Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Talking Point #9

"Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome" by Christopher Kliewer
     I had a really tough time with this reading at first – I think I read the first few pages three times before I went on.  I knew that people with disabilities struggled but to what extent, I never thought about.
 “How absurd to be judged by others at all, especially by those who have never experienced a disability or who are unwillingly providing us with support or who don’t listen to the voices we have.”
     This quote makes a great point.  If people want answers all they have to do is as - rather than assume that people with disabilities couldn’t possible function in the classroom we should be asking them how, as teachers, we can make their classroom experience a better one.
“For instance, recognizing Isaac's love of reading and his capacity to decipher printed language, an important bridge to the community, required that Shayne see past Isaac's low scores on cognitive developmental checklists, which included numerous references to literacy skills.”
     I only hope that when I become a teacher I can have the kind of success that Shayne does.  If every teacher out there put forth more effort to see past what they think is a burden, the results would make an incredible difference.  It’s sad, but I never realized how hard they make if for student with disabilities to be successful.
“If you look at those three kids running around the room, they're incredibly different from each other. They're different in terms of what their bodies are like, how they best communicate, what they're like socially, their interests. And with those three kids in the room it would be hard to say, "This is how you should teach kids with Down syndrome." They are not at all alike.”
     I really liked this quote and it doesn’t only pertain to student with disabilities.  In our society it’s very common for people to judge a book by its cover, but what we should be working towards is teaching our kids universal acceptance.  Not only are our children earning an education, they are learning the skills to be social, competent and accepting members of society.
I thought this was an interesting video - I kept asking myself HOW could I create an inclusive classroom but where on earth would I start?!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Talking Point #8

Extended comments: Mabel Torres
“Some minorities feel they have been wronged by mainstream Americans and that “acting white” is a betrayal of their people.”
This quote really stuck out to me too.  I really related to your situation with your cousins except mine was more so with the people I surrounded myself with in high school.  There weren’t many minorities in my school and the few that there were all hung out.  A few of them never liked me and I never knew why, (I was raised by my white mother and I was never taught to notice race or think I was different from anyone else just because of the way that I looked), so when one of the girls who didn’t like me called me out for “acting white” I didn’t really know what to do.  So I just said nothing and walked away.  If that were to happen today, I still think I’d be confused and just walk away.  But why is it that not being the stereotype to your race, you’re leaving your culture behind and trying to be white?  I didn’t know that being Spanish or Native American required us to act in a particular way.
I absolutely loved Finn’s idea of “dangerous literacy”!  I was so taken aback by his phrasing at first but I really love it.  I completely agree with what you said here - “When people gain an understanding of the way things are, they can use this information to come up with new ideas and ways of thinking” - The best way to keep people in their class is to keep them illiterate.  If someone doesn’t know that they can achieve social justice, then they’ll never think to strive for those bigger and better things.
Also, I like the way you tied the Kozol and Mead argument into this blog; his article crossed my mind a few times too.  Connecting the quote from Mead to literacy works perfectly; however, like the neighborhood that did not want an incinerator built, the situation does not always work in your favor.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Promising Practices

     Overall, Promising Practices was a good experience and a great addition to FNED requirements! The session I attended was titled Social and Academic Challenges and Successes – at home and abroad. The session started with Maria Lawrence who spoke about her research experiences in Brazil. Before she even started talking, she had us tear green construction paper into the shape of Brazil – or at least what we thought Brazil looked like. I really liked this introduction into the presentation – she got us thinking right off the bat and it was a nice interactive start. Maria then went into talking about Brazil. Brazil is the 8th largest economy and is the 5th largest country. The places in she visited in Brazil were selected based on UNESCO criteria which applied to these sites in terms of the underlying heritage value of the locations. These places were Salvador, Bahia (for it being a historic centre, and having urbanization criteria) Brasilia, Federal District (for meeting the urban criteria) and Olinda, Pernambuco (for meeting the urbanization criteria in part with being a historic centre). In total, Maria spent 31 days in Brazil. She wanted to experience the indigenous people and areas of Brazil but for political reasons she realized that she was never going to experience even a lecture on the status of the indigenous people (it’s an uncomfortable topic for Brazil). She then went onto showing us Brazil’s Constitution which was much larger than that of our own country and even touches upon culture reservation. Maria then showed us this video:

     Brazil would be placing a 17 billion dollar dam at “Big Bend” of the Xingu River to divert a large portion of the river which would then flood a part of Brazil the size of Chicago. Flooding this section would greatly and negatively affect settlers and push many of them into the cities which are already being impacted by the challenge of urbanization. Maria ended the presentation with pictures of favellas in Brazil which are the equivalent of slums in America. Favellas are similar to homes for squatters and they lack many modern amenities. She noted that while in Brazil she found it odd that the favellas were on the waterfront but they’re actually not getting the typical “waterfront” treatment that you would in America – the placement is due to the smell of the city.
     The second half of the session was what I was really looking forward to and was titled Military Children in our Classrooms. The discussion was separated into two speakers, both with different experiences in relation to Military personnel and their families. The first speaker was Monica Darcy who is a military wife and she started off by showing us this video:

     After showing us the video she started in on some interesting facts, the first being that the term Military Brat isn’t derogatory like is appears to be but rather stands for British Regiment attached traveler. Monica then went onto the strengths that many military children have. Those strengths are that they may have a greater respect for authority, they are more tolerant, resourceful, adaptable, welcoming of challenges, more likely to be friendly with someone who is different and are less likely to take part in risky behaviors. Approximately 2 million children have experiences a parental deployment since 2001, most of which are in the public or private schools. It’s hard to say the exact experience that the military personnel and their family will have because not all deployments are the same. For example the person being deployed may be leaving for training, combat or peacemaking, the danger differs from one deployment to the next, the amount of notice differs from person to person and the length of time differs. The second woman who spoke was Micaela Black and she works hands on with veterans and their families. Micaela spoke mostly about the military in RI and how the National Guard personnel and their families are affected. Currently, 524 RI service members are deployed and 5568 members have been deployed since 9/11. Also, Rhode Island has the 2nd highest deployed National Guard. She then went on to discuss the difficulties that military children face. Military Children face transitional impacts, they experience more emotional difficulties. Also, the amount of children receiving outpatient mental health has doubled in recent years and in patient visits are up by 50%. Lastly she discussed the impact on military personnel, post deployment. They face problems such as PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), TBI (traumatic brain injury), loss of limbs and substance abuse. An interesting and appalling fact that she ended the presentation with was that the RI National Guard underemployment rate is at 50% and the unemployment rate for the ages 18-26 is 26.9%.
Here are a few resources we were given that relate to the second portion of the session: http://www.militaryonesource.mil http://myarmybenefits.us.army.mil/Home/Benefit_Library/Resource_Locator/Rhode_Island.html
     Next I went to the Promising Partnership Expo and was surprised by all of the different tables. What appealed to me the most of the tables were the few that gave information on some volunteer opportunities. I’ve really enjoyed the service learning and I’d love to do that sort of volunteer work while I’m still in college and everyone always says the more experience the better! This part of the day was probably the best for making connections to people in the educational world.
     The final part of the day was the Teen Empowerment plenary and the Youth Panel. Honestly – at this point of the day I was bored out of my mind. I like the message that Teen Empowerment was trying to get across but for whatever reason I just couldn’t get into it. I felt like the whole presentation was just them talking and showing us icebreakers. The Q&A was more interesting and it was nice for the audience to pick their brains but I wanted more of something (what that something is, I have no idea).
     The first connection that could be made between Promising Practices and our readings is definitely Kahn and Westheimer’s Charity vs. Change. There are so many volunteer opportunities out there in urban schools. “Bad” schools are always looking for good teachers and volunteers but the good teachers and volunteers tend to work in better school systems by choice.
     The military part of the session I attended really made me think of the reading by Rodriguez. Children with military families who attend public schools might feel similar to how Rodriguez felt. If a child feels like they have no one who can relate to them it will probably negatively affect their school and home lives.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Talking Point #7

     As I read through articles and watch videos about gender equity in the classroom, I have found one common observation - that American educators, regardless of their gender or the grade level at which they teach, continue to focus more attention on male than on female students.  Sadly I have found this to be true in the classroom that I volunteer in.  The most alarming part about this is that now that I think about it, I have done so myself.  A study done in the classroom by Sadker and Sadker found that boys are called on more than girls, boys are given more and different kind of feedback than girls, and boys are allowed more leniency for mild classroom misbehavior.  I can't say why the teacher that I work with does this but for me, I seem to think that the girls don't need as much of my attention, that they can self motivate better than the boys and are overall better behaved.  I'm definitely going to pay more attention to the way that I do things in relation to gender in the classroom.

This article titled Education expert: Classroom gender bias persists by Jill Goatz goes into more detail about the study done by Sadker and Sadker.

I like this video more for the questions that it raised.  It just gets you thinking about gender and it's role in the classroom

This is a video of a group of sophomores at Sydney Boys High School (an all-boys, selective, public high school in Sydney, Australia). Their goal is to raise awareness about gender equality as part of their High Resolves Community Action.

This article titles Single Sex Classes on Trial Expect Girls to Sit Down and Shut Up is about a schools principal who sought to segregate students based on a gender stereotyped idea that girls and boys cannot learn in the same environment.

In class I would like to see if anyone else has had any realizations about themselves in Service Learning?  I never realized that my way of thinking is actually a problem and can negatively impact students :(

Monday, October 24, 2011

Talking Points #6

Tim Wise Interview and Brown vs. Board of Education

     The interview of Tim Wise, the website on Brown vs. Board of Education and the article from The New York times all have one common topic - racism.  The article Separate and Unequal discusses the problems that minorities face in the classroom - de facto segregation which is segregation that occurs due to patterns in residential settlement and learning environments that are smothered by poverty.  The website Separate is Not Equal gives information on Brown vs. Board of Education, the troubles in overcoming segregation and the achievements towards equality that our country has made. The interview of Tim Wise discusses his book Between Barack and a Hard Place and goes into detail points that he made through his writing.
     Many of the points made by Tim Wise made me think of previous readings that we have done.  The first being Peggy McIntosh's "White Privilege" which states that white people are often oblivious to their "white privilege."  McIntosh as one point in her article states "As a white person, I realized I had been taught about racism as something that puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege, which puts me at an advantage."  Tim Wise says in his interview that there are many African Americans who are just as intelligent and well spoken as Barack Obama but they may not present themselves in that same way that he does thereby putting those other African Americans at a disadvantage because Americans have put Obama, in their minds, in a separate category than they put "stereotypical" African Americans.  Relating to the quote from McIntosh's article is something that Time Wise said, "The proof of racial equity will be the day that people of color can be as mediocre as white folks and still get hired," - the people of America would never have this sort of mindset with a white president and their fellow white citizens.
     Another article that we read which really stuck out to me was a combination of Delpit's and Johnson's articles.  Delpit says that there are cultural patterns which tend to show up across racial and socioeconomic communities and that they have a strong impact on the teaching and learning that goes on in the classroom.  Brown vs. Board of Education was a huge step towards embracing and preserving these differences but then helping to merge schools that were segregated.  Johnson's point about the "luxury of obliviousness" really connected to the polls of Americans that Tim Wise spoke about.  White people are rarely aware of the privileges they have and relating to Delpit, they are the least willing to acknowledge it's existence.  A combination of polls found that African Americans are perceived by white people as generally less intelligent, more aggressive, and prone to criminality.  Another poll taken in the early 2000's found that 75% of whites who answered yes to this said that they perceived that African Americans just wanted to live on welfare and not work.  This is appalling when in actuality 1 out of every 7 African Americans receive any kind of public assistance.
     In class I would like to bring up one of the things that Tim Wise said in his interview, "To pretend or to act as though we are heading towards this post racial place would be no more logical than to say that Pakistan was headed to a post sexist place because Benazir Bhutto happened to be elected head of state there in 1988." What do people think of this?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Talking Points #5

In the service of what? by Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer

"The idea that educators should foster a volunteer ethic and encourage youths to give something back to their school or community currently receives widespread support."
     I think that service learning is very beneficial to students.  It allows them to see more than what they usually surround themselves with everyday.  Children can only learn so much about what's in the world through the classroom and going out into the community really helps them get a better understanding of the world around them.  This is a great graduation requirement and not only does it better the student but it betters those who they are helping.
"We do not volunteer "to make a statement," or to use the people we work with to protest something."
     I really admired this quote.  I can't generalize and say that all people do this but the experience that I've had with people and volunteering is that they are doing it for the wrong reasons.  Those reasons could be anything from that they're doing it because they have to or they're doing to make some sort of a point.  When I volunteer, I do it because I want to be there and I want to help the people that I'm working with.  I like the fact that volunteer work is often required for things like graduation from high school but I also think that we should teach people to do it for the right reasons.
"Clearly, having students share their thoughts and experiences with one another can be valuable, but reflective activities (commonly in the form of journal entries and discussions) may simply reinforce previously held beliefs and simplistic, if generous. conclusions."
     This quote really made me think about the service learning required for this class.  At first I didn't really like the idea of having to write journal entries for our service learning but after doing a few they really made me think.  Anyone can do service learning and leave without a single thought about what they just experienced.  Writing the journals really solidifies the experience and makes us think less about what we did on and more about the details and what we should take away from the experience.

In class I would like to talk about which type of service learning people favor, Mr. Johnson's or Ms. Adams?  But get more into detail about why (the fact that students get to chose individually or the collaborative effort)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Response to Vinny's Argument

Vinny, I understand that you believe that you should not read to deeply into cartoons and movies; however, subliminal messages intentional or not have a proven effect on the developing mind of a child. When I was younger I did avoid the sun due to a fear of being different than other white children, and social media of the time did not help to ease this fear. Disney movies are a perfect example of the stereotypes placed upon women. Aladdin is a perfect example of racism found in Disney movies. The first character we are introduced to is a stereotypical Arab "bootlegger" salesman, then we meet Aladdin a stereotyped Arab peasant stealing bread, wearing nothing but a vest, a fez, and harem pants.These stereotypes place an image of Arab people into the mind of young impressionable children. Aladdin, Jasmine, and The Sultan are fairer skinned than any other Arab character in the movie. All of these characters are or will become a person of power. These subtle changes in skin coloring can teach children that fairer skinned people have more power, or are held in a higher regard. There are many other characters in famous Disney movies that are hurtful stereotypes, such as the Indians in Peter Pan, the Crows from Dumbo, King Louie from The Jungle Book, and more. These racist stereotypes can had a profound effect on children. The original Disney Princesses are all white, about a Size 1, and need to be rescued from the clutches of evil by a muscular white male. That is all but Jasmine and Pocahontas. Yet, still Pocahontas falls for a white skinned, blonde haired, blue-eyed male. In a modern world where racism is still a predominate factor in children's lives movies like these tell girl's it is okay to stereotype, that you should be a size one, that you need men to survive, but it is up to that child to discern wrong from right. However, in a world plagued by vanity it is hard for children to see that they do not need to be conformists. These movies are meant to entertain, but they have subtle racist overtones and hurtful stereotypes. Games like Grand Theft Auto might not make children violent, yet there are proven studies that show that children who play first person shooter games on the Wii, or on XBox Connect are more likely to act out physically. This is due impart to the fact that to kill their enemies the children have to pull a real trigger. This conditions children that it is okay to act out physically. Whether intentional or not, the imagery chosen for a film, or video game sends a message to it viewers brain. Children, and girls especially, are impressionable. This racist and stereotypical media is allowed. Plain and simple. Children have access to a plethora of information in today's American society. Exposure to any kind of racist imagery or stereotypical cartoon depictions will shape how a child acts or thinks.