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.
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.