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.