Monday, November 30, 2009

Talking Points 10: Education is Politics

1. "About the role of education in socializing students, Bettelheim said near the end of his life, 'If I were a primary-grade teacher, I would devote my time to problems of socialization. The most important thing children learn is not the three R's. It's socialization'."

Students receive an education not only to become knowledgeable, but also to learn socialization skills. Teachers must get the kids to think critically and question ideas. The student must learn to become confident in themselves. The road to success is being paved for them by being taught socialization by their teachers and in their shcool districts. They must learn to adapt to the social environment.

2. "Through day-to-day lessons, teaching links the students' development to the values, powers, and debates in society...To socialize students, education tries to teach them the shape of knowledge and current society, the meaning of past events, the possibilities for the future, and their place in the world they live in. In forming the students conception of self and world, teachers can present knowledge in several ways, as a celebration of the existing society, as a falsely neutral avoidance of problems rooted in the system, or as a critical inquiry into power and knowledge as they relate to student experience.

This quote shows how politics are incorporated into the classroom. A child must learn how to function properly within a society. They must learn the norms and the values, powers, and debates that go on within it. If the students are taught about the society they are a part of at a young age, they will be better prepared for their future. It is also up to the teacher to present these ideas in a suitable way so that the children understand it.

3. "To be democratic implies orienting subject matter to student culture-their interests, needs, speech, and perceptions-while creating a negotiable openness in class where the students' input jointly creates the learning process. To be critical in such a democratic curriculum means to examine all subjects and the learning process with systematic depth: to connect student individuality to larger historical and social issues; to encourage students to examine how their experience relates to academic knowledge, to power, and to inequality in society; and to approach received wisdom and the status quo with questions."

This quote is very powerful and stresses the importance of incorporating all students. Students must use their characteristics to connect themselves with social issues and understand them and prepare for them. Teachers should be willing to help students that have these needs to make them feel comfortable in the classroom. Also, this quote comes with a list of values including: partipatory, problem-posing, situated, multicultural, dialogic, desocializing, democratic, researching, interdisciplinary, and activist. These terms must be understood by educators to aid in encorporating them into the classroom. They make the classroom a more democratic and welcoming place.

I feel that this piece connected with many of the others we have read. It is relative to Delpit because it is explaining the need for teachers to teach children socizialization and the rules and codes of power. It also relates to Johnston because the reading encourages teachers to question their students and have the students think about issues to become more interactive with each other. Also, in the chapter following this, I noticed there was a quote by Linda Christensen and I also found a concept similar to Rodriguez's sacrificing private identity for public identity.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Talking Points 9: Citizenship in School-Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome

1. "He and fellow educators have substantiated this vision with detailed accounts of actual educational arenas where all students are welcomed, no voice is silenced, and children come to realize their own self-worth through the unconditional acceptance of one another. Such acceptance is the aim when children with Down sundrome join their nondisabled peers in classrooms, and many schools and individual teachers have entered into this effort, which seeks and finds community value in all children."

This quote is a summary of Kliewers view on incorporating children with Down syndrome into the classroom. He believes all students should be considered important and that each of them should have a voice in the classroom. This reminded me of Delpit's article, "The Silenced Dialogue". Just as students of other cultures feel uncomfortable talking to the culture of power because they feel as though they are not listened to, I believe that people with disabilities feel the same way. Both parties are often considered less intelligent and do not receive the same power that is normally represented. It is time for every person to speak up because their voice is just as important as any other person.

2. "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 togather, and that's what learning is. Don't tell me any of these kids are being set up to fail."

This particular teacher, Shayne, worked towards individuals all being part of a community group in the classroom. She stressed the importance of including children with Down syndrome and other disabilities into the classroom. By creating this community, she believes that the learning opportunities of the students becomes "broadened and strengthened". Shayne is a very creative teacher; she finds ways to teach all students, disregarding what learning level they are in. One example of this was creating a play after reading the book Where the Wild Things Are.

3. "In a testing situation, the psychologist asked Shayne's student, Isaac Johnson, to sort spoons and blocks into various containers. Isaac struggled first with the containers to get to the materials. He then separated the blocks from the spoons and tasted from each spoon before throwing them aside, one after the other. He was not given credit by the psychologist, who noted that Isaac had not conformed to the specific directions of the test item."

I believe that scenarios such as this often happen to children with disabilities. When a child is disabled, they have the ability to change the process of learning to adapt to their disability. For example, this child was asked to separate the blocks and the spoons, and he did. However, he did not do it as a child without his disability would do it. Instead of being praised for separating them, he got penalized for licking the spoon. Teachers, as well as people in general must learn to understand that these children cannot cope with problems in the same way as others and have their own methods that better fit their own situation.

I found this article to be a very slow read. I felt myself dazing out while reading. Although the article made some good points, I think that I am going to need to have more discussion before understanding the benefits of having children with disabilities in classes with children without disabilities. Personally, I feel as though the children with the disabilities would become angry and stressed because they cannot follow the material and the children without disabilities would be held back. Although I believe it can be possible to teach some lessons to both groups, I feel that doing so all the time would not be beneficial.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Promising Practices

Promising Practices was a great experience! When I first arrived in Donovan, I picked up my folder containing information on Promising Practices and the workshops I would be attending. About four hundred people were expected to attend the fair. These people included RIC students, teachers, and many others. Many of the students attended as a requirement of FNED 346, teachers attended to get CEU’s, and others attended just to go to the workshops or to hear Trisha Rose speak. Regardless, it was an awesome experience and I’m glad I attended it, because now I will be sure to attend other events like this.

There were a number of stands set up along the edge of the room; this was the Curriculum Fair. Each table had different materials that would be useful to teachers or future teachers. These materials included information on different subjects, such as science and math, booklets containing educational materials for classrooms that could be ordered, magazines, and information on courses that can be taken at RIC, such as ESL and special education. I liked walking around and looking at the information on each of the tables. Most stands had free booklets that we could take. I was very excited to see that there was a stand set up for ESL or English language learner teachers. I have been trying to find out information on how to become certified as an ESL teacher. I asked my advisor when I met with him to speak about the classes I would take this semester, but he said he was unsure. When I saw the ESL stand, I went over and spoke to the woman there. She told me a lot about the profession and gave me the e-mail address of the head coordinator of the ESL department. I felt very reassured after speaking to her.

After spending time in Donovan, we were dismissed to go to our first workshop. The first workshop that I attended was “Media Made Me Do It”. The speaker was Marco McWilliams, an African-American man who is an alumnus of RIC. He spoke about the effect that the media has on society. He used a PowerPoint to guide the discussion. He asked us to interact with him. He explained that media messages are organized to gain profit and power and the United States is maintained mostly because of the media. It is a way for ideas to travel out of our country. He said that the media tries to relate to us through representation; it has no real connection to reality and it is just a construction of images, which are often edited. We looked at the role of women in the media, the role of men, the role of different races, and Karl and Engels. Marco McWilliams explained how women are often reduced to objects. He showed photos and videos to back up what he was saying and often had us analyze the photos. I found his workshop very interesting and I liked analyzing the photos to see the true meaning behind them.

The other workshop that I attended was “Nonis and Borges: Celebrating our World”. The speakers were a kindergarten a first grade teacher. They both teach at Henry Barnard. They explained the importance of integrating social studies in the classroom. They showed us a PowerPoint and handed out thick packets which contained useful information such as projects, homework, and in-class assignments. They had examples of books that they read to children. Also, they explained that a big part of their curriculum is to study different countries and at the end of each unit to celebrate by playing games, eating foods, and dressing like people from that specific country. I noticed that in all the pictures in the PowerPoint the children had smiles on their faces. I think that this is a great way of applying the cultures around the world to the student’s lives. For the remainder of the workshop, we were able to create crafts from a variety of different cultures; there were packets that went along with each craft explaining what country it is and how to create it in case we wanted to use the idea in the future.

After attending the workshops, we headed back to Donovan for lunch. Lunch was buffet style; there was pasta, salad, bread, and drinks. We had about an hour to eat and chat with friends. After this it was finally time to hear Dr. Tricia Rose speak. The air was filled with anticipation and when she finally came to the podium she was greeted by loud claps from the audience. Dr. Tricia Rose is an African American woman who was raised in New York City. She graduated from Yale University and is now a professor at Brown University. She is a professor of Africana Studies. She is well-known for her books on the emerging culture of hip- hop. The topic that she spoke about at Promising Practices was “Pain, Passion, and Possibility: Inspired Teaching and Difficult Subjects”. She said that it is important to understand the origins of multiculturalism. She wanted to educate the audience on teaching difficult subjects, meaning students with different identities than ourselves. She began by explaining that we should not expect direct results from our interactions with students. She gave us advice on what to do when encountering teaching difficult subjects. First, we must be honest. She stressed the importance of facing reality and being honest even if it is painful. She gave an example of a class she teaches in which there are students who are homosexual. One day, one of the girls in the classroom was working on her computer, which would not work. She proceeded by saying, “This computer is so gay”, only to receive uncomfortable and angry stares from her gay classmates. Tricia Rose explained that the term gay is often used to mean dysfunctional. I often use the word gay in that context. I never really thought about it before because I was so used to it. She said that if a moment such as this does arise in the classroom; take it as a learning moment.

The next piece of advice that she gave was that students should be seen as both individuals and part of a group. Every person has two identities; however we often assess people using only their group identity. Group identity affects the lives of everyone. For example, if a person is colored, they would be more likely to be associated with stealing than if the person was white. Regardless of race, language, religion, etc., every student should be considered equal. Especially as teachers, we should not base assumptions on a student’s group identity, and this goes for all people in general as well. After that, Tricia Rose spoke about structural oppression and resistance to it. She said that we should try to teach historical inequity and solutions. This goes for all individuals, not just political figures. Again, she spoke about the importance of distinguishing the group of from the individual. Another thing she spoke about was the fact that many people want to participate in other cultures without being a part of it. For example, many white people listen to hip-hop music, dress like hip-hop artists, and dance to their music. However, hip-hop is still considered “black culture”.

I think that Tricia Rose seems like a wonderful person. She is very passionate about her work. She stated, “I am happy to teach everybody”. She wants to spread her knowledge. She looks at everyone as individuals and does not put anyone down. She has many stories to tell, which made her speech so interesting. She says that we should not feel guilty for the bad things that happen to others. She had us take a pledge. We all put our right hand up and were to repeat after her. We stated our name, and repeated statements regarding our inability to control what has happened in the world and the unfairness that people face. We said that we are free to make our own choices and will try our best to help others from now on. Dr. Tricia Rose told us that we should try to find ways to bring diversity into the curriculum, whether we are teaching elementary or secondary. Tricia Rose is a great speaker. She inspired me to the fullest, and I would not miss a chance to see her speak again,

Talking Points #8: Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work

1. "Several weeks later, after a test, a group of her children 'still didn't get it', and she made no attempt to explain the concept of dividing things into groups or to give them manipulables for their own investigation. Rather, she went over the steps with them again and told them that they 'needed more practice'."

This quote is relative to working class schools according to Anyon. It makes me feel angry towards the teacher for blaming the student's misunderstanding on them. I believe that if the majority of students in a class are not understanding a concept, then it is most likely the fault of the teacher. She should have tried other ways of explaining the concept to the children. Anyon's observations noted that the teachers of working class schools were very vague with the students. They gave them little explanation and mostly had them copy notes. For example, when teaching the children geography, one teacher did not even refer to a map at all.

2. "There is little excitement in schoolwork for the children, and the assignments are perceived as having little to do with their interests and feelings. As one child said, what you do is 'store facts up in your head like cold storage-until you need it later for a test or your job.' Thus, doing well is important because there are thought to be other likely rewards: a good job or college."

In middle-class schools, schoolwork is based upon getting the right answer. There is little creativity that goes on in the classroom. It is as if the point of school is to get the children ready for something else, such as college or a job. This quote is demonstrating that students do not find what they are learning of interest. They feel as if they go to school because it is necessary for the future. They do not find it intriguing at all. Although the teachers are a little more leniant with answers and ideas, they do not go into full explanation on many topics because they do not want them to become controversial. It is difficult for students to ask the questions that they want in this type of situation.

3. "Each child was to prepare a worksheet or game and a homework assignment as well. After each presentation, the teacher and other children gave a critical appraisal of the 'student teacher's' performance....On any occasion when a child did not maintain control, the teacher said, 'When you're up there, you have authority and you have to use it. I'll back you up.'"

The executive elite school is one step above the affluent professional school. In the professional school the teachers are more understanding, give more freedom, and incorporate more activity. However, in the executive elite school, children are encouraged to disagree. There are many discussions and children are asked for their opinions. Instead of just memorizing ideas, the teacher has the students analyze them. There are not many creative projects given. Most importantly, these students are encouraged to take charge. In this quote, the teacher wants the student to teach the class and use their power to control the other students in the classroom. This school is already training these children to have authority because they will most likely have jobs of this component in the future.

Although the points made in this argument are interesting, I feel as though much more research needs to be done. This article is based on only five particular schools, all in New Jersey. However, there is good reason to believe that this may be the case in other locations as well. These schools effect the development of children. This means that children will continue to learn on the basis of their social class, even though as a child they are unable to control what social class they are a part of. If these schools really are prepping students based on their social class, whether or not it is on purpose, it will be much more difficult for the students to change social classes when they are older. This article is very relative to Linda Christensen's article, Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us. Even though her article is mostly about the media effecting children, and Anyon's article is about schools which group social classes and teach based on the concepts of that class, they both have one basic idea. Children are effected indirectly by many factors.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sex refers to the biological differences of males and females.

“Gender refers to the meanings that are attached to those differences within a culture” -Kimmel
This video has both the questions and the answers. It gives the definition of gender bias, gives examples of gender roles, talks about how it will affect children in the future, and explains what teachers can do to help. I liked how the video gave the gender biases for both girls and boys.
Children are embedded with gender roles as soon as they begin to walk and talk. They get these ideas from the societies around them.