Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Shor's "Socialization"

Ira Shor writes in his article about the hidden and unseen politics surrounding the American classroom. Although it has taken some rereading to comprehend, this article speaks clearly on the all-to-obvious social politics which oversee each and every classroom.

#1. I love starting a good conversation concerning the "status quo", and the messing with it. Personally, I love stirring up trouble with the status quo of things. Keeping a perfect flow, for one, prevents all and any progress from being made. Shor writes about teachers who go above and beyond the "norm" with creative and critical projects and assignments, in order to fully reach out to their students. I think that this is a prime example of what needs to be done more often in order to expand the social and intellectual horizons of many students. Those students who are forced to follow the "status quo" and deal with non-unique forms of learning are bound to be scarred both mentally and socially. I really enjoy how Shor mentions "teacher talk" and "student talk." Even to myself, it is an often overlooked antic of many classrooms.

#2. On page 17, Shor discusses the necessary "agenda" in order to maintain an "empowering pedagogy" on America's students. While I agree with most of the steps taken, I am unsure as to whether or not i agree on the "dis-socialization" aspect of the agenda. While it would be great for social classes and inferiority to be dropped (an almost communist idea) it is nearly impossible for this to occur without severe consequence. Something I've learned on my own, is to not fall into stereotypes and land somewhere in the social area of a classroom, (geek, snob, teachers pet, etc.) but rather attempt to create a duel identity that can be used in and out of the classroom which allows for both educational and social happiness at once. Finding one's identity and placement in the classroom is never easy. Regardless, dropping imbalanced ideas (cultural ism, racism, etc.) are some of the necessary steps in order to maintain a more balanced social identity.

#3. Honestly, for my third point, I am unsure as to whether or not I want to go on too much further without making sure that I have grasped the right ideas from this article, as we discuss them in class. As far as I've gotten, dropping forms of social titling is the most effective form of creating an equal, stable, comfortable learning environment. I feel as though I am missing something from this...? (I will edit this as I check if I have analyzed this right)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Talking Points on Kliewer

This article really hit home. Not only does it affect me because I have lived with a handicapped sibling for sixteen years but it also gave me a chance to see a very dark subject for me in a whole new light. Although Kliewer wasn't the easiest writer to comprehend at first, rereading his material definitely helped to understand the points that he was trying to make.

#1. First off the story of Mia definitely set the tone for the remainder of his article. As a primary talking point, those dealing with a handicap of any sort deal with troubles like these on a daily basis. Being segregated and "thrown aside" as a result of a learning handicap should never be the case. Regardless of whether or not they are deaf, blind, or physically handicap, isolation is never the answer to ensuring success. When Mia states that she "was so mad, I wanted to cry" it really hit home at understanding how frustrating it is to be considered "special-ed" when society isn't entirely kind to those who suffer disability. Several times in the past, my brother has asked me why he is deaf and what he can do to get rid of it. I honestly, to this day, do not know how to answer that to him.

#2. On Page 81, a large paragraph discusses what educators need to do in order to maintain a fulfilling environment to their students ( of all different ability levels of course). The steps mentioned here, in creating an open-minded diverse environment which fits the needs of ALL students is exactly what should be guaranteed at EVERY school across America, regardless of town-wide funding. My old school, in particular, I remember worked very hard to create a sustainable environment for a freshman (when I was a junior) who was handicap in a wheel chair. A ramp was added to two of the doors of the science wing and wider tables were added to the cafeteria. While alot of my peers complained about "wasted funding", I saw how much of a difference this made for the student (His name is Matt).

#3. Another main idea to pull from and explore from this article would be the concept that these are oversized problems in what we consider a "democratic" society. While freedom and the liberty of ideas is supposed to help govern us all, it is almost ironic that these are the same ideas that are holding back our country from moving in the right direction with special education. For a society held up so highly on being "liberal and democratic" it is truly sad and irritating that these kids cannot be given equal opportunities to LEARN, especially when their learning abilities are often far beyond their control. Keeping kids from distractions, limitations and personal fears are highly important in creating a sterile and comforting work environment. This "democratic society" that we speak of is more-so-than-not lopsided that it affects kids of all different ability levels.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Promising Practices

Overall, Promising Practices was a sheer success. While my two workshops were both vastly different, both taught similar lessons on different instructional use of technology and culture in the classroom.
My first workshop was taught by a teacher who taught elementary school art. While she was a little quiet and somewhat reserved, she did a very successful job at getting her point across about the widespread need for multiculturalism in the classroom. Using Diego Rivera as a key tool, this young woman used a highly complex painter of the nineteenth century to express cultural acceptance to her elementary school students. I personally found this experience very enlightening. Knowing that our country's youth is being taught multiculturalism at a young age is incredible. While I could critique my first speaker's teaching form, I will simply say that she tried hard and conveyed her message clearly.
My second workshop was EXTREMELY informative. The speaker, Grace Small, used prime examples of her own student's work to express new ways of teaching in a technology based world. Using students from all different grades in her school system, Ms. Small informed children of all ages of the story of Abraham Lincoln and his involvement in the Civil War. To have taken such a deep and often overlooked topic and turn it into a community-wide project is somewhat short of amazing. This presentation not only informed me of newer, more up to date ways of teaching, but also enlightened me on how far some teachers truly go to ensure educational success for their students.
Finally, the Curriculum Resource fair, in my opinion, was a very well planned idea. However, being an actual teacher in an actual classroom seemed to be a hidden requirement in usefully collecting the materials. The information WAS useful, however I am unsure as to whether or not it was effective for me because of the limited teaching I have at the moment.
The Keynote address by Tricia Rose was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. Not only can Ms. Rose teach a lesson on public speaking while she expresses an open mind on public speaking, but she can also reach out to everyone in the room by simply using the right words. Looking deeper in her discussion, I have realized a few things: Not only does Ms. Rose use perfect words in reaching her audience, but everything from her posture to her voice tone fits perfectly in shaping the kind of message that she is attempting to convey. I especially enjoyed how each time Ms. Rose wanted to drill a point into our heads, she either made a slight raise in her voice, or she followed it with an attention grabbing story. Unlike other public speakers that I have seen in the past, Tricia Rose did not incessantly repeat her points in an irritating manner (such as repeating the same line every two minutes as others have.) Honestly, I was moved by her speech. Not only did she open my eyes but she was extremely reassuring with her pledge. Not only did her stories perfectly reiterate Delpit and Johnson perfectly (with discussing power codes and saying the WORDS {i especially felt an extreme Johnson moment when she used the word "Brother" and then went on to explain its everyday use and commonality in today's world} ). The following links, in my opinion help to reiterate what was learned throughout the Promising Practices conference:

Monday, November 9, 2009

Anyon Talking Points

#1: "One teacher explained to me, "Simple punctuation is all they'll ever use."
As a secondary education English major, this exclamation by a working class teacher was extremely frutstrating to read. There are SO many different types of grammar and punctuation that are neccessary in the modern world. YES, simple periods and question marks are important in comparing a statement from a question, but this is an extremely sad fact to work off of. As a teacher, nontheless, as a student, there are ENDLESS ways that grammar could be used. What is so sad, is the fact that this teacher is somewhat right in saying that simple grammar is all that most children will use in growing up. Regardless, I stand my grounds in saying that a child who is well enriched in good English speaking skills: grammar, voice, presentation and comprehension will be a well rounded adult. If more people were better at smooth public speaking, more things would get done in this world. Direct communication and better voiced writing would undeniably benefit all children as they grow into hardworking adults.

#2: Children are continually asked to reason through a problem, to produce intellectual products that are both logically sound and of top academic quality"

This idea of looking into the "how" of everything from literature to mathematical formulas may benefit the upper elite classes, however, at least from what I have seen, is being attempted in teaching children of lower working and middle classes lately. In both my cousin's homework (he is 9), as well as in the children of my tutoring (at Harry Kazirian), more and more focus is being put on the "how" or "why" things are the way that they are in this problem or explanation. This idea, however should stay where it belongs: to the upper elite educational classes. The "deeper look" into the question being asked has clearly not gotten children farther in their studies. Rather, as I believe, it has set students back. Children of the working class who have simply grown for years under the impression that 1+1=2, are not going to improve their mathematical intelligences by rethinking the deeper "Why". Instead, considering other areas of their lives, these children are bound to resist or become confused ; ultimately resulting in hating school work, dropping out, and even "negative learning" occurring, where nothing is learned, but instead something is lost due to confusion.

3. Overall, the use of keywords in dividing up different social classes using words such as "elite" and "working class" was powerful enough in addressing this article. Not only were these words and descriptions wisely chosen, but after nearly fifteen minutes of sitting here and thinking, I cannot argue with the author's choice of descriptive words in dividing up these social classes. The word "elite" may come off the tongue as a little harsh and somewhat "snobby", but all in all, the term fits the description of many local social statuses in certain RI schools. The same goes for many local schools. "Working class" was never a term I though to be accurate in describing social class. Now, however, this article really has me thinking about all of these different descriptions and where about local schools belong. Truly, to the core, this article made me think....

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Talking Points #7

Gender And Education:

1. A recent study found that boys (ages 11-17) are three times more likely to drop out of public school than girls of the same age range are. While this "trend" has been growing in extreme amounts over the last 20 years, boys of all backgrounds seem to be caring less and less about their education. More and more focus is being put on equality in classrooms. Many theories say that this is because women/girls are being told by their parents and peers that they should always be as smart (if not smarter than) the average boy.Others, however, argue that the lack of positive male role models in the modern day is widening a gap at which negative, "education-less" role models have arisen. "Rappers, 'Celebutants', party animals, and nifty school dropouts" are what some say are the present day role models. For one, Obama seemed to be the first of a few recent reformations involving the re-involvement of positive male role models.

Here, we see a prime example of this:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Wise's "Whites Swim in Racial Preference"

I really enjoyed the simple but powerful metaphor explained at the beginning of this article. The comparison to fish and water with the concept of white people to themselves was something which easily caught my attention. Sad, but true.
1. "Yet few whites have ever thought of our position as resulting from racial preferences. Indeed, we pride ourselves on our hard work and ambition, as if somehow we invented the concepts."
- This point is as clear as day. Rarely, are African American workers of any type described as "hardworking" or "ambitious", but rather lazy. While this stereotype is far from true, it is considerably used in everything from entertainment to actual hiring processes. We as white Americans believe that we are given the advantage of already being seen as hard working in the first place. When a little white boy finishes a puzzle, he is applauded for and considered a "hard worker" from an early age. When a little African American boy finishes a puzzle, he is slightly encouraged to continue and then often thought of by others as "good for something".
Rarely, if ever, are hard work and encouragement common factors in describing racial stereotypes involving non-white groups.

2. "If only I had been black, I would have gotten into my first choice college."
-I will confess to the fact that two years ago, I thought the same thing. While I endlessly ranted that I was unfairly judged for admission to my first choice school, I often quoted my anger at Affirmative Action, complaining that because I "was the 701 st white middle class qualified applicant out of 700", I was denied admission regardless of my qualifications. While this theory may continue to hold down future students, Affirmative action does need to be fixed so that it helps people of ALL backgrounds, without isolating others just because a certain quota has been met.

3. " We strike the pose of self sufficiency while ignorning the advantages we have been afforded in every realm of activity."

--This quote very much goes along with the first quote. Along with the idea of an unseen "white privledge", we ALL involuntarily take on this "pose" of self-sufficiency. We reap out all of the advantages that we can out of the fact that we were born white. Everything from crimes, to jobs, to communitve decision making is determined instantly by our "given" self-sufficiency. Whether we choose to accept it or not, however, is where the real problem and solution lie together.....Which are we, the "cure or the disease"?????

Monday, October 19, 2009

Taking Point #5: Kahne and Westheimer

#1: "As is commonly the case, with new policy inititives, however, more attention has been focused on moving forward than asking where we are headed."

I could not agree more to this statement. Endless campaigns talk of "moving forward". While I will agree that its about time we abandon this recession on the side of the road, I highly think the better question for us to ask ourselves is really, "where the heck are we going?". Are we really going to take on the challenge of moving foward with no direction nor any inititive to where exactly we want to head? Metaphorically speaking, we are in a car saying, lets get out of here for the future. A good question to accompany that, would be "do we have an actual destination, or are we simply going to just drive until we run out of gas and are stranded?"

#2: "In contrast, much of the current discussion regarding service learning emphasizes charity, not change."

I'm not sure as to whether or not I agree with this. While charity is without doubt a driving force here, charity is moreso than not set forth to stop a negative attribute and to "make change" happen to those in need of charity. Can you really have change without charity? Doesn't each one reflect the other? I, for one, am not entirely sure I agree with this. The way I see it, they are reflections of one another.

#3: "One of the students wrote, "I was scared because my mom had told me it was a bad neighborhood and to be careful."

One of the biggest problems in any teenager's view of life right now, are their stereotypical parents. With nearly three generations still around to spread their early learned 1940's-70's prejudices, parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles, etc. are all "spreading thier word" as a result of the things they "think they know" because of the stereotypes they are refusing to unlearn. My dad, for one, is a great guy who has been trying to drop stereotypes for a long time. However, upon instinct, will tell me that there's an area that is a "bad neighborhood", even though he has never been there. He is living off of the stereotype that has been in such an area for decades. Parents are larger-than-life role models for their children. Regardless, while they are often their child's hero, they can also be thier own worst enemy. Their involuntary comments, gestures and slang can and will inadvertedly be passed on, if nothing is done to stop this. Children will grow up not in their own personal fears, but rather in the shadows of their parent's stereotypes.