Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Talking Points #4: Kohl and Kohn


While reading Herbert Kohl's article "I Won't Learn From You!" and Alfie Kohn's arcticle "Five Reasons to Stop Saying 'Good Job'", I did a lot of thinking about the experiences that I've had so far during Service Learning. The most important message from Kohl's article was that there's a big difference between failure and refusal or unwillingness to learn. In my service learning classroom, there's a particular student that I see getting in trouble every single week. In fact, this past week he walked outside of the school in the middle of the day and nobody could find him. When he was finally found, his reasoning for leaving the building was because he "wanted to play outside". I see him acting up in class all the time, and he never answers the teachers questions when he's called upon. In his case, I've come to find that he refuses to learn or behave because he gets attention for it. I'm not sure if he's getting a lot of attention at home or not, but it seems like he'd rather receive negative attention than no attention at all. I don't think he's actually incapable of doing what the other students are doing, I just think he wants more attention than the rest of the class. Also, after reading Aflie Kohn's article I decided to change the way I complimented the students on their work. At first, I was always saying "good job" whenever the students would show me their work, and I really did start to notice that they were becoming "praise junkies". They just wanted me to tell them that they did a good job, no matter how well they actually did. Students were constantly asking me how their work was and wanted approval. After reading the article, I stopped saying "good job". I started simply saying "you did it" or "that's right", or I'd ask the students what their favorite part about their work was. This honestly seemed to work much better. They were no longer constantly asking me how they were doing, they just accepted that they did it, and completed things the way that they considered their best. Both of these articles are great reads for future teachers. because clearly they are things that happen frequently in the field. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Talking Points #6 Kahne and Westheimer

"In The Service of What?"

ARGUEMENT: Kahne and Westheimer argue that "while service learning advocates rush to forge coalitions and find a shared vocabulary that accommodates multiple agendas and while practitioners and researchers begin to work on difficult implementation and evaluation issues, educators from schoolhouse to university to state house are neglecting to answer the most fundamental question: In the service of what?

       Kahne and Westheimer want the readers to understand the impact and more importantly the purpose of service learning. What service is actually being done? What do the students learn from their experiences and what exactly does service learning do? They want students to become pro-active instead of reactive. Going out and volunteering for something is great, but what the students did in Ms. Adams' classroom was exceptional. They completely submerged themselves into the topic of homelessness, helped the homeless community, and the students also gained a ton more knowledge than if they were to just go volunteer in a soup kitchen. Volunteering is important, but service learning is supposed to not only benefit people in the community but also be a learning experience for students. They learned new things about the subject every day in class, and then got to actually initiate change and created a plan to solve a problem in the community. Volunteering teaches civic duty and empathy, while service learning teaches students to identify and respond to problems at hand and the factors leading up to them. Instead of making service learning projects about charity, teachers should be more concerned with making their projects about change. If students were given the right information and tools to create change, their communities could be improved greatly.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Talking Points #9 Christopher Kliewer


I could heavily relate to Chritsopher Kliewer's chapter titled "Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome". In my senior year of high school I was highly involved with the special needs students in my school, and in the state of Rhode Island. Luckily, I was fortune and privileged to be part of a school who welcomed students with developmental disabilities with open arms. I stopped playing soccer my senior year and joined the school's Unified volleyball team, a league created by the Rhode Island Interscholastic League and the Rhode Island Special Olympics.
I built many bonds with the athletes. We practiced together and had a game every week for the season and ended up coming in second place in the playoffs. I later on joined the Unified Basketball team, and we also had an amazing season and came in second place again. I was also on the committee for the RI Special Olympics youth forum that year, and went on a trip to Yawgoo Valley with my hockey teammates to cheer on Special Olympic athletes in the winter games. I really think it's amazing that schools systems are starting to give students with developmental disabilities recognition as equals, which they rightfully deserve. I believe that assimilation within the classroom should always be practiced, and no one should be segregated for being different.

"I suppose you could argue that and it's hard to argue that you might be wrong. Lee is, in a sense, 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 they wouldn't be seeing him. Do you know what I mean? Because Lee is Lee, and anybody who knows Lee knows, and this includes all the kids, they know he's gifted-in how he solves problems, cares about others, reads, loves math. So I guess what I'm arguing is that if you did pick Lee out, you wouldn't be seeing Lee. It's not Lee you're picking out. It's your stereotype, your mind-set. It's you, and
it has nothing to do with Lee. But if that's how you choose to see him, I don't know that anything I could do, we could do, I don't think there's anything Lee could do to change your mind."(84) 

This quote basically summed up everything that I feel about this article. Any individual person, no matter what disabilities they may have, is still a person. Lee is a person, just as you and I are people..and that's what we all deserve to be treated like. I find it completely degrading to separate an entire group of individuals solely because they we born with individually entirely different disabilities from each other. In fact, it doesn't even make sense. I believe we've come a long way since this book was written in 1998, but there are still many schools, and people for that matter- nationwide who really need to change their paradigm.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Talking Points #7: Separate is not Equal

Free Response

I believe that what Tim wise and Bob Herbert both had to say about racial integration are very similar to the issues that the United states had faced at the time of Brown v. Board of Education. Tim Wise made an valid accusation that we do not have a "truly equal opportunity society", and that black people have to be truly exceptional in order to receive the same acknowledgment and power as mediocre white people do. This was true in the past when only extraordinarily intelligent African americans became lawyers and doctors and other high class positions, and is also true now during the time of Obama's presidency. Tim Wise makes a good point when he speaks about many different white politicians who have extremely bad track records who are where they're at, and that you don't see black people with similar records in the same positions. I agree with him when he says that white people were in denial in the 1950's when they were asked if they thought black student's received the same educational opportunities as white students, and that they still are today. Bob Herbert raises the issue of racial integration in schools and explains that because of "...residential patterns, housing discrimination, economic disparities, and long-held custom", schools are still segregated in the United States today. Schools are still segregated much like they were in the past, which gives very little meaning to the ruling of the Brown v. Board of Education case. Low-income students who live in areas of poverty, many of whom are black or latino, all get sent to one school. Middle and high class students, who are mostly white, get sent to other schools in their own areas. Herbert explains that intelligence not about the race of the students, but the environment in which they are learning. If schools are still segregated among the country, they are definitely not equal. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Christensen Blog Post

Linda Christensen's, "Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us"


1. "When we read children's books, we aren't just reading cute little stories, we are discovering the tools with which a young society is manipulated" (126)

  • One of Linda Christensen's students had written this quote after studying children's literature and films. It means that children's books are much more than just a story for a child's enjoyment, and that the stories young children read really change the way that they think about things for the rest of their lives. It's relevant to the text because the entire article is about how young children are influenced by the television, different stories, and things that they hear from other people.
2. "For some the lesson doesn't end in the classroom. Many who watched cartoons before we start our study say they can no longer enjoy them. Now instead of seeing a bunch of ducks in clothes, they see the racism, sexism, and violence that swim under the surface of the stories."(134)

  • This means that because of Linda Christensen's teachings, her students have learned something. They have received enlightenment, and are no longer capable of being brainwashed by the different underlying messages in the shows. Her students, and others that receive the same information now see cartoons aren't all good, and that a lot of them actually portray some really negative messages. Maybe if people stopped watching the shows, they would eventually be taken off the air.


3. "Most students wrote artides for local and national newspapers or magazines. Some published in neighborhood papers, some in church newsletters."(137)

  • Christensen's student's studied many different cartoons, and had felt very strongly about the messages that they were portraying to younger children. Many of them had written articles explaining the hidden messages in different well-known cartoons, with intentions of creating awareness of the manipulation. This is relevant to the article because people are taking action against the racist and prejudice messages being displayed in children's cartoons and movies. This not only enlightens parents on the different messages portrayed in cartoons that their children are watching, but also can give older people an idea of where some of their insecurities and perspectives could be coming from.

The article included above is a little explicit and very blunt, but I believe it holds some truth and is relevant to tonight's article.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Talking Points #3: Safe Spaces


Tonight, the article "Safe Spaces: Making Schools and Communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth" by Annemarie Vaccaro, Gerri August, and Megan S. Kennedy really made me realize that the high school, and especially the middle school that I attended did an awful job at discussing anything to do with the LGBT lifestyle. Much like Maria's Spanish professor, both my middle school and college Spanish teachers and professors have all refused to acknowledge the fact that homosexuality even exists. Whenever relationships were discussed, it was always between a man and a woman. LGBT historical figures were ignored and unacknowledged. It was, however, alright to discuss heterosexual historical figures who had had several affairs throughout their lifetime. Things like that are mentioned, but LGBT individuals aren't talked about. After reading the article, I did some research on the Stonewall riots (yes, I had to research them--because they were never once mentioned in any of my History courses). I had no idea that these riots had even taken place, and yet they had such a huge impact on the gay rights movement in the United States! That's crazy to me. I knew that the Gay Pride celebrations were every summer, but I didn't know that they were at the end of June to celebrate the anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Needless to say, "Safe Spaces" brought an undiscussed topic to light. I someday hope to be a Kindergarten teacher, and after reading the story of teacher Zeke Lerner on page 89, I've realized that it's important to integrate different family lifestyles into the communication and curriculum in the classroom- even when the children are young. Children should be accepting and aware of everyone, and they should know that it is okay.

Upon researching, I found this to be very interesting.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Talking Points #2: Aria by Richard Rodriguez


"Aria" by Richard Rodriguez was a really thought provoking article for me. Throughout the text, Rodriguez explains his struggles as a Spanish speaking child. He explains, "What I did not believe was that I could speak a single public language"(34). Spanish appeared to him as a private language that was only welcomed in his home, and even that was taken away from him. Luckily, he began to accept being bilingual and changed his thought process on learning the English language. Because of this, he became a much more confident person and speaker. It automatically made me think of Lisa Delpit's article from last week: because of how inferior Richard Rodriguez felt, his situation led me to think about the rules and codes of power. Those who do not speak the dominant language of their society feel like they do not have power. 

I decided to choose the reflective prompt option because I can relate to Rodriguez in a less severe way. Since starting my new job, I've become much more aware of different cultures and languages; something that is not very diverse in my home town. Before starting, English was basically the only language I ever heard, besides hearing an occasional spanish-speaking person pass by or the couple of beginner Spanish courses I've taken. Now, whenever I'm at work I am the minority. Many of the people that I work with speak Spanish, and most of them speak little to no English. My bosses and a few of the employees speak English, but they also speak Arabic fluently to each other throughout the shifts. I can relate to Rodriguez because I know how it feels to have everyone around you speaking a different language that you don't understand. It's challenging trying to communicate with people when there are language barriers, and I realize this more and more as I work at the restaurant. Like Rodriguez, having such difficulty understanding another language only makes me want to learn it even more. Since starting my job, I've put more effort into learning more Spanish and even more Arabic, because I've learned that each language is just as important as the next, and that they are all forms of communication. Seeing that 90% of the people that I work with are bilingual makes me more motivated to learn a second language too, and I plan on continuing to work on learning Spanish. I'm glad that I read this article, because Rodriguez opened up my eyes when I read on page 34, "...I wrongly imagined that English was intrinsically a public language and Spanish an intrinsically private one". Before, I didn't see Spanish as a public language, because it was never around me. Now I see that it's a very public language, and that being bilingual is an advantageous skill to have in this current day and age.