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.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Kahne and Westheimer: Reflection

In this piece, the authors discuss the reasons for service learning, as well as its affects on the community and students. First of all, I really agree with what they are saying here. I have only done service learning for a few weeks so far, but I'm learning a lot from working with my seventh grader, while also feeling great about doing as much as I can to help her with her classes and any other issues she is having in school. Kahne and Westheimer write:
…such service learning activities seek to promote students' self-esteem, to develop higher-order thinking skills, to make use of multiple abilities, and to provide authentic learning experiences

The service learning project we are participating in definitely does all of these, especially the latter. Working in a school environment definitely helps to prepare me for what I want to do in the future. It is getting me a preview of what it will be like to work with different types of students, and teachers as well. I'm switching from classroom to classroom throughout the day, so I am able to watch different teaching methods.

I really love the section in this piece about the students who were nervous about going to a school in a poor neighborhood. I was angry at how they automatically assumed that the children would be "rude, tough, noisy, and very unfriendly", as well as "mean, gang-related blacks". The part that I loved was where they came back from the service learning project with a whole new perspective; the stereotypes they had were dispelled. This is why I think service learning projects are important, and should be encouraged in middle and high schools. It provides students with different opportunities to work with a variety of people and to lessen, if not eliminate stereotypes and prejudices completely. It gives privileged students a chance to see what life is like for people who are not as fortunate as them.

While I read, I was reminded of this episode of The World's Strictest Parents, where rebellious teenagers are sent to "strict" households in an attempt to change their ways of life and attitudes. There was a scene in this particular episode where the boy, Andrew, was made to volunteer at a homeless shelter, serving food. He was quickly humbled and was able to appreciate the lesson he was being taught. The concept in this show is different from the idea of service learning, however I made a connection between the way he was exposed to a different way of life and developed morally, with the intention for students who participate in service learning to learn from, while helping those who are in need.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Christensen: Extended Comments

In Christensen's piece, she discusses how media content effects children in different ways. She

cleaned the dwarves' house and waited for Prince Charming to bring me life: (Christensen 1)

This is an example of how movies, especially Disney movies, can create unrealistic and sometimes unhealthy expectations for young children. In Ashly's blog post, she uses a great quote to support this:

"Movies portray reality yet Reality portrays movies."

Movies depict everyday life, but often everyday life is the way it is because of the lifestyles, habits and expectations that movies and shows and other types of media bring up. Ashly also makes a great point: she says that movies are very often a representation of the movie creator's views and prejudices, and that in turn can cause the viewers to start thinking or believing in the same things that are being shown, in which case they are essentially beginning to take on the beliefs and ideas of the creator. This is something that I have never considered before when watching a movie.

Christensen uuses the frase "secret education" while refering to what children learn from cartoons, shows and movies. This is a very accurate way to describe it, in my opinion. Girls will learn that is important to be skinny, white, and pretty if they compare themselves to the female characters that Disney has portrayed in the past. Christensen says that the actions of the minor characters in movies, such as what they are singing, what kinds of jobs they are doing, can say a lot about what the movie is trying to say about that type of person. For example, if a person who is overweight is depicted as unintelligent or as a buffoon, then children can infer that people of a similar build are below people who are skinny. HERE is a video of 10 movie stareotypes, which I will also imbed below.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Safe Spaces for all

In "Safe Spaces: Making Schools and Communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth", the authors focus on the topic of LGBTQ youth within public schools, as well as the role that educators play in promoting or hindering LGBTQ+ awareness and acceptance. Toward the end of this excerpt, the authors make a great point: simply having "good intentions" isn't enough. Educators need to publicly and positively acknowledge words like "gay" "bisexual" and "lesbian" when they are being used correctly, so that students will begin to understand that there is nothing negative about LGBTQ+; especially for youth who are still trying to come to terms with their sexuality, and who may also be dealing with mental/emotional/physical abuse because of it. Conversely, when anyone is using these terms in a stigmatizing/derogatory way, educators should point out that no, that is not how we use those words and it is very hurtful to many people. For example,, one of the educators in this piece dealt with a negative situation beautifully: he

does not scold. He does not snicker. And he certainly doesn't pretend that he does not hear. He explores the negative usage of words such as "gay" or "bisexual." He prods and questions, requiring students to define the terms. Patrick's actions promoted discussion and understanding: He asked students to think about the power of their harmful language.

This is very important, because I feel that every teacher should deal with similar situations the same way that this teacher did. I have been in classrooms before where a derogatory comment has been made about someone's sexuality, race/background, etc in front of a teacher and not a thing was said to counter that remark. This can impact the victim in ways that we may never see on the surface.

Another topic that the authors briefly touch upon is LGBTQ+ representation in the media. They explain that those who see themselves portrayed in textbooks, art, and other types of media in a powerful or intelligent light will feel included and safe. Unfortunately in this day and age, LGBTQ representation in media is still low, inaccurate and can be damaging rather than helpful. THIS LINK explains how a study finds non-heterosexual portrayal to be severely lacking in movies. In the study, they found that
of the 102 releases from 7 major studios, only 17 included characters that identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual—adding that a majority of these characters were minor roles or cameos, and that many representations were “outright defamatory.”

Student who sees these movies will automatically see the LGBTQ relationship as abnormal, because it is depicted so poorly. It does not help that, when students are in Sex ED classes, the majority of them are not informed about LGBTQ relationships and the idea that those kinds of relationships are completely normal is not even an idea that is planted into their heads. In turn, youth are not given information on how to have sex safely if they aren't heterosexual. This article explains how the number of states required to talk about LGBTQ in their sex ed classes is very small (nine states). In Alabama,
sex education instructors are required to teach that homosexuality “is an unacceptable, criminal lifestyle.”

Overall, LGBTQ representation is very low and is still extremely stigmatizing both in the media and in the classroom, as the authors of "Safe Spaces" point out. The only way to fix this is to be proactive when dealing with negative commentary made by students/adults alike, and hopefully the portrayal of non-heterosexual couples in textbooks and other educational materials will increase quickly.