Saturday, April 27, 2013

Misc. Post - "Safe Spaces" LGBT connections

As many of us have heard, RI is very close to recognizing marriage equality. There has been a ton of buzz about LGBT rights on my social media accounts. One of my friends on facebook, posted a youtube video, I did not watch it. Then another friend shared the video, too. After about ten people had recommended this youtube video, I clicked on it. It's twenty minutes long, but it's so well made. The video is a story about what life would be like if homosexuality was normal, and those who were heterosexual were the "weird" ones. It's tough to watch, because you know that the things shown in the video happen to way too many LGBT students, teens and adults. I think watching this video has helped me understand what it feels like to not have a "safe space". It has also helped me understand how to explain to others about what it must be like. I highly recommend watching it, as it has given me a better perspective on the reading and the subject. (Apparently the video has been circulating for almost a year, so if you've already seen it, feel free to strike up a conversation!)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Social Justice Event - Macklemore

For my social justice event, I attended the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis concert on campus. It was really awesome to see so many participate in an event on campus. I met some new friends and saw some old friends and it was a good night. I know that Tiff attended the concert too, and here is her blog. I will try to highlight different things so that it is not too repetitive. Let me give you some background on Macklemore…

Ben Haggerty grew up in Washington state and after high school got a bachelor’s degree from Evergreen State College. After earning his degree, Haggerty went to work for a program focusing on education and cultural identity called "Gateways for Incarcerated Youth" where he facilitated music workshops. He recorded Open Your Eyes in 2000, and was known as Professor Macklemore. Once he released his full length album titled, The Language of My World 2005, he got rid of "Professor" and went simply by Macklemore. Unlike other rappers, he tries to write songs about real issues that teens are dealing with. Here are some examples of his songs and how they relate to important things that we have covered in class…
White Privilege - Macklemore
Although we studied McIntosh's article "White Privilege" and it obviously has some similarities , I feel like this song most strongly connects to Johnson's "Privilege, Power and Difference".
"“…the reality of her having to deal with racism and sexism every day is connected to the reality that I don’t. I didn't have to do anything wrong for this to be true and neither did she. But there it is just the same (Johnson, Privilege, Power and Difference, 9).”
In this song, Macklemore is talking about how it is to be a white rapper, in a world dominated by African-American rappers.  He sings the lyrics, "And we don't want to admit that this is existing so scared to acknowledge the benefits of our white privilege"
Like Johnson suggests, Macklemore agrees that we need to name what our society is, we must say the words. We must acknowledge that some people's ethnicity equal mean power in our society, to change the outlook of how people see race and see differences.
 In this article Macklemore is interviewed on his music. The author of the article, along with many fans, believe he is changing the face of Hip Hop.  If you go down to the comment section of the article, there are some negative comments of people who do not believe he should be a rapper because of his race. In this situation, being white is seen as a negative thing, and he losses power in that aspect of the music world because he does not fit into the categories that the majority of rappers do. I feel that music is music, regardless of the race of the singer. I like different kinds of foods, foods that do not necessarily come from "white" countries. Should I not eat it because "my people" did not start making the dish? No! People would think that's absurd. So although rapping and rock and roll were started by the African American culture, I think anyone who would like to try making that style of music should.
Same Love - Macklemore
macklemore same love | Tumblr
I know that Tiff did this song too, but I can't help it. It's a song extremely relevant to the time and this class.  These lyrics jump out at me in particular.
"When I was in the third grade I thought that I was gay 'cause I could draw, my uncle was (gay), and I kept my room straight I told my mom tears rushing down my face. She's like "Ben you've loved girls since before pre-k tripping, " Yeah, I guess she had a point, didn't she? Bunch of stereotypes all in my head. I remember doing the math like, "Yeah, I'm good at little league"a preconceived idea of what it all meant for those that liked the same sex"
This reminds me of "Safe Spaces" and the videos we watched in class, as well as the discussion we had that week. We are all afraid to talk about it and ask questions, because it's so controversial or so foreign and we do not want to offend anyone. But it is important to be understanding and thoughtful about this topic. As Johnson would say, we must say the words. We have to get these stereotypes out of our society and we need to realize is that it is not a "choice" but a feeling. And that is what Macklemore protests in this song.
This MTV article discusses how rappers, like Macklemore and Jay-Z are bringing awareness and less homophobia to the Rapping world. This is excellent to see that celebrities who people look up to are speaking up and out, and stopping the wrongs of rappers in the past by creating a new standard of what is acceptable and right.
Thrift Shop - Macklemore
Pinned Image
This is probably Macklemore's most famous song. Although it is seen as a "fun" song, I feel that people have a special connection to it.
This song is about shopping at a thrift shop. Some of the lyrics are about how paying for a brand is ridiculous. It goes on to say that if you're paying a lot of money to impress other people, you're really not. This reminds me of  Christensen's "Unlearning the Myths that Bind us" and Orenstein's "Cinderella Ate my Daughter". Consumerism is a big problem in the United States. In schools, there's a war on who has the latest and greatest. Girls in particular seem to expect more, they believe that being pretty and fashionable will secure their future, although it probably won't. We need to break this cycle of consumerism and place importance on what is really important - being a well rounded, social aware person who sees beyond the exterior of others. When we think of thrift shops, we typically think that poor people have to shop there, and it has a negative image. When I was younger, my parents did not have extra money for clothing. My mom would go to the thrift store in our area and pick up clothing for our family. I was so embarrassed and I felt that everyone knew and made fun of me. Looking back, I know realize many of my friends were in similar situations, and they were not my friends for my clothing, but for my personality. It's nice that a star is rapping about things that everyone can relate to. It makes teens more comfortable in their own skin. Plus - recycling clothing and goods is good for our environment! :) Here is a link to show how goodwill sales have improved!
Macklemore is an advocate for societal change, and I believe it is in a good directions. He stands up for really great causes such as sobriety and marriage equality. He makes teens think about their choices and he tries to break down the wall against white rappers. I am happy I attended the event, as I had not been a fan beforehand.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Shor, "Educating is Politics" - Quotes

“Students in empowering classes should be expected to develop skills and knowledge as well as high expectations for themselves, their education, and their futures” (16).

            I think that allowing students to have a voice in the classroom changes everything. Setting this class setting up early is important so that on day one, the students feel that they are a valued part of the classroom, which should improve their outlook on school.  I also think that in empowering classes, students help one another develop a sense of self-worth. If as an educator you have a chance to do this for your students, why wouldn’t you?

“They ask why the official textbook and syllabus are organized the way they are and how this knowledge relates to their community cultures and to conditions in society” (37).


            This quote popped out at me. The minute I read it I thought - “Dr. Bogad”. She is teaching our class as an example of what Shor is trying to say. As a student I am so used to doing what I am told by teachers, because they are my teacher. But as students, we deserve a say. Luckily, we are given one in FNED, but how many other classes give us this choice? I think that as we prepare to become teachers, we must keep this in mind. We have to care about our students’ opinion and we must allow them to question.


“I posed the problem but did not lecture on it. Instead, I asked-students to write their responses individually. They read them to each other in small groups of three or four to discuss their analyses before each group reported to the whole class for dialogue, reading statements from their groups one at a time for discussion” (40).


I liked this segment of the reading. I think that teachers always feel the need to jump in and help the students, which forms their views and opinions on certain subjects. However, when an educator is patient and lets the students work it out on their own, they get to form their own opinions and learn to debate it on their own. Also they will be more likely to ask questions if you do not present all the facts in one quick lecture. I really liked this method of teaching, and I think the ideas of use are great.


Class discussion: Do other people plan on teaching in this manner? Do you see different pros and cons? I feel I will try to teach in this way. I think it is beneficial for both my students and myself.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Kliewer, "Citizenship in School", - Extended Comments.

 In Kliewer’s chapter, "Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome" he brings up a self-advocacy newsletter piece by Mia. In Kerri’s blog, she chooses to highlight Mia’s story to effectively prove that people with Down syndrome deserve an equal education.  In her blog, she uses hyperlinks as examples. I think the videos get the message across and are insightful. Down syndrome is difficulty for people to understand, unless they have met or heard of someone affected by it. I think that Kerri did a really great job using quotes and explaining that Mia is high functioning and that there are different levels of severity. I think that educating any student is a case-by-case scenario and an equal education is the objective. The highlight of Kerri’s blog post was the video explaining what Down syndrome is and how it affects babies and children. I also liked how she added in her experience with the Special Olympics.

            I agree that all students deserve an education and I cannot imagine being told I could not take classes that interest me if I felt I had the potential of any other student. I do not think it is right to put students into sorting machines and based on a label on their transcripts they are defined and are not free to learn as much as they would like. If we want our future to get brighter, we need to understand and allow students to foster a love of learning that comes when they have a say in their education. Kerri’s blog helped me understand and process my thoughts on this reading.

Thoughts to share: I wonder if anyone had a Down syndrome student in their class (not a special ed class)? Did it seem this article is accurate? I feel that although I have not been exposed to many people affected with down syndrome, those I have would succeed in anything they would want to do.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

"Literacy with an Attitude", Finn - Quotes

“The working-class children were learning to follow directions and do mechanical work, low-paying work, but at the same time they were learning to resist authority in ways sanctioned by their community. The middle class children were learning to follow orders and do the mental work that keeps society producing and running smoothly. They were learning that if they cooperated they would have the rewards that well-paid, middle-class work that makes possible outside the workplace (20)”.
            This quote reminds me of last weeks “separate and unequal” conversation. This book suggests that working-class families produce working class children because of the schools in their neighborhood. Typically, middle-class neighborhoods have “better” schools in the way that teachers believe the students are capable of more. If students of lower income families are already labeled as a lost cause, how are they supposed to succeed? This also reminds me of Delpit because working-class students are not taught the codes of power in their classroom, and do not understand why they are doing the work they are assigned. On the other hand, middle-class students typically understand that if they do their work and succeed in school, they will get a good job and do better financially in life.
“…Anyon observed what she called a ‘dominant theme.’ In the working-class schools the dominant these was resistance (12).”
            According to Anyon’s study, the working-class schools all have a few common themes. They are taught to just behave and get by. They are not pushed to think, reason or question. Basically, the policy of many teachers is for students to shut up and do their work when they are told. Many because the students do not feel heard, welcomed or valued, they do not value the teachers, property or work the school supplies. Honestly, if I were being taught in that manner, I think I would resist the school, too.
“When students begin school in such different systems, the odds are set for them (25)”.
            I think this statement sums up the whole argument. It is so unfair to hold students to the same standards when their quality of education is so unequal. It almost seems like a conspiracy theory to keep the poor, poor. Teachers need to realize that poor does NOT mean dumb. It means they need more attention, more explanation. Not more work, more structure.
Points to share: How do we as educators remind ourselves that everyone deserves the same quality of education if a school does not encourage it?

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Brown v. Board of Education - Connections

The links and videos about Brown vs. Board of Education reminded me of many things we have already covered in the class. Specifically, I thought of points made by the authors Johnson and Kozol.

Allan Johnson’s Privilege, Power and Difference takes a unique approach to class difference by stating that we are all part of the problem that is discrimination. He uses the story of Rodney King, who at his trial stated, “Can’t we all just get along?” King, a black man, was beaten by a group of police officers and brought to trial. Although it has been decades since the Civil War and the days of W.E.B. Du Bois, there is still so much discrimination of races, especially African American. In the video interview of Tim Wise, they discuss President Barack Obama’s impact on how African Americans are seen in the public eye. Wise agrees that although it is a step in the right direction, our society seems to only accept extraordinary, well-educated black individuals. This is a problem, because most of our society accepts plain, mediocre people (especially politicians), provided they are white. This is unacceptable in this day and age, and it is our job to educate our children that race should not be a determining factor in a person’s eligibility to do anything. Race does not limit us, but our opinion on what different races mean does.

Jonathon Kozol’s article “Amazing Grace” and the NY times article “Separate and Unequal” by Bob Herbert have many similarities. Kozol’s article focuses on the students living in the Bronx who live in very high poverty conditions. It is difficult for students in these conditions to worry about school when they are worried about where they will get their next meal or sleep. Although there is no longer a law saying that black students go to black schools, and white students attend white schools, it happens. In the Herbert article, he sums up how this happens. “Educators know that it is very difficult to get consistently good results in schools characterized by high concentrations of poverty. The best teachers tend to avoid such schools…These, of course, are the very schools that in which so many black and Hispanic students are enrolled”. Reading this I just kept thinking, this is so TRUE! All the time, older teachers will tell me not to work in the place I grew up because there are many poor students (who they have low expectations for). Both of these authors point out that students in poor communities do not get the same education as a middle class white family’s children.


Points to Share: How can we as teachers fix these gaps?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Kahne, Westheimer - "In the Service of What?" - Quotes

“They stress the importance of compassion for those in need, and they encourage children and young adults to find ways to help” (3).

The authors of this article did a study on the impact service learning has in K-12 classrooms. The two projects they highlighted were different, one being focused on giving charity, the other focusing on promoting change. However, any kind of service learning is better than no service learning. I think that it is essential for young people to be exposed to the idea of helping out the less fortunate. I think that it makes young people more conscious about the world and diversity around them as they grow up and become more independent.


“By engaging in meaningful service--whether tutoring children for whom English is a second language, helping patients in a hospital, doing difficult chores for the elderly, or supervising younger children's recreational activities--students will have opportunities to experience what David Hornbeck, former Maryland state superintendent referred to as ‘the joy of reaching out to others’” (5).

            I think it is interesting that these aspects of service learning were mentioned. I think the authors may have done so because these are examples almost every community could use.  I think Rhode Island has many great volunteer opportunities. As a middle or high school level student it would probably be easy to volunteer to help younger students, as many may have siblings of a similar age. Also, everyone has elderly living in their area, and I think that really great bonds could be made between students and the elderly. I also agree, as the article points out a few times, that students feel satisfied when they help their community.



”Rather than tie the service curriculum exclusively to moral development, some advocates of service learning talk about developing citizens for our democracy” (8).


When reading this quote, I was like what a great idea! My inner history teacher thought of a million lessons that could go along with this idea that we should be good citizens by performing duties for “America”. As I read on, I felt that it could be dangerous and it does suggest a political agenda that I may not want in my classroom. Then I thought of a few ways I could flip this to turn in into a whole other assignment about politicians in society and why they choose to promote certain values.
Here are some interesting statistics...


Things to discuss: What were my class mates school’s policies on service learning? What were some positive/negative experiences?