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.


  1. Hi Mariah! You did a really nice job with this post! I liked how you talked about the attitudes of the teachers in the poor schools toward the students. When I read about how the teachers give up on teaching because they think the kids don't try or their parents don't care, or that something is "too hard" it made me really angry. How is anyone supposed to learn if the teachers look down on them like that? Anyway, great job on this! :)

  2. Hey girl! Don't worry about having trouble with the reading this week I think we all did! I almost always look at other peoples blogs before posting mine to get some other ideas or a better understanding of the reading. I really like the quotes you pulled out and your connections to them! Awesome job! :)

  3. Hey Mariah. I really liked your post this week and I totally agree about how long and difficult the reading was. I always read others people's blogs first just like Kelly and it really helps. I loved your quotes and how you interpreted them. Great job.