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.