Saturday, March 29, 2014

Roles and Rules

This week I am going to do a connections blog piece.  “Literacy with an Attitude” by J. Finn, was pretty long but once I got into a good chunk of the reading I became very interested. A lot of the stories the author tells are where I got my connections. 
 countless efforts of lawyers, community activists and parents and even students made this historical event possible. They gave all they had to see that they all were accepted as equals, and had success through the Supreme Court.
My first connection is one the author makes when he makes a point about the “status quo” and that people who have power are comfortable and not motivated to make a change; they choose to remain comfortable and not bring about changes. Author Finn states, “ It takes energy to make changes, and that energy must come from the people who will benefit from the change.”(4) I connected this to the work we did with Brown vs. Board of Education; including the videos by Tim Wise and the website we used on the Brown V. Board of Education.  If the people never made the effort to end segregation, if there was no protesting, or cases brought to court, would anything have been done? Maybe eventually someone would have made an effort, but the energy the

My second connection to a reading was to Delpit.  Author Lisa Delpit argues that teachers need to explicitly teach the rules and codes of power to students who might not learn those rules and codes at home. I found it interesting that Finn knew and uses a very strict system when describing his classroom with the younger students. “ I was from the working class and I knew how the working class and poor kids related to authority.  They expected people in authority to be authoritarian, and I gave them what they expected.” These kids expected the teacher to show authority and Finn never changed that. He took the power of authority and made sure his classroom was kept in line. He always had work to be done and made sure his students were busy during class. He enforces the no recess policy to disobedient students, though he mentions he rarely had any. Delpit’s argument about enforcing the rules and codes of power was done immediately here and worked very well.  Even if any of the students author Finn had did not expect the “authority figure”, they would quickly learn that was how he ran the classroom.
I found a few other connections throughout the reading, but I am a big Lisa Delpit fan and liked that Finn knew how these students were and knew what they expected and immediately enforced “rules and codes of power” I look for this when I go to my service learning project each week. I try to see if my teacher uses these tactics herself. It’s interesting to see how different students react to the teacher.  That's something we as a class can discuss; how our students react to their teacher and how the classroom itself responds to the “authority figure” This entire reading is primarily about learning how to teach literacy effectively to the working class students in the country. It brings a sense of complex thinking for these students to grasp and help them become powerful learners in the classroom just as the upper class students would receive in their own classrooms. This link talks a lot about the social classes of students and the differences in learning levels. This other website also talks about backgrounds and differences we have in todays society. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Brown vs. Board of Education

This week is another reflection blog. After watching the two videos and then reading the articles ad webpage, I truly think that it is quite obvious to see the connection between the historical issues with the Brown V. Board of Education case and the more current issues. I remember learning about the Brown V. Board of Education and never fully making a connection to how racism is truly a prominent issue that we still deal with today.
I always accepted that it happened and that the case was brought to the Supreme Court and countless efforts of lawyers, community activists and parents and even students made this historical event possible. The  result was that segregation would finally end, but after reading the articles and even listening to the Tim Wise videos, you have to wonder has racism truly ended? This is something we can discussion class. In the video interview with author Tim Wise, he mentions that it is important to deal with what is real. Obama is a big topic of this interview and how he is the first African American President of the United States.
Wise argues that we need to note that there never has been an acceptable limit on whiteness. For example, you could be white and be extremely smart go to Yale or be be the complete opposite, but that individual is accepted based on their skin tone. They are both equal. Will there ever be racial equality? To be acceptable as a person of color, you don't have to be Obama and be brilliant, but what about the other men and women who are as brilliant, but good at other things and can run a company, or become lawyers. Can this racial difference we as Americans seem to over look ever be done with? Why is it that two white people can be equally accepted, but a person of color has to have a 4.0 GPA and a high standing job to be accepted? In comparison to the Brown V. Board of Education case, these people were to use separate bathrooms, bubblers ( drinking fountains) and countless other public places enforced segregation. It came to the point where people grew sick and tired of being treated differently. Wise states " Work still needs to be done." The historical cases were only the beginning of the work of those decades that would lead to the continuation of work American needs on the "denial" we live in. One example i LOVED was when he used the able bodied person scenario. If a person is able bodied and looking for transportation, they are better off asking other able bodied people for information and opinions on transportation to and from places rather then a person who is not bale bodied. In other words we spend time asking white people their opinions on racism and they respond " nahh theres no racism" BUT in contrast if you ask people who are a victim to the racism you can get a better understanding of the actually racism that exists.
After reading the article by Bob Herbert, I couldn't help but think of the Service learning we are doing now and how we are in poorer sections of the school system. I, like Herbert, agree with the fact that if these poor children could be put into schools with children who had a educational advantage, or were of a higher class, " get them away from the environments that are smothered by poverty. This isn't as easy as it sounds but it could be an improvement. Looking at various school systems, the schools are separated by not so much "segregation" in skin color anymore, but by area and the community around that school area; the environment. Herbert states "Some have established specialized, high-achieving magnet schools in high-poverty neighborhoods, which have had some success in attracting middle class students. Some middle-class schools have been willing to accept transfers of low-income students when those transfers are accompanied by additional resources that benefit all of the students in the schools." The political end as he is describing has tried many tactics but they all dance around the one true topic of integration. The statement about are the results of many integration efforts. I couldn't agree more with Herbert when he states "What I think is a shame is that we have to do all of this humiliating dancing around the perennially uncomfortable issue of race. We pretend that no one’s a racist anymore, but it’s easier to talk about pornography in polite company than racial integration." It is a tough topic to truly take by hand and lead to victory. In comparison to the historical issues of Brown V. Board of Education, the racism will always exist.
 Though our schools are not legally segregated, many students are confined to the schools they are in based on the neighborhoods. Everyone wants to help these kids who come from poor areas but how much can be done to get those kids into a more prominent area. The case of Brown V. the Board of Education was only the first stepping stone to the decades to follow of how America would work through racism. In a way the website and videos made me look back to last week's service learning piece. Especially the Bob Herbert article from this week. Many people want to help these kids as I mentioned before, but does this become a form of charity or change. We want to change the way racism and schooling for these children is happening but will people only become involved because they know it needs to be done or because they want to see a change for our future students whoa re growing up in this society. We discussed the differences between Charity and Change, there are noticeable differences we all read last week. This link shares a lot of insight as to the change needed in schools towards racism. Truly an interesting read! 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Service Learning is so much more

In The Service of What?

By Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer

This week I decided to do a regular reflection blog. (I’ll eventually do a “connections” post). I liked this reading and never truly thought into that much detail about service learning and the actual politics of it. It took me a while to get into the reading but once I did, I found the “cases” of service learning were really interesting.  I liked that both projects gave the students the traditional experience of being apart of a service learning project but at the same time each “case” stressed upon different approaches.
I can remember when I was in junior high school and every other week my 8th grade class would go and bring canned goods to a homeless shelter down the street from our school. I never looked at this as a form of service learning or as some sort of project, but rather something nice that the school did. When I look back at even other events I did for different organizations in junior high or even high school I truly learned a lot about who we were helping and why, but there’s something different from then and now. As I go each week to tutor the kids at school for this class, I feel like there’s something more. Maybe it’s because this is something I want to do for a career but I really feel as if I am making an impact on these kids with this project. I know that this is a requirement for our class, but truly, I enjoy going and helping them and feel accomplished when I leave.

            There is an example in this reading where middle school children are visiting an elementary school in a poor neighborhood. Many of the students are reported that their parents said, “They were concerned for their children’s safety.” The students later came to school and in a written evaluation wrote thoughts prior to the visit, the authors report, “ the students had imagined horrified children running around on a dirty campus.”  The parents seem to have had an impact on the children’s ideas. The fact that the middle school kids were from an upper-middle class suburban area also played a key roll in the visit and thoughts before the visit.  After the visit the middle school students were surprised by how well behaved and friendly the elementary school children were.  The Kahne and Westheimer called this “diminishing otherness”. Can we talk about how this “otherness” is SO true?!? Maybe that's why I feel my service learning project is different this time. Yes, actually I believe it is. I am finally looking past the “otherness” and have full faith in these students. Helping them solve problems and spell words is truly something rewarding. Their faces light up when you tell them “you’re so smart” and it's a great thing to see. “ Maybe this [community service] is what citizenship is all about, acting in a decent way towards people who live where we live”(8). This quote speaks for itself. This was truly an inspiring reading this week.  In class I feel we can discuss our own experiences with different service learning we have had prior to this year in FNED and even just our thoughts about service learning in general. This link gives some great service learning project ideas created by educators! check it out :)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

My no longer happily ever after…why Disney why

I have to first say that I loved loved LOVED this reading! I have already used my “reflection” blog option, SO I have decided to do a hyperlinks blog this week.  I was really shocked to read about the Disney information and was sad that most of it is…true. I like many other children grew up with Mickey Mouse and friends and even all the Princesses. Let me tell you, my heart BROKE reading that section of the reading because as a child I believed every girl should grow up and find her prince. (Cliché ..I know), but after reading, I realize how the role of women is poorly portrayed infact..many roles are. I mean I would love to be whisked away to a castle and live my life without any worries but truly that's not the case. (Keep in mind during this whole post, I am a huge disney fan, But what must be analyzed will be analyzed.)

 Looking into cartoons, the woman became portrayed with different body types and even race. We have the desirable and beautiful Jessica Rabbit and then the Evil Ursula. Very different body types and personality portrayals

Jessica Rabbit is portrayed as a white, desirable, perfect figured character, were as Ursula is not. "The young pretty one's only ant to hook their man; the old, pretty ones are mean because they're loosing their looks. " (131)

Author Christiansen mentioned the absence of parents in cartoons. From Donald Duck cartoons, to Aladin, either a mother or father role is missing. Another big point that stuck out to me was how people of color are absent or misrepresented in many in many of the cartoons. Even charters who are over weight are portrayed differently from the roles of the "tinner" figured characters. Take a look at this clip from Beauty and the Beast. " Little Town " shows a variety of characters who are not as "beautiful" as Bell or "good looking" as Gaston. And the people of this town sing that Bell is the "odd" one yet they are all portrayed differently than her perfect character.  WHICH I NEVER NOTICED! (palm to face)

I feel as though I did what the students in the reading did and deciphered all these cartoons and Princess movies and now I analyze them ALL. Christiansen mentions that many of the students later stated " I want a toy that isn't sexist or racist" ( 134) Does that toy exist? i found this perfect example in a reading where adults ask this same question and even share examples os extremely racist or sexist toys. Remember BRATZ dolls girls? take a look at this article 

I truly believe Disney has tried to add diversity to their mix of characters and while many of the Mickey and friends cartoons or even Loony Toons don't have as much, Characters such as Tiana, a Princess of color, has recently been added to the Disney family.  Tough she still portrays this ambitious and determined girl working to make her dreams come true (again stereotyping a woman, working a small job, who later finds love with a man and her life is all set), there is a small touch of added race diversity.Yes, now that we have all read this article and understand the analyzing aspect,  this may be hard to accept but in some way Disney tried and in many ways succeeded. There are quite a few characters who have different nationalities and are from different places all over the world. Points to discuss in class could be how society has changed the way we look at various roles of men and women. Even look at some cartoons and movies from disney today and compare to older classics. 
I am in no way saying Disney is awful for creating these cartoons, because believe me I grew up watching Mickey Mouse and loved watching the episodes. I was probably a princess every year for halloween until I was 7.  My mind is just more open now to how the myths are created and portrayed to  younger audience. Loved this article though my "happily ever after" isn't so planned out anymore haha:)