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.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Safe Spaces

By:Annemarie Vaccaro, Gerri August And Megan S. Kennedey
1. “Refusing to talk about LGBT issues or showing discomfort when LGBT topics arise are nonverbal messages that tell youth that being LGBT is abnormal and wrong” (20).I believe that this quote is saying that we should not be afraid to speak about LGBT topics especially in the world we live in today; where coming out of the closet is nothing out of the ordinary. Feeling uncomfortable when topics come up about LGBT issues will only give the impression that being LGBT is not okay. Avoiding it and refusing to talk about these kinds of things does nothing but mask the issue. Instead we should learn how to speak out about these things and not be afraid. Learning how speak out doesn’t necessarily propose a solution but it helps to acknowledge the existence of those who are LGBT and not make them feel inferior. We should make them feel like everyone else.

2. “One reason educators take the path of least resistance is their fear of negative repercussion from parents and administrators” (91). I believe that this quote is saying that teachers hesitate to teach their children about this topic because of the fear of how they think parents and administrators will react. Parents and administrator may have a different views on the whole teaching children about LGBT issues. Some may agree that it is important that children are aware of these issue but others may disagree and bringing along with consequences which from the teachers perspective were completely unintended.

3. “We contend that including LGBT people and issues in the curriculum is an important first step toward creating safe spaces for LGBT youth. We say first step because, as educators, we know that visibility in normalization alone cannot transform our schools into safe and affirming spaces” (94). I believe that this quote is saying that by including LGBT issues in the curriculum's of what is being taught to children is important because it exposes them to the issues that LGBT people go through. Although it may not be a direct solution in attempting to transform schools into safe environments it is a stepping stone nevertheless which can lead to bigger and better things.