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?