Sunday, November 27, 2011

talking point #10 continued from Elyssa

"You must arouse a child's curiosity and make them think about school. For example, it's very important to begin the school year with a discussion of why we go to school. Why does the government force us to go to school?  This would set a questioning tone and show the children that you  trust them and that they are intelligent enough, at their own level, to investigate and come up with answers" (Meier 1990 7)

I chose to start my discussion of the Ira Shor, "Education is Politics" reading with this quote, because not only it helps define critical thinking, it also helps to put it practicality into perspective in a class room.  In fact, you could even go as far as to say that it forces us to think critically of critical thinking.

"Participatory classes respect and rescue the curiosity of students. As Dewey argued, participation in school and society is crucial to learning and in democracy."

I really take that quote to be very significant in coming to terms with the importance of active learning.  In a standard lecture if the professor asks a question, people are hesitant to answer for many reasons.  Wether they fear the criticism of their professor, or they laughs of their classmates it is acceptable not to answer.  In participatory classes the silence is not acceptable.  In a class like FNED 364 we are all active participants. Elyssa said it very well, "In this FNED 346 class alone just being able to have an open discussion about the material has allowed me and my classmates to have a more personal and better understanding of the material."  These discussions do not allow students to sleep in the back row, not that we have rows, or to stare off at a wall blankly.  We need to be following along and thinking of our own perspectives because it is the socially acceptable thing to do to be involved in the dialogs. This reminds me of the last article we read, showing the differences between dialog and anti-dialog.  We as students are entitled to our opinions, but in order for us to be successful we must consider the possibility of a better solution existing.  This forces us to really think about the issue at hand, because ideally we can take the best point out of each student and combine them to create the new better solution.


The Shor article is not coming up in the electronic reserve with the rest of them. Can anyone tell me where to access this? I only found the book for sale on google.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

talking point #9

     In Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome, Christopher Kliewer argues against segregating students with disabilities.  To many this is unimaginable.  People would argue that with more students in a classroom to distract them, students with Down Syndrome would learn less. Or perhaps they would argue the other way, these students with Down Syndrome may distract the students without disabilities who are just trying to learn.  Or maybe that the normal classes move to fast for those with Down Syndrome. 
     I went to Narragansett High School, and looking back I would call the system "partially intergraded".  There were some classes where students with down syndrome were added in and classes continued as if nothing was out of the normal.  Perhaps because nothing was out of the normal.  Maybe these students had Down Syndrome, but they would sit, and follow instructions.  They would participate in group work, do their homework assignments, take quizzes, answer questions and even make jokes.  They were students too.
     Perhaps these students had certain weaknesses.  But who doesn't struggle at some things and excell at others?  One particular student in my classes might not have been able to write things in a manner that was legible to anyone besides himself, but he could name dates, events and figures from history with great accuracy. 
     There were some classes in my high school that were completely segregated for only students with learning disabilities.  I often had to walk through one of such classes in order to sign out with my supervisor for my school to career program.  These students seemed more likely to be off topic and distracted in these small classes, than they would be in intergraded classrooms.
     All in all, there are going to be distractions everywhere, and there are pro's and con's to everything.  So why not work towards making these students feel less alienated, and more like students.

Promising Practices Write Up

I arrived to Rhode Island College and struggled to find close parking at 8 o clock on Saturday November 5th.  Eight o clock, two hours earlier than my earliest class, and on a Saturday, bizarre.  My first priority was to find the promised free coffee they used to lure me out of the comfortable safe confines of my bed on a Saturday morning.  However before I could reach the rumored coffee I was roped into the line for registration at which point I opted for the “Social Justice Activism”, mostly because I saw it included a poetry slam.  As someone with respect for poetry, as well as minimal talent as a poet, I thought this would be interesting and thought provoking.
            Then, as soon as I finished registering we were instructed to make our way to our respective seminars.  So, with a lack of free coffee I made my way across the campus to Alger Hall, room 110.  I walked into the large conference room to see it full of round tables, much better than the rows of chairs I had to sit in last time I was in Alger 110.  Since I did not see anyone I knew, or anyone looking particularly inviting, I took a seat at an empty table and tried to catch a power nap before the events began.
            The first speaker was Marco McWilliams, a graduate from Rhode Island College, started his presentation on African Studies, with a quote by Michel-Rolph Trouillot.  “Naiveté is often an excuse for those who exercise power.  For those upon whom that power is exercised, naiveté is always a mistake.”    
         He then requested that we speak with the people at our tables about the meaning of this quote for the next few minutes.  Then we, as groups by table, were about to share our ideas with the rest of the participants.  The most significant response came from one table who compared this quote to one by Lisa Delpit. “Those with power are frequently least aware of, or least willing to acknowledge its existence.  Those with less power are often most aware of it.”    
            Next he led the audience through a multiple-choice quiz on African American history.  We were able to discuss our responses with the others at our table.  In the results stage many of us were shocked to find out things we thought of as truths, might not be so truthful after all. 
            This reminds me of Johnson.  Johnson wants us to talk explicitly about issues of privilege, power and difference so we can work towards stopping injustice and promoting respect.  I think that Johnson would want us to search until we got to the truthful answers about history rather than believing the version written in textbooks by rich white men.
            The next presentation was on poetry as an important form of expressing thoughts and ideas creatively, and powerfully.  We heard poems from many teachers as well as their students.  Then they gave us five minutes to write a poem based on the prompt “I once was…”.  I enjoy poetry, and wrote feverishly for the next five minutes.  When it was announced that they needed volunteers to read their poems I raised my hand and was chosen along with four others. 
After I was selected, the reality hit me.  I was about to stand in front of the room full of people, and present a piece of my own mind to them.  I began shaking in my seat, nervous doesn’t begin to cut it.  Sure I write plenty of poems, and have read some to close friends, but even that makes me nervous.  This was a room full of people.  However people reacted well when I read my poem (which unfortunately I lost or I would post it here) and I placed the 2nd highest score at the hands of the peer judges.
The rest of the day was uneventful, although I was able to obtain my free coffee.  I explored the booths in the cafeteria, and chatted with other students before we had to make our way over to the Teen Empowerment presentation in the auditorium in Gaige Hall.  Watching these students tell their stories and play ice-breaking games on stage felt like being subjected to mandatory high school assemblies all over again. 
All in all, the poems were worth getting out of bed that morning, and once I got over the early awakening and drive to campus, I found the Promising Practices Convention to be informative, and the poetry to be quality.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Reflection" on "Literacy with an Attitude"

     I really enjoyed this article more than many of the previous ones.  It was written from a more involved standpoint then many of the other we read which look at problems from outside.  In this reading Patrick J. Finn tells his story about his involvement as an educator.  I especially like the way he is humble enough to admit the mistakes he made as a teacher, rather than talking about always following the correct way he was able to admit his errors and in this way he was easy to relate to as human.
     "But, in fact I was schooling these children, not to take charge of their lives, but to take orders.  I taught them to read and write a little better, and I taught them some facts about the United States history, but control was uppermost in my mind.  When i discussed discipline problems with other teachers, a frequent topic of discussion in the teachers' lounge, I would talk about my teaching methods as methods of control.  I had work assignments on the board when the students entered the classroom, and so there wasn't a moment when they didn't have anything to do.  I didn't say to an errant student, "What are you doing?" I said, "Stop that and get to work."  No discussion.  No openings for an argument."
     This reminds me of the concept Dr. Bogad refers to by its technical name, the "do-over".  Where some days a teacher may have an off day, and may act in a manner that doesn't benefit the students.  She told us that we should not just pretend the previous events didn't occur and continue our teaching as if everything was okay, because sometimes its not.  She says sometimes we, as educators, need to take a deep breath, suck up our pride and walk in the next day to apologize to the students and to ask for a do-over.
     I believe that if he had the opportunity Finn would walk back in and ask for a do-over.  He would apologize to the students for teaching them to follow orders, and would spend the rest of his time encouraging them to think.  To think for themselves, for their family, for their children.  He would teach them to question what they were learning and why.
     This article shows the difficulty of teaching.  It shows how sometimes we may think we are doing what is best for the children for long periods of time, only to realize that we were actually hurting more than we were helping.  This article shows how teaching in its self is a learning process, learning what works, or doesn't work, and why.  As well as the importance of admitting wrong doing to be able to make positive changes in the future.
   This reading indirectly states something which I have thought for as long as I wanted to become a teacher.  When my plan to drop out of high school on my 16th birthday, due to seeing no importance in what I was learning, and seeing very little good in myself, was interrupted by two teachers who came to know me better than I knew myself.  They made me realize that a "good teacher" isn't merely based on how well an individual can stand in front of a classroom and rattle off information, but based on how much they care about the well being of their students, all their students, not just the ones with the highest grades.

Monday, October 31, 2011

my thoughts on gender in education

There is no doubt in my mind that although we attend the same schools, the same classes and have the same teachers not everyone is subject to the same education.  Perhaps this has to do with the direct learning ability of boys versus that of girls.  I think however the boys who are less successful than girls are merely a product of their environment.  

"Across the country, boys have never been in more trouble: They earn 70 percent of the D's and F's that teachers dole out. They make up two thirds of students labeled "learning disabled." They are the culprits in a whopping 9 of 10 alcohol and drug violations and the suspected perpetrators in 4 out of 5 crimes that end up in juvenile court. They account for 80 percent of high school dropouts and attention deficit disorder diagnoses. (Mulrine, 2001)"

I do not think that boys are less capable of earning honor roll.  Perhaps they are just receiving the short end of the grade spectrum when girls are scoring higher.  Perhaps this is all due to mental capacity but I believe the teachers are more hesitant to fail female students because of the higher likely hood to cry.  The girls are more likely to start the water works when they think it may work in their favor, perhaps getting their grades raised.  Perhaps the parents of a girl are more likely to blame unfair grading for the low grades rather than low work quality, forcing the teacher to meet with angry parents.  Perhaps the teachers just grade the girls less strictly to save themselves grief.  Maybe a low performing girl is viewed as ditzy, or blames it on being blonde when a boy is just viewed as learning disabled.

I do not think that girls drink or used drugs at a quarter of the rate that boys do.  I think being girls, particularly pretty ones they are more likely to get let off with a warning.  It works for speeding tickets, again with water works, so I do not see why this wouldn't work with a drug or alcohol charge.  The girls are more likely to be told to dump out the remainder of their alcohol and continue on their night than they are to be charged with possession of alcohol.  Also when it comes to drugs, even if searched girls are more likely to get away uncharged by hiding the product in their cleavage, or in their underwear.   Check the police beat of a local paper, more adolescent boys are charged with underage possession of alcohol than girls.  Are we to believe there were no girls at the large parties broken up?  Are we to believe none of the girls were drinking?  Or are we to believe the police are more likely to look the other way when it comes to girls?

In the end I believe boys and girls both have equal opportunity to succeed in school.  If people of power were more consistent in the way they graded, or handled legal matters the inequality would be closer to equal.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Main point

     In Between Barack and a Hard Place author Tim Wise argues that although the country may be slightly less racist than it previously was, racism still does exist.  He argues that we may make exceptions for some people of color they must work much harder to succeed.
     Tim Wise says, "Whats real, is that contrary to a lot of the rederick that were hearing, is that we are no where near a post racial America.  The evidence that I present in the book and that scholars have been presenting consistently for years leading up to this moment is that, wether were talking about housing, education, criminal justice, employment, health care, or else where, the evidence of racism and discrimination against average every day folks of color is still very much in evidence. So to pretend or act as though we are heading to this post racial place, would be no more logical than to say that pakistan is heading to a post sexist place."  What he is saying is that even though we have a black president, and this is a huge step in the right direction, average folks of color are still held down by the chains of racism.
     He supports this by saying, "My fear there is that if the black and brown norm is still considered in the negative light the fact that we can carve out exceptions for certain people of color that make us comfortable is not going to get us the whole way to racial equity, its a start but we obviously therefor have a lot more to do"  He means that a black man must deserve much more respect before receiving any, and that they must have most qualifications and less flaws before they will be taken seriously.  He backs up his point by saying; "The proof of racial equity will be the day people of color can be as mediocre as white folks and still get hired".