Monday, April 29, 2013

Princess Announcement

There is a NEW Princess Cartoon on Disney Junior called Sophia the First
 The commercial shows this Princess has      FRIENDS, many who are MULTI-Cultural
whom she TALKS to and interacts with
         She Rides a horses in black boots and a riding outfit

Look at this ARTICLE which directly says how Disney wants to counter the traditional Princess stereotypes we read about :]

Friday, April 26, 2013

Connecting Social Work to Our Class

We learned about "Blaming the Victim" scenarios in our Social Work 240 class, where people are blamed for their social problems when in fact a larger system, such as the government, is responsible.

Savage Disovery in Schools, The Folklore of Cultural Deprivation, by William Ryan coincides with a discussion we had regarding culture of space at home verses at school; they are different so going to school can be a difficult transition for multicultural children.
  "They ["educationists"] found that lower class children, particularly lower class minority children, have had less exposure than middle class children to certain kinds of experiences that are helpful in the school situation. What kind of experiences? We are by no means sure, but they seem to be related to hearing, talking, and seeing" (Ryan 35). Moreover, the article clearly states ideas brought up in the articles we have read, specifically from Delpit. From our lessons and discussions, I can personally conclude that these minority children are having difficulties for multiple reasons:
I like to think of this as a "Learning Tree" which represents
 the classroom and the different branches of students in it.

1. They have not learned the codes of power ex. "Are we suppose to be doing this right now?" (the children takes the teacher literally, though the teacher is subtly saying stop what you are doing)
2. The children have not been exposed to the learning environment the teacher is setting.
3. At home, the children are not spoken to, listened to, exposed to aspects of learning that the teacher is introducing; most likely the parents are working-class/unaware of current education curriculum
4. The child speaks another language at home
so it is difficult for them to learn the way
the teacher speaks to them, especially in English.
5. Therefore, the kids may  not feel like the
 classroom is a "safe space" if their social class
is deemed as unwelcomed.

In essence, the codes of power at home differ from those at school. This leads to miscommunications between student and teacher, which creates a barrier to their learning. Therefore, the teacher must educate themselves on their students' social and ethnic backgrounds in order to educate them in an effective way.
We learned in class, "teachers need to use kids' experiences to teach them."
The teacher can use Collier's theory, for example, and reach out to the child's first language skills and make them feel comfortable in the classroom.

This book sounds interesting in connection with our texts.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Ira Shor's Arguement

Empowering Educaion by Ira Shor

What is a purposeful education?

Ira Shor argues that the key to an effective education is within communication, which involves listening, speaking and motivation. The foundation of communication is with the teachers. At the beginning, Ira Shor is asking us to think about our definition of education, including its strengths, weaknesses, benefits and areas that need improvement. Within these questions, I could see similar ideologies from Delpit, Kozol and other authors from the articles we read. Shor revolves her article around the ways that education effects students and the important aspects that need to be emphasized by the teacher in order to improve learning. For example, she says that socialization” is fundamental because it is how children learn to communicate, and in turn develop their ideas into language. Here is the answer to one of her questions: “Can education develop students as critical thinkers, skilled workers and active citizens?” Well, an education can do this if the students are encouraged to speak and learn to communicate.
Now, I am asking this: “How are students going to learn to communicate?” In essence, Shor believes in a curriculum “that encourages student questioning…Empowering Education is a key to effective education because it initiates “social change.” (2). At first, I was unsure of how to define “empowering” but after reading on I realized that it meant bonding the diverse population of students. This section reminded me of the private vs. pubic identity Rodriguez spoke about in his article, in which he stated that people must choose one. However, Shor would disagree since she supports integrating cultures and working together as one: “…relate personal growth to public life” (2). I interpreted “personal growth” as the private identity, such as speaking Spanish at home, and the “public life” as the unity of diverse students at school and in the community. The picture above mentions "application/integration of knowledge" and "engaged citizenship." I believe this also has a cultural reference where students share their backgrounds to relate or add to what they are learning.
In essence, Shor’s article embodies one meaning, which is to encourage methods and plans teachers need to implement in order to create a complete, purposeful education for the variety of students, both developmentally and culturally. Teachers must strive to encourage students to be motivated. Teachers must learn how to properly respond to the students’ different strengths and weaknesses. She states that students learn at different levels, particularly emotionally, which affects their response to the teachers’ commands. Therefore, if the teacher creates a well-communicated environment where the students feel comfortable to speak, then the teachers will be more apt to observe the students’ abilities and therefore will be able to address their needs appropriately. Shor even says “I begin teaching from the students’ situation and from their understanding of the subject matter” (9).In essence, Shor relays how to have effective learning in a diverse setting, where students from many cultures are taught in the same environment. If the teachers use Shor’s point of view, their students will learn and participate in a purposeful education.
Now that we have read a concluding article that sums up all we have learned about the instilling actual learning, what techniques will we apply to students? Are we practicing any  now during our service learning? Are the ideas effective...any examples?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Quotes from Kliewer on Down Syndrome and the Classroom/Community

"Citizenship in Schools Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome" by Christopher Kliewer

“The movement to merge the education of children with and without disabilities is based on the belief that to enter the dialogue of citizenship does not require spoken, or indeed outspoken, language. Rather, communication is built on one's ability to listen deeply to others” (3)

 By including these children in a typical classroom they are teaching all of the students that just because someone is developmentally different, they are still capable of learning, such as by listening as the article suggests. I remember in elementary school our class always had integrated children from the special education classroom. I never really understood them as different. They acted just like the other classmates did. In essence, having all of the students learn in the same environment as the article mentions is truly effective and proves that it strengthens communication and learning. Then, the community will gradually reform and not view developmentally or physically different people as disabled, but rather as abled.

         “Rather, the mind is forever dynamic, emerging through the multiple relationships formed and re-formed between children and their surroundings. As such, it makes no sense to define any single individual as intellectually defective. The presumed defectiveness exists not as an intrinsic commodity of the child  whose thoughts fail to fit within the perceived static border of normality. Rather, the idea of defect emerges from culturally devalued sets of relationships that that child has with his or her surroundings (i.e., teachers, peers, and materials)” (7)

              Students alike to teachers are role models…to each other. Every action he or she does, whether it is an eight year old student or thirty seven year old teacher has some effect on another person, such as a classmate. This part of the article explains that a child’s environment [at school, at home] reflects in their personality. If something is amiss, such as a incapable developmentally, usually an adult or other classmates think that it is something wrong with the child. This is not always the case. It reminds me of our servie learning, where we have witnessed or heard stories of children who do not know how to read or are secluded in the corner because they are not literate like the rest of the students. These children are separated because they are thought of as “intellectually defective,” even though they may not be specifically labeled this way. They are away from the rest of the community [the classroom] yet it is really the child’s environment that is affecting their ability to learn. The “culturally devalued sets of relationships” as noted in this article, exist in the classroom and probably home environment itself! Lack of reading from their families, lack of connection with their teacher…this all leads to a disconnection to the “citizenship in school.” The defect these children are presumed to have is truly not at the fault of their own, and it is proven when we, as college students, go into the classroom and recognize that these students are able when we motivate them and show them that they are capable of doing the work; that they can read if they are taught from a different perspective, or just listened to, as the previous quote stated. Listening is truly a key to getting away from the disabled label and moving toward a education where students are viewed as abled.
The picture above represents all of the people involved in the child's psychological developement, even if those people are unaware of it. All children are observant and reflect the actions of those around them, which affects their developemental learning process.

In our social work 240 class, we were taught that rather than looking at people with disabilities, we should look at the ways they are able. Unfortunately, sometimes people tend to think that those with a mental or physical defect, such as Down Syndrome, separates them intellectually from the majority of people.

“A sense of reciprocity or shared value exists in relationships in which individuals, including those with the most severe disabilities, are recognized as thinking, feeling, caring human beings with personalities all their own. Though we may construe such traits to be intrinsic characteristics of the person that then set the conditions for citizenship, in actuality they cannot emerge, or indeed exist, apart from one's connection to the community” (10).

            This section of the article means that not all people innately have kind-hearted personalities. They have to experience caring treatment from other people. Then they mirror these actions and adapt the qualities. I believe this part of the article insinuates that in general, most people think that people who have a disability are automatically nice. However, towards the end of the quote, it says that these disabled people need a community involvement in order to attain these qualities. In essence, they need social communication where they learn how to connect to people. This “sense of reciprocity” needs to exist in school. If children feel welcome, they are more apt to want to learn. Therefore, students with Down Syndrome and other mental/physical defects should be invited into the typical classroom setting in order for the rest of the children to understand they are capable of learning as well, despite that their developmentally different. This will make the disabled students feel welcome and motivated to learn and socialize with the other students. Again, this will move toward the idea of looking at them as abled rather than disabled.

This video support Kliewer's article and proves that students labeled with disablities are not much different than the rest of the children. 
In the video, it is said that children with Down Syndrome have:
"Reading and writing just like the rest of his third grade classmates" 
"most children with down syndrome have moderate learning disablities"
"Children with Down Syndrome learn to read and do math in much the same order as typical children." They are mostly "visual" learners"
In the video it also says "classmates were likely be more accepting of people with disabilities"
The website at the end of the video is linked in the blog.
The beginning of the website says "diversity...challenging stereotypes" our class :]

Lastly, what were some of your experiences in Elementary, middle or high school? Did you have an inclusive group of students? Do you think they were integrated in the classroom well enough so they learned effectively, just as if they were like the rest of the children in the classroom?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Reflection on Literacy with An Attitude (Flinn)

Literacy with an Attitude Educating Working-Class Children with Self-Interest by Patrick J. Flinn
          In Chapter two, A Distinctly Un-American Idea An Education Appropriate to their Station, several of the points reminded me of our class discussions regarding the way children respond to their teachers and school environment. Flinn said students rebelled, specifically using the term "resistance" on page 11. This coincides with the difficulties many of us have expereinced in our service learning classrooms, such as students not listening, answering back and refusing to do the work that the teacher (or we) instruct. According to the article, this behavior is due to the economic background (working-class families) that the students are from. Jean Anyon observed that the children's "...capacity for creativity and planning was ignored or denied...very much like that of adults in their community to work that is mechanical and routine and that denies their capacity for creativity and planning" (11). My question is...why do students have these mindsets?
          This is my theory..which is apparent in the situations we experience in classrooms. First, their home life is not geared toward nurture, but rather necessity. Some working-class parents are more focused on their jobs rather than instilling the "learning experience" in their children. That does not mean they do not want their children to learn. Rather, they do not participate in their children's learning. Maybe they do not have an education or language that permits them to. Moreover, children mirror their parents' behavior, even if they do not realize it. If they do not see their parents encouraging books or creative play, the children are not going to know how. Secondly, teachers are a signigicant contribution to the way children respond to learning and listening in the classroom. If they create a repuation of having a harsh tone or always solemn expression when teaching the students, the kids are not going to have a positive reflection of school. They will not want to go or they will respond like the fifth grade classroom in the article: "resisted the teachers' efforts to teach." (11). Now, this only applies to some students. Other students are purposely opposite of the behavior that the teacher expects in the classroom. However, their behavior is most likely a reflection of a home life where they are on their own most of the time, in which they get to decide when they want to do their work, when they want to eat or go to sleep. In other words, at home they do not have much structure so when it is introduced in the classroom, they are rebellious.

          In essence, this article emphasizes the realties that I have repeatedly heard about this semester regarding the children in the our service learning. I really want to have a job someday where I can be a positive example to children just like in this article; without structure and participating in an education that they are not interested in. I would like to develop ways to teach these students different than the traditional techniques teachers use. Some ideas are having a different classroom setting, not timed or "mechanical" ways of teaching them. Some students are rebellious because of the high number of kids in the classroom, which makes it noisy and the teacher has less time for one-on-one communication. Also, I think that one of the problems in education at the moment is the method teachers use. The curriculum for public education has become rigourous; however, there are definitely some ways that need to be discovered and implemented to make this curriculum more effective for unruly students.

Does anyone have any ideas for improving the way that the curriculum is taught to students? For the remainder of our service learning, how can we instill a positive education for these students, such as the ones who sit in the corner or are visbly excluded from the rest of the students. This is a reality that will reflect on the children's expecation of school. If school is a negative for them, it will impact the rest of their life because learning is part of their foundation as people.

This picture represents the experience I had in school, which I enjoyed and looked forward to because I was given positive motivations at home. Then in school, the teachers made learning interesting for us. I specifically remember the teacher reading to us in a circle in third grade. This picture reminded me of a reading project our whole school did, in which we all went outside and stood in a circle with rolled pieces of papers, to act as links, which held us all together. Does anyone have any memories of their positive experiences in elementry school? Can you teach any of them to your students?

This link reminds me of the school where I do my service learning, Early Head Start, in which parents are included in their children's education.

****The "learning experience" link can help us improve our students' learning. It gives us some examples that affect their opinion about school and reflects some of the articles we read in class regarding how to improve a child's education.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Social Justice Event....An Unexpected Experience

On February 14, I attended a RICRising event where Carlos Andrés Gómez, a well-known poet and actor, acted out a poem he wrote about his grandmother, in Spanish "Abuelita," and spoke about stereotypes and the assumed role boys and men take. These roles reflect in their personalities, though they are not their actual identity. This coincides with McIntosh's article White Privilege in a Knapsnack which is about male privilege and how it is overlookedMcIntosh labels this privilege as a "social system," stating that male privilege must be acknowledged by men. He says "Disapproving of the system won't be enough to change redesign social systems we need first to acknowledge their colossal unseen dimensions" (McIntosh 5-6).  Likewise, Gomez wants men to realize that they need to admit their actual social identity, rather than think they must have a strong demeanor to represent manhood. He spoke about the emotions men really feel verses the feelings they portray in public. In essence, Gomez wants me to act as they genuinely feel and acknowledge that this identity is really a "social system" that categorizes men. Just as McIntosh identified said that people must become aware of this "hidden system" of male advantage. Likewise, Gómez wants people to realize that this "macho" persona men think they have to put on is false and actually a stereotype, just like male advantage and white privilege.  At the event,  I was truly impressed by Gómez’s ability to speak, maintain the audience’s attention as well as compose such true statements about stereotypes and the clear existence in society. He wrote ManUp: Cracking the Code of Modern Manhood, which highlights his viewpoints about this subject and the “emotional self.”

Gómez spoke about a persona he put on while in high school. He acted “macho,” became a basketball star and had a good social reputation. However, he truly liked poetry. He said he would secretly write poems, only known to his family and girlfriend at the time. Then, a poet came to his school. Gomez recalled how he joked around with his friends while going to hear the speaker when he actually liked poetry and was aware of the fact. (Like a typical high school boy, making fun of poetry, though interiorly he enjoyed it). Then Gomez told us that when he heard the poet speak, he was so touched that a tear came down his cheek. When his friend noticed, he made up some story. After, he went up to the author for a book signing. As soon as the poet saw him,  he wrote in the cover "to Carlos, the future poet" and I think he told Gómez too. Gomez was amazed and just looked at him, without saying a word. This is an example of the “emotional self” which he emphasizes as important, but often ignored by men because they believe they have to put on an appearance. In reality, this  appearance is a gender stereotype.  

In essence, Gómez wants men to show their true emotions and realize that this manly persona they try to put on is actually a stereotype. That persona blurs a man’s actual identity. I believe this event is related to the majority of the articles we read in class. This reminds me of the codes of power in Delpit’s article, A Silenced Dialogue. The “strong, built” stereotype has become a "culture of power" [code] (Delpit 24) that many boys look up to. This event also coincides with Linda's Christiansen's Unlearning the Myth's that Bind us. Christiansen said: "Our society's culture industry colonizes their minds and teaches them how to act, live, and dream. This indoctrination hits young children especially hard" (Christiansen 1). She was referring to the "secret education" in movies, advertisements and books that direct children in a specific social category that is actually stereotypical and thus the ideas become accepted norms in society. Similarly, young boys think they have to act in a "macho" manner because this identity is portayed on television and magazines. However, this must be prevented. Stereotypes have become “the norm” of many aspects in society. A man’s reputation as “macho” is common. Often, boys think that if they are built and tall they will have more social advantage. However, such is not true! In actuality, this is just a thought made up in their minds and they allow it to control their actions. Then many boys become self-conscious and repress their true identities, such as liking an uncommon sport or different customs. Gómez is speaking about his in public and has written ManUp in order to instigate a change in society, just as Linda Christiansen motivated her students to speak about steretypes in the media outside of the classroom.

I especially want to connect this event to Allan Johnson’s essay,  Privilege, Power and Difference: Rodney King’s Question. His essay defines society’s interpretations of privilege and how it causes divides among people in society. The majority of boys think being “macho” is a privilege and those who are strong and built become separated from those who are not. In my think piece, I noted that there are pre-determined principles about race, gender and social class; this connects directly with Gómez’s notion; the “macho” identity assumed for boys is a pre-determined principle! Boys with this mindset strive for attaining this identity and end up creating “social barriers” based on who has reached "being macho" or not.

Johnson relays that privilege is made up in our minds…just like the "macho" way boys think they must act.

Gómez wants boys to show their emotions—their true identities.  Like Johnson, Gómez wants people to realize that this problem must be talked about and acknowledged. I think it affects decision making skills. In regard to Johnson, I wrote in my think piece that if people just communicated more, without have pre-determined ideas about race, class and social topics, then people would realize that humans are one species and therefore should not be divided. It is our unique characteristics that bring creativity and innovation to the human race. However, these pre-determined principals prevent communication and twist our mindsets into thinking we have to present ourselves in a particular manner in order to be accepted. This “acceptance” is just an illusion, a diversion away from the actual truth—who we are. Gómez did an exceptional job enforcing that men must identify with their true qualities, and he proved it when he read aloud a poem he wrote about his grandmother. It combined his culture, voice, dramatic character and his true emotions, which was the foundation of his idea about expressing true identity. Again, some boys and men tend to think being "macho" (built and tall)is a privilege. As Johnson stated, people must admit that misperception of privilege exists. Gómez is an example of someone implementing a step to make a change to this social problem. The following is a well-known concept and it is absolutely true:  each person has unique characteristics to fulfill a purpose in this world. 

This event was through RIC Rising, which coincides with One Billion Rising—a global program that goes against sexual and domestic violence.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Connections to Delpit and Johnson--Brown vs. Board

Brown vs. Board of Education Connections Response 

          The following quote from the NY times article reminded me of Delpit in regard to . “Long years of evidence show that poor kids of all ethnic backgrounds do better academically when they go to school with their more affluent-that is, middle class-peers.” I thought this was good until I read the next sentence:  “But when the poor kids are black or Hispanic,that means racial and ethnic integration in the schools.” Why should there be a "but?" This shouln't have been a problem, but it was and severely impacted these students' learning. This is an example of inequality in connection with Brown vs. Board of Education.  This topic also supports Lisa Delpit, who said that societal change occurs from the top down.

          Before this article, I had not heard of a "postracial America." In the article, it said that there is not much progress by having all poor students in one school. This is obvious because these kids do not have any example to follow besides the one they are used to seeing, which is a struggling image of their family for financial support. Therefore, school may not be a priority for these kids, despite that in actuality it should be since it directly affects finances. Nonetheless, this part of the article connects to Delpit's The Silenced Dialogue regarding the culture of Power and system of white privilege and Johnson's "Rodney King's Question" about social divides.
          Specifically the last paragraph of the article: “What I think is a shame is that we have to do all of this humiliating dancing around the perennially uncomfortable issue of race. We pretend that no one’s racist anymore…” We talked about this in class a few weeks ago. Racism still exists in subtle ways, such as a hidden curriculum. Also, in the video the speaker defines racism and postracial America, like the article. Upon reading the definition I realized the connection to class about racism still existing, despite that people may think it doesn’t happen anymore. The 2nd video mentions that even though Brown vs. Board and Civil Rights act have been passed, people must act in order to make sure equality exists and the laws that derived from them are enforced. At one point the article said that teachers avoided poverty stricken schools. In class, we said how Delpit stated that teachers need to use kids' experieces to each them and wants the educators to open up to students.
          Poor children need to be taught about expectations. The bar of acheivement needs to be raised for them and they need to be told they will and can do well in school, even if they are brought up in a poor environment. This coincides with Delpit, specifically the part where she says kids need to be taught the rules and codes of power to be successful.
Also, the whole situation regarding inequality, which Brown vs. Board surmounted, connects to Johnson's essay, where he refers to people as "social beings" yet people use the differences among one another as social barriers. This causes people to develop standards, which instigates social inequality. In essence, Johnson states people must admit that social flaws still exist. This recognition should be the start to eliminate them all together.

          I liked this article because it states a clear plan on how to change the struggle for inequality in schools and improve the education for poorer students.  It says to take the “learning environments” out of areas of poverty. Kids need to see a new setting. Once they are introduced to it, they will mirror what they have observed and develop traits similar to what they have seen in this new learning setting. Sometimes seeing other students different from them, such as middle class, provokes a healthy competition, where poor students strive to achieve goals and set standards equal or above their fellow classmates.
           In essence, the significance of the learning environment, is the core of this article. The learning/educational setting is the foundation for educational, social, mental and emotional development. If it is not a healthy area, the kids will not learn effectively. This was a “Think outside the box” article. It makes people open their eyes and look for the actual cause of social/educational problems.
      Now, what areas are presently holding students back from learning? Is it race, learning environment, social structure or a mixture of all three? How so? Do we as students have the power to change it since it affects our own community or do we need a higher power, such as state government, to implement a plan to make learning more effective? Where else in society does inequality exist? Does it affect people as signficantly as it does is school settings?
I believe that inequality in schools is more severe because education is the foundation for the rest of learning developments, which affects all areas of life. Moreover, education is during the stages of a child's own social, emotional and physical development.