Sunday, September 25, 2011

Argument: Aria by Richard Rodriguez

The author, Rodriguez, argues that bilingual children's path to language assimilation goes further than the classroom.  Rodriguez talks about how English seemed like a public language while Spanish was a private at home language.  He says that he had trouble speaking English in class at first, but I believe he states that the teachers calling on him and forcing him to speak helped.  Also, the teachers came to his house and talked to his parents about speaking English at home too.  This made Rodriguez realize that the language was his to use as well, it wasn't just his "at school language" and it became part of his everyday life. After that he's able to talk to strangers and speak more confidently in class.

The author also addresses a downside.  He says that his parents learn the language slower than the children and they have problems communicating.  So many problems that eventually it is easier to just not speak at all.  I think the point the author is trying to make is that while it is important for bilingual children to own their new language and feel as comfortable with it as their original, it is just as important that they never forget their heritage.  Also, their teachers have to be aware of these goals and go the extra step in helping the children achieve it.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Quotes: Amazing Grace by Jonathan Kozol

   1)  “If poor people behaved rationally,” says Lawrence Mead a professor of political science at New York University, “they would seldom be poor for long in the first place”

-This quote is used as a transition into the background story of Alice Washington, a woman born into poverty who continues to live in terrible conditions and sickness despite her best efforts.  This quote illuminates the problematic views of some people, even professors at top universities.  This woman’s background, like many others in the same situation, shows no irrationality. Alice finished school and went to a secretarial college and got the best job she could.  It isn’t until she gets sick that she is forced to turn to the mercy of the government which causes much of her financial downfall.  The author concludes her backstory by saying “I have spent hundreds of hours talking to her in her kitchen. I have yet to figure out what she has done that was irrational.” This professor’s quote is unnerving and shows a sort of arrogance that people in powerful positions can have if they don’t consider people’s perspectives that are not in power.

           2) “I believe that what the rich have done to the poor people in this city is something that a preacher could call evil.  Somebody has power. Pretending they don’t so they don’t need to use it to help people- that is my idea of evil”

-          This quote especially stood out to me because it relates to a lot of the subjects we have been discussing in class. The existence of power and the advantages of acknowledging your own power in order to help others.  Acknowledging power can be difficult because you are admitting that you are part of the problem, but it is necessary to be honest about the realities in the world if we want to change them. 

 3) “My teacher says we came here in chains and now we buy our own chains and we put them on ourselves. “

-Even though this quote is specifically talking about black people in this text, I think it can be used to describe most.  The person who said this is referring to the way people in her neighborhood entrap themselves in this life and see no way of getting out.  Some turn to drug use, that’s a chain, or a dishonest way to get money, another chain.  However, for people who are in power and have advantage, the chains can be their own ignorance or denial that there is anything they can do.  We all put on our own chains and lock ourselves in our lives and our closed perception of reality.  

The point I would like to discuss in class is mainly the feeling of knowing there is suffering in the world and not knowing what to do about it. It's all too easy to put situations like this out of your mind when you aren't confronted with it everyday and I think educating ourselves is the first step. But what else can we do?

Thursday, September 15, 2011


My name is Shannon, this is my first semester at RIC.  I transferred from the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan where I studied photography. I took a few years off and changed my major to Secondary Education with a concentration in English. I live on campus in the basement of the New Residence hall, aka the dungeon, but I go home to New Jersey some weekends to visit my friends and cat, Blackcat. When I am not at school or studying I like to see bands and  hang out. So far this semester has been very interesting and I'm excited to learn more.