Thursday, December 12, 2013

Free Write “Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change” Ira Shor

Free Write
“Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change”
Ira Shor
            After reading the Shor article all I wanted to do is give it to each and every teacher, principle, and teacher I have ever had. I feel like a large number of teachers do not realize that the current school system isn't politically neutral and it disconnects student’s development as critical thinkers about their world. I find the concept of asking your students to question their education experience and believe that we do not live in a fixed world that is fine the way it is. One of the goals in education I believe should be to educate students that they are capable and should never believe that the way the world currently is, is the way it has to be. I think it is important for students to understand that they play a huge role in changing the world we live in.
               I found it extremely interesting when reading about a teacher provide syllabus. Personally I had never thought about the impact a course syllabus could have on a student. Seeing a syllabus as a prolonged encounter with structured knowledge and social authority makes me look at them completely differently. If you think about it is a list of to-do’s and grades you should get. It is kind of like being an employee of a big business in a sense. You are given a list of things to do and if you don’t do them correctly or up to par you will be reprimanded for it, either through loss of pay or not getting a promotion. Though students have a choice as to what extent of the syllabus they take part in and are able to form those aspects chosen. A student does this by applying themselves to some assignments, quizzes and tests, but not all of them listed on the syllabus. The grading of the students school work typically reflects which assignment’s, quizzes, or tests the individual applied themselves to in comparison to the school work the student didn't apply themselves to. I feel like it makes a lot of sense for students who reject the idea of a prolonged encounter with structured knowledge and social authority by not responding to knowledge, processes, or roles set out for class. Rejection can result in the student reacting by, dropping out, withdrawing into passivity or silence in the classroom, self-educating, and in some cases even sabotaging the curriculum by misbehaving.
               I personally agree with parts of the idea of education being a social experience. I think it is important to educate students on our current society, the meanings of past events, and that there is always a possibility for the future and their place in the world they live in. Most importantly when it comes to educating these topics it is important for the teacher to present the knowledge as critical inquiry into power and knowledge as they relate to students experiences. I think connecting a student’s personal experiences to current, past, and futuristic events can help the student understand what is being taught and discussed, as well as, to realize that they can make a difference in this world and that things don’t always have to be the way they currently are.

I just wanted to end this post by quoting one of my favorite quotes out of this text;

“Education is more than learning skills; it is a socializing experience that helps make the people who make up our society.” (Page. 16)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Citizenship in Schools: Conceptualizing Down syndrome by Christopher Kliewer

..          The article Citizenship in Schools: Conceptualizing Down syndrome by Christopher Kliewer was really interesting, particularly because the issue of excluding individuals with disabilities is so prominent in our current society. Kliewer touched on the subject of respect and citizenship which require a realization of a person’s individuality. School citizenship requires students to not be categorized and separated based on their presumed “defect”. Personally I agree with Kliewer and the idea that when students are categorized and removed from the classroom it impacts the student’s ability to for community relationships and individuality. If a student is constantly removed from a classroom to work with an individual or a small group, the students are unable to work with other students then that small group. Children need to be exposed to a multitude off different individuals. Exposure to a wide range of perspectives or personalities can help improve the student’s ability to get along with further community members.    

Keep Calm               Teachers can help create a society which is worthy, lovely and harmonious for all students. Separating and making students feel like they are different than the other community members in the school isn’isn't helping create a welcoming, supportive community. In my Service Learning there have been times where students who struggle with reading or another subject are taken out of the room to work in small groups or one-on-one. These children never seem to look forward to this time and when they see the individual who they need to leave the room with, there is typically a negative response, such as, eyes rolling, saying “I don’t want to leave”, or hiding somewhere in the classroom.  These students seem not to gain as much from the time they spent out of the classrooms working one-on-one. Some of the adults who come to work one-on-one with the students stay with the students in the classroom while the other kids are all at different learning centers. Personally I have noticed that the students who get to work one-on-one in the classroom with their teacher tend to be more excited and not tread the time spent. I think when a child gets to work one-on-one with an adult, but they are able to stay in the same classroom with the rest of their peers they feel more included. Separating a student from their peers can make them feel like there is something wrong with them or it implements that their disability makes them different from the other students. Teachers need to embrace the individuality of students with disabilities. 
                 Different | via Tumblr

               Personally I feel like separating children with disabilities from their peers is a form of racism, how do you feel? 

UCLA Students issue on Diversity on Campus

Such a moving video. Only five minutes but worth five minutes!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Promising Practices Confrance


          After struggling to get out of bed I made it to the Promising Practices conference. It began as I expect with an introduction and some information about the day, but then an unexpected planned debate seemed to take place. I was interested in hearing all the different professional opinions and conversation, but was very taken back by some of the comments and statements made. When Mayor Tavera spoke about the poverty issue in providence I was very interested in what he had to say because of the experiences I have had in my Service Learning. Personally I was a little disturbed and taken back by the comment mayor Tavera made about students coming from lower income households not using there financial statues as an excuse not to pursue further education. Personally I feel like some individuals aren’t exposed to enough opportunities, but I also strongly disagree with that statement. Mayor Tavera made it seem like just because he happened to have a fortunate situation that all individuals who come from financially unstable households can be successful. The entire time he was speaking about himself, all I could think about was Tim Wise’s talk, Between Barack and a Hard Place. There is a particular comment made by Wise that I only wished Tavera had heard and understood. The concept of society assuming that in order for a black man to be successful he needs to be like Obama. Personally I feel like Tavera should consider the idea those individuals who come from households that are financially unstable don’t have to be just like him to be successful.
               Mayor Tavera also made a comment about the ESL students and standardized testing in Rhode Island. Personally I know that there are a lot of students who are ESL in Rhode Island school systems. This comment reminded me of the article I won’t Learn From You by Herbert Kohl. One of the points Kohl made was that some students who are ESL’s refusal to learn can be interoperated as failure to learn when the case is not always. Kohl says that learning from a stranger who doesn’t respect your integrity can result in major loss of self-resulting in rejection to learn and even rejecting the world. Mayor Tavera spoke about how some states offer there standardized tests in other languages then English in all sections except for math. I think that this is a great idea because then students would be able to do better on the test because they would be able to possibly understand something they didn’t before.
               When Mayor Travera spoke about the absentee rate in Rhode Island I instantly was extremely interested. In my service learning the absentee rate is extremely high. The last time I was there two students left before three o’clock. Tavera spoke about promoting programs on keeping students in school for the full day and for more days throughout the school year. I personally feel like it is a huge issue that something needs to be done about sooner than later. Students missing an entire hour of school can really impact what they learn particularly if they miss the same hour regularly.

               Overall I had an interesting day. The sessions I attend were all interesting though rushed and kind of all over the place. Some of the things that were talking about in the sessions were all over the place and didn’t really connect. In one of my sessions three different groups spoke about a project they did for a class at Rhode Island College.  One of the groups talked about  getting high schools students in Providence more interested in attending college, the next group talked about how they put up a discussion wall on campus and then the last group talked about better ways to advertise a cafĂ©. Personally I felt like the first and seconds groups were semi connected but the final group was very disconnected to me. It made me kind of confused and made me feel lost. My other two sessions went really well and were very interesting. The day was overall enjoyable and very interesting. 

Talking Points #8 Literacy with an Attitude

               While reading Literacy with an Attitude by Patrick J. Finn I couldn’t help but connect some of his points with PeggyMcIntosh’s White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. The concept of the “haves” and “have-nots” made me think about white privilege and its secret implementations. I strongly believe that McIntosh would agree with the two kinds of education Finn discusses. I feel like McIntosh would agree that Empowering Education would be applied to the people of power being white. This means that the students who gain the empowering education will lead to powerful literacy and positions of power and authority. The second idea is Domesticating Education which would be applied to anyone who is not considered part of the white culture of power. This form of education leads to functional literacy that makes a person productive and dependable, but not troublesome. This just show how students who aren’aren't part of the culture of power are educated to live and be transformed into what us “white” people think is socially acceptable.  I strongly believe that teachers can have a huge impact on changing the way the classroom is currently set up for some students. Teachers can really make a difference for student’s futures particularly the ones that feel the impacts of social perspectives by making students believe literacy and school knowledge can be used as a potential weapon in this current world we live in through connecting school knowledge with the reality of working class students’ lives.

               The other article that I thought of while reading Literacy with an Attitude was I won’t Learn from You by Herbert Kohl. One of the present mechanisms and social dynamics that have been uncovered is the ways of communication and beliefs, attitudes, values, habits, and behaviors that underlie them especially attitudes related to authority, conformity, and power of working class communities is at odds with the discourse of the schools. This makes acquisitions of schools discourse and powerful literacy difficult for working-class children. Kohl says that student’s refusal to learn can be interoperated as failure to learn which the case isn’t. Sometimes learning from a stranger who doesn’t respect your integrity results in major loss in self and can result in rejection to learn and even the world. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Segregation 2013: It’s Real!


Brown vs. Board of Education 

               On the website on the Brown vs. Board of Education I was able to gain a lot of knowledge about the different historical aspects of this legislation.  This legislation was enacted in 1954 and was supposed to remove constitutional sanctions for segregation by race and make equal opportunities in education for all children. To many white Americans the issue of racism ended when this legislation was enacted, but to many colored individuals the issue of racisms is still very alive in our current society. One example of current racism is pointed out by Tim Wise in his book “Between Barak and a Hard Place”. In our current society if Barack Obama was to have made some of the same life choices George Bush made, he wouldn't have been taken serious during the presidential elections. If Barack Obama ranked 5th in his Naval Academy, attended five schools in six years, or crashed five airplanes he wouldn't even be considered a valid candidate for president or vice president like George Bush was. It’s hard to believe and see that putting Barack Obama in the white house can have a negative impact on our society. Wise points out the fact that we “don't want society to assume that in order to be a successful black or colored man you must look like, be like, and have the same style as Obama” if we believe and feel this way as a nation we are missing out on the potential of a lot of smart and successful colored men and women.

           Racism is also very prevalent in how our current schools are set up. In the article “Separate and Unequal” the author talks about the fact that children of any ethnicity living in poor communities typically attend schools with poor teachers and parents with low involvement. Studies have shown that poor children from any ethnicity do academically better when they attend schools with middle class peers. Teachers, community members, and parents need to help improve all around school environments, integrate and create better teachers, have fewer classroom disruptions, create students who are more engaged academically, and get parents more involved and engaged in the school and their children’s academics. Improving schools includes integrating different economic statues including racial and ethnic integration which can create a bittersweet resistance for some individuals.

        I strongly feel like racism and segregation is still very prominent in our current culture and society. In our current time racism and segregation are like a secret that everyone is aware of, but doesn’t speak of.  In the article “White Privilege  Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” Peggy McIntosh talks about how white-power is the ‘new’ form of racism in our present culture. The idea of how children are educated on how white individuals are taught to think of their lives as morally neutral, normative, and average, and also ideal, so that when we work to benefit others, this is see as world that will allow ‘them’ to be more like ‘us’. It is unfortunate that we see the changes we have made as eliminating the issue instead of realizing that there is still more work to be done. Like Tim Wise said, “If racism had stopped then wouldn't it have been front page news?”

               After doing this assignment I started to think about my service learning and some of the things that take place in the classroom. I couldn't stop but think about how many students in the school come from poor or disadvantage homes and how the teacher sends the students home with snacks every single day. I am aware that these children are very lucky to have the teacher they have who supplies them with snacks for after school, but it only makes me wonder about the other students who don’t have a teacher to supply them with things like this what they do after school for snacks? 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Blog post #6 Argument- "In the Service of What?"

Kahne and Westheimer
‘In the Service of What?’
               These authors Kahne and Westheimer argue that is important to incorporate service learning in our current school curriculum, but there are two different opinions of how service learning is interoperated by students. One of these interoperations is the participant doesn’t gain anything from the service. After participating in the service the individual doesn’t change, learn anything, or realize the underlying reasons as to why they are there. The second interoperation is charity. This response to service learning by students is very positive. The student gains something from their experience, understands the underlying reasons as to why they are there, and both parties transform through service.
               To me the authors are arguing the importance of incorporating service learning into school curriculums the ‘right’ way.  A lot of the goals of service learning such as, promoting students’ self-esteem, developing higher-orders of thinking skills, making use of the students multiple abilities, and provides the student with an authentic learning experience are the same goals in our current curriculum reform efforts. Both pre and post education about the service learning experience the students will participate in will help contribute to a positive outcome. Teachers and school educators can help promote service learning activities though pointing out and emphasizing the various ideological, political, and social aspects of the goal of service learning. Both the public and others need to think about the overall final goals of service learning instead of just focusing on moving forward and getting more students involved in service learning.

               Service learning opportunities can have a lot of benefits if the reasoning and task is understood by the participant. If an individual feels forced or required to participate in service learning experiences are less likely to gain anything from the service. Teachers and other educators have the ability to have a positive influence on a student’s understanding of their service through pre and post education.