Monday, December 2, 2013

Empowering Education; Education is Politics by Ira Shor


 “Education is a social experience for tens of millions of students who come to class with their own dreams and agendas. Sometimes cooperating with and sometimes resisting the intention of the school and the teacher” (Shor 13). When we think of education we think of sitting in a chair and listening to the teacher or instructor for hours at a time; when in reality I believe that the best learning happens when you are actively interacting with other people and coming together as one with ideas and beliefs. We don’t only learn at school, in fact we are always learning new things. Being in school doesn't necessarily mean that learning is only restricted to teachers, in fact teachers should acknowledge that factor and encourage students to be more active within the classroom by bringing in ideas and experiences of their own.

“School funding is another political dimension of education, because more money has always been invested in the education of upper-class children and elite collegians than has been spent on students from lower-income homes and in community college.” (Shor 15)This quote reminded me of Peggy McIntosh’s article White Privilege and how she believed that being privileged automatically gives people the upper hand in society. I completely agree with this quote, if more money was invested in less privileged schools, I believe that they would have a better chance of being successful. From my own personal experience I can remember how we could not do certain projects in school because they required ordering materials that the school could not afford. Another example is how text books were only available in small amounts so either we had to partner up with other people in order to do our work or hand nothing in and risk failing.  My opinion is that as long as the money continues to go to the higher performing schools; they will continue to succeed while the less privileged schools continue to underperform.  

 “If the students’ task is to memorize rules and existing knowledge, without questioning the subject matter, or the learning process, their potential for critical thought and action will be restricted” (Shor 12). I can relate this quote to myself and how sitting in a science class for me was complete torture. I can remember trying so hard to understand the lectures but finding myself making note cards to memorize information that I know my brain would only retain until the exam was over. I could not once tell you why or how certain things happened within cells. In the end I suffered because I didn’t deepen my knowledge I only memorized facts I knew I would not remember ever again. He believes that in order for real learning to happen it is important that we think critically and ask ourselves if there is any learning happening. 

Comment to Share: I thought this reading was very tough to get through :(

Monday, November 18, 2013

Citizenship In Schools

Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome


Now we know that people with disabilities can learn and have a full, rich life. The challenge is to erase negative attitudes about people with develop mental disabilities, get rid of the stereotypes and break the barriers for people with disabilities. (Kingsley, 1996, p. 6). Most of the time individuals put labels on people with develop- mental disabilities because they don’t see deep within that individual to actually come to the realization that they are just like us. They feel, learn, and do many of the things we can. We tend to focus more on their apparent differences instead of their similarities to us, which then leads to the creation of these dominant barriers which disables us to see that we are all humans. In my high school the children in the special education classes were basically a joke. There was this one boy who really liked receiving hugs from girls. He had the tendency of hugging for too long and tight, so his teachers would only let him hug if he promised to let go. The sad part is that none of the girls wanted hugs from him and instead began laughing and ran away. I can remember how frightened and upset he was just by looking at his face. So I took action and every morning I would give him a giant bear hug, I could see the excitement and joy I brought to him just by looking in his eyes. It made me sad to see how he, and along with his peers were treated so differently by the other students. This reminded me of SCWAAMP because I believe that in society there are things that we value and sadly develop-mental disabilities or even any disability in general is not valued.

Question to ask: Has this ever happened in any of the other high schools you guys attended?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Promising Practice!

As I arrived at RIC on Saturday morning to participate in the annual promising practice I was in a very grumpy mood. My Saturday mornings are usually dedicated to resting because of my busy work and school schedule throughout the week. Despite the challenge of having to drag myself to the conference the worst part was having to sit though the introduction. As I sat there and listened to the guest speakers I couldn't help but notice how the mayor said that every child can succeed, poverty is a factor not destiny which made me think about Bob Herbert’s article in which he states that “residential patterns, housing discrimination, economic disparities” do contribute to the success of a child. Not every child will have the opportunities he did despite the fact that he came from the same kind of background. In conclusion to the intro part of this conference I came to the realization that after hearing all of the guest speakers and the way the treated some of the individuals made me really upset, I was not too fond of it. I prayed my first session would go well and make me forget all about the introduction.

For my first session it dealt with Action Civics model within democratic classroom structure. Going into this session I found it extremely difficult to understand what it was that they were trying to teach me about action civics. I think that if they had started with the definition of what Action Civics is then I would have had a better understanding of what they were looking. I was completely dumbfounded entering this session but after looking up the definition I become a little more engaged with the conversation. Action Civics is basically an applied education process where the voices of participants are encouraged, valued and used to the fullest and how we could incorporate civic participation in and advocacy within the classroom pedagogies. This session reminds me of Christensen because she believes in taking action step by step to solve the issue of secret learning. In comparison, this session also deals with something called an advocacy hourglass which consists of steps that have to be taken in order to resolve issues in the community

The second session on Student/Labor Solidarity as pedagogy. I found this session to be even more challenging that the first one. I thought the presenters were extremely quiet and expected us to know a bunch of information on their organization. Every time they would ask questions that we didn't know the answer to, things just got really quiet and awkward. However, after doing my own research, what I understood from this organization was that students from this organization were building relationships with local workers organizations and unions. The students would team up with these workers and in order to acquire benefits for these workers. For example, students don’t buy school name clothing like Nike or Adidas sweaters so that sweat shop workers produce in order for them to get the chance to get better pay. This meant that the sweat shop workers wouldn't work until they are able to get a higher pay. At the same time students aren't buying the clothing and sweat shop workers aren't working. Which then forces the big companies pay more to the workers. Basically it’s like a big protest. This reminds me of SCWAAMP because these big companies that refuse to pay their workers less than minimum wage are basically power junkies. They make tons of money off the materials they produce but still feel the need to pay their workers crappy pay. These people clearly know that their employees cannot live off of the pay they get; but no sympathy is felt whatsoever. This organization is really striving for change and I think it’s really great what they are doing.

                                               s13 hourglass

Over all I think my day was very interesting and although I feel like I didn't feel like even going to the conference at first, it ended up being a great opportunity, and a learning experience.  

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Striving For Racial Equity


“The evidence of racism and discrimination against average everyday folks of color is still very much evident”. I as a person of color witness many of the ways in which white people discriminate towards people of color in ways that make us feel, in comparison to them, inferior. A few days ago at the pharmacy I watched as the pharmacist, treated the woman with little to no respect. As I approached the counter I had this feeling of fear, like he was also going to treat me as badly as he did to the woman before me. To my surprise he didn't and after analyzing what had happened I came to the conclusion that he didn't treat me as badly because I demonstrated to have somewhat a decent amount educational background, despite my skin color. I believe that many times white people judge wrongfully. They see a person of color and automatically assume the worst. They see the broad picture but forget to consider the alibis. For example, the majority of people of color live in poverty, send their children to less privileged schools but are expected to get the same kind of education a white children who live in privileged neighborhoods and attend private schools. The reality is that it is nearly impossible. “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” (Herbert). Even though the law of Brown vs. Board of Education still exists we still see a level of discrimination even today. “Black and Brown is still considered in a negative light. The fact that we can carve out exceptions for people that make us feel comfortable is not going to get us fully to racial equity” (Tim Wise). After hearing his I had ah ha moment because I completely agree with this. The fact that people of color are still till this day looked down upon is only holding us back from achieving the goal of racial equity. We need to fix this issue and the only way to start, is to stop denying the problem itself.  

Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity

Talking point: Many white people don't know exactly what it's like to be a victim of discrimination. If more people knew what is was like maybe they would stop judging and starting thinking differently about people of color; leaving behind the horrible stereotypes that have been glued to our foreheads.


Monday, October 28, 2013

"In the Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning" by Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer


“Educators and legislators alike maintain that service learning can improve the community and invigorate the classroom, providing rich educational experiences for students at all levels of schooling” (2).

This quote is important because it talks about the importance of service learning. By having students be active participants in the community it gives them a chance to learn not only from their educators but also from experiences. Within these educational experiences they can bring back to the classroom knowledge that they have gathered; making the class invigorating. For example in high school I participated in a project in which the students in my advisory would go out and clean different areas around the city. We learn in science class the kinds of things that hurt the environment but 
rarely do students have the chance to go out and actually take part. I feel 
like this project helped to change how my advisory saw littering. Before we would go out and see garbage on the floor and just walk around it but after taking part, we no longer think of littering as being “Okay”.

“A music director at a middle school we studied wanted her suburban, upper-middle-class students to perform at a nearby elementary school in a poor neighborhood. Some of the middle school parents objected, saying that they were concerned for their children's safety. In a written evaluation, the students said that they had imagined "horrifying children running around on a dirty campus." They had expected them to be "rude, tough, noisy, and very unfriendly," and they even thought they would be "mean, gang-related blacks." One of the students wrote, "I was scared because my mom had told me it was a bad neighborhood and to be careful” (7-8).

This paragraph is important to me because it shows how upper-middle-class parents tend view the less fortunate schools. These parents are just filling the minds of their children with these stereotypes that are brain washing their children. Instead of objecting and telling the teacher they are concerned about the safety of their children they should be supportive because it could potentially turn in to a chance for their children to learn about these less fortunate schools and the children that attend it. Not all children in these less fortunate schools are horrifying, noisy, and rude. Most are actually very bright, polite, and quiet children. 
  Rather than assume, erroneously, that all educators share the same vision, we think it is better to be explicit about the numerous and different visions that drive the creation and implementation of service learning activities in schools (13).

This quote to me is important because it tells us that instead of thinking wrong, and assuming that all educators share the same beliefs when it comes down to service learning, we should acknowledge that there are different ways of viewing it. For example some educators might look at service learning more along the lines of it being a political domain, while others look at it in a more a moral domain. Although there are many ways of looking at service learning it is either way learning experiences that allow children to learn. 

Talking Point: I believe that service learning does in fact teach children many lessons. I believe that we should encourage children to be more active in the community because it does make a difference.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us

Reading Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us by Linda Christensen I believe that the argument she brings up in this article is that “Our society’s culture industry colonizes their minds and teaches them how to act, live, and dream”(1). Christensen believes that when we present our children with these cartoons, literature, and movies we find to be harmless what is really going on in their minds is something called “secret learning”. She believes that when children are exposed to these art forms they are learning much more. They are discovering the world of stereotypes which are used to manipulate, and influence children. I too was in denial before reading this. I thought to myself how could harmless Disney movies influence and manipulate children, could they really be receiving some sort of secret learning? And then I remembered how many times I've watched my five year old cousin prance around in a party gown, her mom’s heals, a crown, and a light up wand, chanting “I’m a pretty princess”. I couldn't believe she actually believed she was a princess and the fact that she also caught on to the stereotype that says that all princesses are supposed to be pretty, was shocking to me. I also thought back to when I used to watch Wizards of Waverly Place back when I was in middle school and how I desperately wanted to be Selena Gomez because she was pretty and had nice clothes. In this reading Christensen does an activity where she wants her children to critique a number of cartoons she displays to them so that they become aware of the secret learning that is hidden in them. She believes that in order for us not to get sucked up in the secret learning we must first accept that there is an issue, analyze it, form opinions, take the actions and use it to make a difference. When reading this I couldn't help but think about Johnson who said that “you can’t deal with the problem if you don’t name it; once you name it, you can think, talk, and write about it. You can make sense of it by seeing how it’s connected to other things that explain it and point toward solutions” (Johnson 11). I believe that this quote from Johnson connects to Christensen argument because she too believes that we have to acknowledge the issue that “our society’s culture industry colonizes minds and teaches people how to act, live, and dream” (1), in order to take the stepping stones needed to create solutions.


Talking point: After reading this article it made me think of Disney movies so much differently. I questioned whether I wanted to believe in Christensen’s argument at first until I did a little research of my own and what I found made me so upset. Below is a link to some of my favorite movies I grew up watching, just look at what the author of this webpage had to say about them.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

I Won't Learn From You & Five Reasons to Stop Saying Good Job

Won't Learn From You by Herbert Kohl


As I began to read I Won’t Learn From You, By Herbert Kohl two things really struck me. The first thing that struck me was how Wilfredo was refusing to teach his grandchildren English because he was afraid that they were going to lose their origins. I’m not here to argue on behalf of his beliefs and tell you I think what he is doing is completely wrong because I do agree with him to an extent, however there are exceptions. I believe that there are many ways that English can be taught in a way that doesn't diminish or dispose of their native language. I am living proof that this can be done. Growing up my parents really encouraged me to learn the English language but they also encouraged me to strengthen my Spanish abilities so that in the future it can be used as an advantage. The next thing that struck me was Barry the first grader who didn't pass the first grade because the teacher thought he was “behind” but in reality Barry was known as the cool kind in school and his refusal to learn didn't have anything to do with his lack of intelligence, it was his social status he didn't want to give up. “I offered him the possibility of entering into a Teaching/learning relationship with me without forcing him to give up his status” (Herbert 3). This teacher targeted a student that other teacher thought had no chance of succeeding and costume made a way that enabled him to not only learning but also a way to keep his status in school. From my own personal experience as a child I was a very slow learner. Teachers never really took the time to help but they instead left me to struggle alone. I believe that if they actually took the time and challenged my weaknesses I think I wouldn't have gone all those years lost and helpless. I believe that every teacher should challenge/help those who struggle and not assume that every child is the same.

 Points to Share: Teachers should know that every child has different learning abilities. They should then makes ways to best accommodate each student so that the children are learning to the best of their abilities. Assuming that every child learns at the same rate will only affect those children who have trouble learning because it sets them behind.

Five Reasons to Stop Saying Good Job By Alfie Khon


Throughout my experience with younger children I never really realized how many times I have congratulated a child with the phrase “good job” until I read this article. Now going back and evaluating myself as a tutor I can see what Khon is saying about “praising” children. Khon’s argument is that it is important to acknowledge children and their accomplishments however to make a child feel like they are being admired is something so much more than the encouragement and support they need in order to be successful. I agree with Khon but to an extent I believe that eliminating “good job” from our vocabulary is not the way to go. Children love to hear those words and find them very encouraging but what we should also do is find other ways we can boost their self-esteem. His solution to the problem is to “say nothing”, “say what you saw”, and “Talk less, ask more”. I have a problem with saying nothing because I find that to be a tad bit rude and I believe that it could even discourage a child because they might get the wrong impression and think you’re not proud of their accomplishment; a simple evaluation is better than saying nothing at all but it doesn’t help to point out their accomplishments either.  He also suggests that we ask questions because it helps to “nourish the child’s interest”. I agree with what he is saying here; asking questions does nourish their minds and it also encourages them to ask more questions. I believe that what we say and how we say it does have an impact on children. My final opinion that we should say “good job” once in a while but not overuse the word so that it loses its meaning and becomes something children just want to hear.

Points to Share: There's nothing wrong with giving high five's and saying good job. However we should limit the amount of times we use it in your classroom because it can lead to issues like the ones brought up in this article.