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?



Sunday, March 17, 2013

Orenstein, "Cinderella Ate my Daughter" - Reflection

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I remember being at Disney World when I was six years old. In one of the souvenir shops, there was a beautiful princess dress modeled after one in “Beauty and the Beast”. I quietly asked my grandfather if he thought I could have it. He looked down at me and told me that no little girl needed a $100 dress to be a princess, and to him I would be a princess no matter what I wore. I was not pleased with this answer, but did not argue because I knew it would be fruitless. All the way home I thought about how badly I wanted that dress.  I wanted the dress because I wanted to look just like the princesses I had seen in the theme parks, and on TV, and in my pre-school.  My room, bedding, clothing, hair accessories and dolls are revolved around the Disney princesses. My parents are WONDERFUL people and would go to the moon and back for my sister and I. They let me choose many different paths in life and have always supported my decisions.  Having two little girls, they felt it was best to give us fluffy, butterfly, fairy princess items because that is what girls “like”. They wanted us to be accepted and have the things the other little girls in our neighborhood had. So growing up, I was spoiled. This affected my sister and I very differently. I was given a choice in what I liked, and as I grew older I lost interest in materialistic things and began to appreciate experiences with my family and friends more than shopping or playing dress up. As my sister got older, she did not lose interest in having the “Princess Life”. At 17, her room is modeled after the Victoria Secret’s “PINK” collection. Her life revolves around shopping, beautifying and spending money to gain “happiness”. I feel like she is only as satisfied as her last purchase, and I want to help her get out of these habits before she leaves home. I noticed that many of her friends and even girls my age fall into this and it concerns me. We need to start teaching our children that life is so much more than materialistic things and that children should be able to choose their own interests regardless of what they “should” want.
Points to share: How did boys or people with brothers feel about this article? I had a toolbox when I was younger and my parents were pleased with my decision. I wonder how they would feel if I had been a boy who wanted a barbie dream house? Did any boys ask for "girl" toys and play with them?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Christensen, "Unlearning the Myths that Bind us" - Reflection

As soon as I read the first page of Christensen I knew what I would discuss.  In my personal experience, my childhood revolved around Disney movies. As a white little girl, it was easy for me to imagine myself as the princess - as Cinderella, Belle, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White are. I would play wedding with my next door neighbor’s grandson. After that I would go to my pretend kitchen and make my new husband some delicious play dinner. As a young girl, I thought my whole goal in life is to become a bride.  As I got older, Disney movies still played a role in my life. The princesses I figure to be in their late teens. They are all thin and beautiful. They have perfect hair, perfect outfits, and everyone who is good adores them. Well, I’ve never been all that thin, my hair is far from perfect, and not everybody wants to be my friend. In one of the courses I took in high school, we discussed how movies made us feel as children. While many other white girls in my class could relate to my experience, it was difficult for students of other races to agree.  That really opened my eyes to all the hidden education in Disney movies, as well as other children’s entertainment. I did a research project on some of the secret “messages” these movies give out. I talked with some of the little girls I babysat, and they all identified some sort of racist or sexist idea that they most likely learned from watching these movies.

Some examples were:

-          Bad people are fat and ugly

-          Princesses are the most beautiful, and they never have to go to work or school, but get the best husbands

-          If a man is not strong, handsome and charming he is bad

These were examples out of the mouths of four year olds. The way they see the world will be shaped because of this. To conclude, I found a video another student made to highlight some of the things I discussed.
Class discussion: What were other experiences, were they similar or different to my own?