Sunday, March 30, 2014

Literacy With an Attitude


This week I read "Literacy With an Attitude" by Patrick Finn. Not going to the lie the reading was long and it was hard for me to get into it, so I tried to look at other people's blogs to get some ideas. In the beginning Finn tells us what the whole premise of the book is going to be about. He says the whole book talks about savage inequalities, between the executive elite, affluent professional, middle class and working class, that are so subtle that the average parent, teacher or student wouldn't be able to notice them.

Then he begins chapter 2 by talking about Jean Anyon who had studied five fifth grade classrooms in public elementary schools in various types of neighborhoods. Her findings were that, "In the working class schools, knowledge was presented as fragmented facts isolated from wider bodies of meaning and from the lives and experiences of the students" (pg 10). Some other things within the working class that she saw were some of the teachers were only using bits and pieces of the textbooks because they felt some of the parts were too hard or weren't necessary. I believe that the teachers were being influenced by stereotypes of the working class and they never really gave them a chance to prove what they are capable of learning. A teacher actually said to Anyon "you can't teach these kids anything their parents don't care about them, and they're not interested" (pg. 12). I don't think it was right for that teacher to say that, but I can see why she would because the kids that I do my service learning with have parents that at times seem to not care about their kids. In the working class schools the dominant theme was resistance.

Comparing that to the middle class the express that knowledge "was less a matter of isolated facts and more a matter of gaining information and understanding from socially approved sources" (pg. 13). They wanted them to find answers to textbook questions rather than apply it to real life experiences. In the affluent schools the teachers emphasize creativity and personal development. They wanted them to think for themselves and to make sense of their own experiences. "Knowledge in the affluent professional school was viewed as being open to discover. It was used to make sense and thus it had personal value" (pg. 16). The teachers rarely gave direct orders which can relate to the opposite of Delpit, in the way that she says to explicitly teach the rules and codes of power. Lastly the executive elite professional school strived for excellence, knowledge to them is "academic, intellectual, and rigorous". The almost hierarchy systems of these public schools can connect to Johnson and how he says we must speak explicitly about the issues of privilege, power and difference. I believe that the higher you are in society the more likely you are to be given privileges, because some how some way people believe that they have earned them and that people of the working class don't deserve them.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Brown vs. Board of Education


I decided to take what I have heard in the Tim Wise videos and the New York Times article by Bob Herbert on "Separate but Unequal" and connect it to "In the Service of What", and "White Privilege Knapsack". Also touching upon the Supreme Court case of Brown vs. Board of Education and how Time Wise and Bob Herbert view it. 

          McIntosh suggests in her article "White Privilege Knapsack" that white people are taught not to recognize the way their race gets valued in the larger culture. She says that unless white people actively pay attention to it, whiteness will go unnoticed and unacknowledged. Tim Wise agrees with McIntosh by saying "If you want to know if a problem is still a problem it probably makes sense to talk to the ones who were the target of it not to the ones who don’t have to know" (3:45-3:55). Meaning if you want to know if there is still racism in the world don't ask the white people because they will say there is no racism. You have to ask the black people to get a true and honest answer because they are the targets of racism. Wise gives an example of asking an able bodied person if the transportation is appropriate for disabled people, well how would they know honestly. You again would have to ask the disabled people who are targets of the problem. These examples relate back to McIntosh ideas of white supremacy being an invisible system that white's (able bodied people) aren't always aware of. 
          One other article that I thought had a connection to this week's topic was "In the Service of What" by Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer.  A particular thing that this article talks about is charity versus change when you are doing volunteer work. [I give Jaclyn credit for this idea]. We all want to change the way racism is displayed in our school systems but will people only become involved because they want to look good or do they want to see a change for the future students who are growing up in this society. Bob Herbert says in his article that, "Everybody's in favor of helping poor black kids do better in school, but the consensus is that those efforts are best confined to the kids' own poor black neighborhoods" (¶ 13). He's saying yeah some white people want to help black kids get an education but are they doing it for the kids or are they doing it to be able to say they were the ones who helped get those black kids get their education.  
          Just to say a little about Brown vs. Board of Education it was enacted on May 17, 1954 declaring segregation in public schools as unconstitutional. This court case made it to the Supreme Court due to the involvement of lawyers, community activists, parents and students. It was a stepping stone in the right direction ultimately towards the Civil Rights Movement. One other well known Supreme Court case that was before this was the Plessy vs. Ferguson case that on May 18, 1896 enacted the separate but equal law. This stated that segregation was constitutional as long as the facilities and treatment were equal among the races. They then had Jim Crow laws that separated the two races with "white only" or "colored only" signs. From the outside looking in it was clearly not equal. 
          Bob Herbert says that the students who are poor will benefit more if you put them in a more affluent environment. He also states that the Supreme Court knew that in 1954 separate was not equal, "but our perpetual bad faith on matters of race keeps us trying" (¶14). I'm curious to see what people think that quote means because I don't exactly know myself. I also think that the issues that he raises in his article build upon the reasons why the Brown vs. Board of Education had to happen.

          Had it not been for Brown vs. Board of Education there might not have been a Little Rock, Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King Jr. maybe even no interracial marriage. So if all of this didn't happen I would not be here today and for that I am grateful. 

This link brings you to a site that talks about the Brown vs Board National Historic Site.

Friday, March 14, 2014

In the Service of What?


          I wanted to write a reflection this week because I felt like I could relate this article to our service learning project that we are currently doing. The article "In the Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning" by Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer had a few pressing points that I felt where important in regards to the topic of Service Learning. 
Kahne and Westheimer say that service learning can be seen as two different concepts charity or change. You can volunteer your time to charity by making Thanksgiving baskets for the homeless without any interaction with the homeless themselves. Versus making a change by volunteering in a classroom on a weekly basis and actually working with the kids and seeing them progress during the time your there. When you're working for charity you usually don't see for your self who actually needs those Thanksgiving baskets that you're making, thus creating a giving relationship. Versus when you are making a change, the relationship you are building has more of an impact on you life and theirs because you have to be apart of their life in order to understand their situation and help them.
          Service learning should definitely be made a requirement for all high schools because it gives you a well rounded outlook on life from multiple perspectives. During my four years of high school I performed over 500 community service hours, this was easy for me to do because I chose to do things that I would have fun doing while making a change. Some of the things I've done are Special Olympics, volunteering at an Art Literacy Camp in the summer at my old elementary school. With both of these organizations I have worked with children with and without special needs both were very rewarding and I feel like I have become a better person because of it. 
          This article obviously made me reflect on my service learning project for FNED, that I am performing in a first grade class at Pell Elementary in Newport. All I can say is these kids desperately need one on one attention through out the school day but it's usually just the teacher and I in the classroom when I am there. I'm only there in the morning from 8:30-10:30 and many days I have considered staying for the whole day just so that the teacher has someone else in the classroom with her, because a lot of the kids have severe behavioral issues and can't last five minutes with out antagonizing another kid, acting out or telling on one another. The thing is most of them are capable of doing the work they just have either problems going on at home that are carrying over into the classroom or their behavioral issues aren't being taken care of by social workers or there parents so the teacher has to handle it when they come to school. This disrupts the learning process making it difficult for them to move on from grade to grade if they aren't able to pay attention in school. Regardless I like to believe the service that I am performing is making a change in the students and as I have gotten to know them I've built relationships with them. 
This website describes the meaning of service learning and gives examples of some projects that have been done and some opportunities to perform such projects

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us


          This week we had to read "Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us" by Linda Christensen and I decided to make a hyperlinks post. The author raises the issue that children's movies and cartoons have had a negative effect on children. More specifically how children receive a "secret education" from the media, most won't admit that these movies and the media have manipulated us our whole lives. I like how Christensen involved students into her article and based it on what they thought as young adults growing up in a media driven world.
          An article titled Stereotypes in Disney mentions something called "disneyfication" its an idea of taking an environment and creating a fantasy world out of it by altering it and making it impossible for it to have any imperfections. They get this idea from the movies Disney has made where a fantasy world is created and it always ends with a happily ever after moment. We know what to expect when we watch disney movies and we turn to them for that happy feeling to put us in a good mood. There are real world places where we can get away from our problems and spend money, for example a shopping mall or restaurant. This article relates to the reading through its idea of "disneyfication", its the secret education that we get from these movies that make us want to "disney-fy" every situation.    
          I was born in 1995 around the time where Pocahontas, Hercules, Mulan, and Tarzan came out and I am not ashamed to say I have watched all of them on repeat, plus more (when I was younger). I like how Disney is coming out with movies that have defied the stereotypes that previous movies have set in place, for example "The Princess and the Frog" has a black princess and "Frozen" stars two sisters who display intelligence and courage all on their own. I found an article that talks about "Frozen" and its revolutionary ways called, Advance Perspective: Disney's Frozen Defies Expectations.
          One other movie that people might not know about is Cinderella staring Brandy Norwood as the lead, Whitney Houston as the fairy godmother and Whoopi Goldberg as the Queen. I loved this movie when I was a kid, it came out in 1997 and it follows the same story line as a regular Cinderella story but with a few alterations. As a young black girl growing up in a predominately white town this movie made me feel like I had a chance too, that I was not counted out of getting a happy ending just because of the color of my skin. Although this movie was the opposite of the stereotypical Cinderella it still had its traditional happily ever after.

This is the full movie of the (black) version of Cinderella from 1997 played by Brandy also staring Whitney Houston and Whoopi Goldberg. I didn't know if you all knew this existed so I thought I would share it. 

Since it's Oscar Sunday I thought this picture was appropriate