Monday, May 6, 2013

Festival Concert

For my Social Justice event, I attended Woonsocket High School’s Festival Concert. Being alumni, I knew how this concert worked and was happy to go and support my fellow chorus members.

This concert consisted of Vocal Ensemble and Select Choir. Vocal Ensemble is open to anyone on the basis that the can attend Wednesday Night Rehearsals that last from 6:00-7:15 p.m. every Wednesday night. If they cannot attend these rehearsals then they would ultimately fail the course. For Select you must audition and if you make it in, the rehearsals are from 6:00-8:30 p.m. every Wednesday night.

Being at these concerts as an audience member is much different than being a performer. I was able to observe the dynamic of the both choirs and asses the similarities and differences while also drawing some observations.
            1.)    The choir was comprised mostly if not entirely of white ethnicity.
This struck me as odd because Woonsocket is a very diverse city and very similar to the statistics we see in Providence schools.
I connect this observation to Jonathan Kozol’s article about class and reinstitutionalizing a cycle of class suppression.
I also think this may be related to the socioeconomic class and Kozol’s essay because they have the resources to travel back and forth to night rehearsals. That may be that the parents have time after work to bring them or they can afford to have their own car. If not, the child has no way of participating in this class and if they ultimately sign up and do not attend, they will fail, all because they cannot get a ride to the school. This relates to Kozol because most parents are forced to work at those times of night or have other children they need to take care and unfortunately chorus and any other extracurricular is not on the top of their priority list, making ends meet and providing for their children are.

- In also thinking through this and asking why this may be, I came up with a connection to Delpit. Chorus, band, sports and all extracurricular activities are important. When you are a high school Junior, you are constantly being told, “Join as many as you can, it looks good on college applications!” It struck me that, maybe the white community of our school had the means to go to college and this is why the extracurricular was dominated by white ethnicity. I think this relates to Delpit because the kids in the choirs , actively participating are the ones who are going to write it down on their college application, with hopes to be accepted whereas the kids never given this opportunity (the rules and codes of power) to travel to and from extracurricular are not.

--However, looking at Choir and my experience in a more positive way, the choirs sang a vast array of music, ranging from classical to pop and from many time periods and many different languages.
I think this connects to Collier’s, Teaching Multilingual Children because the chorus director chose to teach the kids a different language while also integrating the context of the song. She gave the kids a way to connect cultures by singing. For this particular concert they sang a beautiful piece in Latin. And from personal experience, I have sang, French, Spanish, Latin and German in my time at WHS. I also know that the director gives a brief history on the culture before we learn how to properly articulate and connect with the piece. I think Virginia Collier would be proud with this particular example.

Unfortunately, I hadn't thought of video taping or taking pictures at the concert, but this is a video of Select Choir when I was in it, two years ago. As you can see, most of us are of white ethnicity. AND this song is in Latin! 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Education Is Politics: Reflection

Empowering Education
Ira Shor
Education Is Politics

“A curriculum designed to empower students must be transformative in nature and help students to develop the knowledge, skills, and values needed to become social critics who can make reflective decisions and implement their decisions in effective personal, social, political, and economic action.”

I think this quote pretty much sums up the purpose of this chapter. Shor is arguing for a more democratic and social pedagogy in the classroom and curriculum. Rather than feeding children information for retention, we should be forming their intelligence. 

I completely agree with Shor when she says that people are born learners and are naturally curious. From personal experience, I can show this. I have a baby cousin, who will be turning two this Friday. From the moment she was born, she was constantly being taught something. As she gets older, she gets even more curious. I think this is because she now has a basis of information to work off of; A foundation of letters, names, numbers that allow her to recognize more and ask more specific questions. When she does ask questions that is our opportunity to teach her something, but also allow her to think and grow on her own.
Recently, I had given her a bag of Goldfish crackers and she was pulling them all out of the bag but not eating them, so I asked her why she wasn’t eating the crackers.  She looked at me and said, “fish friends, no food, Neecole!” I was really amazed by her response, and had told her that she could eat these fishies because they were good for her and she had to have asked me “why?” about fifteen times in a row, and all I could do was laugh, I was just so amazed at her connection w/ the bag of goldfish to the one of her favorite movies, Finding Nemo and her consistent questioning as to why she could eat these.
I reminisce about this particular experience because Shor says we should allow this type of questioning because it becomes a learning opportunity. At that moment, Abigail became a critical thinker, as young as she is. Sadly, I had no good answer to her question because how could I tell her that these fish are okay to eat and others aren’t so….we started playing with the fishies and singing “just keep swimming, just keep swimming!” I might have failed at this particular learning experience but it was really funny.


For this final post, I decided to share a little bit about personal experience and connect it to the article rather than analyzing it. Just by reading this and brining my own experience into it, I have learned just as much as I do analyzing it word for word. This just goes to show that Kliewer, in his article, Citizenship in Schools…made his point that people learn in different ways. Through all of the essays we’ve read, I have not only broadened my knowledge to becoming an effective educator but I’m also learning how to expand my knowledge and work on my own learning strategies.  

Sunday, April 14, 2013

"Citzenship in School" Connections

Citizenship In School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome
Christopher Kliewer

While reading this week’s essay, I immediately thought of Lisa Delpit. Specifically, teaching children the 
Rules and Codes of Power that will ultimately help children achieve success in our society.

The over-all argument of this essay was to show the effectiveness of mixing students with one another in the classroom, disabilities or not. The reasoning behind this being that: In order for a child to be successful in our democratic society, they need to learn a specific dialogue, not only comprised of words but of many other things that can’t be as effectively learned if children are separated.

Claim 1: “Society itself is hurt when schools act as cultural sorting machines- locations that justify a competitive ethic that marginalizes certain students or groups of students.”

Because: it legitimizes discrimination and devaluation on the basis of the dominant society’s preference in matters of ability, gender, ethnicity, and race…and endorse an elaborate process of sorting by perceived ability and behavior.” –Douglas Bilken  

Comments: This quote also resonates with the essay we read last week about tracking. When a school sorts children into categories it will create competition and also as Dr. Bogad said, self-efficacy, that being good or bad.  As Bilken explains it also legitimizes discrimination because tracking and sorting can be viewed as discriminatory towards those groups, this later teaches children that it’s okay to sort and judge other based on ability or gender…etc. When schools sort it robs children of certain “Codes and Powers” because it doesn’t allow students to create relationships with many different kinds of people that would expand their knowledge and allow for them to acquire a sense of community outside of school.

On determining Intellect-

“Those students who exhibit a canonical mid are credited with understanding, even when real understanding is limited or absent…Less happily, many who are capable of exhibiting significant understanding appear deficient, simply because they cannot readily traffic in commonly accepted coin of the educational realm.” –Howard Gardener

Comments: As Gardner says in a later paragraph, the curriculum in schools is rigid. Many kids and adults all learn and absorb knowledge in different ways. With that being said, schools still insist on presenting students with the same curriculum and the same tests which determine if they are intelligent or lacking thereof.  This doesn’t seem fair at all especially if the child knows he/she is just as smart but isn’t given the chance to show it. Gardner proposes an additional five ways of determining intellectual capacity. One of those being: “kinesthetic intelligence—the capacity to use one’s body to communicate, solve problems, or to make things.” This can be seen in Issac, who every time his favorite book, Where the Wild Things Are he acted it out. Even though no one could understand what he was doing, he was displaying a certain level of intelligence and understanding that was different from his peers but in the same way, was intelligent.

Final Comments: In giving kids the same curriculum, the same tests, the same of everything that determines their intelligence creates a cycle that keeps the oppressed down and successful up in our society. But if we take the suggestions of the authors in this essay and of Delpit, we can teach children of different abilities the rules and codes of power to give every child a chance to succeed in our Democratic society.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Literacy with an Attitude

For this week’s blog, I chose to write about Finn’s, Literacy with an Attitude.

Specifically Critical Intellectuals vs. Transforming Intellectuals

Critical Intellectuals:

Critical intellectuals imagine themselves to be critics of society who stand outside the realm of society. They claim to have no agenda. They are completely neutral, free of any bias.
Finn says, in fact, they often represent the interests of the dominant group and the status quo. They imagine themselves to be apolitical because maintaining the status quo appears to be natural.
-         This Type A teacher sounds and nearly represents everything perfect; someone who is neutral towards everything and does all things out of goodness. However the flaw in this is that to remain “neutral” is to represent not both or no political groups but represent the dominant one.  So essentially, if one claims to be a Critical Intellectual they are the ones who reinforce the system that is currently set in place by encouraging the dominant ideologies and maintaining the status quo. This model evokes no change in society.

Transforming Intellectuals:
Conversely, Transforming Intellectuals are “self-consciously critical of inequalities in our society. They see the schools as sites of struggle between competing groups that have distinct histories, contexts, and cultures. They see their mission as helping students "develop a deep faith in struggle to overcome injustices and change themselves. "They aim to help their students become "critical agents” by providing conditions where students can "speak, write, and assert their own histories, voices, and learning experiences." They view their students, not as individuals, but as "collective actors" within culture, class, racial, historical, and gender settings and with particular problems, hopes, and dreams. They try to help these collective actors become "agents of civic courage"-that is, to help them acquire the knowledge and courage that will make "despair unconvincing and hope practical."
     -Unlike Critical intellectuals, transformative intellectual’s goals are not to remain “neutral” and help by looking from the outside in but diving into society recognizing inequalities and creating a consciousness and dialogue to transform students. Transformative types of teachers don’t try to find balance, instead they find the imbalance that will help students of low classes recognize and embrace the knowledge they need to succeed from where they are to administer change within their class. They do this by giving their students the responsibility to become critical agents themselves to where they can speak and write to effect change within themselves. Lastly, and in my opinion, most importantly, they make the students “agents of civic courage.” This gives the students the courage to view hope in a practical schema.
 This video shows three types of pedagogy, all of which we have read in Finn's article.

Questions/Comments to Share: Both types of teachers this article discuss’, try to help students obtain power in today’s society. Although they use different methods both bring something good to the table. In looking at both these types of teachers, what good qualities can you take from each and what bad ones can you keep away from? 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Trying something different in Service Learning classroom!

I made this literacy activity for the first graders I tutor last week and they absolutely loved it! It was also fun for me because it was something new! The apples have sight words on them and they take turns picking apples. If they pick up the worm they have to start all over! I know a few of us have told each other how boring it can get in our classrooms so I decided to make this. It was super easy, just a few pieces of construction paper and glue! And my teacher didn't mind at all! I wish I could find the website I found it on but the link is very similar.

"Seperate But Equal" : Connection

“We pretend that no one’s a racist anymore, but it’s easier to talk about pornography in polite company than racial integration.” –Bob Hebert
The following are some of the ideas, quotes and/or concepts from the Tim Wise interview:

-Racism is embedded in American culture. Obama’s election doesn't necessarily translate to all equality.
This is one of my favorite movies and always makes
 me think of the struggles many faced
during time of segregation and racism.  
-Pure bigotry has faded, yes. Racism, no.

----The Obama campaign created acceptionalism where a black president is acceptable.
America has created certain social and political norms for and about African Americans that are usually negative, this has now transcended into particular privileges that are allowed to people of color, even today.

“George bush complete buffoon but that’s okay!”  Because of ↓

White Privilege: In the above list, I reiterated one of Tim Wise’ points, that there are embedded negative social norms and stereotypes for African Americans that have transcended into the way we deal with racism today. He mentions in the interview, that an African American child has to strive for  a racially biased career such as
being a basketball star instead of something predominately white, like a C.E.O of a powerful corporation. This is an example when White privilege reveals itself. Specifically African American Children have to limit their dreams because of what norms and stereotypes society has created for them. As, a white child, I never had to limit my dreams based on my race or what was acceptable of it. I was given the luxury of White Privilege. In Peggy McIntosh’ essays she mentions that white privilege isn’t always apparent to the white’s that a receiving its benefits but it is painfully obvious to those who aren’t benefiting from it. Tim Wise uses this idea in the same way regarding racism. He says to truly know if racism exists you can’t ask the ones who aren’t experiencing it effects but the ones that it is.

Striving for:
1.     Racial equity— when mediocrity is acceptable no matter your race.

2.    Expanding norms and breaking free from the embedded ideologies for the African American race. So not only can a black boy dream of being a basketball player he can reach for American Presidency! 

3.  Truly equal opportunity to diminish all aspects of racial inequality in jobs, housing and everyday life not in specific individuals.

How to: 

1.  A Combination of events that cause change. Obama’s election is one of the events that pushed America a little further. Work still remains. Brown vs. Board, MLK, civil rights, and Obama’s election are big events that cracked the glass but didn’t break it, there was a lot more work to be done after the events.

2.  Attitudes have changed towards racism, but Wise says the DENIAL hasn’t changed. Do you believe blacks have equal opportunities? Rational white folks would say yes in housing education…etc. DENIAL. If you want to know if something is a problem go to the target of it not the indirect ones, whites. Race is a reason things happen among problems of the country. When did it stop, it didn’t. There are no excuses, then why isn’t it okay to talk about? Accept it to change!

Comments: I enjoyed enlightening myself with these issues because as the patron of white privilege, I hadn't acknowledged how incredibly dominant racism still is in our society today. I was especially taken back when I read about how schools are "integrated" but not really. It was really very eye-opening. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

In the Service of What? Extended Comments

I’d like to use this week’s blogs to do extended comments. I would specifically like to use Alicia’s Blog and Nicole’s Blog..

As Nicole said, the article is about how Service Learning Projects function and how they become beneficial the volunteer and the students in American schools.

I really liked the quotes Alicia chose to pull from the article: “In the moral domain, service learning activities tend toward two types of relationships. Relationships that emphasize charity we will call “giving”.
Those that aim primarily to deepen relationships and to forge new connections we will call “caring.”

Alicia says she finds them interesting because she didn't know that there were two different kinds of service. I too, didn't know this until I read the article. I think the terms “giving” and “caring,” are very important to authors of this essay, Joseph Khane and Joel Westheimer.

Giving: to present voluntarily and without expecting compensation.
Caring: to be concerned or solicitous; have thought or regard.  

I pulled those two definitions from the dictionary to show how very different they really are. I think volunteers who actively participate in their service learning project are in the category of “giving.”The ones who simply talk about or bring attention to a community or educational problem and in this article, categorized as “caring.”

The next quote Alicia chose to comment on was also a profound one: “In the intellectual domain, a service learning curriculum can further a number of goals. The ability of a service learning curriculum can further a number of goals. The ability of a service learning curriculum to foster authentic, experience-based learning opportunities, to motivate students, to help students engage in higher- order thinking in contextually varied environments….”
I agree with her when she says that service learning would be a good way for students to become more aware of different things. It definitely will make students observe and absorb differences or similarities in an array of learning or miscellaneous environment.  No matter the environment though, the volunteer would have taken something away from it. Even if it is positive and/or negative, it will hinder their life experience and broaden their education on life and learning.

I want to close my Blog in agreement with Nicole’s final thoughts.  “I think service learning is a good opportunity to learn about one’s community.  To be able to make connections and relationships with people that you may not necessarily have come in contact otherwise.” I think this is an excellent point and it would be nice to imagine a world where the majority of people would volunteer their time to someone who is need of any kind of help while also helping themselves to become a well-rounded individual.