Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Quotes from "In The Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning"

This week’s blog post is on 3 quotes from “In The Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning” by Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer.

“The experiential and interpersonal components of service learning activities can achieve the first crucial step toward diminishing the sense of “otherness” that often separates students—particularly privileged students—from those in need.  In so doing, the potential to develop caring relationships is created.” (page 8)
The paragraphs before this quote describe the outlooks and mindsets of middle-school students on an elementary school in a poor neighborhood. The music students received negative comments regarding the school they would be performing at. Their parents even went a step further, beyond the negative comments, and told the teacher they did not want their children performing at the school because it was not safe. This reminded me of the experience I had when I first started my service learning project. In my post “You’re Going WHERE?” I share my personal experience with how I allowed outside influences to determine my outlook on the school I was placed at, before I even started there. 

“Otherness”-defined by the dictionary as the state or fact of being different or distinct. Ask Johnson, Delpit and even Kozol and they would define “otherness” as those without privilege. Each of these authors share examples of how the line between privilege and “otherness” needs to be broken. White privilege, upper class, male dominance, etc. all these are part of the privilege talked about in this quote, as well as in Johnson’s, Delpit’s and Kozol’s articles. In order for the line to be diminished the appearance of being privileged must disappear. We can’t walk into a school feeling empowered over our students. We must walk in ready to connect with our students.

“Clearly, having students share their thoughts and experiences with one another can be valuable, but reflective activities (commonly in the form of journal entries and discussions) may simply reinforce previously held beliefs and simplistic, if generous, conclusions.” (page 12)
I chose this quote because I can personally relate to this. I do not agree with this quote. I complete a journal entry for every visit at my service learning placement. Each time I write in my journal I write about an experience that has changed my previous outlook on the school and the students. I find myself growing each week that I tutor my students.  I feel as if the entries in my journal are helping me slowly realize what it means to be a good teacher.

“To be critical thinkers, students must be able to consider arguments that justify conclusions that conflict with their own predispositions and self-interest.” (page 12)
This quote ties together with the first quote I chose from page 8. I believe this quote is also a perfect example of what Johnson describes as privilege. We must not have a SCWAAMP attitude and consider ourselves privileged. As the quote says, we must “consider arguments that justify conclusions that conflict with [our] own predispositions and self-interest.” We must not let outside influence or what we thought we knew come between learning something new and possibly mind-changing. Yes, we can make a difference in our service learning placement but I also believe the students can make a difference in our lives.

Points to Share/Questions to Ask:

As the article says, many conduct service learning activities for charity purposes. How do we not walk into a classroom or other community organization feeling pity for those we are helping? It is easy to walk into our placement, especially after hearing the way people describe the neighborhood, feeling as if we are the only help these people have. We must realize that, yes we can help them, but we shouldn’t treat them any different than we would anyone else. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Christensen Reference

I saw this picture being promoted by a women's store. This just goes to show us how simple-minded our society is. After I read it I kept trying to think of times a new pair of shoes changed my life and here's a shocker...I couldn't come up with any!!! :)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Catching Up on Connections

Here is a list of connections that are missing from four of my previous posts: 

1. "Amazing Grace" by Jonathan Kozol: 
      Jonathan Kozol, in Amazing Graces, discusses the hardships that the families living in Mott Haven face on a daily basis. One hardship that stuck out to me was the fact that Mott Haven is a dumping ground for unwanted things. The residents in this district do not have a say-their voice is powerless. Here is a quote describing an example of this: 
“The place that Cliffie is referring to turns out to be a waste incinerator that was put in operation recently over the objection of the parents in the neighborhood…The waste products of some of these hospitals, she says, were initially going to be burned at an incinerator scheduled to be built along the East Side of Manhattan, but the sitting of a burner there had been successfully resisted by the parents of the area because of fear of cancer risks to children.” 
This example connects perfectly with Allan Johnson’s article Privilege, Power, and Difference. A quote from page 10 sums it up perfectly:
 “…Privilege is always a problem for people who don’t have it and for people who do, because privilege is always in relation to others. Privilege is always at someone else’s expense and always exacts a cost. Everything that’s done to receive or maintain it-however, passive and unconscious-results in suffering and deprivation for someone.” 
The families of the East Side of Manhattan had enough power to say no to the incinerator and its deadly implications. The people of Mott Haven did not have enough power to stop the incinerator from going into their community thus they  paid the price in this power struggle. 

2. "Aria" by Richard Rodriguez: 

     In "Aria" by Richard Rodriguez we learn the struggles faced by those who don't speak English and their place in society. Richard’s family, after a visit from the nuns, decided to only speak in English in their home. Their once knit family became separated and indifferent. They lost their communication and identity. This is a perfect example of yet again Johnson’s article Privilege, Power, and Difference. I hate to use the same quote but I think this quote shows just how much power, privilege and difference play “important” roles in society.
“…Privilege is always a problem for people who don’t have it and for people who do, because privilege is always in relation to others. Privilege is always at someone else’s expense and always exacts a cost. Everything that’s done to receive or maintain it-however, passive and unconscious-results in suffering and deprivation for someone.” 

Richard tells us that he wanted to hear that he had the right to speak English. This is the an example  of power, privilege and difference. Why should anyone need to hear that they have the right to speak the English language? We all live in America-a melting pot of ethnicities, cultures, races and people.

3. "Safe Spaces" by Annemarie Vaccaro, Gerri August & Megan S. Kennedy:

     The article Safe Spaces discusses how it is important for us to create classrooms that are safe for the LGBTQ community. They need to know that when they are enclosed in the four walls of their classroom that they can be who they are and not be tormented for it. A classroom should be a safe haven. This reminded me of Kozol’s description of St. Ann’s church in his article Amazing Grace

“St. Ann’s Church, on St. Ann’s Avenue, is three blocks away from the subway station. The children who come to this small Episcopal church for food and comfort and to play, and the mothers and fathers who come here for prayer, are said to be the poorest in New York.”  
“The beautiful old stone church on St. Ann’s Avenue is a gentle sanctuary from the terrors of the streets outside.” 
 Just as the children and their families of Mott Haven found a "Safe Space" in St. Ann's Church so should our classrooms be for LGBTQ students. 

4. "I Won't Learn From You" by Herbert Kohl & "Five Reasons to Stop Saying 'Good Job'" by Alfie Kohn:

     Both of these articles have one thing in common they discuss the culture of power in the classroom. Thus, my connection with these two articles is with Lisa Delpit’s piece Other People’s Children. Delpit discusses five codes of the culture of power (taken from Dr. Bogad’s handout-“Working Through Delpit”): 

  • Issues of power are enacted in the classroom.
  • There are codes or rules for participating in power; that is, there is a culture of power.
  • The rules of the culture of power are a reflection of the rules of the culture of those who have power.
  • If you are not already a participant in the culture of power, being told explicitly the rules of that culture makes acquiring power easier
  • Those with power are frequently least aware-or least willing to acknowledge-its existence. Those with less power are often most aware of its existence
While I could make connections with each of these codes I would like to focus my attention on the first code “Issues of power are enacted in the classroom” and the fourth code “If you are not already a participant in the culture of power, being told explicitly the rules of that culture makes acquiring power easier.” I feel as if these two codes are in great relation to both Kohl’s and Kahn’s articles.

“Issues of power are enacted in the classroom”: Kohl talks about various students and how they have chosen to “not-learn.” These students know that the teachers are in control of the classroom but refuse to let that be the standard. Instead, they would rather not learn from the teacher so they can hold the power in their hand. I am seeing this first hand in my Service Learning classrooms, especially in my ELL class. On many occasion power is missing from the classroom. This is evident when the teacher raises her voice and yet the students are still screaming and yelling.

“If you are not already a participant in the culture of power, being told explicitly the rules of that culture makes acquiring power easier”: Kohn discusses that saying “Good Job” can in fact encourage bad behavior. If we are not direct, precise and explicit in our instructions we could end up saying “Good Job” when in reality a firm “Sit down” is necessary. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Yes, I'm a Geek, so what? Not Everyone WANTS to be a Princess!

This reading, like every other one, is one I can personally relate to. I had mixed feelings about this article at first. This made it difficult to try and figure out what type of post I should write. Then I read Jocelyn’s post and decided to do an extended comment post. 

If there’s one thing I really enjoyed from Jocelyn’s post it was the video she chose. “What Disney Princesses and Princes Teach Girls and Boys.” As I sat there and watched the video I reminisced about growing up with these movies. Sitting there, watching as the glass slipper perfectly fit Cinderella’s dainty foot; or as Belle danced to “Tale as Old as Time” with the despicable Beast; and as Jasmine rode on the magic carpet with Aladdin.  Looking back I never thought about what hidden messages were being taught in these “magical moments.” Now, after reading this article and watching this video I am dumbfounded at the messages that are being displayed through these fairy tales. 

Like Jocelyn, I don’t like the idea of a secret education. People say I over analyze things, but that is my way of knowing what I’m being taught or if I’m truly make a good decision about something. I should be able to know what I’m being taught and the lessons I’m taking out of it. I am sad to say I never realized exactly what I was learning from these fairy tales and cartoons.

As I continued reading Jocelyn’s post I couldn’t help but scream “AMEN!”  Especially when she said “The pressures have been in place all my life to be beautiful, thin and submissive. I am often told by relatives that I should check my brain at the door if I want to ever get a man. But why would I want someone who doesn't love me for who I am, brain and all?” I, too, have been told that I need to become less of a “Geek” if I hope to find a guy that would be the least bit interested in me. I look at those who tell me that, wondering why on earth someone would say something so mean to a person. I want to say “Why should I give a damn! I am me and that’s all that matters!”  These words have always bothered me but now I know they have a deeper meaning. Those who tell us that we need to change ourselves in order to get a man have the influence of mass media fueling their ideas. The girl who reads all the time, or is constantly going to the theatre to see a play, or the girl who spends her weekends doing homework never gets the guy. Instead, she hangs out with a group of “outcasts” and if she’s lucky turns the head of a guy but not the popular football player. These are the lessons that the movies, cartoons, comics, and television shows are relaying to the younger generations. 

The connection Jocelyn made to Johnson’s article was a valid point. How are we to deal with the lessons being taught behind the doors of the magnificent castle if we cannot mention it or talk about it. This point goes back to the Youtube video. I found it to be a great video. In the eyes of many of the viewers, however, it was a controversial one. The video has received almost 2 million views with 3,305 likes and 4,044 dislikes. What does this tell you? People don’t like the idea of the revelation of the  “hidden education” buried deep in the fairytales we allow our children to watch.

Christensen’s teaching technique is one I want to take note of. She definitely knows her Kohn. She allowed her students to come up with their own personal ideas regarding cartoons, instead of laying the answers out on the table for them. She allowed her students to come up with their own projects and personalize them to their liking. She engaged them in conversation and explored why their ideas were great.

To end the post I would like to share a website I stumbled across doing research for my post. It’s a quiz girls can take to see if they are a “Fashion Princess” or “Geeky Freak.” Like seriously??? Just they titles they use aggravate me. This is just another example of how mass media is influencing children. If you have fashion-you’re a princess. If you’re a geek, well then you’re just a freak. Out of curiosity I decided to take the quiz. I wanted to see the explanation of my evaluation. Below are my results. I couldn't help but laugh. Mainly because of the awful spelling errors! 

Points to share in class:
Christensen’s class made it a point to make their voices heard about the stereotypes portrayed in these movies. It reminds me of SCWAAMP-especially in regards to Whiteness and Ablebodiedness. These cartoons portray the stereotypes of SCWAAMP to a tee. Where’s the princesses of color? Or the princess that’s NOT skinny and big breasted? How many students (or anyone for that matter) need to voice their opinions before something is changed? After all, little girls strive to be a princess…should they not strive to be the first female President or a CEO of a Fortune-500 company? Happily ever after doesn't have to be living in a castle with a prince or princess…but instead growing up, being the first person in your family to go to college and become successful in a job that you love. Happily ever after should refer to what makes YOU happy-NOT what the media says should make you happy. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

"Everyone Has a Right to the Tree of Life" REFLECTION piece on Kohl & Kahn

      I was originally going to do a comparison post for both articles but this week’s Service Learning experience has shifted my post into a reflection piece.

     I walked into my last classroom of the day, which is an ELL class. I sat down with my three students and started working on letter cards. All three were participating in the activity.  I had them take out their decoder books and pick a story to read. As student one was reading her story I noticed that student three was getting fidgety. I took my eyes off of them for one minute to find another story for us to read and when I looked up I noticed student three was missing. I looked around and student one said to me, “Look under the table.” As I did I saw that student three was underneath it. I asked him a variety of questions and all I received was silence.

 I didn't know what to do. Pressed for time I decided to ignore what was happening. I continued my work with the other two students and eventually he came out from underneath the table. Unfortunately, he didn't sit in his chair but instead walked away. I had no idea that the teacher was watching this occurrence until I heard her scold the student for his actions. After my time was up she pulled me aside and told me that if student three was not going to behave he would be taken out of the group. I left the school feeling deflated. 

This occurrence bothered me all day so I turned I Won’t Learn From You by Herbert Kohl with many questions, hoping to find answers. Was my student deciding not to learn? Was he shy? Was it a lack of confidence? Was he avoiding challenges?

      As I read about Barry, I couldn’t help but wondering if Student Three was mimicking this behavior. The problem is I only have 30-minutes in each classroom. I am finding this a struggle because I have no idea what each student is like for the other minutes of the school day. As much as it may bother me that Student Three is hiding under a table or walking away from me, a quote from Kohl on his experience with Barry has put this all into perspective: 
“It helped me understand the essential role will and free choice play in learning and taught me the importance of considering people’s stance towards learning in the larger context of the choices they make as they create lives and identities for themselves.”  
      Maybe in time I will be able to reach Student Three just like Kohl did with Barry. After all, to quote Kohl one last time, “Everyone has a right to the tree of life.” 

      Now I would like to turn my attention to Alfie Kohn’s article “Five Reasons to Stop Saying ‘Good Job!’” Kohn makes some incredible points about how demoting saying “Good Job” is.

       I’ve never thought about it in that aspect before. After I really thought about it, this does make a lot of sense. I started thinking about personal experiences in my life and realized that Kohn is 100% correct. I remembered times where I questioned my answers or have sought out approval from adults. 

This week’s articles have been great tools to add to my toolbox. Thanks, Dr. Bogad for assigning them!

Question for the Class: 

Does anyone have any suggestions on what to do with Student Three? My biggest concern is having him taken out of the group. He is in my tutoring group because he needs assistance. I can't help but question what will happen if he is taken out of my group. 

Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Providence

Loved seeing the State House lit up as I left work last night

Friday, October 11, 2013

Service Learning Today!

Good words to follow for today! :) have a nice weekend everyone! 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Teachers' Quotes

I was on Pinterest this morning when theses 3 quotes popped up. I think the attitude of each one goes along with the "Safe Spaces" article we read this week.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Quotes from "Safe Spaces"

For this week’s talking point I will be discussing three quotes from “Safe Spaces-Making Schools & Communities Welcoming to LGBT by Annemaire Vaccaro, Gerri August & Megan S. Kennedy. 

The first quote is from page 94: We contend that including LGBT people and issues in the curriculum is an important first step toward creating safe spaces for LGBT youth. We say first step because, as educators, we know that visibility and normalization alone cannot transform our schools into safe and affirming space.

This is a very important lesson for us as future teachers. I feel as though this shouldn’t be an issue. Having a curriculum that does not include lessons or books containing LGBT facts or stories is not creating an equal classroom. It is very sad that this is the reality of our schools and education system. As teachers we are the gateway between our students and the outside world. It is our responsibility to teach them the right attitudes, lessons, and examples regarding anything and everything. How are we supposed to do this when we can’t even have a book like And Tango Makes Three on the shelves in our classrooms?

The second quote is from page 95: Language is a tool. As such, we believe that speech is performative-it does things. Words invite or exclude, recognize or erase, empower or intimidate, examine or assume.

This quote goes along with the first one. Teachers have many tools in their toolbox (thank you Dr. Bogad for the metaphor!) and language is one of those tools. It is a powerful tool. The language we use in the classroom will shape and mold the students we teach. We must use language as a positive tool-inviting, welcoming, recognizing, empowering, and examining. 

The final quote is from page 98 and is my favorite quote from this reading: Teachers cannot legislate friendships or alliances; they cannot single-handedly change minds or hearts. Educators can, however, create inclusive and safe classrooms.

As much as we may want to change minds or hearts we cannot. We do have the capability and the responsibility, however, to create inclusive and safe classrooms for ALL of our students! Our classrooms should be havens to our students. Those four walls should create an atmosphere of equal opportunities, unbiased by outside opinions. 
Points to Share in Class: 
I would like to quote Dr. Bogad: "Teachers save lives!"  As teachers, we can change the lives of so many students. We will have LGBT students in our class and it will be our responsibility to protect them and treat them with respect and an open-heart and mind.