Friday, February 28, 2014

Unlearning the Myths that Bind Us, Linda Christensen

Extended Comments

          First I would like to just start of by saying that I really enjoyed reading this article, I was engaged in it the entire time. Christensen made amazing points that I related to completely. It also upset me because I realized how true that all of her points were; how cartoons, childrens books, movies, and fairy tales do have a secret education. I always thought they were just innocent and fun stories that children watched and read about. After reading this article I realized how easy it is for children, like myself, to formulate their life and goals on these fairy tales. The relationship between children's cartoons and books related to race, family, relationships, sex, and social class are almost directly related to societies ideologies (SWAAMP). It is crazy how much that media has the ability to manipulate our lives. Media is everywhere and so easily accessible, it it is definitely a factor in shaping children's lives from such a young age.
          In high school I wrote a paper about how media affects women negatively through showing the ideal women in all forms of media. It can lead to eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia. It is unrealistic and they just show women with supposedly "perfect bodies" and ideal ways of acting. Society does this thought media, in choosing models, commercial, barbie dolls, and fairy tale princesses. I was able to totally relate to Unlearning the Myths the Bind Us. 

For my post this week I decided to use Maritza Mayo's Blog for Extended Comments

          I found Maritza's Blogs this week very relatable to the ideas that I formulated when reading this article. We have similar ideas towards this subjects. Like Maritza, I too enjoyed this weeks reading, but was also shocked about how much that these cartoons and fairy tales have affected and shaped my life. It was also a great eye opener to the other forms of media that can influence you in society. 
pop7516.jpg          I liked the point that Maritza made about how Christensen pointed out that young children are taught how to think and act based on these cartoons. She made a great point about how children spend countless hours watching TV without even knowing the impact that it will have on teaching them the negative influences of society. 
          Maritza also made great points about how the teacher wanted her students to be able to critique media and the inequality that it portrays. She talked about how Christensen did this by allowing her students to formulate their own ideas about the hidden myths about their fantasy lives that Disney and other programs portray. I like how Maritza pointed out the fact the teacher wanted her student to formulate their own opinions about the cartoons; the teacher did this by giving them a chart as a guideline and the opinions the students formed came from their own ideas, not the mind of the teacher.
          I also enjoyed the teacher style, and the questions that she asked her students to write about in their journals, they really open up your mind to the stereotypes that these cartoons, movies, books are making. The questions about who plays the role of servants, how are overweight people portrayed, who plays the main roles, who plays the powerful roles, people of color, how does money, possessions, and power play a role in the film. All of these questions are great ways to show the many ways that children's movies, books, and shows shaped their lives in the form of clothing, ideal relationships, importance of money, and difference between races. All of these are just the SCWAAMP of societies ideologies.
          I also liked how Maritza included the point that Christensen made about how she thought that it was important for her students not to just realize how negative that these cartoons portray life, she did not want her student to end this class with a negative outlook on cartoons, she wanted them to have an opportunity to make a change. Her students did this by making pamphlets for PTO meets about how to make better cartoon selections. Other students got articles posted in newspapers and magazines, or sent letters to places like Disney stores, or cartoon stations.
Cinderella-And-Charming-Cinderella-And-Prince-Charming-28505682-550-566          Maritza did a great job, and had some awesome links at the end of her article that really related to the reading this week and showed how cartoons affect children's lives and behaviors. Her ideas were very similar to my own and I agree with the arguments that she made throughout her post.

          The article this week was extremely eye opening and inspiring. The teacher too actions tin making sure her students were able to recognize the negatives in the cartoons, but also give her students the ability to make a change. I thought this was a wonderful this. I wish that I could take a class like this; I think it would be a great experience to get a chance to pick apart these cartoons as an 18 year old. It would be strange to see the difference. In ways it is similar to the FNED class that we are all taking, in that it informs us about societies stereotypes, and gives us an opportunity to point them out and become better informed about them. It also gives us a chance to talk about ways that society has already changed, and could change some of the negative stereotypes that exist about race, sexual identity, social class, gender roles, and much more. 

This link shows the top ten ways that Disney has corrupted children though their cartoons. 

Discussions for in class:
  • How this article was such an interesting read, I definitely related to it because I feel like they cartoons especially Disney might have changed my views as a child.
  • Paper I wrote in High School about medias negative affect on women. 
  • I really enjoyed that the teacher in this articles let her students have the opportunity to make a change.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Safe Spaces by Annemarie Vaccaro, Gerri August, and Megan S. Kennedy


            In the piece "Safe Spaces", the three authors argue about the importance of incorporating LGBT into the curriculum and communication within the classroom. By doing this, it will make those people who associate themselves with LGBT feel comfortable and safe, and not afraid of admitting who they are. Safe Spaces talked about several different scenarios in the classroom where teachers have had different approaches to handling situations that relate to LGBT.  The authors of this book make it clear that it is important to incorporate LGBT into the curriculum, and it is not okay to simply ignore it because this will make students feel like it is wrong to bring up or talk about; as if it is looked down upon. If students are not reprimanded for making fun of or discriminating against those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender than the classroom is not safe, and is also bias. Ignoring things like this can come off as being homophobic or transphobic. It is also not okay for the teacher to stand up for the student who is making fun of the one who identifies as LGBT, such as in the example where Rory was being ganged up on. 

            The authors talked about several situations including a Spanish student who had been feeling very comfortable in her Spanish class, and then one day she got a test back and her teacher had marked one of her answers wrong because she said she had a girlfriend, and the teacher corrected it to boyfriend. That specific teacher might have done it accidently because of being so accustomed to society's idea that "straight" is the ideal way to be (as discussed in SWAAMP). 
            I was very upset at one point when the authors made a VERY affective argument about a boy named Marcus that was suspended for saying "gay". But the context in which he said it was simply to describe his gay mothers to another student; his teacher did not allow the students to talk about anything in regard to LGBT. Think of how it must have made Marcus feel.
         Another argument was with a teacher named Zeke who had a positive way to integrating LGBT into the curriculum. Zeke did this through "integration and positive interpretation". This style was a positive way to show students through reading stories about all different types of families like with a single parent, same sex parents, adoption, foster families, or come from a family with a mother and a father. This technique shows kids all different types of families and allows LGBT to appear normal (which it is). 
           Another point that the authors argued was that LGBT should be taught in history lessons. In school we learn about civil rights and things regarding race, class, and gender. But curriculum normally fails to teach kids about their sexuality. By incorporating it into curriculum it will make all students feel comfortable with a subject that their parents might have kept hidden from them in their home life. Like how Safe Spaces referred to their home life as an "incubator" and school as an "outcubator" where students learn about everything in society. This is similar to what Rodriguez would say "public vs. private life". Rodriguez poses a similar argument as these authors, but in Rodriquez's case, he is speaking about being bilingual, and in Safe Spaces they are talking about sexual identity. It is important to feel comfortable being who you are.
            The final idea that I thought was very effective in their argument was the "mirror and window" metaphor. "Classrooms being seen as "mirrors and windows" for all students-mirrors in which youth see themselves in the curriculum and recognize their place in the group; windows through which youth see beyond themselves to experiences connected with, but not identical to, their own". It is important for student to be able to relate to classroom curriculum and formulate new ideas based on them.
            I agree with all of the arguments that Safe Spaces made. I think it is important to integrate LGBT into the curriculum and communication within schools. Totally neglecting to teach about sexual identity or refer to it as a positive thing that should not be looked down upon is detrimental to youth, and it makes those who identify with LGBT feel uncomfortable. It is important to make everyone feel comfortable in school; it should be a safe place for students no matter what.

Here is a link to a page the talks about some real life statistics for LGBT students and children, in homes and at schools. CLICK HERE TO READ.

Talking Points for class:

  • I think its important for classrooms to incorporate books about gay marriage.
  • Important to start at a young age to let kids know that having gay parents in completely normal and ok.
  • I was very upset about a specific story in the article, where they talked about Marcus getting suspended for saying he has gay moms. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

"Aria" by Richard Rodriguez


"What they seem not to recognize is that, as a socially disadvantaged child, I considered Spanish to be a private language. What I needed to learn in school was that I had the right and the obligation-to speak the public language of los grillgos."
          It was upsetting to me that he felt like he needed to keep his first language hidden from the public. Today being bilingual is seen as being a very important part of society, and it is often praised if you are fluent in more than one language. Despite its importance, I think there needs to be some separation of Spanish and English, because there are certain situations where you need to use one or the other. In Rodriguez's experience, he was afraid and not properly educated in English enough to be confident in speaking it in school. It is a shame that they made his feel as if he could only speak one or the other. In the beginning of the reading he was so confident in speaking Spanish with his family, and that gave him a connection with them. But towards the end he was confident in speaking the supposed "public" language and lost touch with his family as a result of this. Richard was raised socially disadvantaged just because he did not know and fully understand the public language, and I wish that the teachers would have told him that it was okay for him to not completely loose touch with his first language.

"At last, seven years old, I came to believe what had been technically true since my birth: I was an American citizen."
          But with this came silence and distance from his family. By becoming fluent in English Richard felt more comfortable and confident in society. With the help of his parents and siblings by trying to completely avoid Spanish in his house, Richard was able to feel comfortable in public, but lose touch with his original roots and connections he once had with his family. Through his education, it is obvious in the text that he is very well educated. As part of being an American citizen "Americanism" as described in SWAAMP is one of the ideal images of America, and for some reason people find it important to fully assimilate to the American culture by learning the language and acting more "American" in order to fit it. It is a shame that Richard completely lost touch with his Spanish culture, simply because of how society portrays the ideal "American citizen". It is a sad truth that Americans judge others for not fitting in completely; as a result it made Richard feel as if he was not a true American citizen, although he was for his entire life. It took seven years for him to fit in and discover his true identity. But in order to do this it required a huge loss.

"I would have been happier about my public success had I not sometimes  recalled what it had been like earlier, when my family had conveyed its intimacy through a set of conveniently private sounds."
            Although Richard claims to have found his public identity, he still lost touch with his previously strong "private one". Because of this he also lost touch with his family and his home became "more than a literal silence". Him and his family exchanged few words, and this is really upsetting to me. His first language that was once so special to him, is now lost. He explains later in the article that he has stopped caring about the different distinct sounds that come from each language. But when you think about it, it must have taken so much time and effort to learn a new language. It is awful that he as looked down on for knowing two languages. Comfort with his public language was a great accomplishment, because now in his mind, and the mind of his nuns and teachers, he finally fit in with society.

Today he would have been praised for being bilingual! Today it is amazing to know multiple languages, I wish I knew two languages, it would be so helpful!!!!

Talking points for Class:

  • This article upsets me in some ways because he lost touch with his whole family and his who other language, today he would have been praised for knowing two languages.
  • Each of these quotes are something that I feel very strongly about. 

This article from the New York times speaks about the benefits of being bilingual and how it can help a child to be taught two languages at a younger age.
Click HERE to read the link.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Lisa Delpit, "The Silenced Dialogue:Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People's Children"

                I found the article by Lisa Delpit, "Other People's Children" to be a difficult read, it took a lot of time to understand, but after rereading I found that I agreed with most of the points that she was making.
                A good point the Delpit made in this article was "both students and teachers are experts in what they know best"(33). Teachers need to use their student's expertise in things outside of the classroom to make them better inside the classroom. Like how Delpit wrote about a teacher named Amanda Branscombe. She was teaching black high school students, who were classified as slow learners. She used her student's knowledge about creating rap songs to teach them about Shakespeare's plays. She found a pattern between constructing rap songs and Shakespeare's plays that helped her students succeed by connecting the two ideas.  I found this too be very inspiring and I hope to be as creative as her when I become a teacher. I think it's very important to let the student feel like their opinions and ideas are important. It will make the classroom environment more inviting and allow student to become engaged in classroom discussions that they would usually feel left out of. If the teacher is just simply lecturing and not making references to everyday life, than the students will not be able to do much with their knowledge and simply become disinterested in classroom discussions.
                A good teacher in one that gets to know the needs of her students and uses their needs to help them become better educated. They should listen and actually hear and understand their students despite race or education level!!! This will eventually allow students to see their teacher as an authority figure, because of the respect that they have gained for them.  

                Another point that I thought was interesting, was the one about Martha Demeintieff, the Native Alaskan teacher who taught her students their "Own Heritage Language" and "Standard English" (formal English). She is teaching both because their Heritage language is important among their community and should not be seen as the "wrong" way of speaking or writing. But the formal English is still important because that is how society displays the proper way to talk, and can give her students a successful future. She taught her students the similarities between both types of English, and how Heritage English is just shortened versions of formal English. I found it interesting and amusing that she had her students practice formal English by having a formal dinner. This makes me realize how important it is to not overlook cultural diversity in classrooms, and it is an important feature that should not be removed.
                Another issue was between white and black educators. The white teachers need to be willing to listen to black teachers whose own personal experiences can benefit teaching black students in ways that are more helpful. Interviews conducted by Delpit with black educators had had similar responses and great points. Black educators said that "they (whites) listen, but don't hear". White educators often believe they have the upper hand and totally set aside the concerns of black educators. Another quote from her interview was "the more I try to explain, they just look and nod, just keep looking and nodding. They don't really hear me." This makes a lot of black educators feel unappreciated and the idea that Delpit discussed about "blinders and earplugs" comes into play. They are overlooked and this might have something to do with SWAAMP and whites feeling superior. I believe that this is the "silenced dialogue" that Delpit is explaining in her article. The black educators just stop trying to explain themselves, making white teachers feel as if they finally persuaded the black educators to agree with them. But in reality, the people of color are merely left out of the dialogue completely.
(I find this completely unfair! Why does race have to be a barrrior!)
                Another point that I agree with is "schooling is intimately related to power". Depending on where you go to school, it can mean that your education is different. It will determine your future and your job, and where you will stand economically in society. Every college application asks where you went to high school, and this is for some reason seen as important but it's unfair to me. Some places like Mott Haven from Kozol's article are completely overlooked, but if you went to an upper class school or a private school you are judged differently because of it, and are more likely to be accepted.  This relates to Delpit's idea about "culture of power", because these students that are educated in upper class school already have an idea about the "rules for participating in power" (25). Rules like how to dress, communicate, write, talk, and interact. Those with a lower class education are deprived of these rules.

                The "culture of power" is a topic that Delpit explains which has five main aspects. I found the fifth aspect to stand out the most to me. "Those with power are frequently least aware of, or least willing to acknowledge its existence. Those with less power are often most aware of its existence"(24). This statement is very true and eye-opening to me. When someone has power over you, you can definitely feel it and it can make you act differently and sometimes feel unappreciated. The ones with the power are hardly ever willing to admit it!

This is an article where they actually speak to Lisa Depit about writing the Silenced Dialogue, it was pretty interesting to read about her in an interview. CLICK HERE TO READ.

Talking points for class:

  • The culture of power makes a lot of sense to me, but I wish it didn't have to be that way, Delpit had a great way of describing it without putting her own opinion into it. 
  • This really opened my eyes to how power in society works, sometimes I am around certain people that make me feel powerless.
  • After getting through the slow parts in the article I was able to understand all of her big points about the rules and codes of power, the are extremely relevant and true. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Jonathon Kozol, "Amazing Grace"

                   "Amazing Grace" by Jonathan Kozol was a very shocking and unexpected article. Not even two pages into the article my eyes were already watering. The poverty level described in Mott Haven is unreal. The amount of AIDS, hunger, crime, and overall living conditions really bothered me. I wish something could be done to help these people, especially the children who should be living carefree lives at this point in time. But instead they already know what the "needle drug" is and are exposed to so many shocking realities like murder, death, disease, and starvation. This has resulted in many of the children at too young of an age already having depression. 
            The St. Ann's church served as the only "haven" in Mott Haven for most of the children.
This town in the South Bronx is so racially segregated and the poorest of the poor. The author managed to keep him overall opinion on the town out of the article; it was interesting that he had so many firsthand accounts, and that these people were eager to tell their stories.
The "Safe Haven" In Mott Haven
(St. Ann's Church) 
from the "Lehman College Art Gallery"
            For most of my life and experience with children I have only seen happy and innocent faces. Their parents keep them sheltered from the things that the children from Mott Haven experience in their daily lives. This has opened my eyes and made me realize how privileged that my life has been compared to others. I am left wondering if the children of Mott Haven know that there is a better life waiting for them out there one day, or if they don't know of anyone that has experienced a "better life".
            Yet children can be resilient and they are so young and happy that they don't let the harmful tragedies that have been a presence in their lives bother them. Such as with the seven year old Cliffie. This could be because they are so accustomed to death and such that they are just merely unaffected by it.  This troubles me that they became accustomed to it! They shouldn't have to, they are children.
            The church is the best place for the people of the town to go to. And although addiction and things of that nature are terrible, it is almost a good thing that the volunteers that go to "Children's Park" realize that some of these people are too far gone to help. But they are able to provide them with clean needle and promote safe sex while keeping their children preoccupied with teddy bears and a jungle gym. It is a small thing to help the amount of disease in this society, but it manages to keep a bit of peace, despite the grueling condition the town faces. People like Cliffie's mother have begun to be grateful for the fact that their town has become a dumping ground for the things that no other place in New York wants (such as the incinerator, or the dump). She has found use is some the dumped things like as the "two chairs". They are simply trying their hardest to remain positive and making the best of a bad and almost inevitable situation.
            Why is the "wonderful" state of New York totally neglectful towards the health of people in Mott Haven? The incinerator is producing fumes from the limbs, dirty needles, etc. that can cause so many illnesses. (Cancer and asthma are the most prominent). This is not ok. New York is known for the opportunities it provides, Times Square, Broadways, and not many things that are like this town.
            Mrs. Washington is a woman that is afraid to go to the hospital, with fear of becoming sicker. She was also denied welfare, although she is clearly in need. He son is extremely worried about her and worried for himself. "Most of the addicts and prostitutes are black. Some are Hispanic. But they're all people of color. It made me feel frightened for my race."
            This quote was extremely troubling because it shows how people in this town, especially the younger generation are starting to see their race as having a problem, and they are beginning to categorize themselves, and predict their future based on their race. This bothers me because after doing the SCWAAMP exercise in class, race shouldn't matter to anyone, or have any predetermined qualities. Children should not have to be fearful for their race, but the sad reality is, is that some still are.
            The reading was tremendously mind opening and made me want to research about Mott Haven today and see if they have made any progress, and I was happy to find that they did make some, especially in the educational aspect.

This article below shows that Mott Haven along with other districts like it are given the opportunity to apply to schools that have better programs than theirs. So they are given better educational opportunities.

Talking points for class:
  • Cliffe seemed to be pretty unaffected by the whole situation, maybe because he is a child that is so resilient?
  • The St. Annes Church seemed like the only safe Haven for most of there people, what would their life have been like without the help of the church?
  • I don't understand why the state wouldn't send more qualified people to work in the hospital, or make a free clinic. Just anything to make the hospital a safer and healthier place for these people.
  • The SCWAAMP exercise made me realize how unfair this is and how bad it is for these people to think that just because of their race, they won't be successful in life.

Some photos from Mott Haven
Wanting safer streets and living conditions

Giving out free meals and supplies