Saturday, April 19, 2014

Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change


          For my final blog post I felt like a connections post would be appropriate just to tie everything together from all that we have learned over the semester. This article "Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change" by Ira Shor had similar thoughts to authors like Johnson and Kohn. The part that interested me the most was the many different aspects of participation in the classroom for students and teachers, and the relationships that form between students with other students and students with teachers. I can say for a fact that when we first started our service learning projects we were all worried about if the students were going to like us or not, and as time went on it got easier and now we don't want to leave. 

          Right from the beginning Shor references Bettelheim's perspective on whether kids should question why they have to go to school. He thought that socialization was the most import thing a teacher could teach a student, he also urged to teachers to encourage students to question their school experience. "A school year that begins by questioning school could be a remarkably democratic and critical learning experience for students" (Shor 1). This would build the trust between a teacher and their students. Johnson would say that this is great because they are talking about the issues of privilege, power and difference and as a result they create a more just and respectful world. 
          Some other writers that Shor references are Sapon-Shevin and Schniedewind who talk about the cognitive impact of competition that can go on in a classroom that the teacher has to facilitate in order for it to occur. For example star charts showing that certain students have mastered multiplying by 2's, or only having the work of the students who have neat handwriting and perfect papers hung up around the classroom. Kohn would say those are some "reasons to worry" because they only highlight the good kids in the class not the class as a whole, and in doing so it discourages those kids who don't have a star next to their name or their paper hung up. Kohn also believes that the climate, curriculum, and pedagogy issues contribute to engagement and learning within the classroom, much like Shor. 
          Just as a side note this quote reminded me of something we had talked about in class, "The authoritarian traditional curriculum itself generates bad feelings which leads many students to resist or sabotage the lessons" (24). This reminded me of when Dr. Bogad said that it is easier for a kid to see themselves as a behavioral problem than the "stupid" one in the class. I see this a lot in the classroom that I do my service learning in because if they aren't seeing their papers hung on the walls and the teacher always has to report them to the principal, they aren't going to have any confidence in their ability to do the school work, so they act out. 

          Shor was very informative in a way when he talks about participation being a very important part of a students experience in school. If a student doesn't share their opinions they will go unsaid and that will only hurt them in the long run. This article as a whole was very informative on what a productive classroom can be, it wrapped all of our articles that we have read over the semester into one. I have learned so much through these articles and it has been really fun creating this blog.

"Education is more than facts and skills. It is a socializing experience that helps the people who make society" (Shor 15).

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome


This week the article was "Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome" by Christopher Kliewer, and I decided to do an extended comments post on Jen's quotes/argument post this week. Jen mentioned some very meaning quotes that really got the main concept of the article.

          Her first quote was "We've got to learn to get along as individuals and as citizens" (pg. 74) I totally agree with what Jen says about how it's the way people react to people with Down syndrome or other disabilities. It takes a strong person who is grounded enough to see past the differences and to be able to not be phased by a child with disabilities, who as Jen says doesn't fit into the norm, and to treat them like any other child. Jen says it best that we as citizens need to learn to accept that people have differences and that those differences are something that needs to be embraced and accepted in a positive manner. I mean we all have something that we don't like about ourselves and I think that letting people know that they are beautiful and special can change the way they see themselves.

          Jen's second quote was "To eliminate a single person through any form of banishment, no matter how benevolent the logic, reduces the web and makes the community a less democratic and less rich place" (pg. 95). Kliewer's message behind this quote was that not accepting people for who they are doesn't just affect that one person it affects the whole community. Jen's example of "Tom" was really inspiring and I am glad that there are still good people in the world that would want to get up and join in the dancing and accept for who he is not what he has. My high school didn't integrate the special needs kids into regular ed. classrooms as much, but I do have some experience working with kids with down syndrome and other disabilities through an organization that I volunteer for called Special Olympics.

          The last quote that Jen used was "Educating all children together reconfigures the representation of Down Syndrome from burden toward citizenship" (pg. 95), I agree with Jen that Kliewer's message here is to voice that putting kids with disabilities in separate classrooms is bad. If we make the classrooms inclusive from the start there wouldn't be any stigma against them, making it easier for us to call them different. We have to weave them into our community web and treat them as one of our own for them to start thinking of themselves as one of our own.

          I also loved the video that Jen posted at the end of her post, it is so sweet and inspiring. GREAT JOB JEN!

          I just also wanted to mention the volunteer work that have done and currently doing with the Special Olympics organization in my town. We meet every Sunday and work with kids with all sorts of disabilities, I love doing it and I believe it has made me a better person and also made me want to pursue Special Education. I make sure that I am giving my 100% effort into every week because they are the one's who deserve the attention.