racism. Finding a job is hard enough because of the United State's poor economy, but if a person is not white, the chances of getting a job are even more difficult. Kozol gets some culture shock during his visit in the South Bronx. As I was reading this article, I had so many mixed emotions that included, sadness, shock, anger, and irritation. Choosing only three quotes from this article was very difficult for me because there are so many quotes that either stood out to me or left me in complete shock.

1. "The dogs disappear into a section of the churchyard where, she [Reverend Overall] says, one of our nation's Founding Father, Governeur Morris, who wrote the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, has his resting place." (pg. 12)

This quote shows that poor neighborhoods that cannot afford appropriate school material is an ongoing generational problem. The minister of St. Ann's church drives Kozol back to Manhattan and when they pass the cemetery, the minister tells Kozol this incorrect historical fact. This quote reminded me of another article that we read: "Pathologizing the Poor" by Kerri Ulucci. In her article, Ulucci mentioned how impoverished students do not learn the right material because the school does not have the money to buy the proper school materials that can make the children become successful. Because of this, the students fall behind very easily.  Reading this quote made me sad because in my opinion, citizens  should be able to know the basic history of their countries. Schools should help other  schools out by promoting fund raisers that can help schools get the right material so that students will never fall behind. 

2. "'I saw a boy shot in the head right over there' he [Cliffie] says a moment later, in a voice that does not sound particularly sad, then looks up at me and asks politely, 'Would you like a chocolate chip cookie?'" (pg. 6)

Kozol and Cliffie, a seven year old resident of the South Bronx, walk around the neighborhood and Kozol notices stuffed animals that are attached to a tree. When he asks Cliffie why the stuffed animals are there, Cliffie casually answers that he saw a boy shot in that location and quickly changes the subject like it is no big deal. The children in this neighborhood are exposed to so many crimes, because they occur on an almost everyday basis right on their street. What shocks me is how Cliffie and the other children are not traumatized and can move on so easily. Because of what happens in their neighborhoods, the children are not that innocent either, which is hard for me to picture.  What disgusts me is that the parents in the neighborhood are supposed to be role models to their children, and instead they are buying drugs, getting high, and becoming too sick to take care of them.

3. "If poor people behaved rationally, they would seldom be poor for long in the first place." (pg. 21)

This quote comes from Lawrence Mead, who is a political science professor at New York University. I strongly disagree with Mead because some impoverished people are well behaved, properly educated, and follow all of society's rules because they want to fit in. Unfortunately, people just discriminate them because they are not the dominant race, in other words, not Caucasian. There are impoverished people out there who work just as hard, if not harder than some average white people. Many people have a tendency to overlook and stereotype poor people as "lazy" or "uneducated". I am tired  of people labeling others just because they do not look or come from the same background.  Don't they know that if we all looked alike and had the same background, the world would be a boring place? It irritated the living daylights out of me that a professor, who is supposed to be well educated, talks about impoverished people like that! Whatever happened to not saying anything when we have nothing nice to say?

The point I would like to share is that even though our society has become slightly more accepting and open to new cultures, we still live in a world full of cruelty, hatred, and ignorance. As much as I wish that we can all just get along, I know that will unfortunately never be the case. As future teachers, we cannot make assumptions on our students, based on their backgrounds or how they look. Every student should be treated equally and not be left behind. One of our biggest faux pas in America is that we have a tendency to overlook issues and think that they are not as serious as a problem than they actually are.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Silenced Dialogue by Lisa Delpit- Author's Argument

In her article, The Silenced Dialogue, Lisa Delpit argues that even though teachers have power in the classroom, they need to help students of ethnicity to not be afraid of speaking up in a society where white people and power are dominant. She also argues that students of ethnicity need to be educated by teachers who understand and accept their cultures. Many white teachers have a tendency to belittle students of ethnicity, because they cannot connect to their backgrounds.  Delpit mentions many classroom scenarios where African and Native Americans feel hopeless and are mistreated by a white teacher.  According to Delpit, "one of the tragedies in this field of education is that scenarios such as these are enacted daily around the country." (pg. 23)  Most people would think that teachers treat their students equally now and everything mentioned above is all in the past. However, that is not the case because teachers still do not seem to put much effort into preparing the future of the Native Americans and the blacks as much as the whites.  This article is very similar to another article that we read in class: Privilege Power and Difference by Allan G. Johnson. Johnson and Delpit both mention in their own words that whites have more advantages than any other race and the ongoing controversy on racism. Johnson discusses privileges on a larger scale, while Delpit focuses on classroom settings. I agree with Delpit's arguments throughout the article and strongly think that students of all races should have equal opportunities that will help them succeed in life. It is not fair that a white student is successful in college, while a black high school student is still struggling with sentence structure because of teachers from the past that educated the student poorly and the discrimination on their part.

The point I would like to make is that we, as future teachers, need to be ready to teach students that come from diverse backgrounds and struggling families. We should not choose favorites or make any student feel left behind. If a student has any academic struggles, they need to be taken care of right away before it is too late. I remember attending Wilbur McMahon Schools in Little Compton, Rhode Island from kindergarten to eighth grade and students were taught to respect themselves, others, learning, and property. There especially needs to be a huge emphasis on respecting others because based on all of the articles that we read so far this semester, most students and some teachers seem to lack that.


Hello! For those of you that don't know me, my name is Julienne Dufour. I am a freshman at RIC and studying early childhood education with special education.  When I am not in class, my favorite activities are to read, dance, and sing. I love to read mystery and romance novels. My favorite types of dance are jazz and ballroom. I am part of the ballroom dance club at RIC. My favorite color is pink and I love cats! I only have two cats, but I am a crazy cat person because I can watch videos and look at pictures of cats for hours on end! I am excited about this class because even though I know a few people, I am always open to getting to know more people and making more friends. I am really looking forward to tutoring students at an elementary school. The reason why I want to teach is not only because I like young children, but I like to watch them grow academically. I love to witness childrens' enthusiasm after they learn something new. I feel like this class will let me get my feet wet in what I eventually want to do for a living.