Monday, April 25, 2011

Any Education Is A Privilege

After writing about the politics in education I thought about my trip to the DR and how I've been a little "Dominican home sick" this week, it was the final sign up week and I just don't have enough time or money this summer to go BUT non the less my thoughts and prayers are with those I've helped and still want to help.

ANYWAY this all links with Ira Shor, because I think about the education that we give to those in the DR. I was on the teaching team for half of the week the last time I went and we teach them basic English and reading skills. To them, they cannot WAIT to get to school. They don't think about whose teaching them, if it's good, they NEED to be there because that is there hope for having a better life. To learn English in the DR will get you far (in their mind) because they can become translators for those that visit, work in the cities, or better yet work at the resorts. They don't question the education because that is the difference between cutting sugar canes like their fathers and mothers, or living to their full potential. We as teachers do not give them pointless assignments or have them spit back words, we have conversations, we teach them about the world beyond the sugar cane. We have them question where they're living and help them to know where they are capable of going.

I could be completely wrong in my thinking, but have a look at the kids that I taught/ visited. I made this video to show to my church when we came home last summer:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Extended Comments
This weeks reading was by Ira Shor entitled Education in Politics: An Agenda for Empowerment. I decided to post my blog based off of Courtney's blog who I think really encapsulated what Shor was trying to say.

Courtney first gave a quote from Shor saying:

"If I were a primary-grade teacher, I would devolp my time to problems of socialization. The most important thing children learn is not the three R's, It's socialization" He urged teachers to encourage students t0 question their experience in school: "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.

The first thing in reading this statement is HOW TRUE it is that what I will remember most are the PEOPLE I have met and the Teachers that inspired me. Courtney talked about how Professor Bogad gave us a meaningless quiz that simply required us to spit back information. This information was nothing that would help me in life, would help me do something wonderful it was just to make sure that I did the homework. What I realized after that was that I'm better than this piece of paper and what it's asking me to do. I couldn't agree more with Courtney when she said "Towards the end i was slow on answering a few questions because I wanted to make sure that they were right because I wasn't sure if she was collecting them, but other than that it was like a normal assignment for many of my high school classes." I have never questioned these assignments. They are what I have always had to do. I believe that in my time at high school, I was never told to question why it was I went to school and that's what Shor thinks every class should be doing: asking questions.

I really like Courtney's quote about how we've had good teachers and bad teachers but in the end:

"Do you want to be that teacher who gives you assignments like we got in class? Or do you want to be the teacher who helps their students to learn? Personally I think we as teachers can change this. I think it's taking that extra hour after school to help students even though you aren't getting paid. It's taking those extra couple of hours planning a lesson that fits every student in your classroom. No one ever said that being a teacher was easy, and after being in this class and reading all of the article throughout the semester I've learned it will be even more difficult than I thought."

The teachers that I remember most impacting me were the ones that never gave me tests. I didn't have a lot of homework but I learned more about life in those classes than I could ever remember. I agree COMPLETELY with Courtney and how she says WE as teachers need to be the ones making the difference. This is one of the toughest jobs in my mind (and yes I firmly believe teachers do not get credit at all for what they do) and we need to fight for the rights of our students. I want them to be inspired to question why it is they are there what it is they want to do etc.

To answer some of Courtney's questions I really believe that teachers can change the education system. I think it starts with the students: even though the administration might be off you can still run your classroom and impact your students by just being there for them.

I want to talk about how it is that the administration can be improved: I feel as though that is where most of the politics comes into play and it's more about the school being "good" not so much the students.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Reflection Paper on the Social Justice Event

The Social Justice Event that I attended was about Women Studies and the special guest was Leslie Grinner; the creator of S.C.W.A.M.P. This acronym stands for Straightness, Christianity, Able-Bodiness, Maleness, and Property Ownership. In society, these 6 ideologies create what is perceived as the "normal" society. Anything that does not fit into this criteria is considered abnormal, usually discriminated against, or even though of as less superior. Leslie Grinner came up with this because these were the standards in order to vote. You were assumed to be straight, had to be a christian, had to be able-bodied, a male, and owned/ handled property. These are still held true in society even though we had made strides to create diversity in the community.

SCWAMP can easily be seen through community in multiple ways but I'll connect it to three:

1) Jobs
2) Politics and
3) Media

In jobs, women to this day make 75 cents to every dollar a man makes. They could be doing the exact same job and STILL be making less. That's why being a male is more accepted in the work force. Also being able-bodied helps with getting a job. It doesn't just mean not being handicap but being pretty creates a better able-body than someone who is considered ugly. You're guaranteed to get a better job if you're pretty.

In Politics, society is still afraid to have a female leader. In most countries around the world, women have already been leaders in that country. Why is it that in America we're still afraid to have a women leader. Also in politics, we just recently had our first black president, and he wasn't even fully black, he was only half black. All of our other leaders, presidents, etc have been white. They have all been straight, all rich and owners of property. Politics is full of SCWAMP.

The third connection is to the media: probably the most influential of three. Why? Because the media starts with children and sticks with them throughout their entire life. In the media, we see predominant heterosexual relationships. We see the villains as disabled (with a patch, crutch, peg-leg, hunchback, etc) and the pretty princess/ main women as skinny, beautiful, and always gets what she wants. We also see that a lot of christian values even if it's not reading verses straight from the bible. For example, women wearing cross necklace or praying before dinner.

Through this social justice event, Leslie Grinner broke down SCWAMP in the Twilight Saga. It is amazing that having seen Twilight I never noticed these prominent ideologies. Like the fact that this isn't seen:

Do you think that Twilight would go over so well as a movie if it had a homosexual couple in it instead of all heterosexual couples? Straightness is key in this movie as well as most movies out in theaters right now! Twilight also constitutes that having property, wealth and beauty is better. Edward Cullen and the rest of the Cullen's are absolutely beautiful, perfect actually, not a hair or thread out of place. Yet, Jacob, lives on a preserve, works with his hands, and is not the most beautiful person in the world in comparison to Edward (until the second movie when he took off his shirt and showed his abs for no apparent reason). Moving on, whiteness is prominent in the movie. Bella is the whitest girl ever and every boy that she meets wants her, black, Asian, and white. Of course she chooses Edward, the other whitest man in the world, and denies Jacob (who until recently I didn't look at as being more Latino than Native American). There are two black men in the entire series (one which disappears all together by the third movie and the other who is clearly a foreigner, not American.) Being white is very important in this movie. Finally, even though there is now real religion in this movie, Edward feels inclined to save sex for marriage regardless of how Bella feels. This is a very christian/ moral act. I doubt that it was intended but it is indeed a part of the Christian faith.

What I took most of all out of this is that Stephanie Meyers didn't write this with the intention of being everything that SCWAMP indicates; Meyers is just apart of this ideology and has been influenced by this culture of Straightness, Christianity, Whiteness, Able-bodiness, Maleness, and Property ownership. Meyers probably has no idea that this even occurs in her books, just as most of us probably never though that SWAMP really existed in society.

This idea really relates to three texts that we have read in our class:

1) Johnson
2) McIntosh and
3) Christensen

Johnson believes that we need to talk about privilege, power, and difference to create a more just and respectful world. It is said that if you're living in a predominantly white community, suburb, or anything to that extent, you are more likely privileged or have power. In Twilight, you can clearly see that Edward is privileged (his father is a wealthy doctor and mother is able to stay home) while Jacob lives on a reserve and has a handicap father so Jacob works. Johnson would wants people to notice how race, class, gender, and sexuality affect your privilege, power and difference.

McIntosh believes that white people do not notice how whiteness is more widely accepted or has more power over other races. In Twilight, I never noticed how the characters are white, living happily, and that Bella is willing to die for the dead white guy rather than be with the Native American mortal wolf man. I also never noticed in Twilight that there are only Two Black Males (not even Black women) in the films and one of them disappears (like stated before). I wouldn't notice this because it's not my race, I don't really think about how many black people, Asian people, Latino people are in films because that's not my race I suppose.

The final author that SCWAMP and Twilight relates to, above all in my opinion is Christensen and her idea of the Secret Education withing media. For example, Emily from Twilight:
Do you know how Emily got that horrendous scar and disfigurement on her face? He boyfriend or husband (I forget what he is) got angry at her, and shape shifted and slashed her face with his big strong wolf paw. The CRAZY thing is that she stays with him, saying it was a one time thing and that he just got angry and out of control. What does this sound like to you? OH I KNOW DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND ABUSE! Girls might not see it as that but they will see it as it's okay if he hurt her because they still love each other and it was a one time thing! This movie has a hidden message that Stephanie Meyers probably didn't even mean to put in! Media is constantly providing SCWAMP stereotypes and secret messages to it's viewers.

This social justice event was really impacting and made me think about the movies and media that I watch or view. I'll probably dissect everything I watch now!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Let No Voice Be Silenced!


This weeks article was from the book entitled Schooling Children with Down Syndrome by Christopher Kliewer.

"Now we know that people with disabilities can learn and have a full, rich life. 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" 

I personally have a connection with this article because I have always been thinking about the discrimination in schools against those who are disabled. In some schools, I see that kids with disabilities are put into their "special" classrooms but never to socialize in a classroom of their peers who are not disabled. I immediately think of Leslie Grinner and her creation of S.C.W.A.M.P. The A in this acronym stands for able-bodyness. In today's society, you see someone different, you automatically judge, in other words most people will discriminate against someone who is not he same as he or she is. This discrimination doesn't just have to be of color or gender, but disability: the able bodyness of a person. In this article, it talks about how school's do not treat those with down syndrome or even disabilities with the same FAITH as they do with those whoa re capable of doing their work. Some schools just don't think these students are able to perform to their full potential because they don't KNOW their full potential. In this site however, you can see that there is an effort to inform and guide teachers to be able to teach those with down syndrome. I think that this is a positive thing to do for those with disabilities, but exploring this site, I'm not sure where they stand on those with downs being in a classroom of their peers. THAT is the biggest issue I found in this article; helping those with downs ultimately adapt to the community. 

"Community both establishes and is derived from each individual's recognition of the value of every other individual. Such realization comes about through the act of communal dialogue, or, using Dewey's term, conjoint communication...democracy can only occur when no person's voice in deterministically silenced" 

We are silencing those with what we presume to be disability. "Community requires a willingness to see people as they are-- different perhaps in their minds and in their bodies, but not different in their spirits or their willingness and ability to contribute to the mosaic of society."  

My reflection on this WHOLE this is named Jonathan. I worked with Jonathan for years when I was living back in CT as a babysitter. His mother had a previous babysitter that didn't work because she couldn't seem to handle his down syndrome. At the time, he was 7 years old. When I came into the picture, I treated him as I would any other child that I babysat. I would tell him when to clean his toys, when to sit down on the couch, when to get into his pj's, never in a voice that would belittle his ability, but a stern voice as any authoritative figure would have to take. I would have MAYBE one tantrum a visit. The previous babysitter would have a tantrum with every question that she asked. The way that she asked the questions I can only assume was in a voice that was not whole hearted in having FAITH in Jonathan. Yes he has down syndrome but he understands and new everything that I asked him to do. It might have taken a few seconds to register, but he was not stupid. He was actually very smart. 

After babysitting Jonathan, I treat any person of down syndrome as such...a person. They are exactly what the quote about stated: different in mind and body but the same in spirit. I hope that in schools, these students would be treated equally by not just their peers, but their teachers. They are at school for the same reason any other child would be in a school and that is to get an education.

In class, I'd like to talk about how other people's schools were set up with their disability programs. How were they effective in helping those with disabilities and how could they have also been improved? I want to know how to stop discrimination of these students and most importantly IF they were ever to be taken advantage of because they may not be quick to judge. It pains me to think that in my work place (I work with kids and adults of disabilities) that someone would be stealing money from a person with a form of autism. It is sickening. I want to know how education can be improved with those of down syndrome!  

Friday, April 8, 2011

Literacy: Dangerous, with Attitude, and Changing Society


This weeks reading was called Literacy With An Attitude by Patrick J. Finn. Even though we were required to read the Preface along with chapters 1,2, and a bit of 13 and 14. I'll be focusing on mainly the preface and chapter 1 because they impacted me the most!

There was one quote that stuck out to me that COMPLETELY related to Delpit and her rules about the codes of power. Finn stated how he was very direct in the way that he taught his classroom and when he "had work assignments on the board when the students entered the classroom, and so there wasn't a moment when they didn't have anything to do, [he] didn't say to an errant student, 'What are you doing?' [he] said, 'Stop that and get to work.' No discussion. No openings for an argument." I look at this as Finn having complete control over his classroom. He new how to maintain a wonderful working environment for his students. Finn talked about how he started off teaching the classrooms of the 8-7's, 8-8's, 8-9's, and 8-10's which just meant that he had the second to last "slower" / troublemaker's classrooms while he taught. The other teachers who had seniority over him had been teaching the 8-1's, 8-2's and 8-3's which were clearly the upper-level learning classes. By Finn's third year, he had the lowest of these classes (8-11, 8-12, 8-13, 8-14, and 8-15's). He was the one that was viewed as able to handle the trouble makers better than anyone else. Finn stated that he "was a huge success". I firmly believe that he was because he was everything Delpit wanted in a teacher: direct, set the rules out, and there to explain. 

The second text that I think connects really well to this would be Allan G. Johnson and his talk about privilege, power and difference in order to work towards a more just world!  Finn got the title of his book from a man named Paulo Freire who worked in Brazil as an educator to those who were "classified" as illiterate poor.

"Before he started to teach reading and writing, he asked his students to reflect on the concept of justice--a radical and dangerous thing to do in a country where a huge divide separated a small number of very rich and a vast number of very poor. He asked his students what they might do to secure justice and suggested that literacy would make them far better able to engage in the struggle they would certainly face if they tried to get a better deal. Then he was ready to talk ABC's, and so were they."

The thought is that by educating those who are illiterate, there won't be a "poor" but only the rich, richer, and richest. "When rich children get empowering education nothing changes. But when working-class children get empowering education you get literacy with an attitude." This I believe is what Finn wants. If we learn how to empower education, "if people can become conscious of injustice and inequity, be disciplined, focused, and strategic action, they can bring about change. Such action both requires and promotes powerful literacy in those who struggle for justice and equity." 

In class, I would like to talk about how privilege and power CONTINUES to be such an impact on the way that society works. Also, think about how education can be empowered to create better people, not just smarter ones. I think it's so important to realize how the fortunate are fortunate, and how to make those who seem to be the "born losers" in society, fortunate, rich, and powerful as well.

Saturday, April 2, 2011



This Video Is Perfect For Gender Stereotypes In This Day and Age:

Even though I looked at many different websites, this was the first and probably impacted me the most. It's short and sweet but has interesting facts of how EMPOWERING WOMEN is so important.It is not my article about education but it's still important!

This article is called Empowering Women as Key Change Agents by the people working for the Hunger Project. 

This project helps women all over the world get empowered (mainly in third world countries or nations that are mainly driven by men) so that their communities can be improved.

"Women bear almost all responsibility for meeting basic needs of the family, yet are systematically denied the resources, information and freedom of action they need to fulfill this responsibility."

I am a wife. I enjoy taking care of my home even though in this day and age people think that it's being too "submissive" or having the husband walk all over you. I will admit I do bare the responsibility of cooking, mostly cleaning (he does help though which is good!) and I'm sure when kids come our way that too, but I'm not going to be a stay at home mother all my life. I'm going to school to become a teacher, I'm getting an education and a degree, I am being treated as an equal and actually, I am getting more of an education than the man I'm married to who decided to join the Army (which is wonderful because that's what's best for him!) When I read this, I was thinking about what if I wasn't getting an education? With education, I have the information and freedom to provide for my family. "Studies show that when women are supported and empowered, all of society benefits. Their families are healthier, more children go to school, agricultural productivity improves and incomes increase. In short, communities become more resilient."

We, as women, make a great impact in society! Not just men, not men alone, they do help, but if women are empowered, society is empowered. If a woman in the home is run down, unhappy, and unable to take care of their responsibilities, everyone suffers. Women are hard workers, I would know because I work very hard in school, at my job, and at home! I am an amazing multi-tasker and I'm sure that I'm not the only woman to do so! You can't have a community of just men, nor a community with just women, we need to coexist together in unity and equally. 

The third quote states: (statistics of what has been done to empower women)
  • By providing women food farmers easy access to credit, adequate training and instilling in them the importance of saving, THP's Microfinance Program enables women to engage in income-generating activities to increase their incomes and invest in their families and communities.
  • More than 920,000 people have taken the HIV/AIDS and Gender Inequality Workshop, in which they not only learn the facts of AIDS, but also confront and transform the gender-based behaviors that fuel the pandemic.
  • In India, our Women's Leadership Workshop has empowered 75,000 women elected to local councils to be effective change agents in their villages. They are forming district- and state-wide federations to ensure that their voices are heard at top levels of government.
  • In Bangladesh, we catalyzed the formation of a 300-organization alliance that organizes more than 800 events across the country each September in honor of National Girl Child Day, a day to focus on eradicating all forms of discrimination against girl children.
I really love the even happening in Bangladesh, National Girl Child Day. When I read this national day I thought about how they help them find a sport they like or doing things that boys do that girls supposedly "can't" do. It's also great that they are providing Gender Inequality classes to raise awareness to the woman about being mistreated unequally.

This is an awesome program helping women around the world learn that they are more than just keepers of the home. Men have many talents and use them in business, sports, and whatever they may do. Woman aren't just good at being in the kitchen, cleaning, and taking care of kids. Women have talent to utilize as WELL!

 I know that I was supposed to pick one article, but Gender Equality is happening on a GLOBAL scale. How can we improve what's happening in America? 

My Article about Gender in Education is Called "Gender Bias in Education"
by Amanda Chapman of D'Youville College

My three comments for this article are:

1) Upon entering school, girls perform equal to or better than boys on nearly every measure of achievement, but by the time they graduate high school or college, they have fallen behind. 

2) Teachers socialize girls towards a feminine ideal. Girls are praised for being neat, quiet, and calm, whereas boys are encouraged to think independently, be active and speak up. Girls are socialized in schools to recognize popularity as being important, and learn that educational performance and ability are not as important.

3) Gender bias in education is an insidious problem that causes very few people to stand up and take notice. The victims of this bias have been trained through years of schooling to be silent and passive, and are therefore unwilling to stand up and make noise about the unfair treatment they are receiving. "Over the course of years the uneven distribution of teacher time, energy, attention, and talent, with boys getting the lion's share, takes its toll on girls." 

In education, quote 1 states how girls are ahead of the game when they enter school, usually doing better than the boys but once they reach college, something happens. Girls may feel inadequate to boys and their abilities when they enter college. "It's a man's world" we're just working here. 
Quote 2 shows how girls are pushed into be feminine and girl, to be quiet and calm and not stand up to comment on their own ideas where as boys are to be more vocal and independent in their thinking. I find this so true only because I can remember that if i were to be loud or speak up that was very "different" and unacceptable as a girl but if the boy right next to me were, it was expected. 

The final quote just impacted me into thinking that there needs to be a change. The whole reason I put the first article is because action is taking place AROUND THE WORLD for gender equality, lets start here. Let's make a change in the US on gender equality. 

I'd like to talk in class about how we could make workshops for teachers as well as boys and girls alike. I'd like to talk about how this stereotype of girls needing to be in pink dresses and playing with dolls came about and why can't girls be treated the same as boys. Why is it that men are above women even if that woman may be more intelligent, kind, and all around a better person. Men are great people don't get me wrong, but women are overlooked for their greatness because they behave so well. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

As Easy As ABCD


This weeks blog focuses on TIM WISE the author of Between Barack and a Hard Place and his argument that racism is still very prominent in today's society and that the next big change in racism has arrived. It also focuses on Bob Herbert and his article in the New York Times which he argues that whites and people of Black and Hispanic heritage are still UNEQUAL in today's society.

You might be wondering why the title of this blog is "as easy as ABC" well because realizing that racism exist is as easy as ABCD and FIXING the problem is even easier.

A ccept
B lacks and
C hange the views of
D iscrimination

I'm not really sure why I thought of this acronym, but when you think about it, fixing discrimination is just that easy! Discrimination can simply be put as the unfair treatment of a race, so why can't be fair to this race?

Tim Wise talks about his new book and his findings of how racism still exists, maybe not as prominently as 50 years about but it still exists non the less. He says that there are two types of racism: 1.0 and 2.0. Racism 1.0 is the racism of Martin Luther King's time where there were signs specifically separating Whites from Blacks, different education types, or the racism that puts whites far above blacks thinking they were inferior (not to say that isn't seen now a days though either). Racism 2.0 (Wise says) is "transcending race from black or brown norm. WHAT does that mean? Well transcend means to go above, so what Wise is saying is that racism today is whites become "comfortable" with blacks or browns that go above their own race. Whites accepted Obama because he wasn't like the average "blacks" that most White people view as being less intelligent, more aggressive or prone to be apart of crimes, and not as hard working as Whites and more likely to live off welfare. Wise states how these stereotypes are the basis of today's racism. People are comfortable with Obama being black because a) he had years to prove his experience and intelligence and b) because he also has a parent who is White. The big question that struck me was can an average person of color amount to something the way an average white could? In today's society, white Americans might not even know that this racism exists but they still think less of black American's and it is seen in places of business, jobs, etc. Because of Barack Obama coming into Presidency, the new standard is that all people of black origin need to be truly exceptional in order to achieve anything now.

Bob Herbert's article states "The election of Barack Obama has not made true integration any more palatable to millions of Americans". This coincides with Wise's book because you would think that Barack's election would help White American's accept Black American's but it is still not the case. Herbert's main argument is on the education of today's Black and Hispanic students. Most of these students live in poverty and "the best teachers tend to avoid such schools, expectations regarding student achievement are frequently much lower, and there are lower levels of parental involvement" This all impacts the student and therefore puts graduates in the position of being "less intelligent" as stereotypes may point out. Wouldn't make sense to focus more on these public schools than the schools with the best test scores and more privilege? The teachers that do end up teaching these students would be less than inclined to teach them the rules and codes of power. Delpit would fear the way that the teacher operates her classroom for these students. Herbert argues that students would perform better if they were in a school with peers of middle class (rather than a school of their own racial and ethnic integration). Isn't it interesting that there are schools mainly with black students and schools mainly of whites? Couldn't we say that this matches the segregation of schools 50 years ago? This really relates to Herbert's argument of Separate but Unequal. 

This one quote from Bob Herbert really shows the relationship between Brown vs. Board and today's issues:

"More than a half-century after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation ruling, we are still trying as a country to validate and justify the discredited concept of separate but equal schools — the very idea supposedly overturned by Brown v. Board when it declared, “Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”
Schools are no longer legally segregated, but because of residential patterns, housing discrimination, economic disparities and long-held custom, they most emphatically are in reality."

 Take a look at the site of Brown vs. Board of Education:

"The current obsession with firing teachers, attacking unions and creating ever more charter schools has done very little to improve the academic outcomes of poor black and Latino students. Nothing has brought about gains on the scale that is needed."

The home page of this website shows two pictures. Notice that the white school has nice desks, pictures, a teacher and happy kids all in rows. The black school however has a heater right in the middle, no pictures, no desks, and not a teacher to be seen. Today, might not be as extreme but in my Service Learning area, I see some distinct differences from my middle class high school to their urban, poor school. This is happening today.

In class, I'd really like to discuss how this can be changed. How can we figure out why it is that people are poor, how can we split districts and maybe have kids from Providence going to a school like Barrington? How can we break the segregation happening today in schools even thought we supposedly broke those barriers years ago.