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.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Two husbands?

I thought this video was adorable and shows a little boy discovering that two men can get married, accepting it, and inviting them to play ping pong. This is how the world should always work!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Extended comment to Elyssa's blog: In the service of what? -Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer

In Elyssa's blog, she discusses the negative effect that service learning can have.  She argues that when charity is made into a requirement, students will see it as only that and not a chance to grow or help others. I believe this is true and experienced the same thing in high school.  I knew I wanted to graduate as easily as possible so when faced with this obstacle, I chose the easiest option instead of the one that interested me most.  This can make charity seem like a chore when it would be best to see it as a part of life.

In addition, the article also mentions how service learning can sort of "miss the point".  For example, the students who made the kits for the homeless.  This was a real opportunity to find out about the lives of homeless people and learn from them and implement a useful change in society. But instead, the student did not have interaction with the homeless and therefore missed the opportunity. Like the article said, this was a form of "giving" instead of "change"

However, in the big picture service learning is a positive thing.  Any sort of charity is a good thing and even though it can be better, it is still a step in the right direction.  I think service learning should be required of everybody but so should discussions about how it could be made more successful.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hyperlinks: Unlearning the Myths that Bind Us- Linda Chistensen

In this article Christensen talks about children's media and how it shapes the way children view gender roles and other stereotypes.  It made me think it is strange that as we get older, our media becomes more aware of other lifestyles and has a broader range of diversity portrayed, so why aren't we starting earlier? I found a video that shows an interview with children on gender roles that confirms the fact that children are starting out in life with the belief that men and women have specific roles.

What I found most surprising was that all the children said the men go to work.  It seems like a lot of children have parents who both work, yet when asked which one is supposed to work, they still said the man. 

I also found a study done by USC's Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism which looked at top grossing family movies from 2006-2009. (click on the pdf file in the article for more statistics) I thought the most interesting statistic was that 71% of the leading roles in the movies were male. What is this telling our children? How do girls feel when they do not see themselves portrayed in media? Or when they do, they are portrayed as sex symbols?

In addition to gender roles, Christensen also talks about racism portrayed to children. Although this article mainly refers to older media, it is still an example of what children (this includes us) have grown up watching.
Disclaimer: this article is from so it may not be appropriate and is kind of silly. 

Lastly, this article talks about the Disney princesses and which ones portray a strong female role and which do not. This article is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Disney princesses distorting gender roles, but it is interesting to see the progression of the princesses and how some of the more recent characters actually contain some sort of role model. 

In general, I believe that every child should be able to see themselves portrayed in a positive light in the media and in order to do that we need to embrace new protagonists and make different lifestyles more acceptable in the media.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Reflection: From Teasing to Torment

This article states the results of a survey taken by kids ages 13-18 and their teachers about harassment in schools. I wish I could say the results are startling but they did not surprise me at all.  The article states that 65% of teens have been harassed in school, most commonly for the way they look but a close second is their perceived sexual orientation.  These facts do not surprise me because I went to high school.
Most of my friends were scrawny artsy type guys and every single one of them had been harassed even beaten up by a bigger older and meaner guy at some point.  Sometimes in lunch we would take our trash and make a sculpture on the lunch table. It was fun and silly and we would laugh and take pictures, unless, of course, one of those other guys happened to see us, they would walk over and knock down the sculpture say "fags".  If we tried to say something or stand up for ourselves, they would make a physical threat We would always look around for teachers and most of the time, they wouldn't see it.
 We were part of the 57% the article mentions that experience harassment but do not report it. Maybe students like this believe it is just part of life and they have to learn to accept it. The article states that most kids believe teachers wouldn't do anything about it and that the harassment would continue, and from experience I know this is true.
How can we stop this viscous cycle? I think the best way is awareness. Meaning not only every teacher but every student should be on the look out for harassment.  The people who are harassing have to be in the minority as compared to those who want it to stop, therefore, the majority needs to become aware and work together to make the general feeling of schools to be that this is not okay and will not be tolerated by anyone.