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


  1. Great post. I loved your pictures and I loved that found a photo of the author. Your post as a whole was great and definitely get a feel of what should be done for a connections post. Overall great job.

  2. Hi Sarah! I thought you did a great job with this post! I had a lot of the same troubles that you did with this article - there was SO much information, and a lot of it was pretty repetitive. But at the same time you did a great job with the connections to other readings! :)