Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Random Post #2

I just wanted to talk a little bit about the things I saw in my classroom on my last visit. I know we talked about tracking in class recently with the Oakes article and I've seen some of the effects of it in my classroom. On the positive side, like Oakes says, the teacher in my class is helped out immensely by having different types of tracking groups and levels to be more organized in educating her students best. She can read at different levels and gear different sorts of questions and assignments to her kids when she spends time with these separated groups.
However, I think there is a greater downside to the tracking. I heard many comments from some of the higher level kids directed towards the kids tracked at the lower levels. They make fun of them for being at a lower reading level. This does terrible damage to the lower kid's self-esteem. This feeling that the children get from the lack of self esteem isn't the only downside that I see. I see kids in the lower levels just stay at the levels they are at. They are not challenging themselves and more importantly, the teacher is not challenging them. The lower level kids are getting the short end of the stick in the process of tracking I believe. As much as there are positives in tracking, I believe the downsides that I've seen and Oakes talks about outweigh the positives.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Social Justice Event

The social justice event that I went to was a lecture in the Adams Library on Wednesday about second wave feminism and the treatment of women rape victims. It was run by the history department. The lady who did the talking did most of her studies on the Chicago area, but made conclusions on her studies about the behavior of the country as a whole. She talked about how females were dissuaded by the maleness of the police force, courtroom, etc from reporting and going through with telling people of rapes. She also talked about how the rape victims were not even primary witnesses in the criminal cases, they were secondary witnesses. You would think the person who was victimized by the crime would be a primary witness in the case. However, she said there were advancements being made during the time period of her studies ( 60's-70's and later). She stated that hotlines were created to help reporting rapes easier and make it easier for women to talk about their problems with someone. Also, medical treatment improved. Rape victims were given separate rooms from other patients and were given an individual nurse who was to stay with her the whole time. Most of the other stuff was pretty boring and I could not keep my attention, but here are some connections I made with previous readings we have gone over.


-The lecturer stated that "women's voices were moved to the background"
- This is just like when Delpit talks about the people of color's voice in the education process. The people of color know how to educate their children the best way, however, the people in power are the ones who are making rules and the ways of education. Just like the women rape victims. You would think that women's ideas and thoughts on the process of caring for rape victims would be heard and ultimately listened to.

- "Maleness, is the primary root of female oppression"
- We talked about this while reading Johnson, but it was about whiteness in that case. For some group to be oppressed, there has to be another group that is benefiting and therefore oppressing that other group. In Johnson's example, it was whiteness that was the oppressing factor to non white people. In this case, maleness is the oppressing factor for females.

Separate but Equal?
- The lecturer talked about the separate examining rooms that the rape victims got and the special treatment they received.
- I guess this could be equated to separate and equal, because the rape victims need special treatment and care compared to other patients. I guess it's sort of like the whole glasses thing we talked about in class. Is it fair for the people who have glasses to have to take them off so everything is equal? No, so it isn't fair for women rape victims to receive no special care and help in the hospital.

I had to sort of dig deep, but those are my connections to the texts we read in class.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Random Post #1

Getting to a very busy time in the semester. Can't wait til this is all done and I can stop worrying! To add to my business, I went to my service learning this morning. I saw some interesting connections with some of the recent readings that we had gone over in the last couple weeks. When I got into the class in the morning the teacher was doing a great activity with the students that sort of challenged the ideas of Jean Anyon. She talked about that in lower/ working class schools like the one I'm doing my service learning in the sort of education being given is very structured and formatted around rules. She stated that in these schools there wasn't much creative expression and thought encouraged for the students.
However, the teacher was doing an activity in which she was reading a chapter of a book to her kids. After she read the chapter, she asked the students to answer a few questions, but they weren't clear cut right or wrong questions. She asked the students things like, "What do you think about the characters, and what do you think they are feeling" or "What do you think will happen next?" By asking these questions and not simple stuff like "what is the setting" etc, the teacher is valuing the critical thought and the students' opinion. This challenges the ideas of Anyon of the lower class classrooms. When I am a teacher, I would like to do activities like the ones my teacher were doing, ones that create curiosity and develop critical thought with my students.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Talking Points #10

Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change by Ira Shor

1.)"Students come of age in a society where average people do not participate in governance, in framing major purposes, in making policy, or in having a strong voice in media and puhlic affairs"
- This is talking about the type of non questioning, non participating society that kids are growing up in. This lack of involvement and critical analysis/questioning of society and what is going on in the world is directly related to the type of majority education that is going on in schools. The lack of participation and critical thinking of why, how, and how can it change in school rolls over into the real world.

2.) "For example, it's very important to begin the school year with a discussion of why we to to school. Why does the government force us to go to school? This would set a questioning tone and show the children that you trust them and that they are intelligent enough, at their own level, to investigate and come up with answers"
- I love this quote and actually think I'm going to use this idea when I start teaching. I want my classroom to be one in which kids are questioning why and not just taking down notes like machines because they are told to. I feel this way because of my experiences in school where I felt like not too many teachers encouraged a questioning and critical thinking atmosphere.

3.) "Empowering knowledge is sought by questioning rules, work relations, and daily episodes often

taken for granted"

- This quote comes from the problem posing section in Shor's piece. He's saying that empowering knowledge comes from a problem posing style of education in which the students and teacher work together in a form of critical questioning and thinking examining society and everyday actions through regular curriculum material.

Thoughts: Overall, I thought this piece was the most difficult to read and follow of any of them. Because of its length, I split the reading up into a couple different sessions, which probably made me understand the big picture a little less. A few points really came across to me, though. Like from my first quote, I saw the lack of participation in society and government from ordinary people in society, and saying that it comes from the lack of critical inquiry and participation in school is directly related really made me see how that could be true. Mainly, though, I think Shor called for a sort of school environment that was more a so called problem posing one rather than a banking one in which students and teachers worked more together, rather than teachers feeding students information machine-like. All in all, I agreed with what I could understand with the article and will take some of the ideas into my own classroom someday.

- The link on Ira Shor is a video, but I couldn't post it as one for some reason.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Talking Points #9

Christopher Kliewer: Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome

1.) "Democracy can only occur when no person's voice is deterministically silenced"
- Teaching in the society we are in, we must do our best to include every voice and individual student and let each individual develop to become a helping member of the community. Inclusion of voices speaks of the very essence of a democratic society.

2.)"Professional reliance on a narrow interpretation of mathematical and linguistic characteristics when defining school citizenship in no way captures the multiplicity of knowledges valued in the wider community"
- This quote is just saying that the way intelligence and competence is defined in schooling today doesn't truly measure one's ability to apply themselves in the real world society. One could be great at math and english standardized testing but can't apply it in the community another person who isn't as "smart".

3.) "[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 in their willingness and ability to contribute to the mosaic of society. It requires the "helper" to have the humility to listen for what hat the person says he or she needs. Also, the "helper" must see that the interaction "helps" both ways."
- I loved this quote. It is basically saying that we need to embrace differences and realize that these differences do not segregate is in our ability to contribute to the school society and the society at large.

Reading this article by Kliewer was sort of difficult because of its lengthiness and somewhat boring parts. However, the main points and little stories and examples were quite interesting and good to read. I really liked the way Shayne talked about her students and atmosphere she created in her classroom. It kind of reiterated some points from previous articles, like the fact that all voices should be involved in the classroom. We should see differences in students, like those with down syndrome, but not separate students because of them.

Here is a youtube video that goes along with this week's article:

Friday, April 9, 2010

Talking Points #8

Jean Anyon: Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work

1.) "At this point a girl said that she had a faster way to do it and the teacher said, 'No, you don't; you don't even know what I'm making yet. Do it this way or it's wrong.'"
- This is an example from the working class school and how everything they do is clear cut with no individual thought or analyzation accepted from the students. Their creativity is halted by the "do it this way or it's wrong" method.

2.) "While the teachers spend a lot of time explaining and expanding on what the textbooks say, there is little attempt to analyze how or why things happen, or to give thought to how pieces of a culture, or, say, a system of numbers or elements of a language fit together or can be analyzed"
- This one talks about the middle class schools and is something I can really relate to. Kids are being taught how to do different types of problems, write different types of sentences, ect, but they aren't taught to analyze how or why things are happening. They aren't taught to think outside what they are expected to answer.

3.) "In the affluent professional school, work is creative activity carried out independently. The students are continually asked to express and apply ideas and concepts. Work involves individual thought and expressiveness, expansion and illustration of ideas, and choice of appropriate method and material. "
- This is where Anyon is talking about the rich schools and how they have a different style of teaching method. They allow the kids to think for themselves and develop their creative ideas and thoughts. This is one thing that I think really good teachers do.


I enjoyed reading this article and thought it was one of the readings that I really could relate to. The points that Anyon made were very interesting and she used great examples in the different schools to explain her points. What she was talking about really hit home with me. I've always felt the teachers that have been the best teachers for me are the ones that let me think for myself creatively and independently the most. Like the schools of the lower and middle classes, Anyon says that there is a lack of independence and creativity in the kids where the teaching is so straightforward and clear cut. I think that in middle and high school my teachers were very clear cut and didn't encourage me to think outside the box and question why and how. I still don't think many of my teachers here at RIC get me to do that, to go beyond the individual problems.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Talking Points #7

Gender and Education

After reading a few articles online, I was sort of surprised at the points the authors of the articles were making. They were saying that women were not getting equal treatment and most importantly attention in middle to high school levels. The author said that the effects of the lack of attention given to girls could be a lack of confidence and self esteem. That really made sense to me. It then made me think about my own experiences in high school and reflect to see if I saw any of the points made in the articles. In my own experiences, I didn't really see real signs of this inequality in my classrooms in high school and college. I see a lot of girls that are very active participants in class, and I think, even more active and challenging themselves more than the boys. Also, in my research, I learned that because of girls not challenging themselves, less girls higher level math and science classes and technology classes than boys. However, in my high school AP calculus class, there were more girls than boys in my class. And in my math classes here at RIC(I'm a math major), I would say on average there is about the same amount of women as men in the class. Because of what I see, I kind of disagree with the points that are being made, but then again, I haven't done deep research like the experts on gender and education.

Here are a few links I used to research: