Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Random post: End marriage discrimination

I know my last random post was a video about gay marriage but it is something I am very passionate about! Such blatant inequality is something I feel should have ended decades ago and its crazy to me that its still going on.  This is a new commercial that I feel has a great concept and is amazingly executed. I will admit, it made me tear up a little

Also, here is the article that goes with it

Monday, November 28, 2011

Quotes: Education is Politics- Ira Shore

1)     1)  “People are naturally curious. They are born learners. Education can either develop or stifle their inclination to ask why and to learn. A curriculum that avoids questioning school and society is not, as is commonly supposed, politically neutral. It cuts off the students' development as critical thinkers about their world.”

I thought this quote brought up a good point about how when kids are young, usually before they start school, they are just dying to learn.  They are so curious and constantly asking questions. When kids start school this curiosity and questioning of the world is slowly taken away. It made me wonder what it is about school that takes this passion away, and how we can fix it.  It also made me imagine a world where that curiosity was nurtured instead of diminished. I would love to see a college full of students with childlike wonder and classrooms where there are constantly hands in the air asking questions, dying to know more.

This quote also addresses the idea of questioning school, which I think is very important.  Your educational career should start off with some questions and analysis. It helps the student not just think about what they are doing but why they are doing it.

2) "Students learn to be passive or cynical in classes that transfer facts, skills, or values without meaningful connection to their needs, interests, or community cultures. To teach skills and information without relating them
to society and to the students' contexts turns education into an authoritarian transfer of official words, a process that severely limits student development as democratic citizens."

This quote is very important when I think about what kind of teacher I want to be.  I feel a class is completely pointless if I can’t see how it relates to my life.  I often think about the things we learn in this class and discuss the topics with my friends because I have seen them connected to my world and that makes it interesting to me.   If a teacher just rattles off information to the class and then expects the class to regurgitate it, that is all I will do. The information is not retained and my life is no different after that lesson. 

3)     3)  "This political change of direction in the making of a democratic curriculum is a way to authorize students as co-developers of their education. With some authority, they can feel co-ownership of the process, which in turn will reduce their resistance."

This is another quote that made me think about what kind of teacher I want to be.  I agree that students should be “co-developers” of their education.  I think it’s very important for students to be interested in what they are learning and understand why they are learning it in order to apply it to their everyday life and the only way to do that is if they have a say in what they learn. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Citizenship in School- Kliewer

This article talks about the effects of the segregation of students with Down Syndrome in schools, and what classes are missing out on when this segregation occurs.I thought this article brought up a lot of points that I had never thought about. I guess that before reading this I didn't exactly see a problem with students with Down Syndrome being taught in a different class because I thought they needed special attention. This article made me think about how that effects these students emotionally and how it restricts their improvement. I began to relate this to the last article we read which talked about how schools that cater to specific social classes teach those students how to stay in their class and not excel. Special needs classes do just that. These classes do not give the students resources for a life in which they interact with other non disabled people. They teach the students that they are less valued and should be separated from the world around them.

 I thought the stories told in this article were very inspiring. They showed that not only does this segregation shortchange the students with disabilities, but also the non disabled students.  The stories show how the non disabled students learn so much from the disabled students in their class. New ways to see the world and different ways to relate to people and their environment. I especially liked the story about Isaac who taught the class that you can dance to books. This was his unique way of interpreting and relating to literature and the whole class received a new and fun way to learn that they never would have imagined without him in the class.

Ultimately, I believe a classroom should imitate the real world in order for the students to develop strategies to deal with everyday occurrences.  If disabled students are separated, this prepares the disabled students for a life of isolation and a sense of being less valued in their community and the non disabled students develop limited resources for interacting with people different from themselves.  They may grow up thinking they are above those who are disabled or that they do not have anything to gain from interacting with them.

This article really opened my eyes and after reading this I believe that every teacher should have resources for educating disabled students.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Promising Practices

The session I attended was about integrating art in the classroom and it was amazing.  The first presenter, Virginia Freyermuth taught us about a project that she created for the class room.  The project was inspired by a Native American tradition in the southwest called prayer sticks.  These are sticks that the people made as a meditative tool or as a representation of prayers.  The stick is decorated and each addition to it is representative of something.   Virginia was inspired by this tradition and brought it back to the class room.
 She told us about how she has the children make their own personalized “hope sticks”. She guides them by explaining the Native American tradition and then telling them to create their own and to represent wishes and hopes for yourself or others.  I thought this was an awesome way to teach both history and self-expression.  She also said this quote by Parker Palmer which I thought related to our discussions of how to create a successful lesson

“But what scholars now say -- and what good teachers have always known -- is the real learning does not happen until students are brought into relationship with the teacher, with each other, and with the subject.

Then we each got to create our own hope stick!  There were ribbons, beads and feathers around the class and we each decorated our own stick however we wanted. This was really fun and it was interesting to see what others did.  We also had a time at the end to share with the people around us what ours meant to us if we wanted to. Here is a picture of mine and a picture of the whole classes’ all together.

I thought this project was a very fun way to integrate history and art and also a great way to get the children to empathize with others and express their own hopes and dreams. I would definitely use this in a class room.
The next presenter, Kristen Vito-Silva was especially interesting because it was her classroom we were in in Henry Barnard.  When I walked into the classroom I noticed that there was art everywhere.  The curtains were painted in different famous styles such as Picasso and Jackson Pollock and there were ceiling murals and floor murals and all sorts of art projects on the walls, it was beautiful.  I was very surprised to learn that the children made absolutely everything!  She said that on the first day of class the room is completely bare and it is up to the children to create all the decorations. There is not one lame inspirational poster from the teaching store and I thought that was incredible. This definitely made me think of Alfie Kohn’s chart for what to look for in a classroom. In fact, I could probably add a few things to the list after seeing this classroom! The teacher said that she believed the fact that the children basically create their classroom is the reason there are less behavioral problems in that class. The room is like a community that the children have created for themselves and they respect it!

 I couldn’t believe some of the work the kids did, especially because they are only in 1st grade.  She went on to talk about the projects she does with her kids and I was even more blown away.  She mostly talked about how to integrate all different subjects with art. For example, there was a ceiling mural made up of rectangles that were each personally decorated by a child.  She told us about how they used math to figure out how to make all the shapes fit onto the paper and they used graphing to help the children find their rectangle once the mural was put up.  She also talked about a project in which they painted landscapes and then described what they painted and made their descriptions into poems.  She showed us some of the poems and landscapes and jaws literally dropped.  These 1st graders’ art was absolutely amazing. She gave us a packet which included some of the art observations and poetry these kids had created and I will type one out so everyone can appreciate the kind of things young children can do when guided and inspired:

Move silent
No one can see them
through the night
I climb into bed
I shiver and shake
No one can feel them
No one can control them
They are as pale
as white
Sneaky snatching
Through the air
Breezes through the
My legs curl
My arms curl too
My heart pumps
As fast as

 This whole presentation was really mind blowing to me and made me wish that every teacher in the world was like Mrs. Vito Silva! She mentioned Dee Dickinson’s article "Why are the Arts Important?" and I believe it summarizes what we learned that day.

The next part of the session, to be honest, I didn't grasp much information from (I had a pretty bad fever and had a lot of trouble understanding what was going on) However, the Teen Empowerment section has an excellent website  which I looked through after the convention to try to get a sense of what they were doing and what it means. I also found information about a youth peace conference they do every year which sounds really interesting to me.  It made me think of Delpit in a way because I think this program helps kids from every background understand the rules of power needed to succeed.

All in all I am glad I dragged myself out of bed!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Literacy with an Attitude

When reading this article I was constantly thinking back to my service learning and comparing it to my own education. The school I do interventions in is definitely a working class school and I have seen the teachers treat their students in the same way Finn describes. A quote that really stuck out to me was at the beginning when Finn is talking about working-class children resisting school and acting out: “the result is the “pretend-school model.” Teachers ask little of students in return for enough cooperation to maintain the appearance of conducting school.” It really saddened me that I have seen this happen in both of the classrooms I work in. The kids resist learning and the teachers just want to make it through the day with some sort of work done. This is kind of a chicken and egg situation, however. Are the students so disinterested in learning that the teachers become exhausted and fed up or are the teachers disinterested in truly teaching and the students pick up on that? I also thought of this when Finn was talking about the children of lower classes simply being “handled”: “This was based on the observation that schools have learned how to educate the children of the gentry and how to "handle" children of the working class-those who had been handled in school themselves.”

It was startling to read how each class is educated to stay in their class, and after reading this it seems so obvious yet I didn’t see it before. Why are we only teaching the upper class children how to be successful and be authority figures? What is it that makes the education so different amongst classes? I considered that most of the time teachers just starting out are places in lower class neighborhoods and perhaps the fact that these schools have less experienced teachers could be the reason why they aren’t getting higher quality education. I would like to investigate this topic more. Every class should be given an equal opportunity to learn so each person can reach their full potential. With this structure we are discouraging the ambitions of lower class children and giving a sense of entitlement to upper class children

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Gender equality in education is important because everyone has the right to be taught in a way that makes it possible to succeed. I read a very interesting article which brought up some questions about why girls tend to do better in school, and in turn are more likely to go on to higher education.  The article has a link to some research that addresses girls' success mainly in language.  The research suggests that girls process words differently than boys.  Boys tend to need oral and visual representation in order to understand as well as girls.  I believe this research is important because it shows that a boy who is struggling may be just as smart as the girls, but needs to be taught differently.  I think this addresses equal opportunity in the classroom.  Boys may be given less of a chance to learn if they do not get the concept right away when it is much simpler for the girls.  
I also found an article that suggests that stereotype may play a role in how well kids do in specific subjects.  For example, the article states that "you act like a girl" is still a huge insult for young boys.  Things like language and arts may be considered "girly" to boys and therefore affects how well they want to do in the subject, and how hard they try.  I believe that every child wants to do well in school, but if they are struggling in something like language arts, they may just disregard it as a girly subject and not try as hard to succeed.

What are teachers to do about this? Creating an environment that both encourages equality in gender, but at the same time recognizes the different needs of boys and girls is ideal.  The last article I linked ended with a great quote: "Pitting boys against girls in competition for a good education is out of place in today's world. It shortchanges both sexes. The educational gender wars must cease. If we must have a war, let it be a war against ignorance. In this surely we are all on the same side!"

Monday, October 24, 2011

Talking Points #6

I thought the interview with Tim Wise was very interesting and thought provoking.  I agree with almost everything he had to say.  When Obama was elected, I also thought that people were acting too much like it was the "end of racism" that because a black person could become president, we would become a post-racial society, but that is not true.  Just like after Brown vs Board of education, it did not solve racism, we still see it today.  When we see a white person become president, no body thinks of their accomplishments as a credit to their race, but when Obama became president it was all about how he was able to do it in spite of his race.  As Wise said, it is racism 2.0. We have set "brown and black norms" as in, it surprises us to see a person of color become president because that surpasses the "norm" we have put on them.  Wise also discusses how racism will continue to exist until people of color can be as mediocre as white people and still be successful.   He discussed how Obama is exceptionally smart and well spoken and that is why he was able to be so successful, but we have seen many white presidents who were mediocre in intelligence and got to the same point.  I thought this was an excellent way to show how racism still exists in ways we may not see right away.