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.