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.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Talking Points #3 on Gerri August's "Safe Spaces"- Reflection

In Gerri August’s article, Safe Spaces, she discusses the importance of introducing LGBT topics and discussions in the classroom. She goes on to say how teachers especially play an important role in introducing this topic to their students and how to respond when students use anti-LGBT language. While reading this article, I immediately thought of times in middle school and high school when students would say things such as “that’s so gay” to describe something that was uncool or lame. Using these words in a negative manner not only hurts and insults those of the LGBT community, but also gives people the idea that being lesbian or gay is wrong. While reading this article, I also thought of Rodriguez’s article, Aria, and how he had to give up a part of himself in order to fit in with society. In August’s article, she gave examples of how students had to hide who they were in the classroom and how they often skipped a class to avoid feeling uncomfortable. The students were basically giving up a part of themselves to fit in with the idea of societal “norms.”

I also got angry when reading this article when it told stories of how teachers were “reprimanded” for reading books about the different types of families that exist in the world. My mind was blown when reading about how “seven-year-old Marcus was sent to the principal’s office and assigned in-school suspension for using the word “gay” in school.” (95) Marcus was not using the word in a negative manner, but was instead telling another student about his family. Punishing Marcus for using this language portrays being gay in a negative manner and also makes Marcus think that something is wrong with his family.

 I think this article is very important and that anyone who is considering a career in teaching should read it. Learning different strategies of handling the use of anti-LGBT language in the classroom will be very useful when we are in our own classrooms one day. I feel that our generation will be the ones to change how our society thinks. When we become teachers, I think that we will feel comfortable with discussing certain topics, such as race or sexual orientation, because we have grown up in a diverse world.  

Talking Point: While reading both August and Rodriguez’s articles, I thought of the SCWAAMP activity that we did in class and how they relate to straightness, whiteness, and American-ness. It made me think of how the people with power usually fall into more than one of these categories. Do you think that our generation will be more accepting and welcoming to those who are not seen to have the “privilege of power?” Will people still have to give up or hide a part of them that does not fit in with mainstream society?