Friday, April 18, 2014

Every Little Aspect Makes a Big Difference

First I want to say how crazy it is that this is our last blog post for this semester.  It truly did fly by.  I guess time does fly when you're having fun?

Anyway, while reading, "Education is Politics" by Ira Shor I gained a lot of new information and also was reminded of information from past articles and discussions.  For the most part I found myself constantly connecting Shor's ideas to Kohn and his chart on what to look for in a classroom.  The reason being is the constant reminder of what a classroom environment should be like and how both the teacher and students should act.  Shor believes that through these actions if the environment is working or not can be seen which will result in empowering or de-powering the students. 

Along with what a classroom environment should be like I feel as if the idea of WHY we go to school plays an important role in every child's education.  If a student feels as if school does not have a purpose and that they are just going to get through it that there will be no actual learning occurring.  As a result, starting each and every school year with this discussion may lead to greater success. 

Throughout this environment and necessary conversation that Shor believes to be very important I also thought about Finn and his ideas.  The fact that there should be different methods of teaching depending on the school location and the social classes of the many students.  Along with this, Oakes ideas are also brought into thought.  The idea of tracking students based on their abilities may always have controversies but is very important in the education of all students.

Overall, I feel as if Shor’s article was very intricate but simple at the same time.  Throughout this article the many different ideas we have covered during this semester where brought to mind.  Each of these ideas paints a picture of what the perfect classroom may be and how to deal with the difficulties that may arise.  I know that as a future teacher I will keep each and every aspect in mind.  

In this article that I found the "ideal" classroom is described.  But, what I found interesting in it is that it does not focus on the material things but the meaning behind all of the "stuff".  May be useful in a few years!!!

Sunday, April 13, 2014


I had a difficult time choosing which event to write about.  I attended both Mr. RIC and went to crossroads with my sorority. I feel as if both of these events connect very differently but very well to the many aspects we have learned throughout this semester. 

Although this is true, I am going to focus on my experience at crossroads.  I had no idea what to expect when I showed up to volunteer but it was definitely an experience I will never forget.  At first I thought I was going to be serving the homeless people but turns out we were cleaning the kitchen, serving area, and dining area.  I am not going to get into great detail but I'll just say it needed to be cleaned very badly.

The entire time I was cleaning these areas I found myself thinking about Augusts article "Safe Spaces" as well as Kozols article, "Amazing Grace".  Although the topics of these articles do not connect directly to my event I do believe the main ideas taken out of these articles do.  In both "Safe Spaces" and "Amazing Grace" the idea of feeling safe and welcome in an environment is very important.  "Safe Spaces" speaks on the ideas of making LGBT students feel welcome and "Amazing Grace" speaks on the ideas of how such young children feel safe in a not so safe atmosphere.  Like these instances, the people who attend crossroads feel safe and welcome in this environment.  Although it is not in the best shape they receive food and spend time with individuals who may be in the same situation as them.  So, like the stories in these two articles, at crossroads there is some type of connection with the people that makes everything feel as good as it can.

After completing my service and leaving this event I thought back to the article by Kahne and Westheimer, "In the Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning".  Even though the individuals who get served at this kitchen were not there and I was not able to "suffer with them", to some extent I still feel as if I did.  While doing the service of cleaning these areas I was able to see to some extent the conditions these individuals live under.  I tried to put myself in their position and think of how they viewed this place as a "good" place even though it was extremely dirty.

I loved to be able to connect this experience to our semester in class.  During this experience I was able to see how lucky I truly am and how peoples lives can vary greatly.  In fact, it really hit home to me that crossroads is two streets over from the school where I complete my service-learning.  This just shows how important it is to not judge anyone.  Everyone undergoes their own difficulties and struggles and as a future teacher I want to be able to help in some way or another.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Citizenship in School

For this blog post I am going to focus on a few quotes from the article.  But first, when I started reading Christopher Kliewers’ “Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome” I related it directly to Oakes.  In the first paragraph the ideas of a down syndrome student named Mia are stated and how she felt segregated from those who do not have disabilities and their opportunities.  This one sentence relates to the idea of tracking and the controversies in schools today.  Some individuals view this idea as unfair to the non disabled peers while others view it as unfair to the disabled peers who are being segregated. 

Some thoughts by Douglas Biklen are outlined that also relate to the idea of tracking, “society itself is hurt when schools act as cultural sorting machines- locations that ‘justify a competitive ethic that marginalizes certain students or groups of students…that legitimize 
discrimination and devaluation on the basis of the dominant society’s preferences in matters of ability, gender, ethnicity, and race… and that endorse an elaborate process of sorting by perceived ability and behavior’”.  In this statement, it relates the placement of individuals based on their ability, gender, ethnicity, and race to society’s preference.  So, in other words, if an individual is not what is “normal” to society then they cannot be placed with other individuals because they are different.  Biklen talks of the competitive manner that is present with these preferences.  With this, if an individual is different in any way they are being segregated because they do not seem good enough.  But, as I continued to read this article, a teacher named Shayne talks about her experiences with including disabled students in her classroom with nondisabled students.  Through these experiences I can understand how passionate Shayne is about teaching.  She only looks for the good in an individual and uses these strengths to allow them to learn.  This shows the good that can come from inclusion classrooms and how the negative, competitive energy from tracking does not need to be present.  In her experiences, “Shayne recognized a child’s nonconformity as natural human diversity; a source of strength that could be supported by the school community in order that it add unique and valuable dimension to that community”.   So, in other words Shayne understands that no individual is the same.  Everyone is different in some way and brings different strengths and weaknesses to the table.  But, each of these differences are what make the world go round and that allow everything to be possible.  Each strength that an individual has, can be used to help another individual and overall to better our world.  With this, it is seen that everyone deserves an equal opportunity.  Just because someone is different it does not mean that they are not capable but that they may need to go about specific activities differently.  But it is most important to remember that being different is okay.  Everyone was put on this world for some reason!