Sunday, March 30, 2014

Literacy with an Attitude, Finn


This article was probably the hardest one so far for me to get through, even harder than Delpit. It wasn't just because of the excessive length, but also I found the content to be a bit boring and repetitive. 

          The major points that I got out of this article were about how schools for the working class, middle class, affluent professional schools, and executive elite schools are supposed to be educating students their students at the same standards, and levels. But the fact of the matter is, that according to this article the working class schools is not always seen as a problem because if they get properly educated, than they will realize that their education is not at the same standard as higher class neighborhood schools. In one example, they explained that the younger and less experienced teachers are sent to work with the lower classes, while the more experienced teachers teach the higher level classes. The quality for these schools is a lot different from the upper elite school, and according many different researches experiences in Finns article, they require a more authoritative approach. The workload in these classes tends to be more repetitive and less creative. According to Reich, he bluntly claims that 55% of the population is the working class, and they tend to be poorly paid members of society who work in the food industry, or security, or health care. 
          A slight difference from these schools are the middle class, which are a different type of schooling that is "taught to take orders" and learn directly from textbooks, they go a more tradition route and are less likely to be connecting school to their daily lives, less of them understood that they could be the creators of their own knowledge, in the survey that the students took. There was a statement about "possibility over resistance" which I thought to mean that they see colleges and jobs in their future only if they work hard and study the material. There is less creativity. Reich defines the middle class as 20% of the population that are most likely local and federal government employees and teachers. Economically the middle class stays the same and the schooling is average. My own schooling experience reminded me of this, but it all depends on the type of teacher and how devoted they are to the subject and their students. 
          The affluent professional schools are a step up from these and give their students more leeway to be creative, and find different methods of learning, rather than just the textbook. They can be more independent in their studies. They tend to come from more affluent families, and they find that learning in their schools is related to life's problems and "open to discovery. They view knowledge as the necessity to learn from tradition. Reich claims that the students who attend these schools come from the top 20% of society. They tend to come from solvers and creators in society, like doctors, lawyers, designers, engineers, etc. 
Finally, the executive elite schools are also part of the upper 20% as well. And they are given all of the tools they need with access to the best educators. The article talked about how some of the teacher had to watch what they said in class because the students were from very elite families, such as the mayor. The students are allowed more freedom and independence than any other school.
         This entire system is completely unfair. I don't understand why it has to be this way. Why should money and power give you a better education and better opportunities than those from poverty level? If schools are this different, than I think there should a happy medium between creativity and textbook and independence. All social classes should have access to the same education. The differences in these levels are astonishing, and it's really bothersome.
          Finn spoke about Kozal in this article, in regards to titling his book. Kozal has a story call Savage Inequalities. This reminds me of Mott Haven and how utterly unfair that their whole town and education system is compared to the upper class that has more power to do things like put incinerators in their town. Teachers tend to stay away from poverty stricken towns. Finn than spoke about how he wanted to use the title "Subtle Inequalities". But the inequalities between the school systems in different social classes may seem subtle, but that are just as Savage as the ones Kozal speaks about. 
          I was also thinking about Christensen while reading this article, and how she believes that schools should give students the tools they need to recognize stereotypes and oppression in their schools. The article spoke about the high class elite schools having independence and valuable tools. But the lower class is denied these rights, and they  tend to avoid the more controversial subject They are given unequal educational opportunities, and it does not supply them with the tools they need to fight back against the oppression they have to face, but can't even seem to realize. Freire was one of the men Finn spoke highly off, and he is a man that values culture and personal experience in the classroom, making him much like Christenson. He wants people to use dialogue, not anti-dialogue which is more derogatory. He wants to "empower the powerless" by giving them a system that is more rigorous, visual, cultural, and empowering. The things that are oppressing the students are "family, community, and school". He is able to realize and speak out about these inequalities.
          Lastly, I also found that Delpit was present in this article. The rules and codes in these schools differ because of the social class. The ones with the power are in the upper class with access to the best education because of their wealth and power. "The status quo is the status quo because people who have the power to make changes are comfortable with the way things are". This is not just in the classroom, this goes for the whole education community in the country. Those with the power want to keep it, rather than helping provide better educational opportunities for those in the working class. Finn was constantly speaking about the rules and codes of power within each school system, and how greatly that they differ because of class, Finn is working hard to give teachers the tools they need to teach to the best of their ability in the specific situations that might require different techniques. By speaking out about it Finn is having a Johnson moment by saying the words; its extremely important to recognize these issues and say them! Finn is saying that there is a problem based on the social classes and educational opportunities.

Overall I know that I might have written too much, but this was the only way that I feel I could have gotten my point across, and connect to the article. I would really like to talk more about this article in class, and see different interpretations from my classmates regarding this article to help me better understand it. 

This is an article I found about how the government is trying to make a ladder for those that are poverty stricken communities to grow into the middle class, maybe even improving education. click here

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Segregation is NOT Equal: Brown vs. Board of Education

Free Response Piece/Connections

          Throughout many of my years in school, I have learned about Brown vs. the Board of Education and the desegregation of schools. The American history website was able to provide all lot of great information about some of the most influential people and organizations like the NAACP. It took tremendous effort and decades of work to be able to finally desegregate schools, and sway the ruling of the Supreme courts. It took dedication by members of the community, activists groups, parents, students, teachers, lawyers, and a tremendous amount of time to finally desegregate schools. 
          Before winning the Brown vs. Board of Education Case, Plessey vs. Ferguson was a large step toward giving people of color free education. This was known as separate but equal. But in reality there was nothing equal about it. The Plessey vs. Ferguson case discussed on the website reminds me of Kozal and the community Mott Haven. They segregate this poor community from the rest and even put all of the sick people in one apartment. This only makes the sick get sicker with no opportunity to improve. Much like how the article by Herbert said "evidence show that poor kids of all ethnic backgrounds do better academically when they go to school with their more affluent — that is, middle class". This shows that putting all of the kids in poverty with lower learning skills in the same school will not give them the opportunity to improve.
          The way that I see the case Brown vs. Board of education is altered after reading the article by Bob Herbert, and watching the videos by Tim Wise. I used to see it as just a monumental change in education for colored people and blacks, which it is. But now I know that it is not even close to solving the problem of racism completely. According to Wise "is still very evident". Despite the progress that they made, it all happened over the span of decades, and took multiple series of events. Brown vs. the Board of Education was definitely a big event, like the civil rights movement, and the voting rights act. Neither of these are a complete solution on their own, just a tap on the glass. Wise has a great way of explaining racism with a 1.0 and 2.0. Racism 1.0 is what we have already defeated like segregation and the overly bias type. 2.0 is where people are starting to view people like Obama as a "transcending racist".
          There was a particular part of the video that I found very interesting. Wise spoke about a type of racism that has to do with expectations. When Obama became President Wise claimed he "broke the glass ceiling". But they never would have let a black person with some of the same credentials as someone like George Bush become President. He also gave examples of some presidents with past bad reputations and still becoming president. Like "crashing five planes and graduating fifth from the bottom of the naval academy". Obama would not have even been considered.  There should not be a double standard for blacks and whites. Why is there an acceptable blackness, but no sort of acceptable whiteness? Obama is an exceptional person, there are very few of us that can be a bright, articulate, and intelligent as Obama. A great point made by Wise in regards to this was "racism will end once blacks can be as mediocre as whites". This could not be truer, black are still given stereotypes like they are not as smart as whites, or they have a potentially higher crime rate.  
           Obama becoming President does not change everything, but like Brown vs. Board of Education and our history leading up to where we are today with racism, it is just another event in the series of steps leading to the end of racism.
          Herbert made a great point in his article about how racism is not close to an end, although there have been some great steps towards ending it. A majority of teachers and educators tend to stay away from schools with "high concentrations of poverty". This is a racist thing to do, by just assuming they don't have the ability to learn as well because of their social class and situation. He also said that we need to stop dancing around the topic of racism and for some reason "we pretend that no one's a racist anymore, but it's easier to talk about pornography in polite company than racial integration". This could not be truer and it is extremely sad that it is a true thing. It is a real eye opener for me to actually take the time to realize that these things are happening in the world today. This idea from Herbert goes hand in hand with Johnson who says "WE JUST NEED TO LEARN TO SAY THE WORDS!" Stop avoiding conversations about race and just say the words.
          My original ideas about Brown vs. the Board of Education were changed after reading and watching the videos by wise about contemporary views of racism. I agree with their ideas about how racism has not ended, and it takes a lot of time and a lot of events to get the ruling of the Supreme Court, and the opinions of everyday Americans to be changed. There are more subtle forms of racism today, although they are not as prominent and overly prejudice as those acts of racism in our history, they are still detrimental to society and it needs to end. We need to find a way to help those suffering, but it can't be a narcissistic act, it needs to be on that is altruistic. In order to change racist views we need to continue with what history has done, and continue fighting for change, and take each event like Obama as the first black president, and Brown vs. the Board of Education as a step in the right direction.
This is an interesting video coming from the contemporary view of everyday people, not the researchers that we watched videos of and read articles about, they are pretty similar to their views, just not as articulate and well researched.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Kahne and Westheimer, In the Service of What?


          I found that this article was very interesting, and informative. It gave me a new perspective on how to think about service learning. Moral/social, political, and intellectual are the reason for service learning that were discussed within the reading. It is interesting to see how there is such a widespread involvement and interest in service learning, especially in the government. I personally think that service learning of all varieties is a great thing. I find it great to get tat sort of experience in the community, and as discussed in the article; it should be able to transform some of our views wit involvement in different community activities. I personally support the idea that "learning and service reinforce each other and should come together in America's schools".
          Throughout my own personal service learning experiences, which I was reflection upon constantly while reading this article, it was clear to me that they have had a huge positive impact on my life. Kahne and Westheimer are large believers in the idea that service learning should be able to teach you something. Also they believe that in order to get the most out of your experience with service learning, you need to put yourself  in the perspective of people that you are working with. In my experience this is definitely true, and has been a large aspect. Service learn has been able to teach me things that being in a classroom would never be able to do.
          The service learning that I have been involved with, and that I think have had the greatest impact on my life are definitely the Special Olympics program in my town, along with tutoring third graders in a classroom at Sackett Street Elementary. 
          Special Olympics is an amazing experience, I have been working with the same child for almost four years and once a week, yet I am still learning new things every time. It is amazing to see improvement and being able to make an impact in a childs life. This service learning experience is one of that main reason that I decided to become a Elementary Education Major with a focus in Special Ed. Without amazing experiences that service learning has provided me, I believe my life and my outlook on life would be drastically different. 
          At the classroom that I have been working in, I have learned so much,and I relieved to be able to say the the experience has left me still wanting to be a teacher and I am even more excited about it than I was prior to it. It has been great to be able to be working in an environment that I am not used to, the children are so eager and happy, and the classroom reminds me a lot of the one from my childhood. I like the idea the article talked about where you should be thinking about the causes and impacts and situations that the people in the community are going through. And how the service learning is affecting them. (I think it is definitely positive.)
         Service learning is something that I look forward to and it is truly such a pleasure to be able to be a part of it and experience all the joys and benefits that it provides for not only the individuals in the community, but also myself! It opens up many opportunities, and it has made me want to get involved in other service learning projects. I personally think that everybody should be involved in service learning at some point in their life; and I think it is important for high schools and middles schools to make service learning a graduation requirement. It should not and does not feel like a requirement, it is something that you feel honored to be a part of. It gives you the opportunity to be a part of the community, gain different experience, and get exposed to a culture or way of life or social class other than your own (so we can stop thinking about them as others).

This video is talking about the importance of service learning from people who have their own experiences with it. This specific one is more science based, but it still gives the idea about how important that service learning is and how these real world experiences are important.