Sunday, November 28, 2010

Shor, Empowering Education

Shor, Empowering Education

Shor argues that the method of just teaching children facts and asking them to memorize things, like the three R’s, is not an effective method of educating. Instead children should be encouraged to think for themselves and to question everything-empowering education. In this way, children will be able to achieve their full potential.
I want to use this post and article just to reflect on some of my own thoughts that are sort of lingering in my head. But first some connections.
First off I saw Johnson right away on the first page.
“‘You must arouse children’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?...”
Johnson wants us to talk about things and put them out in the open so that we understand them. Shor argues here that teachers should start by connecting with the children to earn their trust so we can give them an empowering education because you have to have to be on a certain level with the children to use empowering pedagogy. I think this is a perfect idea, I’ve been through years of school and I don’t think a teacher has actually ever sat down and done this even though it seems obvious that they should.

Second I saw Delpit, but then again where does she not come up? Anyways…
"Education is more than facts and skills. It is a socializing experience that helps make the people who make society."
I related this to Delpit’s discussion on rules and codes of power to develop the people of the future. School clearly is not just for learning grammar and math equations, you learn how to socialize and live in society, and depending on where you go to school, you learn that way of socializing. This is sort of an oxymoron too because how many times did you hear teachers say “you are here to learn not to socialize” just sort of a quick I think.

In my foundations of education class at Stonehill we had to take a quiz on the first day of class to see what our classroom management style is and then according to that is how our group tables were set up. I thought it was kind of interesting to see where I fell, so feel free to take the quiz and see where your management falls!

So since this is the last talking point I just want to express my  opinion on all the articles in general and the discussion I want to have in class not just dealing with Shor but in regards to all the authors we have read…
How is it that we read all these articles that just make so much perfect sense to us, things like incorporating two dads into math word problems, or using explicit instruction, or making sure we analyze media so that girls know they don’t have to be flawless, or making sure we talk about things openly so we understand them…BUT YET it doesn’t seem to be working to change everyone. I know that it’s hard to break the glass and all but these studies have been out for years I mean Shor was written in 1992 and still although empowering education sounds fabulous and perfect, how come every school hasn’t implemented it yet. It’s kind of discouraging to say that education in a whole is sort of doomed to be perfect or even come close. I just don’t get it and it sort of bothers me in a way but I guess you just have to take it and try to make your classroom aware of all of these, although that’s nearly impossible.  

Monday, November 15, 2010

Promising Practices Convention

I must say I was not too thrilled to be waking up at seven o’clock on a Saturday morning to go sit through a six hour conference but I am glad I did. Walking into Donovan I went and got my registration packet, I got both of my second choices for the workshops. I found our class and starting chatting it up, seeing who was in what workshop and things like that. The conference started a tad late but as soon as the introduction was done it was off to our first workshop.
The first workshop I went to was presented by Elizabeth Rowell on LBGT, a topic that we have covered in class. I was sort of nervous about this session not really knowing what to expect but as Rowell got going I was very interested. She was so passionate about the subject and really was just a top that kept spinning but it was very entertaining and informative. She started by showing a power point that gave facts on LGBT. Some of the facts were that 84.6 percent of LGBT students report being verbally harassed at school, 18.8 percent reported being physically assaulted, and one of the most horrifying facts that she gave was that 50& percent of transsexuals will attempt suicide before the age of 20. That is a terribly high statistic and really stuck out in my mind.
Rowell informed us about a variety groups supporting LGBT some include GLSEN, The Trevor Project, COLAGE, MERMAID, and even RIC RAINBOW. She talked about people’s views on homosexuality and what can happen because of bullying and teasing-skipping school (30% of LGBT students missed school because of feeling unsafe), poor grades, and even bulling that leading to suicide like the student from Rutgers.
In this session we also watched a couple of videos. First we watched a YouTube video that was done by New York City’s Youth Pride Chorus (below) and the whole point of the song was to get the message that “It does get better” across. I thought it was really a moving song. They shared a generalized story about their individual lives and what they have been through incorporating being part of the LGBT group. They all said that it had gotten better for them in life and this song just describes their feelings.
Another movie we watched was “It’s Elementary” which is what we watched in class. I thought it was beneficial, though, to revisit this video. It’s shocking to see what children hear when they hear the word “gay”, things like “ew” “25 cents” “sex” “gross” coming out of children’s mouth is kind of disturbing if you really look at it.
The last movie we watched was from a TV show called “What Would you do" (below).This video was very interesting. It set up a scene on a busy pier and had four male actors create a scene where a gay male was being picked on by 3 guys. The point of the show was to see “what would you say”, how would people react. It was kind of shocking that some people just walked on by as this poor kid was getting pushed around, having his bag ripped out of his hands, being called “faggot” or “homo.” Some people did stop but it irks me that not everyone did, is that what society has really fallen to?
I thought this workshop really fit in well with our FNED class especially with Dennis Carlson's "Gayness, Multicultural Education, and Community" Dennis Carlson, argues that schools use their power of influence to keep gayness 'hidden', 'in it's place', and not to be part of the 'normal' that is accepted in our society. He feels that it is a major problem for these children that are in fact homosexual, to go through school feeling they need to hide or stay 'in the closet' to be a 'regular part' of their educational journey. It begins in the schools, and remains in the eyes of the society, especially in the earlier years, to be socially wrong and unacceptable (Alicia’s blog on Carlson). I feel that this  workshop really tuned into what Carlson was trying to get across. 
I also thought this workshop showed this “hidden education” very well that went with "Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us" by Linda Christensen. Homosexuals would not be seen as different and strange if there was never a norm in the first place. If we, as a society, didn’t have a set standard of beauty or perfectness because of media or magazines then gayness would not even be an issue because it would just be normal.
I really enjoyed this workshop and thought that it was a perfect start to the day. My second workshop, on the other hand, was not as enjoying as my first.
The second workshop I attended was non problem solving in mathematics and I was really disappointed by the way the workshop was set up. It was not engaging, more of a lecture, and I found that the presenters focused their attention on the table of teachers sitting in the front of the room. The only thing I got out of the presentation was from the last problem we solved. It was about a flower bed and needing to separate flowers into certain beds and how many would they need. It was funny to see the kids response because some ddin’t know what a flower bed was. Some children drew an actual bed, which makes sense when you think about it. This reminded me that I need to be aware of the backgrounds-kjust like delpit would want-while I am teaching.
The last part of the conference I must say I was not in tune to. I think the ideas that Dr. Dennis Shirley have are remarkable ones and I have total respect for him but I must say I could not stay with him. I tried to take notes but found myself easily distacted but maybe if I read his book it would be more beneficial and I would understand the concept of mindful teaching more.
Overall I thought the conference was a great expirence and I think I’ll be attending next year.  

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Citizenship in School; Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome

Citizenship in School; Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome
Christopher Kliewer
"It’s not like they come here to be labeled, or to believe the label. We're all here-kids, teachers, parents, whoever-it’s about all of us working together, playing together, being together, and that's what learning is. Don't tell me any of these kids are being set up to fail."
First off I think this is a great quote and something that we as aspiring teachers should live by. Second, I read an article in my Special ed 300 class that was called “The Least Dangerous Assumption” the whole article was based on the idea “In the absence of absolute evidence, it is essential to make the assumption that, if proven to be false, would be the least harmful to the individual.” It tells a couple of stories about a few children with disabilities but basically it is saying that if you put a child with disabilities in a special education class would you ever know if they would succeed in a general education class? You would never know. The article supports inclusion so that special education students aren’t labeled because most can do well will a little bit of differentiated instructing, and I just thought that the article really fit well with this quote.
“The challenge is to erase negative attitudes about people with developmental disabilities, get rid of the stereotypes and break the barriers for people with disabilities”
            This quote in a way sort of bugs me, not because of what it is stating but because that people actually have negative attitudes about people with disabilities. When is the last time you heard someone say retard or idiot (idiot is the old word before mental retardation) in a positive manner, probably never. It also irks me that the reasons why stereotypes are even present are because society excludes people to make them be stereotyped. We exclude people with disabilities, put them in “special ed” If these people weren’t out-ed as “special” would people ever started having negative attitudes? Would we have people who think blacks are worth less than whites if we didn’t have slavery? Or that men are better than women if Eve came before Adam? The answer probably not, so maybe we should stop “outing” them. The barrier does need to be broken because it’s sickening that there are so many negative attitudes about people with disabilities.
“Lee is in a way he’s branded. People see him. They see Down syndrome. They see mental challenge, retardation, whatever you want to call it. That’s what they see, but wouldn’t be seeing him.”
I really like this quote. If we generally see children with disabilities as incapable then we wouldn’t be giving them a chance. We “wouldn’t be seeing them” but if we look past these stereotyped labels then children with disabilities will have a better opportunity in their future and not be so “branded”

This is a video about a school in MA where inclusion is really working and it's sort of close to home so I thought it was interesting.

In class I want to talk about our personal opinions on inclusion and if it is better or worse.

Monday, November 8, 2010


this picture is from Saturday and I found it ironic, well not really, that the white child is in the middle, typical

Finn and Oakes

Finn and Oakes: Connections

While reading both Finn and Oates I found a lot of things that reminded me of other readings we have done in class and also they both connected very well to each other. First I read Oakes which I’m glad I started out with. While the article talked about tracking I found myself wondering if it really does have such a prominent effect on students and where they end up. All throughout high school I felt like everything was in some way “tracked.” We had AP, honors, college prep, then standard classes and everything was molded to some way fit to teach the certain group. While reading Finn and looking at Anyon’s study I found that this tracking was effecting the school and the way the students come out and in a way it was keeping everyone in their place in society. While Oakes mentioned a few ways to get rid of tracking, I think that with schools like the ones Anyon described it would be much harder to break that glass.
I also want to connect Oakes to a sort of “secret education.” While Oakes was discussing how certain tracking classes worked the children didn’t even know that they were being educated to fit their class, like with the study that Anyon did. Anyon discussed about what each class was being trained for-their place in society. So was I being trained to be working class because I went to a more working class school? I believe so and I think this is a hidden curriculum that no one really notices.
I also think both of the Oakes and Finn articles connect to our “Separate but Equal” topic. This education style of tracking really separates classes but does not give them equal opportunities. I guess it is sort of like when whites had better school book than blacks. The upper class and lower class schools both had the same materials but the upper class schools had better teachers, a more experienced curriculum, while the lower classes had average teachers who just focused on the book.
I also think that these articles connected well with Johnson in a way. Johnson says we need to talk about the issue so we can fix it. I think that Oakes and Finn are doing exactly what Johnson would want them to do, calling schools out on tracking so we can eventually find a solution so everything is equal.
I found this article online about tracking and how it is harmful and thought it was very relevant
Not really related to tracking, but a point that Finn brought up in his piece was that whenever he was in school he would think about how he could apply whatever he was learning to his classroom. I always find myself doing that, especially in FNED, I was just wondering if anyone else felt the same way.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Gender and Education

Gender and Education

I think that gender has always been one of those “secret education” things. When you were little in movies you never saw a girl fire fighter or a girl mechanic, so those automatically became “boy jobs,” things like teachers and secretaries were always “girl jobs.” I think this changes a little as you grow up but there are always those big differences between the typical boy and girl things.
Regarding gender and education I found a lot of interesting articles. This article that I found really stuck out among the rest. I just want to pull out some interesting quotes that made me think about how gender bias schools are.
"Every time students are seated or lined up by gender, teachers are affirming that girls and boys should be treated differently.”
Think about it, how many times do we hear teachers say “boys in this line and girls in this line.” It happens all the time in my service learning project and although it’s a minor thing does it really affect gender roles and how we see them?
"The clear message to both boys and girls is that girls are not worthy of respect and that appropriate behavior for boys includes exerting power over girls -- or over other, weaker boys."
This quote was pertaining to a part of the article when its talks about boys being taunted for throwing like a girl, or crying like a girl, which implies that being a girl is worse than being a boy. I found this really hard to grasp but it is true that it does degrade girls. Some girls throw better than boys but society has kept maleness in such a state of power that we always see us as throwing worse or being weaker than the typical male. It is a good realization to come to and men should think about it before they say it.
I found this video on YouTube and although it is lengthy it mentions a lot of great points on why girls are excelling in school.

this chart popped up when i was searching for gender and education and it tells what schools get complaints for and the percent of each category

Last I found a website that lists what teachers can do to make sure they are not being gender bias in their classroom. I though this list was useful and hopefully we can all use it in our teaching careers. 

In class i would like to think of times when we have seen gender bias in effect.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Brown v. Board & Wise


When Tim Wise discussed his book "Between Barack and a Hard Place" he mentioned a lot of fascinating things that really made me take a step back and think, I found that some were related to Brown v Board of Education.  The key point he made related to racial issues was that Obama's election is not the conclusion to equality and I bet if you think back you can see that a lot of people thought it was. Wise argues that it is just another step in the tall, windy staircase that will lead to equality. According to Wise there is still an enormous amount of work to be done.
I found a point that Wise made very interesting. Obama's speaking style, dress, and entire presentation of himself is done is a very "white" way. He has gone to one of the most prestigious colleges and is very intelligent. In fact, some white people consider Obama to be different than "normal" people of color. Wise tells us that there are many other intelligent black people in the United States that may not be taken serious by whites because of the way they do their hair or the way they dress. I found this extremely interesting because it is true, we wouldn’t go letting a person like 50 cent be our president and it just goes to show you that you can “tap” the glass but when will we ever actually “break it.”
The last thing I just want to point out is the quote “Very telling is the oft-heard comment by whites, 'if only I were black, I would have gotten into my first choice college.'" I must admit, although it is terrible to say, that I am a culprit of this sort of line. I have said a number of time that I could still be at Stonehill if I were black and that being white and happy makes my financial aid nonexistent. I feel bad seeing these sorts of things and looking back and seeing how ignorant I could be and I guess that is what these articles are supposed to do-change you.
I must say I really enjoyed this article. I think it was easy to follow along and he had a lot of good points that are real eye openers to the typical white person.

I watched this video in my Psych class last year and i feel like it should be shared, It kind of depressed me in a way but it is a very good look at racism,

In class I'd like to discuss our views on the Obama presidency, do we feel like it help racism?