Friday, February 21, 2014

What Will You Do To Stop The Silence?

For this blog piece I am going to do a reflection on “Safe Spaces” by Annemarie Vaccaro, Gerri August, and Megan S. Kennedy. 

While reading “Safe Spaces” I was continuously thinking about how I do not remember having any experiences with my teachers including LGBT ideas into curriculum.  With this being said, as I read the many different ways that teachers have included this idea in their classroom I was pretty taken aback about how I never had this.  But as I got to the end of the article one thing came to my mind that I was able to connect to this piece.  In high school, I remember there being one day a year called the “Day of Silence”.  I am going to be honest and say I never really knew what this day was truly about expect for the fact that individual’s who were gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender did not talk for the whole day.  Looking back at this I now have a different perspective on the idea.  Those who may be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender were searching for their place.  I feel as if this day must exist in order for LGBT individuals to have their voices heard by not saying anything at all, or even so they have one day to not feel “invisible” while drawing attention by participating.

Day of Silence is defined as a day to protest the bullying and harassment of LGBT students and their supporters, which once again brings even more meaning to the idea.  This one-day opens peoples eyes to how LGBT people may suffer and maybe makes others think twice before they say what they say.  It gives the students a “safe space”, where they are not the only one participating.  They may feel welcome to being “different”. 

Overall, looking back on this one day that occurred each year in my high school career I was able to reflect on the ideas brought up in “Safe Spaces”.  LGBT students need to feel like they belong or have a space in a classroom and even in society.  Including these ideas in a school allows others to be aware of what is around them and maybe even gain more comfort on the idea.  No one individual is the same but everyone should be treated equally.  

At the top of the Day of Silence website it asks, "What will you do to stop the silence?".  As future teachers, I feel as if this connects directly to us and what we can do in our future classrooms!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Speak American: Be Multilingual

So I just wrote my blog post about Collier’s article then changed my mind when I found a newspaper article that I believe relates directly to Richard Rodriguez’s piece, “Aria”.  I am going to use this newspaper article to connect “Aria” to a real world situation.

As I read “Aria” by Richard Rodriguez I once again gained a new perspective.  I am from a white family who speaks English during every aspect of our lives.  Unlike myself, in this piece, Richard is from a Spanish family who speaks Spanish at home as what he calls a “private language”.  While Spanish is considered private to him he sees English as a public language that he is uncomfortable speaking because he believes it is not his to use.  With this idea, Richard does not speak much in school which concerns his teachers and drives them to speak to his parents about his English.  His teachers proceed to ask Richards parents to encourage English speaking at home.  With this, Richards’s whole world changes, “In an instant, they agreed to give up the language that had revealed and accentuated our family’s closeness” (35).  Richard continues to explain how this change has altered his entire life and family structure.  No one talks as much, and overall the family is just not as close as before.  Overall, people who do not have English as a second language do not seem to understand this situation.  But, for Richard he has a private and public individuality that his school is not allowing him to pursue. 

Additionally, I found an article from the San Diego Times titled "Speak American: Be Multilingual" written by Mary Amanda Stewart.  In this article, Stewart talks about the many reasons why being bilingual is good.  She states that it increases the function of the brain, you may be able to make more money, it has been known to delay memory loss, and overall individuals who are bilingual are smarter.  Although these many ideas are known to be true, Stewart continues to explain how unwelcoming people are to the idea of others being bilingual.  Whether it is the many different languages singing patriotic songs or just the fear of losing power.  Either way, a family who is bilingual seems to be losing their language by the third generation mostly because of schools not having bilingual programs.

To me, these two articles are very much connected. Stewart talks about all of the benefits of being bilingual but then talks about how schools do not seem to support bilingual individuals.  This can be seen in Rodriguez’s article when Richard is asked by his teachers to focus on speaking English not only in school but also outside of school instead of his native Spanish.  It is almost as if they fear the idea of an individual not have English as their primary language.  But, as the amount of people who speak English as a second language continues to increase this issue needs to be solved.  No matter what an individuals circumstance, schools should be able to accommodate them and work to better their lives not hinder their abilities.  Sometimes we do not realize how gifted bilingual individuals truly are.  

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Be The Change You Want To See

Although reading “The Silenced Dialogue” by Lisa Delpit seemed to be very difficult I knew from the beginning that it had an excellent message.  I found myself rereading sentences and even paragraphs over and over to understand what was trying to be said.  This may seem annoying but in the end was very worth it.  I was continuously searching for the message that Delpit was trying to get across to her readers and slowly began to understand each and every message.

Even though I slowly began to understand these many messages throughout the article, in the final paragraphs it all seemed to click.  The reason I believe this to be true is because I was able to connect Delpit's article to both Kozol and McIntosh’s articles.  With this connection I gained a better understanding on where Delpit was coming from in her argument on black teachers and white teachers.

When Delpit said, “But both sides do need to be able to listen, and I contend that it is those with the most power, those in the majority, who must take the greater responsibility for initiating the process” (46) my mind wondered to these two previous articles that we read.  The reason being is Kozol's thoughts on how these “rich” individuals live so close to Mott Haven but they still are blind to the many struggles it encounters.  They send everything they do not care for to this poorer section of town and act like they have no more problems when in reality they are just passing their problems to less fortunate individuals rather than opening up, being vulnerable, and doing what they can to help.  Along with in Kozol's article, McIntosh also directs her thoughts to this idea as well.  One small example is men.  Although they know to be true that they are more privileged than women they will not admit it.  They just continue to live their privileged lives and make no effort to stop this advantage.  After all, it isn’t really affecting them.

To me, each of these ideas connects to one another.  The white teachers think that the black teachers have just begun to agree with them, the richer parts of New York send there problems elsewhere and forget about them, and men may believe women are disadvantaged but would never say that they are over privileged.  In each case, the ones in the majority are in the place to speak up.  Without that, nothing will change.  It may be uncomfortable to give in, but in the end change would eventually happen for the better.  People should not just feel as if they need to be “quiet” but should feel comfortable speaking their minds and being the change they wish to see.  After all, the many students and teachers quotes in the article are perfect examples on how they feel.  Even though they may encounter these occurrences, the people on the opposite side can still see their reactions.  They know that something is not right and SHOULD speak up!

Below is an article I found that relates to the idea of white teachers educating black students compared to black teachers educating black students.  It brings up many ideas Delpit did and also many new ideas as well.  

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Change Can Happen

Before I get into the text, I want to say how much I enjoyed reading Jonathan Kozol’s “Amazing Grace”.  This text was extremely eye opening and almost unbelievable.  I cannot even imagine living in the circumstances he writes about at any age at any point in my life.  But, the sad part is, you never know if you could end up in this predicament. 

Kozol writes on living life in Mott Haven.  Mott Haven is known as the poorest and most racially segregated town in our nation.  It consists of drug dealers, prostitution, crimes, and innocent people trying to survive on a daily basis. 

In this poor town is a church on St. Ann’s Avenue called St. Ann’s Church.  It is said that the men, women, and children who come to this church are the “poorest of the poor” but, “In one of the most diseased and dangerous communities in any city of the Western world, the beautiful old stone church on St. Ann’s Avenue is a gentle sanctuary from the terrors of the streets outside”(6).  Even with the lives that these individuals live, they are still praying and looking for hope to brighten their day, week, year, or life.  And, as Kozol speaks with a few people who attend the church he is able to see this exactly.  Whether it is Cliffie, the seven-year-old boy who sees the bad but looks for the good, or his mother who is proud of how her son is living his life despite their circumstance.  This one instance speaks for the many individuals who try to escape the outside world of their dangerous and scary lives by coming to the one calm place they know and treasure.

Although Kozol saw Cliffie’s life while inside the calm church he then also sees it while out in the dangerous neighborhood he calls his home.  Kozol has Cliffie show him around and asks him questions on the way.  One instance that really opened my eyes was when they were walking by a vacant lot.  In this lot were old parts along with needles and crack containers.  As Cliffie points to these objects that not every seven-year-old would recognize he says, “The day is coming when the world will be destroyed. Everyone is going to be burned to crispy cookies” (10).  This honestly broke my heart.  First off that he even knows what needles and crack containers are is devastating.  Cliffie understands that these objects are bad and that they are ruining not only others life but his as well.  This young boy is having to grow up way too quickly and should not need to encounter these types of incidents. 

Along with Cliffie and the other members of the church, Kozol also talked to Alice Washington and her son.  Them too felt unsafe in their own home, and overall in their lives.  Mrs. Washington was sick and had much difficulty with the hospital.  She felt unsafe in the hospital that usually is considered a “safe place” and also in her own house.  While staying home and hoping to get better she struggles with the heat and staying alive, “You know it’s dangerous to do it but you got to go outside. You either go outside and take your chance or else you roast inside the house” (19).  Since it was summertime, the heat and humidity built up and made it difficult to breath within her home and with her illness.  But, she was afraid to even open her window to get some fresh air.  Mrs. Washington again explains the difficulty of living life in Mott Haven.  Basically, while trying to stay alive, she is risking her life. 

Overall, through “Amazing Grace” by Kozol I received a new perspective on how some people struggle everyday to stay alive.  From such a young age to such an old age these individuals are struggling no matter how hard they try or what their lives may have been like before.  And the upper class people are not helping at all.  Whether they pay no attention, dump their trash in the poor towns, or send whatever they do not want to the poorer sections of town, it is only making life worse for these innocent individuals.  

Above is a picture of a Mott Haven backyard when this article was written in 1995.  I feel as if this may just sum up the living conditions in this part of town.  

This news article from the New York Times was written sixteen years after "Amazing Grace".  I found it very interesting to read on how Mott Haven is doing nowadays.  From this article the changes are seen.  Although it is still considered a little challenged it is filled with potential and seems better than before.  It consists of new residents who are only looking to make their new home better than ever.

Below are some more recent pictures of Mott Haven.  From these, you would never expect the stories from "Amazing Grace" to have occurred here.  But, they did.  Imagine what these exact spots may have looked like sixteen years ago!!!