Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday Night Football!

In the spirit of Monday night football here is a picture of a high school football team that allowed a boy with Down syndrome to play with them for a bit during a football game. Now this is a school that recognized this child's passion and didn't hold him back from it because of his "handicap".
Oh and... GO PATS!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Schooling Children with Down Syndrome

When people in our society think of Down Syndrome they have this preconceived idea in their head and looks a little something like this:
People see the stereotypical look of people with Down Syndrome, but fail to see the unique individual behind the "flattened nose and face, upward slanting eyes and widely separated toes."
In Christopher Kliewer's article Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome, he challenges the preconception of what its like to be a child with Down Syndrome and the linear teaching model that goes along with it. No matter the level of academia of a child our education system promotes this linear approach, however it is extremely unsuccessful in the life of a child with Down Syndrome. The system does not celebrate a child's uniqueness and the different teaching opportunities that they can bring to the classroom and the students and teachers within it. This idea can be attributed to the inclusion of the community within the lives of a child with Down Syndrome. So in other words, "We have got to learn to get along as individuals and as citizens." This concept can easily be brought into the classroom by including children with special needs in to a "normal" classroom, which has proven to increase intellect.
In the example that was given within the text, a teacher named Shayne Robbins used a passion of Isaac's (a child with Down Syndrome) to use as a lesson and activity in class. Isaac loved the book Where the Wild Things Are, and they re-enacted the book with using their own script, back drops and costuming. (Not to mention they addressed gender roles when female students wanted to play the main character Max) With one simple activity Isaac could feel included with his school community and they learned important lessons too!
This sense of community can be established in four ways according to Christopher Kliewer:
      1. A belief in one's ability to think= rejecting the idea of "narrow interpretation of mathematical and linguistic characteristics when defining school citizenship [and] multiplicity of knowledge"
            *this can be done in the following ways*
                  a. logical mathematical thinking
                  b. linguistic capacities
                  c. spatial-representation intelligence
                  d. musical intelligence
                  e. kinesthetic intelligence
                  f. interpersonal intelligence
                  g. intrapersonal intelligence
      2. A belief in one's individuality= students not being grouped and categorized based in ability
      3. A belief in the reciprocity of the relationship="acknowledging students with Down syndrome as thoughtful, creative learners with personal identities that distinguish them from all the other people"
      4. Defining social place: a shared location=giving children the sense of community and family that the can have a connection too.
Essentially what this entire post/summarization of what Kliewer has to say is as such. In order for students with Down syndrome to do well, they need to feel included within the classroom as an individual, not the "mentally challenged" one of the class. This can easily be done by looking past the "symptoms" and looking at the individual, after all it is just an extra chromosome.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Promising Practices: An Interesting Experience

When I was thinking and mulling over my experience at the Promising Practices conference it occurred to me that it wasn't at all what I had expected it to be. In my mind we would be sitting in on the sections about how to teach in multicultural environments, quite like our classes and lessons in FNED 346. I had an expectation that I would be able to learn how to teach art and photography (based on the sections I chose) and I would have the great epiphany, much like the one I had during my first week of class. However, this was not the case. In fact I was thoroughly disappointed by the entire day.

My disappointment started at the morning panel, or debate/political campaign, as I would like to call it. The panel consisted of white, higher status group leaders or university presidents and the Mayor of Providence, Angel Taveras. The topic of discussion was about the opportunities that lower income, impoverished students have at their disposal. Of course the topic of poverty doesn't go without the inclusion of race. It was pretty clear early on that the majority of the panel stuck together on the one singular idea brought up by Angel Taveras, that "your skin color isn't an excuse, that you can overcome anything if you put your mind to it." This concept was backed by Angel's story of triumph and perseverance to get where he is now (told multiple times I might add). What went through my head immediately was, "it may not be an excuse, but it is a reality and you had opportunities most do not, so what are you going to do about it?"

What are you going to do about it? A pretty straight forward and simple question I think and yet it was never answered. No matter the format or who the question was being directed toward, it was still danced around and never answered. Much like what happens during political campaigns. This can be tied to what Mr. Bogad said in class today. That it all comes down to the "vote for me" aspect of being in office, rather than actually doing something to make a difference. It is a way in which politicians talk as though they answered the question, and not indicating a solution, that way they don't have to take action. As Nick would say....

"What the hell does that mean?" It means that so many Americans are getting tricked into thinking that progress will be made, but in actuality nothing gets done. So in other words, the entire panel was pointless except for the face that I was provided with breakfast and coffee.

In regards to my sessions all three were yet again, a disappointment. Being someone who is extremely interested in art I took every "artsy" session available. The first two involved programs where the orators had been involved in or conducted their very own volunteer service. The first was s project to brighten up a school cafeteria by having students paint a mural about the town's history on the walls. Great. Awesome. I love it. There was community involvement and learning all rolled into one, nothing could be better. Well except one thing. The project only occurred one time and there was no program that continued from it and I don't know how to do something like this by myself. My second session left with the same  feeling of "wow great program, but how can I accomplish this myself?" And my last section was an exhibit of photography. How it was helping the community I have no idea. So that begs the question, why did I drag my lazy behind out of bed at seven o'clock in the morning?

Well, although it seems as though I have just b****** for about three paragraphs (which I guess I have), I did get something useful out of it. I realized that not everyone has been privileged to the education I have received in FNED 346. They don't know that saying "race shouldn't be used as an excuse", is just their power and privilege talking or that Collier says "stop talking and start doing". Although people may not know these things, it is up to me an everyone else in the class to educate them. Which is why I believe it to be beneficial for us, as a class, to write a letter voicing our opinions about what was said in the conference. Overall, the entire day was not at all what I expected and yet there was still something to say about it and that seems pretty good to me.

Monday, November 4, 2013

When did I become considered old?

I had a child in my service learning ask me if I had any kids because I was probably a really great mom. My first though "awwww....but when did I become old enough to be considered a mom?"
Just wondering if anyone had any similar experiences?

Class Theme

I feel like this is something that can be connected to everything we have learned thus far!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Between Barack and a Hard Place.

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.