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.

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