Sunday, October 27, 2013

In the Service of What?

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.

The reason why this "change" method 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. This of course being the hope of the service learning program.

Monday, October 21, 2013

"Unlearning the Myths that Bind Us."

I would first like to start off by saying, I agree with everything that Linda Christenson mentioned in her text. The media has too much influence on the lives of our children in regards to how they view themselves, others and the world. With that being said not everyone's childhood cartoons and movies has shaped them into how into who they become as a person. I for one never dreamed about my wedding gown, of marrying the most handsome man in town and having children and living the cookie cutter life. (Of course I am not, by any means, saying that I didn't watch Cinderella, Snow White or the Little Mermaid.) The person that I can lay blame to absence of the aspiration to become the good natured house wife, is my mother. She is the most independent strong minded person I know and because of her strong opinions and ideals, I can attribute my own strong personality.

When growing up my mother was never afraid of exposing me to things that were "not appropriate for our age", if the story that she had involved a lesson or a ideal she found poignant, we heard it. A great example of this is as follows. When my mother was in her mid-teens she attended a church every Sunday that believed that the women get married and live the rest of their life making their husband and family happy, never working, just staying home and being the good house wife. Teaching this to someone who worked forty-hours a week and went to school and only being fifteen, you can imagine, did not go over well. After voicing out about how she didn't want to stay home, but instead become an accountant, the church made her sit one day a week with an older woman from the church. Their goal was to for my mother to see the error in her ways and accept the role of house wife. Much to the church's dismay it did not work. My mother ended up leaving the church and kept on working and saving and now works hard and is a mother and wife.

What my mother instilled in my was the power to be independent and be my own person, no matter what my dreams are. She doesn't care if she has grandchildren to spoil, but instead focuses on what I want for my future. For me that is becoming a teacher, and everything else is trivial. If I do decide to get married and have children then I would hope that I can teach my children the same ideals and stop the outside influences from make an impact on their lives. I can achieve this by using the tools learned in my classes and my own mother as a guide.

P.S. My favorite Disney movie when I was a child was the Cinderella with Brandi as the main character. If anyone has seen this they would know that they filled roles based on talent, not matching race. *It is not perfect, however it does defy most racial prejudices seen in most Disney movies*
 (I posted the link for the full movie by the way! Enjoy :))

P.P.S. I apologize for not posting sooner. I hope you guys get to see this before class tomorrow.

P.P.P.S. As a side note I would like to talk about my service learning experience today, as it of course relates to the text we read last week, "I Won't Learn from You." This week my teacher was not present and instead there was a younger substitute teacher. While on the rug during their reading lesson the students were getting extremely wild  and in an attempt to control the chaos the teacher lashed out discipline to only one child, but did not reprimand any of the students he was sitting around. Right before my eyes I saw him shut down and do what I imagine to be the classic "I wont learn from you" pose: crossed arms, head down and rolling eyes. For that she told him to go from green to yellow on the behavior board and then he sat at his seat and refused to participate in the lesson. In my head of course I was having a minor freak out being able to notice this and I just really wanted to share. Hope everyone has a great night!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

"Five Reasons to Stop Saying 'Good job!'"

"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."

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.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

"Death should never be an option."

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.

As a connection to the modern world, who is revealing 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. 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".