Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Promising Practices [Reflection]

During the Promising Practices conference, I attended the following sessions:

  • Transgender Wellness at All Ages
  • Youth Action for all Abilities

At the very beginning of the conference, during the Keynote Address, there were a few things that I learned and was able to connect to the texts we read in class. First, the Health equity Zone is working to make sure that facilities provide health care that is needed and addresses people's health appropriately. They want to insure that safe drinking water is available, and that the radon and lead concerns presented by people are taken care of. Additionally, The presenters spoke about making sure that people who are dependent on medication are taking them responsibly and are learning more about their health. This all reminded me of Kozol. These are the services that he would love to see for the people of Mott Haven. If the people in his piece were given these services, many deaths could have prevented and they could have lived a better quality of life.

The keynote speakers also pointed out that those who haven't obtained a high school degree have a shorter life expectancy; there is a seven year gap between them and those who do have a high school degree. There is also a higher obesity rate for women without a high school degree. Additionally, the obesity rate is higher among people with less than a $50,000 salary per year. A big contributor to this is the lack of opportunity for a good education, as well as health awareness and medical availability. This can be linked directly back to Kristof, who claims that inequality is institutional instead of individual. Obesity andthe lack of a high school degree could be caused by a myriad of things such as poor education (students may feel unsupported by staff, may get bullied because of race/ability etc, or poor home life could interfere with their ability to complete schooling).

During the Transgender Wellness at All Ages event, it was suggested that educators use books with LGBTQ characters (such as same-sex parents) to promote positivity to youth regarding the topic.

We were also told about Christine Jorgensen, who was the first woman in the United States to be widely known for having sex reassignment surgery.

The presenter also told us a story about a transgender student who had a class at Whipple Hall. She was using the women's bathroom and felt that she had to stand on the toilet when she heard someone walk in. She then was washing her hands, and a girl came in. After seeing the woman, the girl looked horrified and ran. This relates back to August because she would argue that these students need to have a place where they feel safe, and not like they need to hide in the bathroom stall when a person walks in.

The presenter also gave us somme statistics: transgender people are 20 times more likely to be homeless. On a similar note, the average age of transgender people without a hommme is thirteen.

During the Youth Action for All Abilities session, we learned that kids with disabilities are much more likely to be depressed, suicidal, overweight, anti social, and to have unprotected sex because of their disability. Often times they are also isolated and discriminated against, which adds to these issues. They are also rarely chosen to be employed, even if they have great qualifications; in 2013, there was a 39.8% employment rate for people with disabilities.

Here is an informative piece on the "Capital Crawl", when disability rights activists fought to make the capital building in Washington accessible to everyone, and to make it comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Pecha Kucha text

Is separation equal? Ever since the brown versus board of education court case, it has been decided that in America, Separation is no longer equality. But what about in situations when being separated means having a better chance at understanding content and concepts that are being taught in a classroom? During my service learning project, I had the pleasure of working with a middle schooler who is sassy, independent, and growing in her confidence every day. She is also totally blind, which sometimes presents her with challenges when it comes to lack of proper equipment, technology, accessible learning materials and people who think she is unable to do things on her own. During my service learning, I observed six different classroom environments and connected them with what we learned this semester.

Kristof believes that inequality is institutional, and not individualized. He argues that a person’s lack of success is not caused by lack of hard work or effort. Instead, success is greatly affected by a person’s resources and education. A student that isn’t given what they need to learn the concepts that are being taught to the rest of the class will not be as successful as his or her peers-it's as simple as that. My student in particular didn’t always have schoolwork available to her in braille or an electronic format. Instead, she was handed a piece of paper with print and told to have it completed. This is not equal. Her books have to be ordered specially at least six months in advanced so that she will have them in time for her classes. Why? In this case, inequality is instatutionalized. This is the norm for visually impaired students all over the country; books, technology, and schoolwork needs to be prepared specially for students. It’s not the norm for a school to have a system in place so that these acomodations can be made quickly and officiently. This also relates back to SQUAAMP, more specifically it shows how able-bodiedness is valued in our culture. Christensen would say that the student needs to speak up for what she deserves to have. Being separated fromm the class in terms of what she is able and not able to do because of lack of accessible materials is not equal. My student can be pretty quiet so christensen, who believes that it’s important to take action and speak up against oppression, would tell her to talk to her teachers and push for the ability to work at the same pace as everybody else. Another story of separation is one in which the student removes herself from the noisy, chaotic cafeteria and has her lunch in a classroom. She is able to socialize with any other students who also choose to have their lunch there, and by being separated from the lunch room where she can’t hear the person next to her let alone have a conversation, she feels safe with a teacher she trusts and can relax with. Even though she is separated from the main student body, she is still included and made to feel equal. August would approve of this because she believes that marginalized students should feel normalized, safe, and included within the school commmunity. This teacher in particular makes the extra effort to open her classroom to students so that they can talk comfortably and safely. By allowing my student a safe space to socialize, it is preventing her from feeling erased and invisible. I also see her being included and part of the community a lot when teachers and students alike openly greet her with warmth, and don't treat her differently despite her blindness. Students are quick to invite her to work in groups with them and are very friendly. I was also able to connect to delpit during my service learning because there was an instant when I had to explain to my student some of the rules and codes of power that the teacher was using. Because of her visual impairment, she misses cues such as when to raise her hand. The teacher was walking around and checking the student’s work, and rewarding them with candy if they had finished it. The catch was that the students had to raise their hand if they had completed the asignment, but this was never explicitly explained by the teacher; it was just something that the students knew to do. I can remember being in a similar situation, with the difference being that the teacher would say something like "raise your hand when you're done and I'll come around and check your work" But this isn't what happened, so in order for my student to be credited for her work, I had to explain to her that she needed to get the teacher’s attention.

There is one last incident that I can remember regarding race which Johnson would not have approved of. Johnson states that it is important to speak explicitly about race, gender, sexuality, and ultimately about privilege, power and differences in society. I also think this is important, because if we are not able to discuss these topics, people will never be comfortable with them and future generations will never learn and be able to think out of the box. In my seventh grader's History class when the children were debating whether a word being used was "racist" or not, the teacher told them to "stop using that word; I don't want to hear anymore of this 'racist' stuff." This shut down a potentially informative conversation and told children that they could not explicitly talk about race/racism.

Students should be able to question what they are being taught, instead of believing the values that the coriculum wants them to believe. Unfortunately, the coriculum is not always the same and different values are taught depending on a person's status in society. It's immportant for everyone to have the same access to education. Throughout the country and probably the world, those who are working class don't get the same quality of education as those who are wealthy. Shor presents us with the idea that upper class students get a higher quality education. they receive more funding, so their facilities are more welcoming to students and provide them with a better learning environment. Students who are working class and do not have as much money are not able to obtain this education, and so are separated. They do not get an equal opportunity to a quality education.

Throughout my service learning I learned a lot. I feel that I was able to take what we read in class and apply them to the real world, which helps me to remember them for my future. I also learned how important it is to fight for the education that you deserve to have.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Shor: Empowering Education (argument)

In this piece, Shor makes the argument that "education is politics" and that it is important for schools to set an environment where children are able to question what they know and grow intellectually as well as individuals. Shor also presents us with the idea that upper-class students are provided with a higher quality education than those who are lower-income and working class;

funding is another political dimension of education, because more money has always been invested in the education of upper-class children and elite collegians than has been spent on students from lower-income homes and in community colleges.

This article talks about the impact of bad facilities on students and their learning.

A number of studies have shown that many school systems, particularly those in urban and high-poverty areas, are plagued by decaying buildings that threaten the health, safety, and learning opportunities of students. Good facilities appear to be an important precondition for student learning, provided that other conditions are present that support a strong academic program in the school. A growing body of research has linked student achievement and behavior to the physical building conditions and overcrowding.

The physical state of a school building and the conditions described above are directly linked to the amount of funding a school gets.

The article also argues that it is

Schools need to be defended as an important public service that educates students to be critical citizens who can think, challenge, take risks, and believe that their actions will make a difference in the larger society.

This goes back to Christensen who fights for students' rights to stand up for what they believe in and analyze what they are being taught. Christensen wants schools to enable children to think out of the box and not to take the education they are being spoon fed sitting down; she wants them to be well-rounded citizens with a mind of their own, and to have the ability to stand up for their values and culture.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Kliewer - Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome [Reflection]

While reading Kliewer's piece, a few thoughts came into my mind. It was kind of a hard piece for me to get through at first, but a few quotes caught my interest.

…society itself is hurt when schools act as cultural sorting machines-locations that "justify a competitive ethic that margmalizes certain students or groups of students ... [that]legitimize discrimination and devaluation on the basis of the dominant society's preferences in matters of ability, gender, ethnicity, and race ... and [that] endorse an elaborate process of sorting by perceived ability and behavior" (p. 183).

I have to agree with this. Schools today that "degrade" or do not value students who are of a different race, ability, gender, etc can really affect society and their success in the "real world", once they graduate from school. People with different abilities than others are sometimes placed in self-contained classes where they are separated from mainstreamed classes. This can cause them to fall behind their peers and they may not be able to gain the same set of skills as their mainstreamed peers.

Another quote that I connected to was:

It's not like they come here to be labeled, or to believe the label. We're all here-kids, teachers, parents, whoever-it's about all of us working together, playing together, being together, and that's what learning is. Don't tell me any of these kids are being set up to fail.

I found this to be a somewhat powerful quote. I love how this educator makes it a point to make sure that all her students are included and involved, and not secluded. Her goal is to make sure that all her children will go on to be as successful in the big world as possible.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Literacy With an Attitude: Argument

In ""Literacy With an Atitude", Patrick Finn argues that there are two different types of education. Domesticating Education provides students with skills to become literate and dependable; skills that will make them hard-working and functional contributors to society. Empowering education, on the other hand, gives students skills that will allow them to obtain positions of authority and power. Finn says that those who have access to more money or are well off (higher class) are the ones who can get an empowering education. Working class students are subjected to Domesticating education. Finn says that when poor children get access to an empowering education, they "get literacy with an attitude". Unlike upper class people, these people grow up with more challenges and therefore use their empowering education to fight for justice and equality.

There are many connections to Delpit throughout this piece. Delpit says that it is fvery important to express rules and codes of power clearly to maximize a student's potential. Finn shows us how critical it is to do this:

All of us-teachers and students-were locked into a system of rules and roles that none of us understood and that did not allow for much in the way of education.

It is very hard to learn and interact when you don't understand rules and codes of power. Throughout the rest of this piece Finn gives examples of how clearly stating rules and regulations improves the quality of a child's education and the way the classroom is run.

He did circle activities where each student was asked to share a personal fact or opinion and he insisted on the following ground rules. No put-downs. Listen. Don't interrupt. Everyone gets a turn (including the teacher). Everyone gets equal time. Everyone has the right to pass. Once they were understood, these ground rules became classroom rules for the entire school day-for the teacher as well as the students.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Pecha Kucha

Johnson (or anti-Johnson): Johnson states that it is important to speak explicitly about race, gender, sexuality, and ultimately about privilege, power and differences in society. I also think this is important, because if we are not able to discuss these topics, people will never be comfortable with them and future generations will never learn and be able to think out of the box. I had an incident in my seventh grader's History class when the children were debating whether a word being used was "racist" or not. The teacher told them to "stop using that word; I don't want to hear anymore of this 'racist' stuff." This shut down a potentially informative conversation and told children that they could not explicitly talk about race/racism.

Delpit: Delpit believes that it is important for educators to state clearly what the rules and codes of power are. This is critical for a person's success in society. My student's science teacher is great at this; she tells students "we are not talking right now. We are writing outlines." or "you are not supposed to be standing. You need to sit down." She is clear and explicit with what she wants her students to do.

August: August says that marginalized students need to feel included and "normalized" within schools. We do this by preventing them from feeling erased and invisible. I see this a lot when teachers and students alike openly greet my student with warmth, and don't treat her differently despite her blindness. Students are quick to invite her to work in groups with them and are very friendly.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Separate is NOT Equal: reflection/connnection

While I listened to episode number 562 of "This American Life", I was outraged at the fact that we are in the TWENTY FIRST century and students are still struggling to have an equal opportunity to education,, essentially because of their race. When the parents were having their meeting in the gym during this episode of the podcast, I was so angry that they were treating the children from the other school as if they they were savage, violent people when in reality they were just the same as their own kids, with the only difference being the amount of opportunities to succeed being far less (due to poor teaching, old/run down/broken facilities ETC). To me this scene sounded very much like one that would have gone on fifty or so years ago, not something that should be happening now! I was especially angry when a parent said that the arguments they were making were not about race and that she was angry/tired of people making it about race, when the things that all the parents were yelling about were things that racist people decades ago would have been saying, word for word. This goes back to Johnson, who argues that people should be talking about sex/gender/race/racism/disability explicitly and not hiding it behind other terms. If these parents, as children, had been told explicitly what racist comments are and how people with colored skin are not different from themselves, they would most likely not be making arguments and painful accusations like they were int this scene. The parent that spoke about the issue not being about race, and the rest of the parents who cheered in agreement, did not understand that what they were doing and saying was wrong on so many levels, partially because they were never taught. On a similar note, Bob Herbert states that

What I think is a shame is that we have to do all of this humiliating dancing around the perennially uncomfortable issue of race. We pretend that no one’s a racist anymore, but it’s easier to talk about pornography in polite company than racial integration.

Why is race still such an uncomfortable subject for us today, after our long history of fighting racism and discussing it throughout the years? Why can nobody be explicit about race, and own up to an argument or action being racist, instead of glossing over it like the parent above did? I am hoping that as the years and generations go by, this will change.

In the second episode of this podcast, they spoke briefly about how years down the line things would change so that parents would want their children to be integrated within schools and experience life with students of different races. This reminded me of Delpit; the rules would change along with the codes of power. Instead of white parents having the majority of the power and being able to say "no, we don't want these children who are poor/of a different race to go to our schools" and moving away when integration starts to occur, they will want to send their children to these schools, because facilities will have improved, along with the quality of teaching. An example of this is the school in Connecticut which has amazing facilities and children and teachers who are eager and happy to be there. These are the types of schools we need to have more of.

I went to a public school that had a great culture and was very diverse in terms of different races/ethnic backgrounds, and it was very surprising and shocking to me when I heard the first episode that segregation is something that still goes on in public schools. Throughout my whole life, my elementary, middle and high schools had a big range of nationalities so I have to say I was ignorant to the other types of schools/situations that are still in abundance in the United states, according to this podcast.

Here is a video that explains how segregation in schools is not improved from sixty years ago.