Friday, December 13, 2013

Because who is perfect?

I found this while browsing my Facebook and I think this goes great along with the dove beauty commercial we viewed in class. However the people featured in the video take it one step further and they "do" something with the information they learned and I think that Christenson would be quite proud of the outcome.

I hope everyone gets the chance to see it!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Between Barack and a Hard Place: Repost

Photograph shows a line of African American and white school girls standing in a classroom while boys sit behind them.
It is know to most Americans that the schools of the United States have been racially desegregated since May 17, 1954. This is due to the court case of Brown vs. The Board of Education and a team of dedicated lawyers and concerned citizens and parents. Although it is official that the schools within  the United States are desegregated the reality is, that it is simply untrue. Based on what Bob Herbert states in his article Separate and Unequal, he would agree with the above statement. In truth, "Schools are no longer legally segregated, but because of residential patterns, housing discrimination, economic disparities and long-held custom, they most emphatically are in reality. " So in other words, despite the fact that there was a law passed desegregating schools, the segregation still continues. This is due to the income of families and the concentrations of poverty within one area, where all the children attend the same school. If there is a break on the concentration it is proven that the impoverished children do far better in a school with a higher income of residents in the surrounding community. By integrating some of the poorer students into a wealthier school it allows the children to achieve greater. It is my belief that Tim Wise would agree with this method.

What leads me to this conclusion is his idea that although Barack O'Bama is a inspiration for people of color to look up to, but should not be a limiting inspiration. He believes that people of color should not conform to the standards set by O'Bama, but instead lead their own unique path to success. By following their own way, in an environment that promotes a positive learning experience, children can have their own type of success.

What the election of Barack O'Bama has done for the people of color in the United States, as well as for our history, is substantial, but as Americans there needs to be a recognition that there is still more to do. It is easier to deny that racism still exists or put it on the colored people of the nation, saying that they use it as an excuse (a view seen by Mayor Angel Taveras of Rhode Island), but the reality is the stereotypes white people still carry is holding our nation back. As soon as we can let go of our past history and realize there is more work to be done, we will still be in a nation where racism and prejudice still exist. And this of course can be tied to Delpit's fifth rule and code of power that, "Those with power are frequently least aware of- or least willing to acknowledge- its existence. Those with less power are often most aware of its existence."

In the Service of What?: Repost

In Kahne and Westheimer's article they explored the effectiveness of Service Learning and whether or not students actually develop a higher self esteem, improved thinking skills and perfection of multiple skills, like the program has set out for them to achieve. They then talked about the two different approaches and reflected on and compared their effectiveness.

The first method stressed was, the charity and community service method.  For this the students picked a topic and went out into the "real world" and volunteered somewhere that was related to their topic chosen.  The question surrounding this way of teaching service learning was, did the students actually see the human being behind the charity that they were giving? Although there was no argument in regards to the development of the student's sense of civic duty. The second method, the change method, involved students reading stories, doing research and community service. In this situation students felt more connected with the people they were helping and were able to work together, respond to problems and feel good about helping people.

When reflecting on these two methods there isn't much difference, however the students involved with "change" were able to connect with the people they were helping on a much deeper level and for me that is most important. As I am sure many of my fellow students have, I participated in a community service project as a requirement to graduate high school and it felt more like school work rather than what it was suppose to be; life changing. Most students half a**** their project and at the very most handed out pamphlets concerning their problem or issue. Due to the lack of effort, most of my fellow classmates failed to consider the life and disposition of who they were caring for and went about their daily lives as if nothing could change it. Which is why, based on my own experiences, I believe that allowing the students to make deeper connections with their fellow neighbors is the only way that the service learning program will affect students lives in the long run.

It is my belief that the following chart shows the delicate balance needed in order for student to get the most out of their service learning experience.
With that being said, the reason why this "change" method and delicate balance, would work is due to the combination of critical inquiry and action. Which I believe Christenson would agree with. I can make this connection because of her conclusion that having her students act upon what they were learning in class, allowed the lesson to truly change their disposition on a subject. Or in her creative tongue, " Instead of leaving students full of bile, standing with their hands on their hips, shaking their heads on how bad the world is, I provided them with the opportunity to make a difference." This of course being the hope of the service learning program.

"Five reasons to stop saying good job!":Repost

"Is it possible that telling kids they've done a good job may have less to do with their emotional need than with our convenience?"

After I finished reading this article I can confidently answer the above question. Kohn clearly proves that it is more about the adult's need to say "Good job", rather than the actual benefit of the child. When thinking on the matter, saying "Good job" after a student accomplishes something is a force of habit, your not aware of the phrase, until your made aware. The two words are said SO often in a child's school environment and home life, that the meaning behind them is lost. The convenience of it takes away from the actual accomplishment the student makes and has no long term benefit. Children are less likely to persist with difficult tasks and focus more on receiving praise, rather than actually doing well on the project set forth in front of them. Kohn even goes on to say that when these children become adults they will still seek approval, a pat on the back so to speak. Not only does it crush a child's confidence, but lessens interest on the activity. Which of course is the complete opposite of what a teacher's intentions are. With all these examples on how this simple phrase is a detriment to a child's learning, it begs the question, how do you praise a child for a "job well done", without out actually saying the words.

1. Say nothing
The praise might not be necessary.

2. Say what you saw.
State what you see the child doing, "You put your shoes on by yourself!", allowing their good behavior to be recognized. If the child shows a picture they drew, comment on an item in the picture with out any passing of judgment.

3. Talk less, ask more.
Ask questions on the process in which the student used to do their activity, teaching the children to become more excited about what they are doing.

And in conclusion, "The good news is you don't have to evaluate in order to encourage."

I have come to learn this as I have continued to observe in my ESL classroom at Charlotte Woods Elementary. While working with alphabet flashcards with the students at low reading levels, they look to me for the answers and it is so hard not to answer for them. However, I know if I do, then they will not actually be getting the learning experience because I will be telling them instead of them learning. Instead I use Collier's approach of using their first language (Spanish) in order to enhance their understanding of the English language. Once they are starting to grasp the concept it takes everything in my being not to have word vomit and say "good job", but I can control myself most times and say, "you did it." This not only shows my progress, but it recognizes the students progress as well.

With that being said no truer words, on the matter of "Good job!" political correctness, has been said. As a potential teacher and having read this article (and many others) it has shown me that what you say in your class can be everything to the children you are teaching. It is up to us to help shape and encourage the types of people that the children will be in the future and the importance of your words becomes so imperative.

"Death Should Never Be An Option": Repost

Before I get into my interpretation and analysis of Safe Spaces I would like to start off by including my own experience with a close friend of mine who has "come out of the closet" and told me he was gay.

Zak has been my neighbor for all of my life and I have grown up with him in every school since kindergarten. My family and I were fairly close and I can always remember going over to his house during the summer and spending hours and hours baking under the sun; jumping in and out of the pool. So when my sister, friend, Zak and I were sitting at Gregg's Restaurant one evening and were having a meaningful conversation about life and everything the future had to offer us, it soon became a moment I will never forget. In one sudden outburst Zak said, "guys I have something to tell you.... I'm gay." I distinctly remember this moment in great detail because it affected Zak's life more than he had ever expected. I looked at him and said, "yeah and?". With those two words being uttered from my mouth he broke down in tears. He explained how nervous he was to tell us because he didn't want us to see him any differently. The insecurity that he had not to tell us who he really was did not come from the relationship we had, but with the judgment that came from society.

For someone to feel that insecure about showing who they really are to the people that mean the most to them is not something that teenagers, or anyone for that matter, should feel. And for some it becomes too much and they feel as though they have end their life, to end their misery. For a person to feel that helpless is something that no one should have to go through and in order for that to change, we as a society need to change our mindset. An just like August says in Safe Spaces, it starts within the classroom walls. If teachers learn to include LGBT into the everyday vernacular of the classroom the exposure to it will allow for it to become less foreign to students. Once they are more familiar with the concept they are more accepting of the idea outside of the classroom. Just by including a story about a happy family with two mommies can show the positivity of a different household and affect the way a child views a family different from theirs. As teachers can include this positivity and LGBT vocabulary, then the acceptance of people that are seen as different from us will be increasing.

This concept of making the recognition that there is injustice towards other people occurring in society, but it is not something that is talked about is a concept that Delpit acknowledges in her article, Other People's Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom. Instead of tying it to LGBT issues she ties it to multicultural and power issues, however the concept is the same. It is as such, that there is problem within our society where there is a culture of power, who are not aware of the power they have, or the fact that because they have this power, it mean others do not. When a culture has this power their ideals about other cultures, languages, groups etc., are considered to be the normal thought of society's people, without even acknowledging the fact that there are more variables to consider.

As a connection to the modern world, there is a man who is considering the other variables and recognizing and celebrating the increasing acceptance of the LGBT community, this one singer that is paving the way for the idea that talking about the issue is the first step toward actual acceptance is Macklemore. Upon hearing this song over a month ago I remember being in awe because everything what he says in his song is inspiring and true, but most of all he was saying it (Johnson). He was saying it and that is everything.

"For those that like the same sex had the characteristics
The right-wing conservatives think it's a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man-made, rewiring of a pre-disposition, playing God
Ahh, nah, here we go
American the brave still fears what we don't know
And "God loves all his children" is somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase book written thirty-five hundred years ago
I don't know."

And here is the man who is "saying it".

Aria, By: Richard "Ricardo" Rodriguez: Repost

 For my response to Aria by Richard Rodriguez I would like to focus on the following quote, "today I hear bilingual educators say that children lose a degree if "individuality" by becoming assimilated into public society."
I have seemed to gravitate toward the idea that, while learning to live within another culture you lose your sense of self and own cultures, from the text because without my own heritage it would be difficult to be the person that I am today. * I am of course not saying that I would fall apart without my connection to my culture, but I can not imagine living without  the connection. This is due to the feeling of community that one feels when they are connected with the people that share the same morals and ideals with. This sense of security that one feels when a community stands behind you is not something that can easily be replaced, which is why the author's acceptance of his new culture was surprising to me.
Throughout the beginning of the text as Richard is growing up he slowly accepts the "gringo" culture, but all the while he describes the things that he looses by doing so. For example he finds it harder and harder for him to communicate with his parents, thus creating a strained relationship. By being so accepting of this I feel as though one looses their connection to their past, which is a huge part of making up who we are today. However in the end Richard makes this final point, "that while one suffers a diminished sense of private individuality by becoming assimilated into public society, such assimilation makes possible the achievement of public individuality." With his final point made I question the idea that maybe there is a happy medium, where you do not loose your cultural past, but still learn to become an individual within the public community.

This of course can be answered in Collier's article, Teaching Multilingual Children, where she stress the rules in which to follow when teaching multilingual children. She describes a delicate balance between respecting the child's first language, while teaching them their second language. She states that, "One must teach in two languages, affirm the cultural values of both home and school, teach standardized forms of the two languages but respect the multiple varieties and dialects represented among students in class..." The method described here is easy to bring into the classroom and can change the way English is taught within the classroom for the better.

*Here is a little bit about my heritage. On my mother's side my family is dated back to be upon the original trip made by the Mayflower and founded a small farming town in Maine ( then of course it was Massachusetts ). With my ancestors being such an important part of the United State's history, it is hard not to feel a strong connection. On my father's side the story is much less valiant. They were poor potato farmers from Ireland that sought a better life in America. This of course is much similar to other's stories.
**This is not my ancestor's house, but it is another farmhouse within the town of Turner.

A Compassionate Response to Amazing Grace: Repost

As an average white American it is hard to face the idea that by being white it puts me at an advantage over other citizens. However, despite what I might like to protest, it is true. This idea of course can also be tied to Allan Johnson's article Privilege, Power and Difference, where he reveals that no one is willing to talk about the subject of injustice, racism, feminism, etc.. A man who is doing this however and telling the stories of the people that face injustice in the South Bronx is Jonathan Kozol. While reading Jonathan Kozol's Amazing Grace the reality of what he was describing about the citizens in the South Bronx and the lives that they lead every day, hit me extremely hard. I am not by any means ignorant to the reality that people have it much worse than I do, but the impact did not go unnoticed. The life that Kozol described made me think about everything I had and realize the great opportunities that I have set before me. Basic amenities that I take for granted every day, other citizens struggle to hold onto. This is where we found Alice Washington who is suffering from AIDS, all the while trying to support her teenage son as he goes through high school and prepares for college.

What Kozol described was not some desperate junkie living off the government, just like stereotypes have Americans believing, but a strong independent woman doing everything she can to give her child what he needs, all the while having crippling medical problems. However despite all of what she goes through she reveals to Kozol what is going on around her and the suffering that others are facing. In spite of what she faces every day she still had the compassion to understand that she is not the only one suffering. This compassion is not something you can find in an average white citizen because it seems as though we feel that if it is not seen, it doesn’t exist. This concept can be tied into Peggy McIntosh’s article where she states, “I was taught to see racism in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group.” If we as white Americans choose not to see what is right in front of us, there is no hope of getting our citizens out of the desperation they face every day.