Monday, May 03, 2010

Social Justice Event

For my social justice event I went to hear Charles Cobb Jr. speak here on campus. Cobb had a bunch of achievements; he's written and published many books including No Easy Victories: African Liberation and American Activists over a Half Century, 1950-2000. He was a civil rights activist and is currently one of the big authors on an African news website, which is one of the worlds biggest information site on Africa. I was actually kind of dreading going to this because I waited last minute and this was pretty much my only option and I really hate listening to people talk to me for two hours straight about something that happened years ago. However this was totally different, this man was actually part of the civil rights movement and he was only 19 years old. He took a stand for what he believed in and told us all of the stories of his journeys throughout Mississippi and about the times he was jailed. He was a big member of SNCC (Students Non-violent Coordinating Committee) as well as the MFDP (Mississippi Free Democratic Party). It was really quite interesting to say the least. He even let the audience ask questions which allowed us to ask question about what we could do today to change.

I made a few connections to our class through Cobb. The first big one that came to my mind was definitely Johnson. He often said how no one wanted to talk about these problems and how no one wanted to even do anything just ignore them and hope that things would get better. However the whole point of SNCC was to address these problems and make them public so that they had to be dealt with. I also connected Cobb's stories to Delpit. Delpit often spoke about the codes of power and what not. Cobb and both groups he was an active member of (SNCC and MFDP) were going against the white power and the white culture and codes of power. My third connection is kind of a stretch but I figure it's relevant to our class even if it's not a connection. Someone asked what we as 19and 20 year olds could do today to fix society and his answer was education. He said we needed to fix the education system. He told us that a recent study showed that 76% of graduating seniors had and eighth grade (or lower)education level. It kind of reminded me of Anyon a little bit in the sense where she was the only who really talked about education in this sense. I kinda of think of what Cobb was talking about as tracking and how its doesnt work. Again it's a stretch but I think that it's defintely relevant.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Random post 2

We talked about tracking in the school systems and I was thinking that we "track" the kids at the studio. We separate them into groups based on skill, and hearing everyone's comments about tracking, I'm wondering if we are helping them or not. One one side, everyone knows who's in the good class and who is in the not so good classes. On the other side, its hard for the kids who are good to go over the old stuff over and over again. So we separate them. However we do put some groups together and certain routines. And then there is the production number where all of the kids are together. Other pros are that the students do have the opportunity to move up a level. I know that its not exactly the same as tracking in the schools, but I'm sure that the kids feel the same way when they see the "good" dancers always picked to show something, or to be in a routine together.

Random post 1

I had my first, "this class is ruining things for me" moment. Although I'm not so sure it was I was ruined. My roommate was watching some TV show (I'm not sure what it was) when I walked into the room. The character on the screen said something along the lines of, "I feel like such an outsider." To which my roommate replied, "Of course you do. You're gay, thus making you an outsider." (yes we talk to the TV on the reg). I was really taken aback by what she said. Normally I probably wouldn't have thought twice about her comment, but on this day I called her out on it. After I said something I was nervous that she would freak out at me, but she was really embarrassed at herself for saying something soo dumb. So I'm kind of glad the first time I spoke out was a success. Because to be honest, I'm not sure if I would say something (or what I would say) to a kid in the hallway.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Last Talking Points!!

1. "Students in empowering classes should be expected to develop skills and knowledge as well as high expectations for themselves, their education, and their futures."

I think that it's important that the students set goals for themselves and strive to achieve them. My classroom teacher is kind of doing this now. She teaches her kids to take control of their own learning. Things like this will make life easier for them when they are older.

2. "Dewey emphasized participation as the point at which democracy and learning meet in the classroom."

We kind of touched on this in the class; the different types of classroom styles. I picked this because I thought it was interesting that we kind of foreshadowed this. There are teachers who believe that participation is the best learning. I know that at Bay View they have "Senior Experience" and they go out into the 'real world' for a day and get some work experience. Although this is a little bit different from the participation it reminded me of it.

3. "In a participatory class where authority is mutual, s0meof the positive affects which support student learning include cooperativeness, curiosity, humor, hope, responsibility, respect, attentiveness, openness, and concern about society."

I think these are all great things and if these are things that can come out of the way you run the classroom then I think there is a lot to benefit from that. However, the article goes on to say that there also arise a few problems with the participatory classroom. But that is going to happen with any type of classroom that you have.

This article kind of dragged on. I'm getting to that point in school where i don't want to doo anything haha. But i was pretty exciting after reading and I realized that this was the last one. That being said, this was one of the readings that i enjoyed most. I like reading about different classroom styles and how they work and why and what the students do and dont get out of them. I have a few ideas of what I want to do from my own education, what worked, what didnt. But other than that i'm blank slate. So i enjoyed this article.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Talking Points #9 Kliewer Article

1. "Such acceptance is the aim when children with Down Syndrome join their non disabled peers in classrooms, and many schools and individual teachers have entered into this effort, which seeks and finds community value in all children."

I picked this quote because this 'aim' is exactly what we as a community need to strive for. If we gained acceptance of these kids, then we would have a lot less problems.

2. "Assessments of how well a student conforms to expectations tend to focus teacher attention on the child's adeptness at responding to classroom-based math and language tasks."

I picked this because I think it shows that sometimes assessments and take time away from the students learning. I think especially in the case of a special education classroom it's important to utilize as much classroom time as possible.

3. "If a misunderstanding emerges, its cause is not located in any individual but in the communicative web that connects all of us to one another."

This is soo important because it doesn't place the blame on any one student. So not only do the students not have to feel excluded or singled out, but they also get to work through it together as a community which is really important.

This week I had a lot of trouble reading the article, there was a birthday party going on downstairs so I was having a lot of trouble focusing. I think a lot of the problems mentioned in this article would have been what Johnson called unspoken. I think that talking about students with Down syndrome is another one of those tough subjects and I sometimes felt a little uncomfortable reading this article.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Post #7 - Gender and Education

It was really hard to find good information that didn't repeat itself or wasnt more than 20 years old, but here is some of the stuff that I found. I think that a lot of the 'stereotypes' and testing results from the nineties, still have some prevalence today.
This website has link that you can click on to view "who does better" at reading, writing, math and science. These results are based on testing done in a few different years. The results are separated by gender, race, ethnicity and grade. I only focused on the gender for this research, but the other stuff was kind of interesting too. Girls writing skills were better, while the boys excelled in science, and the math scores went half and half. This information dates as recently as 1990 soo obviously these don't relate to key issues of 2010, but its some good background information on the subject and it still sort of applies.

Most websites generalize that there are "boy subjects" (science and math) and "girl subjects" (English and history). While the results form the first website up above tend to support this theory, from personal experience I can say that this really isn't true.

In my high school girls were generally smarter than boys. Now this was just one school but I would like to assume that the results from my school are typical in a few others. Every year the top 10 students get to do an article in the local newspaper. My senior year out of the three Warwick high schools there were only 5 boys within the top ten of each school. So of the 30 smartest students in Warwick, 25 of them were girls. My school had no boys until number 13!! We used to joke around because our honors classes were full of girls with only 2 or 3 boys in them. One teacher used to always question why men run this country and this world, when we were living proof that women were more prevalent in high school honors classes. It seems to me that somewhere between high school and the real world, girls lose their ground.

Knowing this information, as well as not being able to find a lot about keyissues of 2010, I decided to look up the rates of women versus men that continue to college and then graduate.
One website shows that in 2008, about 71.5% of women were enrolled in college and only 65.9% of men were enrolled.
The graph on the left shows the degrees conferred by females versus males. The statistics start in 1971 and are projected up until 2017. As you can see is shows females are stepping up there game. I believe that these statistics are really catching up to our times and not the stereotypical information one usually comes up with. It just goes to show that a lot has changed over the years.

This site gives teachers tips and tricks to make sure that you, as a teacher, increase the equity between boys and girls in your classroom. This website says that in the 90's research made it clear that girls were 'shortchanged' in the classroom. A lot of times it seems that teachers unknowingly exhibit these 'gender biases' in their classroom, so here are a few tips to help prevent that from happening. Here are the most important tips.
1. Show fairness in the class room. Make sure that posters and signs around the room depict boys and girls engages in the same activities (NO STEREOTYPES). Make sure that you never pin boys and girls against each other, whether in a classroom competition, spelling bees, or even lining up. Make sure you call on boys and girls equally for answering questions. A good solution for this is some sort of lottery system. I remember when i was in sixth grade our teacher had a 'Magic Cup' and we each had our name on a piece of paper in the cup and she would pick out of the Magic Cup when putting us in groups, sending us on a errand, calling on us, or anything else. I never realized until now that this method was used as a gender equality exercise.

2. Select a variety of books. This reminds me of the King and King book we read in class. You might want to have books that show males and females doing equal tasks. Stories that have females doing stereotypical things may just "perpetuate the biases" in the classroom.
3. Choose your words carefully. Avoid phrases like 'boys will be boys' as statements like these can allow the biases to continue. Make sure that you interchange he and she when giving examples in the class. When teaching subtraction you dont want to keep saying, "If Johnny has ___ apples and he takes _____ away, how many are left?" Make sure you use Sally or Susie or Jane; keep switching it up.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Talking Points #6 - Wise videos

In the first video Wise talks about how we as Americans have defeated what he calls racism 1.0 when we elected Obama as our president. However, he defines racism 2.0 as almost a double standard that we hold against people of color. His example is that in order to be "an acceptable person of color" you have to be just like Obama; you have to dress like him, act like him, have the same education as him etc. And in this sense, we as Americans really have not gotten much closer to racial equity.
In the second video, Wise points out that we have gotten rid of the overt racism towards people of color. However, what hasn't changed is the denial; the denial that there is a problem--just as Johnson points out. Wise said that if you asked white people today if people of color were treated equally in 1962 everyone would say that they were not treated equally--even the most conservative people. However, if you asked white people in 1962 if people of color were being treated equal, 2 out of 3 would say that they were being treated equal; 9 out of 10 said that black children had equal educational opportunities. He also says that we have to ask the "target people" if a problem is still a problem. Basically that we are oblivious to the problem: whites don't recognize that they are in the culture of power. He points that a lot of people think racism is gone but its not. He also points out that racism is not the only problem that people of color face, just as sexism isn't the only problem for women.
In the article about Brown v. Board of education, we learn that this case was a turning point for racism in American history. In 1954, "the Court stripped away constitutional sanctions for segregation by race, and made equal opportunity in education the law of the land. " Basically, the law made segregation illegal in the schools. And this case paved the ways of civil rights for people of color.
What Wise would say is that just because segregation is illegal doesn't mean that racism doesn't exist. Steps like this, or electing our first black president is great, but it is still just a Band-aid on a broken leg. I kind of think of it as just because you have to be 21 to drink alcohol, that doesn't mean that kids under 21 aren't going to party. Wise points out that the situation has gotten better since the times of Brown v. Board of Education but we still have a long way to go. Sticking with the Band-aid analogy, if you put enough Band-aids on a broken leg, over time it will eventually heal but only a little bit, and there will still always be scars.