Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Pecha Kucha

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Empowering Education by Ira Shor

I apologize for posting my blog update so late; I have been extremely busy over the last couple of days. For this post, I will do a reflection.

Shor's article talked a lot about the importance of socialization in schools. She says that it is crucial that students are able to participate in class, and it is important that they are willing to participate. For this to happen, the teacher must connect what they are doing to student's interests and challenge the status quo of society. They must teach empowering education, which is student centered and promotes both self and social change. She states that humans are natural born learners, and that they only resist authority in schools because of the way the system is currently set up. The idea of empowering education could change this so that students never lose their curiosity or their thirst for knowledge.
I believe that empowering education and a focus on socialization would greatly help both students and teachers to become happier and more productive in schools. If teachers tried to connect their topics with the student culture, students would enjoy learning more, which in turn would allow the teacher to enjoy teaching and not have to put up with much deviance in the classroom. If students have a say in what they get to learn about, then they will be much more interested in that topic. More learning would happen in the classroom. Standard tests and quizzes would not be as necessary because knowledge could be tested in other ways, like group discussions or class projects. The idea of empowering education is a good one that I believe should be implemented by anyone who hopes to be a successful and inspiring teacher.

At the high school I attended, I believe that I had at least one teacher who followed the empowering education model. My AP Euro teacher was in love with anything to do with history. However, he didn't really believe in memorizing dates and people, but rather knowing main concepts and ideas. Why did things happen, how could they be compared to other things in history, how does this relate to our society today, what can we do to make sure this doesn't happen again, etc. Every day, our class would get into heated discussions about different concepts in history. Everyone would share their opinions and point out any connections they could make to either current day things or other historical ideas. Our teacher seemed to fit in with the class well; everyone loved him and he knew a lot about the student culture. Every once in a while, he would host AP Euro movie night at the school. Most of the people in the class would show up for pizza and a movie relating to history. He would give everyone a sheet of paper saying what aspects of the movies were true and what was exaggerated or just thrown in as an interesting plot point. The movie nights were not only tons of fun, but they actually helped everyone to understand the material that we were learning about in class. I believe that my AP Euro teacher is a great model that I can look up to, and I hope that I can someday be as good of a teacher as he is.

There are so many things that students want to learn, but the construct of the education system today often squashes their interests in knowledge. Empowering education can help to change this for the better.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome by Kliewer

I decided that I was going to do a quotes post this week, but then I read Christy's blog post, and I realized that all of the quotes she used were fantastic, so I decided to do an extended comments post instead.

The first quote that Christy chose was "Shayne pointed out the irony experienced when she proposed to the transition committee that Anne's work site be changed to a video store: "They didn't think it was realistic, that she could handle that job. Here they have her educating America's future, but they're scared to let her work at a movie place." (79)  This quote really stood out to me too. As Christy said, everyone should be able to do what they want to do with their career. Since Anne really liked movies, but not so much teaching children, it really wouldn't make sense for her to be working with preschool students. It was amazing that Shayne was able to find her a job that she liked, and also it is wonderful that the people who hired her were so accepting. I'm sure Anne was a great addition to the staff.

Christy also mentioned how messed up it is that they trusted Anne to educate America's future, but not to work in a movie place. This says a lot about the way people view education. Did these people really think that working at a movie place was a harder job than being an educator? I'm sure that Anne could have done either job if she had wanted to, but it is kind of insulting as a future educator to think that someone thought a movie store job would be more difficult than an education job. I agree with Christy that this is very messed up.

The next quote Christy chose was "Shayne did not, however, interpret a child's nonconformity to developmental theory as a manifestation of defect. "So what," she continued, "if you don't fit exactly what you're supposed to? You know, it's not like I fit many people's idea of what a teacher's supposed to be like." (78)  This is such a powerful quote. Christy brings up an awesome point, saying "Who made the rules of how we are 'supposed' to be, anyway? Are we supposed to fit into SCWAAMP?" If everyone fit into SCWAAMP, no one would ever learn from each other. Everyone would be the same and think the same and act the same. No one would ever grow as a person. It is wonderful that there are so many different types of people in the world, and hopefully the idea of SCWAAMP will be erased as time passes. As for Shayne, who isn't how teachers are "supposed" to be, she is helping to change education and schools for the better. When we think of the word segregation we usually apply it to race, but it can also be applied to situations like these. Special needs students should not be segregated from the rest of the students. This will just frustrate them and not allow them to learn from the other students or allow the other students to learn from them.

Christy chose four quotes for her blog, but these two along with this last one stood out to me the most. This next quote is my favorite quote that Christy chose, and probably my favorite quote of the whole article: "That's what they see, but they wouldn't be seeing him. Do you know what I mean? Because Lee is Lee, and anybody who knows Lee knows, and this includes all the kids, they know he's gifted in how he solves problems, cares about others, reads, loves math. So I guess what I'm arguing is that if you did pick Lee out, you wouldn't be seeing Lee. It's not Lee your picking out. It's your stereotype, your mindset. It's you, and it has nothing to do with Lee. But if that's how you choose to see him, I don't know that anything I could do, we could do, I don't think there's anything Lee could do to change your mind." This is such a beautiful quote. It is about acceptance, and not judging people or stereotyping them, and how hard it is to prove a stereotype wrong. If someone saw Lee and thought to themself that he must not be very smart since they could tell that he had Down Syndrome, no one would be able to show that person how smart he was. No matter what Lee did, this person would still connect Down syndrome to being unintelligent. This is obviously not true, as Lee is very intelligent in many different ways. Someone who saw him as unintelligent wouldn't actually be seeing him for who he was, they would just be seeing his Down syndrome.

I can also relate directly to Christy's story about being judged as a snob. One of my best friends in middle school told me that she always thought I was snobby in elementary school because I sang a lot of solos in the choir. I loved to sing when I was little (still do!) and my choir teacher liked to choose me for the solo part because she knew I could do it and that I would enjoy doing it. Because of this, I was marked as a snob before I even got into middle school. As Christy said, this is just a minor example, but it shows how often people are judged and stereotyped, and how wrong this is, no matter who the person is or what the stereotype is. Lee deserved to be seen as the smart person who he was and not just as a person with Down syndrome.

Christy's blog had so many great things to work off of, and I agree with everything she said! Thanks Christy and great job!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Literacy With an Attitude- Finn

While the excerpt we read this week was extremely long, I felt that it was also very interesting and informative. It didn't seem to be repetitive like some of the other longer pieces we have read, so I didn't mind the length as much as I would have. While reading this excerpt, I was very interested in Anyon's experiment with the different schools, and I was constantly comparing the school that I grew up in to the school that I do my service learning at. I grew up in an extremely middle class to upper middle class area, so my school would most likely be categorized somewhere in between a middle class school and an affluent professional school. I would categorize the school I teach at as a working class school. It is very interesting to compare Anyon's findings to both of these schools and determine for myself if her findings are true.

I definitely notice a difference between my old high school and my service learning school. My school was about 99% white. There were very few poor families who lived in my town and a few richer families, but everyone was mostly middle class. At my service learning school, most of the students are latino, and there are many students who do not come from middle class families. My school seemed to be newer, cleaner, and less beat down than my service learning school. I've also noticed that the secretary at my service learning school are not very helpful, and they often pretend that they are too busy to help someone who enters the office. The secretary at my school were very friendly and helpful, and it seemed as though most of them enjoyed their jobs. Anyon was definitely right in saying that middle class schools are different than working class schools.

A few of the things that Anyon said about affluent professional schools seem to be true to both schools. Creativity and personal development seem to be important aspects of both schools, and students can go about their own way of doing things as long as they are able to explain their reasoning. I also feel like there could be a theme of individualism in both schools. However, the rest of the affluent professional traits can not be applied to my service learning school at all, and can only be applied to the school that I attended for a few of the teachers there. Some of my teachers were in a very middle class school mindset, where the textbooks and correct answers seemed to be the most important thing, but some of them taught in an affluent professional mindset. In my service learning school, a few of the middle class aspects seem to apply as well. Maybe it is just the teacher I am placed with, but she does not treat her students any differently than she would if they were better off. She expects a lot out of them. The one thing I would say matches the working class description is that if the kids try, the teacher is happy whether or not they do something correctly. As long as they put in effort, the kids are doing their job.

I definitely agree with a lot of the points that Finn made in this excerpt, and I really enjoyed comparing it to schools that I have experience with.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Social Justice Event

For my Social Justice event, I chose to attend a house show at the Watermyn Co-op house. There are a few different co-op houses on Waterman Street, and each of them houses up to 15 people. The houses are all connected to Brown University, but the Watermyn house has only a few Brown students living there. A few of the people living there are young working professionals, and some of them go to RIC or CCRI. You can read more about the Waterman co-op houses here if you're interested.

Watermyn is known for hosting shows, where they bring in performers such as singers, instrumentalists, and poets to share their art. I have been to two shows at Watermyn, and both of them were extremely entertaining and even eye-opening at times. Many of the performers referenced things in their songs or their poetry that relates to both SCWAAMP and some of our readings.

One of the first performers I saw was a Watermyn resident, and a great poet. His poetry was extremely moving, and talked mostly about race. The poet gave a back story (in the form of a poem of course) of a few of his ancestors, some of who were slaves in the United States before the Civil war. The poem is introduced with his oldest known ancestor, and makes its way up to his parents and finally himself. Every single person mentioned in the poem struggles with racial issues. Many of these people were enslaved, many were discriminated against, and even the poet himself has been affected by racism in this country. This relates greatly to SCWAAMP because it clearly shows that whiteness is valued in our society and that racism is still a huge problem today.

Many of the performers referenced gender issues. Another poet talked about their experience with being misgendered in their poetry, and told a touching story about their best friend, the first person to get their gender right and accept them for who they were. This greatly relates to August's Safe Spaces, referencing acceptance of the LGBTQ society. Another performer sung many songs about being neither a girl or a boy, and expressed how much they felt that they did not really fit in to our society. They expressed both male and female love interests in their songs as well. I have seen this person perform many times, and they are one of the best performers I have ever seen. Everything this person does is so powerful and heartfelt, and really addresses gender issues and LGBTQ issues in a very up front kind of way. Another performer that I saw was a transgender female. In her songs, she talked about her constant struggle of trying to fit in as a transgender female. She seemed very confident and sure of who she was while performing, but she sang about how hard it was for her to find herself. Her lyrics were very touching and often quite sad, and they greatly showed the prevalence of SCWAAMP and made me think about Safe Spaces, just as the other performers who referenced gender issues did.

The community of both of these shows was very positive. Everyone who was there quietly watched the performers when they went on, and it was obvious that everyone clearly enjoyed the show. The performers often talked to the audience to get them involved, and the audience always participated, whether it was just talking to the performers or singing along to a catchy bit of their song. Everyone there was included, and no one was left behind. Strangers I had never met sat down next to me, had a conversation with me, or connected with me during a performance. It was a very 'no one gets left behind' kind of atmosphere, and everyone there was both accepting of all the people around them and accepted for who they were, no matter what. I greatly enjoyed both of the shows I saw at the Watermyn house, and I would definitely go back for yet another.

Pecha Kucha

For my Pecha Kucha I will be working with Lauren, as we worked together for our service learning and share a lot of our experiences. We are most likely going to focus on Kozol because there are a lot of instances in our service learning project where the students have shown that there is so much hope for those who live in poverty. We are also thinking of using Rodriguez as a tie-in, because most of the students are Spanish speakers and the teacher uses certain techniques to make sure that they learn as best as possible. We are still thinking about what other authors we can connect to because there are definitely more connections we can make. I feel like there is still a lot more work to do on the project, but I am feeling a lot more comfortable with it now.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Brown vs. Board of Education

I found this weeks assignment to be very interesting, and I really liked switching it up and watching some videos, reading a short article, and viewing a website! I enjoyed all three texts, and I feel that they all have a very similar argument. They all argued that racism is still present in our society today. They also argue that segregation is still present in schools, whether it is being done on purpose or not. I agree with both of these arguments, and I feel it is very important to bring these topics up. As Johnson says, it is important to say the words in order to address the problem. Racism is obviously still an issue today. As Wise says, just because we now have a black president doesn't mean that racism is completely solved. This is only a small step in solving the much bigger problem. As Wise said, people see educated blacks as an exception. Many people feel that blacks are less intelligent and more prone to crime. It is obvious to me that this isn't true, but this is definitely a problem in our society today.

When I was little, my mom used to read me a children's book about Ruby Bridges. Ruby was a young african american girl who went to a school of only whites not too long after segregation was ruled illegal. Every day, she was yelled at as she walked to school. White men and women of all ages gathered around the school each day awaiting her arrival so that they could yell mean things and even throw things at her. She would walk to school with a few security guards so that she would not be attacked by grown men and women who were extremely angry about the new rule. Although segregation and racism isn't as bad as it was back then, it definitely still exists. So may people opposed the desegregation of schools, and it is clear that there are still some people who feel this way today. It is very important to advocate for the desegregation of schools, as the article suggests, and over time, we can hopefully eliminate racism altogether.