Sunday, December 1, 2013

Talking Points #10- Quotes from Shor's "Empowering Education"

For my blog post this week, I chose different quotes from Ira Shor's article titled Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change

“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 really stood out to me because I couldn't help but think of the different schools around the state of Rhode Island. While driving through the state, one can see how drastically different the schools are in Barrington versus Central Falls. I couldn’t help but think of Kozol’s Amazing Grace and how one’s economic status influences everything in life. In Kozol’s article, he says “There are children in the poorest, most abandoned places who, despite the miseries and poisons that the world has pumped into their lives, seem, when you first meet them, to be cheerful anyway.” The other day, one of my teachers sent the class an article that relates to both the Shor and Kozol quotes. The article by Nicholas D. Kristof titled “Where is the Love?” also talks about how “our life outcomes often depend on the “ovarian lottery.”” One part of this article that really stood out to me that especially related to the Kozol quote was that “Researchers say that’s why the poorest 20 percent of Americans donate more to charity, as a fraction of their incomes, than the richest 20 percent.” I found this quote to be so powerful because it shows how those who do not have much money to spare will still donate to those in need, while those who have plenty are not willing to help. 

"They conclude that "this competitive orientation leads to isolation and alienation" among students, encouraging a handful of "winners" while depressing the performance of the many, especially female students and minorities, who withdraw from the aggressive affect of the classroom." (Shor 24)

           I found this quote interesting because in my CEP 315 class we were just talking about using competition in the classroom. We discussed how competition can have negative effects in the classroom and how kids can feel ostracized when participating in certain games/activities. The textbook says that "The greater the emphasis on competitive evaluation and grading, the more students will focus on performance goals rather than mastery. And low-achieving students who have little hope of either performing well or mastering the task may simply want to get it over with" (Woolfolk 510). According to Shor, "Competition encourages people to survey other people's differences for potential weak spots" (Shor 24). It was so interesting to see
both of my classes relating with one another and it was also fascinating how both agreed that competition is not usually beneficial in the classroom. I never really considered the harms that could exist through having students compete against one another and always thought that competition was just used as a means of motivating kids.

"A curriculum that avoids questioning school and society is not, as is commonly supposed, politically neutral. It cuts off the students’ development as critical thinkers about their world. 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)

                  While reading this quote, I immediately thought of our FNED 346 class and how we are allowed to talk about and question school and society. I feel that our class is an example of what Shor wants to happen. He wants us to ask questions to further our knowledge. Shor argues that a curriculum that allows for questions "helps students ­to develop their intellectual and emotional powers to examine their learning in school, their everyday experience, and the conditions in society" (Shor 12). Shor says that the teachers are a crucial part in making this happen. When reading this section of the article, I had an image of what not to do as a teacher come to mind. I'm sure everyone has seen or heard the voice of the teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoons. I think that this is exactly what Shor does NOT want the teachers to be like. He says that if teachers teach "a curriculum that does not challenge the conditions in society", then students will get the idea that there is "no need for change." (Shor 12)

Talking Points for Class: I think that our FNED 346 class is a perfect example of what Shor is talking about. Dr. Bogad allows for us to ask questions and challenge society, which is exactly what Shor says is necessary in order for students to thrive. I think that this class has taught me so much more than my other classes because of the way that it is set up. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Talking Points: Quotes from Kliewer’s “Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome”

For my blog this week, I decided to pull quotes from Christopher Kliewer’s article “Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome."

“[Community] requires a willingness to see people as they are-different perhaps in their minds and in their bodies, but not different in their spirits or in their willingness and ability to contribute to the mosaic of society.” (73)

            People come in all different shapes and sizes. Not everyone is going to look this same. That is the good thing about the world; not everyone is the same. Being different makes us unique. As Dr. Bogad says in class, we need to both “windows” and “mirrors” in the world. While reading this article and particularly this quote, I couldn’t help but think of my aunt Kate. She is a teacher in Central Falls and has polio. She uses crutches to get around. Whenever I go to the grocery store with her, people can’t help but stare as we go by. They move quickly out of the way so that she can pass through. People can’t see past the crutches. I liked this article because it talked about looking past the physical aspect of a person and learning about who they really are.


“We will not recognize the diverse contributions of those who wear obscuring labels until we move our focus from the disability and look for the complexity and individuality we take for granted in ourselves. Only getting to know a person in all his or her multifaceted individuality can cause the "huge" disability [spread] to magically shrink and assume its real proportion-only one small facet of a person.” (87)

             This quote stuck out to me because I was recently talking with a woman that I work with who has a daughter who is in special education classes. The woman I work with, Jane, adopted her daughter when she was around 10 years old. Her daughter had never gone to school before, so she was placed in special education classes. Jane says that she gets annoyed when the teachers try to sound “politically correct” when it comes to talking about the special education classes. They refuse to call it “special education.” While talking with Jane, I couldn’t help but also think of Johnson's article Privilege, Power, and Difference. The teachers would not say “special education” because they did not want to offend anyone, when in reality they were making my coworker even more upset. She just wanted the teachers to call the classes by their actual name instead of avoiding conversation. It shocked me that the teachers would not call the classes "special ed" classes and made me think of the unspoken conversations that exist in the world.  

“It's not like they come here to be labeled, or to believe the label. We're all here-kids, teachers, parents, whoever- it's about all of us working together, playing together, being together, and that's what learning is. Don't tell me any of these kids are being set up to fail.” (75)
            In this quote, Shayne Robbins is talking about her class that she teaches at Shoshone School. The classes are made up of “students of multiple ages and ability levels” (74). In her classroom, Shayne tries to create an environment that welcomes all of her students.Our society puts too much emphasis on labels. Not only are material things being labeled, but people are as well. There are many different labels that exist in our world today: “disabled”, “nondisabled”, “gay”, “straight”, “female”, “male”, etc. We need to remove these labels and see people for who they really are. Labels do nothing in our society except put up walls and barriers between people. If we remove the labels that are present, we can break down these barriers and create diverse environments for living.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Promising Practices Reflection

Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, Rhode Island Foundation President and CEO Neil Steinberg and Johnson and Wales’ Providence campus President Mim Runey.When first walking into the dining center to attend the Promising Practices conference, I did not know what to expect and was glad to see the familiar faces of everyone in our FNED 346 class. After everyone got situated and found their seats, the panel members took the stage. While listening to the different panel members respond to questions that they were asked, I couldn’t help but think of the SCWAAMP activity that we did and learned about in class. I immediately thought of the “W” in SCWAAMP. Out of the seven members of the panel, all of them were white except for the mayor of Providence. All of these people were of high status and were considered to have power. I found it very interesting that mostly all of the people on stage were white and that every single one of the members was “able-bodied.”

The first session that I attended was about Summer Learning. This session related to our FNED class in the most obvious way; the session was all about service learning. Learning about the how and why of service learning was interesting. During this session, we came up with definitions of service learning with those sitting around us and then brought our ideas to the whole group. I was sitting next to Dorothy and Chelsea and we immediately started talking about our experiences that we have had at our placement schools. I thought that this session was interesting because I was able to relate it with being in FNED 346 this semester. Our experiences in the schools allowed us to easily relate to this session and what was being said by the speakers.

The second session that I attended was about Anti-bullying. While this session was interesting, I couldn’t help but wish that the teachers had given more general information about creating “safe spaces” for students. A lot of the information that was given was very specific for how the teachers from Barrington were able to engage their students. They often referenced activities that they did with their classes, which was interesting, but (to me) was not as useful as giving general information about anti-bullying. It was a little hard to understand the systems that they had in place in their school without seeing it firsthand. However, I thought that this session, in a way, related to Gerri August’s article Safe Spaces. Even though August’s article was about creating safe spaces for the LGBT community, I thought that the general theme of creating safe spaces for students was obvious throughout this session. Creating environments that students feel comfortable in is crucial for their success. If a student does not feel safe, then he or she will not be able to work to the best of their abilities. In order to promote learning, we need to create an atmosphere in which everyone feels comfortable and welcome.  

The third session that I attended was about Nutrition and how it can be incorporated with other subjects in school. I was not really sure what this session was going to be about at first, but was pleasantly surprised with what the speakers had to say. Two of the speakers in this session were fifth grade teachers from the Henry Barnard School and the other speaker was a teacher of a nutrition class here at RIC. The fifth grade students created a food log of what they ate and blogged about nutrition with a college student. The college student analyzed the younger child’s food log and tried to educate them on the importance of healthy eating. The teachers felt that they needed to incorporate health and nutrition into their fifth grade classrooms and were able to do so by adding in the writing component of a blog. I thought that this session was interesting because
I too think that it is important for kids to understand the importance of healthy eating habits. In our society, there is so much pressure to look a certain way and act like what we see in the media. As teachers, we need to teach our students healthy habits so that they do not develop harmful habits that may damage their lives.

Overall, I felt that the sessions I attended were very informative and taught me different teaching styles for when I have my own classroom one day. Even if some aspects of the conference were not what I was expecting or lost my attention, I feel that attending an event like this expands my knowledge and will be beneficial for me in the future.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Talking Points #7 on Brown vs. Board of Education, Tim Wise, and Bob Herbert – free response

           The ruling that was made in the case of Brown vs.the Board of Education was essential in fighting and putting an “end to legal segregation in the United States.” Even though the decision in this case legally put an end to segregation, it “did not constitute a perfect solution to the problem of unequal opportunity.”  I found that the Brown vs. Board of Education website gave useful background information of events leading to the decision made by the Supreme Court on May 17, 1954. The decision that was made was extremely important in putting a legal end to segregation in schools.

            In the interviews with Tim Wise and in Bob Herbert’s article titled Separate and Unequal, both men argue that there are still problems that exist in the world and that racial equality is not fully visible in our society today. I found the interviews with Tim Wise very interesting. One quote that really stuck with me was when he said that “the proof of racial equity will be the day that people of color can be as mediocre as white folks and still get hired.” Wise argues that people of races other than white are still being discriminated against and that they will only be seen as equals when they are held up to the same standards as white people. In Herbert’s article, he says that “educators know that it is very difficult to get consistently good results in schools characterized by high concentrations of poverty.” Herbert argues that even though the Brown vs. Board of Education case legally eliminated segregation in schools, it still actually exists due to “residential patterns.”

            While listening to the interviews and reading the article, I couldn’t help but think of our Service Learning placements. The article reminded me of not only our placement schools, but of other schools throughout the country when it stated that “if you really want to improve the education of poor children, you have to get them away from learning environments that are smothered by poverty.” Even though we may think that segregation does not exist in our world, we may be too blind to realize that it is still actually present. I also thought of Peggy McIntosh’s article, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, and how “whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege.” (page 1) We do not realize that in order for things to change for the better, we have to break down the walls that exist between the different social classes.

            Talking Points: While reading the articles and listening to the interviews, I couldn't help but think of our own state of Rhode Island and how the schools in Barrington may differ drastically from those in Central Falls. What can we do to stop the segregation that exists in the world due to the wealth one has or where one lives?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Talking Points #6: "In the Service of What?" by Kahne and Westheimer- Extended Comment

For my blog this week, I did an extended comment on Shanelle’s blog. In her blog, Shanelle picked out certain quotes from Kahne and Westheimer’s article titled “In the Service of What?” and explained what they meant to her. While reading her blog, I thought that her analysis of her first quote was very powerful. The first quote that she talked about was JFK’s famous quote: “Ask not you’re your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” In her analysis, one of her points really stuck with me. She said that “no one member of our society should look upon our country, state, or community and say “what’s in it for me?”” I totally agree with her and also think that nothing will change for the better if we constantly think with a greedy mindset about what we can get out of something. I know that people, myself included, sometimes walk into a situation and try to think how it will be beneficial for ourselves. We have to abandon that mindset in order to be the change that we wish to see in the world.
While reading Shanelle’s blog, I couldn’t help but think of my senior year in high school. I went to a Catholic high school and took religion class. During your senior year, the religion class consists of a “Christian Service” part of the class in which you go out into the community and do service work, such as work in soup kitchens, daycare centers, or assisted living homes. I was placed in a daycare center and went to my placement every Wednesday for a few hours with a group of my fellow classmates. I loved going to the daycare center and couldn’t wait for Wednesday to come. I feel that the Christian Service projects in high school and our service learning projects that we are doing now are so beneficial in teaching us about helping others. Our time at the schools is not only important for the people that we are helping, but is also important for us as volunteers because we are able to learn how to serve others and bring about change to help them.
Talking Points: At the end of Shanelle’s blog, she tells about her brother and how he celebrated his birthday by raising awareness of the homelessness that exists in the world. I thought that this act was so selfless and makes me want to aspire to be more like him. Does anyone else know of certain individuals/organizations that do this kind of altruistic work to help others? What are other schools that send students out during the school day to serve at homeless shelters, soup kitchens, daycares, etc.?
                                                              also.. LET'S GO RED SOX!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

"Unlearning the Myths That Blind Us" by Linda Christensen- Hyperlinks

           While reading Linda Christensen’s Unlearning the Myths That Blind Us, I started to think of all the cartoons and Disney movies that I watched as a kid. These television programs constantly depicted scenes of the prince and the princess falling in love. They showed the pretty girl always getting Prince Charming. When I was younger, I couldn’t wait to grow up to fall in love and have a big, fancy wedding like they do in the movies.  I love Disney movies, but now I feel that when I watch them, I will be like the students in the article and will constantly pick apart these movies.
            In Christensen’s article, she talks about the different stereotypes that are present in the different movies and cartoons that children watch on a day to day basis. One stereotype that stood out to me was “the absence of female characters in many of the older cartoons. When women do appear, they look like Jessica Rabbit or Playboy centerfolds- even in many of the new and “improved” children’s moves.” (130) I feel as though the media puts so much pressure on people, especially girls, to feel the need to look a certain way. Young people are constantly comparing themselves to models or photo shopped images of men and women that do not exist. These fake images can lead to many problems in our society today, such as eating disorders. One of my best friends has an eating disorder and I think that the constant pressure that society adds to look and act a certain way definitely helped fuel it.
            Throughout this article, I found myself thinking back to the SCWAAMP activity that we did in class. The cartoons that we watched as children constantly depicted white men. If there were women in the cartoons, they didn’t play a major role in the plot of the show. Cartoons rarely had main characters who were poor or of a different race or ethnicity.  The women in the cartoons were always pretty. As I was reading this article, I started to think about one of my favorite Disney movies, The Princess Diaries. I thought that this movie had beaten the stereotypes of Disney movies because Mia, the main character, was a normal girl in high school. However, as I began thinking about Christensen’s article, I realized how this movie also fit into the stereotypes that she talked about. In the movie, Mia gets a new makeover in order to make her “look more like a princess.”Even her own grandmother thought that in order for her to play the part of aprincess, she had to change to look like one. I am so upset that The Princess Diaries fits into these stereotypes because now when I watch it, I think that I am only going to pick it apart more rather than enjoy the movie.
Talking Points: Are there any cartoons or movies that you loved but are now relating to Christensen’s article? Do you think there are any shows that should be kept from children? I loved Disney movies as a kid and can’t imagine not having seen or grown up with them.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Talking Points #4 on Alfie Kohn- Argument

Alfie Kohn argues in his piece titled “Five Reasons to Stop Saying “Good Job!”” that using the words “Good job” can cause a child to lose interest in something that once brought him or her joy and that praising a child basically tells a them how to feel. Kohn mentions the five main reasons how using the words “good job” can harm a child; manipulating children, creating praise junkies, stealing a child’s pleasure, losing interest, and reducing achievement. Kohn argues that saying these words can manipulate a child and is “a way of doing something to children to get them to comply with our wishes.” He goes on to say how children are hungry for our approval and can become more reliant on our decisions of what is good and what is bad.

Kohn also argues in his article that constantly praising kids causes them to lose interest in certain activities or pastimes in which they are receiving the praise. The kids become bored with what they are doing and no longer wish to participate in the activity. Kohn also points out that “Researchers keep finding that kids who are praised for doing well at a creative task tend to stumble at the next task – and they don’t do as well as children who weren’t praised to begin with.” The constant praising of a child can lead to tasks being done less efficiently than those who are not being constantly praised.

Towards the end of his article, Kohn gives alternatives for the constant praising of children. He says that instead of saying phrases, such as good job, we should either be silent, say what we see, or ask more questions. Instead of providing judgment in our words, we should provide feedback by saying what we see. He also claims that asking a child more questions can nourish a child’s interests. Kohn argues against the use of constant praise with children because of the harms that it can cause and instead promotes asking questions or making statements about what a child has accomplished.

Talking Point: Do you think that it is a good idea to say things such as “good job” to children?  Should we as teachers remove these words from our vocabulary? I know when I was younger I mostly liked hearing teachers and adults telling me that I did a good job. It made me feel like I did decent work and that I did my task correctly.