Saturday, March 29, 2014

Literacy with an Attitude

For this blog post I am going to focus on connections.  While reading “Literacy with an Attitude” by Patrick Finn I was able to make connections to several different ideas that we have focused on in class. 

I started making connections while first reading the preface.  Finn states, “Over time, political, social, and economic forces have brought us to a place where the working class gets domesticating education and functional literacy, and the rich gets empowering education and powerful literacy.  We don’t worry about a literate working class because the kind of literacy they get doesn’t make them dangerous”(X).  I was able to relate this directly to Brown vs. Board of Education and Tim Wise’s thoughts.  Although Brown vs. Board focus’ on race the connection is still clear.  In Tim Wise’s interview he talks about the idea that in order for a black individual to be successful they need to be truly exceptional.  They must attend an ivy league school and maintain a 4.0 GPA while a white individual can attend any school with any GPA and end up just as successful.  To me, this relates to Finn’s idea stated in the article.  He believes that because an individual is rich they have an upper hand to a middle class individual.  Just because an individual is rich they seem to receive an empowering education that a middle class individual will never receive.  With this being said, they have no opportunity to be as successful as a those in a higher class.

Along with my connection to Brown vs. Board of Education and Tim Wise, throughout the rest of the reading I was constantly connecting Finn’s experiences and ideas to Lisa Delpit.  This connection first came to my mind when Finn stated, “I was from the working class and I knew how working-class and poor kids related to authority.  They expected people in authority to be authoritarian, and I gave them what they expected” (3).  These two sentences are Delpit’s main ideas.  She believes that teachers need
to explicitly teach students the rules and codes and Finn did this.  He knows that they need this direct instruction so he is schooling them to “take orders” which will lead to future success.  Along with this, Finn also didn’t give the students time to not be on task.  He had them working at all times and the students knew what they should be doing.  With this, Finn did not need to ask what a student was doing if they were off task but could simply tell them to stop that and get back to work.  This too is an important aspect that Delpit focuses on.  She believes that a teacher must be direct with a student rather than asking them what they are doing.  This way the student knows that they are in the wrong.  Although I was able to connect the entire article to Delpit I believe that these few points really show how Finn’s teaching style is similar to Delpit's ideas.  Working in these ways results in a large amount of success in the classroom with students who may have difficulty following directions or doing what they are told.  

Although I focused on connections in this blog I wanted to add an article on the grouping of different leveled students.  In "Literacy with an Attitude" they talk about how students were put into different classes depending on their reading scores.  This article talks about how grouping students by ability "regains" favor in the classroom.  What are your thoughts on having students placed in different classes based on their abilities?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Separate Is Not Equal

Extended Comments of Jaclyn's Post

For this post I am going to work off of Jaclyn’s thoughts from her blog.  When reading her blog I agreed with all of her ideas and these ideas also made me think even deeper into the works we are focusing on. 

Jaclyn started her post remembering how she learned about Brown V. Board of Education throughout her schooling and how it never clicked that segregation is still something that we deal with on an everyday basis.  Like her, I would have to say the same thing.  Obviously now that we are older we see incidents of racism more often, but as a younger child when learning about this important topic it was almost like we just learned about it as a past event, something that is over with. 

Jaclyn proposes the question, “you have to wonder has racism truly ended?”  Honestly, I do not think it has.  This can be seen throughout the many readings we have done this semester and also through the video interview with Tim Wise.  During this interview, Tim Wise focuses on how black individuals are just as bright as everyone else.  But, as Jaclyn points out, how in order to stand out they must attend an exceptional school and receive a perfect GPA to be accepted while a white individual can attend any school, receive any grade and still be equally accepted.  I related Jaclyn’s thoughts on this idea to the “standard” Wise brings up.  He states that the standard for blacks is that they have to be truly exceptional to be successful.  Like Jaclyn wonders, I too wonder if this racial difference will ever be done with?

Another point that is brought up in Jaclyn’s blog is Wise’s idea that, “work still needs to be done”.  Wise brings up Brown V. Board of Education in part two of the interview.  He relates this step with the first black president to Brown V. Board of Education.  I love the idea that not one event changed the issue of segregation but each of these important events plays a role.  This is the next step but so much work still needs to be completed.

Besides the interview with Wise, the article by Bob Herbert also relates directly to the idea of segregation and how it still does exist.  When I read this article I thought back to when we read “Amazing Grace” by Jonathon Kozol.  In this article, Kozol speaks of a town that is in extreme poverty and is not considered a safe place for its citizens.  Whether these children were black or white, they went to school together but that is not necessarily the point.  Herbert states, “studies have shown that it is not the race of the students that is significant, but rather the improved, all-around environment of schools with better teachers, fewer classroom disruptions, pupils who are more engaged academically, parents who are more involved, and so on”.  This along with the rest of the article relate to Mott Haven.  Just because the individuals who live there are poor they are separate from middle class students in schools.  Their schooling is separate and unequal.  They should receive the same opportunities as everyone else.  Although I mostly related this article back to Kozols thoughts, when I read Jaclyn’s blog I also then began to relate it to our service learning like she did.  Even though it may be impossible, if the students in poorer sections had the opportunity to attend school with students in a higher class their academic achievements may increase.  I know that in my service-learning classroom there is a lot of disruption from some individuals which then affects others chances of learning. All in all, nowadays segregation doesn’t necessarily have to be by color but by the community an individual lives in.  We shouldn’t let this determine a young students future.  Everyone should have an equal opportunity.  

The link attached to "not one event" gives a variety of different things that have occurred while working to stop segregation.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Service Learning Experiences

Reflection Piece

While reading “In The Service Of What? The Politics of Service Learning” by Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer I caught myself thinking about the service learning I have done throughout my life and the service learning I am doing now for this class.  I continuously was connecting the ideas brought up in this piece to what I am gaining throughout my service.  Kahne and Westheimer argue that in order for service learning to have some sort of impact there has to be learning gained through the experiences one is undergoing.  In other words, instead of just giving, take the time to struggle with the individuals you may be working with and see what it would be like to be in their situation and learn from that.

With this being said, I thought about my time spent in my third grade class at Carl Lauro Elementary School.  I asked myself what I thought of each experience I have had there and what knowledge I left with every week.  To be honest I do feel like I learned from working with these children.  Not only by gaining more experience in a teacher’s role but through the stories each child tells me.  With these stories I have a better understanding of what their lives are like on a daily basis in school and outside of school.  Not only do I gain an understanding of how difficult some of their lives can be everyday, I gain a new perspective to how lucky I have been throughout my entire life.  And with this, it makes me want to become a teacher even more than I did before.  This specific service learning has allowed me to experience the joys of service and also have the opportunity to have meaningful conversations and interactions with young students who have gone through so much in their lives.  But with this, I feel as if I have gained understanding and have learned from these experiences instead of just lending a hand.  And the best part about this all is that the twenty five or so students I am in a classroom with for two hours every week have no idea how much they are teaching me.  For this short time I am there, they are just extremely happy that I am there to give all of my attention to them, which may or may not be something they are used to receiving.

All in all, from this one particular service-learning project I have gained a new perspective beyond my own.  I have been able to step into my student’s shoes and view what their perspective may be.  When thinking back on this all, I can relate directly to Kahne and Westheimer's ideas and can honestly say that through my service learning I have done more than just “give”.  While assisting, I have learned more than you could ever imagine from each child I have the opportunity to work with.

In the link I attached above, there is an in depth definition of service learning.  Along with that, it talks about the benefits of using service learning to actually learn and how it is a different approach to learning.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Expectation vs. Reality

Before I start my actual blog for this week I want to say that after reading this article, I saw articles and pictures portraying to Disney everywhere.  I opened up my Facebook to this article about eight Disney classics based on disturbing stories… and then I see this cute picture on twitter.  Weird!


Throughout “Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us”, Linda Christensen argues that media changes each individuals mind and teaches them how to live their life. 

In other words, she believes that through movies, TV shows, and cartoons, each aspect of life is portrayed in a way that the viewer begins to alter their life to  coincide with what they watched.  Christensen believes that while watching these various shows, the viewer obtains a “secret education”.  The secret education is basically a way of life.  Everything in the show seems “perfect” and ideal to what everyone wants his or her life to be like so, as a result, we search for the happy ending that doesn’t always end up so happy after all.  Throughout this, Christensen continues to argue that the media has manipulated each individual and made them who they are today.  So, basically she believes that individuals do not “create” themselves but they are created through the children’s media that the viewed. 

            As Christensen continues to argue about how the media alters people’s lives, she then begins to argue that it is okay to portray all types of living in children’s media but that it needs to be switched up.  In other words, some people can be rich and some people can be poor but it can’t always be the rich white people and the poor black people.  With this variety there will be less stereotypes and no one will feel as if they must be a certain way in order to be happy or successful.  And lastly, she believes strongly that someone needs to stand up to make the difference.  Young girls can not grow up thinking they need a man to be happy and young boys can not grow up thinking they need money or the perfect women to be happy.  

Unfortunately not everything is as good as it may seem! :(
Nothing and nobody is perfect.