Sunday, February 22, 2015

"Safe Spaces" by August

When reading this article, I was able to relate it to so many current events that I have heard about, as well as personal experiences. That's why I chose to do a hyperlinks post.

I have a very close friend who is gender binary (or genderqueer), and they refer to themself as "they" or "their". It is sometimes very difficult to do this, as "they" is typically used as a plural pronoun. When I read the article, the author used the pronouns "ze" and "hir" to describe Erica. So, I did some research to see what the difference between these pronouns is. Turns out, there is no difference, and the only thing that determines which pronouns can be used is personal preference. I found an article online from The Washington Post attached to a video, and they both do a very good job to explain genderqueerness. Jacob, the person in the video, identifies themself as "they" and "their", but the article explains that others use "ze" and "hir" to identify themselves. As Jacob says, they doesn't have to be a man or a woman, they're just happy being Jacob.

Jacob Tobia

Unfortunately, not all transgender people feel as comfortable in their own bodies as Jacob does. There have been a lot of teen suicides due to LGBT issues. One of the most viral ones was the story of Leelah Alcorn, a transgender female who committed suicide. In her suicide note, Leelah thanks her friends for supporting her, but condemns her family for refusing to accept her or help her. They had taken her to Christian therapists to help her with her depression, but these therapists did nothing but hurt her, as they condemned her just as her parents did. Leela did state in her suicide note that her school was mostly supportive, but it is clear that they did not do enough. Leelah writes in her suicide note, "The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren't treated the way I was. They're treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something." Leelah brings up one of the issues that August talks about in her article. Schools need to stop ignoring the LGBT community and start to include them in their lessons. As August says, "Good intentions are not enough; trying to see all students the same is not enough. Being a fair-minded individual is not enough. We argue that educators must publicly commit to creating classroom climates of individuality and respect with the pledged cooperation of all students" (99). Including the LGBT community in the classroom is extremely important. 

Leelah Alcorn 

A Facebook page for Leelah called "Justice for Leelah Alcorn" has been created to help fight Leelah's cause and to honor her memory. It now has over 40,000 likes. 

There are so many LGBT members like Leelah who are not accepted for who they are. If educators were more open to addressing LGBT issues in the classroom, maybe things like this would change. Recently, I saw a short film called "Love is All You Need?", which I have posted below. The film is about 20 minutes long, but it is certainly worth watching. In the film, the culture of power is reversed so that homosexuality is the norm and therefore they hold all of the power. The film shows a little girl who starts to realize that she is different. She likes boys, where all of her friends like people of the same gender as themselves. Throughout the movie, she struggles with her parents and many school bullies. I won't give away the ending, but it is extremely powerful. It is meant to show people in power what people without power have to deal with in a way where they can relate strongly to the main character. This, of course, relates back to Delpit's "culture of power," showing that those with power are usually least aware of it. This short film certainly does a good job trying to spark awareness to this power difference. 

It sometimes seems like things are starting to get better already for the LGBT community. There are many celebrities who publicly identify themselves as part of the LGBT alliance including Ellen Degeneres, Neil Patrick Harris, and Raven Symone, and Laverne Cox. However, it is clear that there are still many problems that need to be addressed. I believe that August's article is one hundred percent correct in saying that educators need to be more inclusive of the LGBT community in the classroom, as well as address communication problems in the classroom that happen between children. One of the biggest issues in schools is bullying, and many LGBT students suffer from this. There is also the issue of LGBT slurs, which August talked about in her article. In order to be inclusive of the LGBT community, it is important that teachers speak up when they hear their students using these slurs, and make sure that they understand why it is wrong to use the words in the ways that they are using them, like Patrick did in the article. If we can do all of this, then hopefully, over time, the status of the LGBT community will change for the better. 

In conclusion, here's a catchy song I heard a while ago that greatly highlights the difference in power between heterosexuals and homosexuals. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

"Aria" by Richard Rodriguez


This article is very interesting to me. It must be very hard for children who speak other languages to learn to speak English well enough to develop their own “public individuality”. When I was in elementary school, we started to learn Spanish right away. We started in kindergarten by having class once a week for an hour. We learned simple words like colors, family members, and furniture. In fourth grade, we began to have class every other day for an hour. We began to learn more words and how to say simple sentences and phrases. In high school, we were told to take Spanish for at least two years. It ran as a regular class that met for an hour every day. We began to learn more complex sentences and verbs so that we could actually say things in Spanish and be grammatically correct. However, there was never a real need to be good at Spanish because everyone in the school was English speaking. By not learning the language, there was no real loss. Everyone already had their own “public individuality”. We did not need to speak Spanish in any of our other classes, or in our homes, with our parents or friends. For us, learning Spanish was just a privilege, whereas for a Spanish speaking family, learning English seems to be a necessity in order to live in the United States.

My Grandmother must have gone through a similar experience as a child. Her mother and father both immigrated to the United States from Armenia, both orphaned after the Armenian Genocide, and they both spoke Turkish. When she was younger, my grandmother spoke Turkish in her family, but when she went to school, she was required to speak English. Now, my grandmother considers English to be the language she knows best, as her family began to try to speak English with her once she was required to learn it. It must’ve been important to them that their child do well in school, even if it meant learning to use a new language at home. I never really thought about how difficult it must be to have to live life in a different language. This article really opened my eyes up to the difficulties of learning in a different language.

Me and my beautiful Grandmother 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation by Jonathan Kozol

There are so many great quotes in this article, but I was able to choose just three of my favorites:

“"The truth is, you get used to the offense. There's trashy things all over. There's a garbage dump three blocks away. Then there's all the trucks that come through stinking up the air, heading for the Hunts Point Market… Then we get illegal dumpers. People who don't live here come and dump things they don't want: broken televisions, boxes of bottles, old refrigerators, beat-up cars, old pieces of metal, other lovely things”” (6-7).
This woman is saying that not only is the Bronx an extremely poor neighborhood, but it is also made even worse by the people who look down upon it. People from other areas come to the Bronx just to dump their unwanted things there. Although the woman did say that they sometimes get rid of nice things that the people living there could use, they mostly get rid of old and broken things that just fill the area with more trash. The richer people are taking advantage of the poorer people by dumping their old trash on them, when their community is already having a hard enough time as it is.

“”Once you're in bed, if you call the nurse, you wait for half an hour. 'You know, Mrs. Washington, you've been here before,' they say. 'You know that we are understaffed.' How do they know, when someone calls, that you're not dying?”” (15).

This quote talks about the hospitals in the area. Each of the three nearby hospitals are terrible. The emergency room wait could take days, and even after you get a room, you are not treated right away. The hospital doesn’t seem to care about these people enough to hire more staff members in order for each patient to be treated in a timely manner. Maybe they just figure that the poor are not as important, or that they would not be able to help them anyway, or maybe they just do not have enough money to hire a bigger staff. Whatever the reason, it is unacceptable that the hospitals are in this horrible of a condition.

 ““I believe that what the rich have done to the poor people in this city is something that a preacher could call evil. Somebody has power. Pretending that they don't so they don't need to use it to help people- that is my idea of evil”” (23). 

This quote actually relates back to Delpit and her 5th aspect of power, which states that “Those with power are frequently least aware of- or lease willing to acknowledge its existence. Those with less power are often most aware of its existence” (Delpit 24). The boy who says this is aware that he has no power, and that the rich have it better than he does. He also feels that the rich are pretending that they don’t have power and that they are evil. The rich people are refusing to acknowledge the existence of this power, and therefore are not doing anything to help the poor, even though they have the ability to. This quote really sums up how the poor feel about the rich and connects perfectly to Delpit’s 5th aspect of power.

Political Cartoons are cool. This one really highlights one of the points that Kozol brings up. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Other People's Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom by Lisa Delpit

Delpit argues that a teacher has to exhibit some power over a classroom, but that they also cannot be too powerful. She says "The teacher cannot be the only expert in a classroom. To deny students their own expert knowledge is to disempower them" (32-33). I feel that this strongly sums up the main argument of the article. It is hard to find a good balance between being too controlling of your students and not teaching them at all. It is also hard to teach a class for every type of student that may be in the class. Students of middle class hold more power in a classroom than students of a more urban class. Teachers must learn to teach a class for all of their students. They cannot teach just for their privileged students, they have to create a balance that works for all of their students, and does not empower one group of students over another. 

Delpit also argues that there is a culture of power in the classroom. She lists five aspects of power and explains each one. The first states that there are issues of power in the classroom. The second says that there are rules for taking part in this power, and this is called the culture of power. The third says that these rules will always reflect the culture of those whom have the power to begin with. The fourth says that if you do not know the rules of power, then you will not be able to acquire power very easily, whereas if you do know the rules of power, you will be more likely to acquire power. Her last aspect of power states that those in power usually do not realize that they have power, whereas those not in power are more likely to realize that they do not have power. These five aspects of power really highlight Delpit’s main point, which is that teachers must have a balance in their classrooms and know how to teach for everyone.

Click here for a short bio on Lisa Delpit