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".

Monday, October 17, 2011

talking point #5 In The Service of What?

     In this blog posting I will choose three quotes from the assigned text, "In The Service Of What?" by Joseph Kahne, and explain what they mean as well as their relation to the text.
     The first passage from the article that I would like to quote is actually quoted from a report titled "The Forgotten Half.  This quote reads as follows "Students tutor, coach softball, paint playgrounds and read to the elderly because they are interested in people, or because they want to lean a little about poverty and racism before they head out into the waiting corporate world.... We do not volunteer 'to make a statement,' or to use the people we work with to protest something.  We try to see the homeless man, the hungry child, and the dying woman as the people the are, not as the means to some political end."  In short this quote describes the relationships people form with the people they volunteer with, as well as why.  Many people volunteer for more political reasons, such as celebrities donating money to a charity to make themselves appear caring, but service learning projects are not about that.  They are about exploring ones talents and using them to help another, as well as learning about a person, condition or group of people, through first hand accounts.  This helps to build a strong force of knowledge and understanding as well as supporting a sense of empathy, before students graduate and face the "real world"

     "In a written evaluation, the students said that they had imagined 'horrifying children running around on a dirty campus'.  They had expected them to be 'rude, tough, noisy, and very unfriendly,' and they even thought they would be 'mean, gang-related blacks'.  One of the students wrote, 'I was scared because my mom had told me it was a bad neighborhood and to be careful.'"  This quote shows the beliefs and mind states of students before the service learning projects.  I found this passage to be provocative in the way it brings up topics we try to deny, such as stereotypes.  However these issues are very real and sheltered students may not know any better than to fall into these false generalizations about populations.

     "After they returned, the students' perspectives on these elementary school children has changed.  They were 'surprised at the children's responsiveness, and their attentiveness, 'they found the children to be 'extremely polite and surprisingly friendly,' and they discovered that they 'listened well and had excellent behavior.'  One student wrote, 'everyone at the school had good manners, and i think more highly of [the neighborhood] now.'"  This quote shows the insight students can develop through this hands on learning in the community.  In addition to students feeling good about helping others they also get to learn that people are not usually as horrid as stereotypes make them out to be.  This type of knowledge will make students think twice before believing the stereotypes they hear, as well as hopefully inspire them not to spread rumors they know little about because they might be spreading the false.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

extended from heathers comments

This post will be extended comments from my classmate Heathers blog regarding an article we read about the harmful effects of Disney movies, including racism, sexism and other issues of stereotype.  Her blog may be viewed at .  First of all, I would like to say that I feel sorry for anyone who ever feels compelled to change their thoughts, beliefs or actions due to animated movies regardless of who they are produced by.  Then secondly I would like to say that I think the arguments made in this article and again in Heathers blog are grossly over exaggerated and over thought.  I think that people who believe they need to be a Disney princess should take a look in the mirror and realize that no matter how hard they try, or for whatever reason feel the need to, they will never be animated, and in most cases they will never be a princess.  I think if people are going to argue that Disney movies made them feel inferior, well how bout saying tv shows like "Jersey Shore" made me feel to small.  Or tv shows like "Two and Half Men" compel me to drink all day every day and sleep with every woman I ever look at.  It is then the producers of those shows that are responsible for my actions afterwards.  Correct? No absolutely not.  To blame Disney is to alleviate all sense of responsibility.  Personally I have watched Disney movies many times in my life and I feel fine.  I watched The Lion King and never felt the need to run away and never come back.  Perhaps because I watched these movies for what they are, roughly two hours of animated entertainment, which ends after two hours.  These are not movies meant to teach life lessons. These are movies which serve the purpose of entertaining people.  If an individual can not watch a Disney movie without feeling that they have to become the characters depicted in the films then perhaps they are overly sensitive, and should lock themselves in a room without newspapers, televisions, computers, or any other form of technology for the rest of their lives.  These are the individuals who drink 4lokos in excess and then sue the company.  The individuals who blame rap music and video games like Grand Theft Auto for gang violence.  These issues always have and always will exist in the world.  It is up to the individual to form their own opinions and not be shaped by the opinion of everyone and everything around them. 

Sorry Heather.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America - A National Report on School Bullying (reflection)

     This article is the result of research and surveys of over 3400 students and over 1000 teachers, on their thoughts, stories and experiences involving both verbal and physical abuse or harassment.  In this whole article one statistic struck me as more shocking than the rest of them. "Most (85%) secondary school teachers agree that they have an obligation to ensure a safe learning environment for LGBT students"  The first time I read it, I thought that I must have misread.  I thought it makes no sense, that only most of the teachers feel this obligation. So I reread and reread, and I came to the realization that I did not misread this, that it was not a misprint.  Yet it still did not make sense that 15% of high school teachers do not feel obligated to ensure a safe learning environment.  
     This left many unanswered questions for me.  Where were these people polled?  Was their another possible answer other than agree or disagree?  Why did these educators believe that they have no obligation to provide their students with a safe place to learn?  I wondered if they did not believe it was part of their job to provide a safe learning environment for students in general, of it was just they did not support gay lesbian bisexual or transgendered students.  Also I found it shocking that they bragged that "nearly three-quarters (73%) strongly endorsing this view."  Why don't the other 12% feel strongly about this.  Perhaps students should feel safe, but if they don't it isn't such a big deal.  
     I also found it very shocking when i read the statistic stating that "According to the survey, more than two-thirds (68%) of students say their school has some type of anti-harassment policy,"  Again, it leaves me wondering, what about the rest?  Why do only 68% of schools have an anti-harassment policy?  Do the remaining 32% of schools support harassing other students?  And only half of the schools have a specific section that deals with harassment issues of orientation and gender identity and expression.  Why don't the other half of schools make it clear that bullying lesbian gay bisexual and transgendered students is not okay and will not be tolerated.
     I was able to relate to this article because of my work on the "Tolerance Team" in Narragansett High School.  School officials came to me asking if I would be a spokesperson for this newly developing organization within the school hoping to come up with plans regarding bullying and acceptance.  Having spent quite a bit of time in my life going through depression, I realize that everyone is fighting a battle, no matter if they show it or not.  Without getting to know someone you have no idea what they are going through, and there is no reason to be one more factor making them feel more sad, or worthless.  This applies to all students of all orientations, gender, race, religion.  Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered students should not have to deal with ridicule because of factors outside of their control.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tres Citas (3 quotes) Aria

In Aria Richard Rodriguez recalls the experience of learning English as a child. "I couldn't believe the English language was mine to use. (In part, I did not want to believe it)" he said.  This shows his initial hesitation to learn the English language. He looked at it from an outside perspective, and from the outside it was clearly the source of power.  So powerful in fact that he wanted nothing to do with it perhaps out of fear of the power.

This leads me to the next quote.  "Did I some how suspect that once i learned public language my pleasing family life would be changed?"  This really corresponds to the story because it is as excellent use of foreshadowing.  Later in the story he talks about how much things change at home.  Happy family dinners were replaced by awkward silent meals, small talk subsided and the life at home became a lot less friendly. His mother grew restless as her children spoke to her less and his father became very withdrawn as the family learned English.

"At last, seven years old, I came to believe what had technically been true since my birth: I was an American citizen"  This reminds me of Lisa Delpit's ideas that knowing the rules makes acquiring power easier.  Once he knew the language he felt as though he belonged and he had equal opportunity to acquire power as anyone else.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

talking point #1

In this excerpt from his book Amazing Grace Jonathan Kozol argues the reason for the conditions of extreme poverty and sickness in the South Bronx.  Kozol lays the blame on institutions such as the hospitals, the police, and government agencies such as social security.  Kozol gives examples of unsanitary hospital conditions including patients waiting for hours in the waiting room and then needing to clean their own room as it is still covered in bloody bandages from the previous inhabitant.  He also tells about how in some areas if the heat shuts down, the government hands out sleeping bags instead of repairing the heat.  Kozol talks to an elderly woman slowing dying of the AIDS virus who is constantly being bounced around  between the hospital, her doctor and the social security office, even though she was previously on SS and was only removed accidentally.  The writing speaks about the police doing little to bring justice to crimes, including the rape of a little girl, so the grandmother takes the law into her own hands and puts a bullet in the head of the rapist.  Then the government is astonished at the high level of shootings, when in reality a lot of them are probably taking justice into their own hands.  From the problems with social security to the body parts disposal facility, Kozol blames the institutions for the poor conditions the people live in, even though the force of power will place all blame on the individuals.


Although this video does not directly relate to race, it does emphasize background which I believe relates it to our class.  It shows how everyone has things going on that they do not talk about and that an important part in being able to understand and communicate with anyone is understanding where they are coming from, and trying to understand why they act or feel the way that they do.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A brief introduction

  My name is Vinny and I am enjoying the semester so far.  This is my sophomore year and I am here at Rhode Island College pursuing my goal of becoming a high school English teacher.  Outside of the class room I enjoy staying physically active.  I like to run, mountain bike, longboard, surf along with many other things.  I am a strong believer in karma and live my life accordingly.  I think over all people (myself included at times) need to focus less on everything going wrong, and a bit more on what makes them happy.  Negativity is cancer of the brain, only more contagious.