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.