Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Talking Points #10

"School 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 point for the article reminded me of the article we read by Anyon about the four different types of schools, and how their respective students were taught. Anyon argues that the richer schools and students have access to more expensive and informative materials, and that it is hindering students who come from families and communities with less money. Shor obviously agrees with Anyon in regards to this.

"In classrooms where participation is meager, the low performance of students is routinely misjudged as low achievement. Bur the actual cognitive levels of students are hard to measure in teacher-centered classrooms where students participate minimally. An accurate picture of what students know and can do is possible only when students really want to perform at their best."

I found this quote really interesting. If a teacher doesn't believe that their class is smart or doubts the level of intelligence that a student has, that student will certainly not go out of their way to have their ideas criticized by that teacher. In a learning environment, it's important to be encouraging. Like Dr. Bogad said in class one time, it's better to tell a student that they see and appreciate their thought process, rather than just tell a student they gave an incorrect answer.

"Students study their own culture and that of the other students different from them. They undertake a cross-cultural study of the other groups in the community-white, Black, Hispanic, Asian-and all students learn English and Spanish. Further, this curriculum is thematic rather than fact-driven."

I just picked this quote because I thought it was a really unique way to look at things. You can learn as much as you want about a certain group or culture, but you will never have the same history or experience that they have had. However, learning about it is still important so that you can be educated and informed about cultures and groups other than your own.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Talking Points #9

"I started to notice that I didn't like the classes I was taking called special education. I had to go through special ed. almost all my life. I wanted to take other classes that interested me. I had never felt so mad, 1 wanted to cry. (Peterson, 1994, p. 6)"

This was a really eye-opening quote. I had never thought that a student with a disability could be told that they HAD to be in a special ed class, and that they couldn't take a class that interested them. It seems really unfair that these students do not have the same opportunities that their other classmates have.

"I don't tend to see Down syndrome as something. If you look at those three kids running around the room, they're incredibly different from each other. They're different in terms of what their bodies are like, how they best communicate, what they're like socially, their interests. And with those three kids in the room it would be hard to say, "This is how you should teach kids with
Down syndrome." They are not at all alike."

This quote is important because it reminds the reader that a disability does not define a child. There is always more to a student, and it is up to the teacher to recognize and unlock the potential in every one of their students. There should be absolutely no exceptions to this.

"Christine's communication skills also improved dramatically. Her teachers suggested that Christine's enhanced speech was a product of the necessity of engaging in conversations and also reflected, interestingly, her participation on the cheerleading squad."

Towards the end of the article, the reader hears a story about Christine, a girl with Down's Syndrome entering high school. She was put into "regular" classes like any other student, and was very successful in them. Her fine and gross motor skills improved, and I think this is a great example of how separating special needs students from their peers can often have the opposite outcome than what was intended.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Promising Practices Conference

The Promising Practices Conference on Saturday went really well, in my opinion. I arrived around 8 am and, since I'm one of the most forgetful people on the planet, had to do a walk-in registration. The women at the desk were really nice and helpful, and it only took me a few minutes to pick my workshops and sign in. I met up with a few friends and we sat down until the first workshop began.

The first workshop I attended was "Improving Inclusion in Classroom Interaction". The presenter was organized, and had a power point for us to watch. It had a lot of really interesting information about gender issues in the classroom, as well as participation percentages. For example, the presenter told us that only about 25% of elementary school students report having constant interaction with their teachers. When you think about it, classes usually are filled with both students who raise their hands and contribute to classroom discussions, and then there are students who actively listen most of the time. However, this class went deeper than that. We talked about groups of students who have lower interaction rates, and the reasons why. Like how girls usually have a lower interaction rate than male students, because teachers tend to call on boys more, and girls are passively taught to keep quiet. Also, we talked about how, when students are asked to work in pairs, mixed gender groups tend to be led by the male in the group, and that the female will be more submissive and ask the boy for help/directions. It's unfortunate that our classrooms still have these unspoken gender biases. I felt like it really related back to the discussions we had in class about gender in education. We discussed a lot of the same issues that we did in class. We also discussed how students who come from different cultural backgrounds have lower interaction rates, because they feel excluded and unsure of themselves. It's the teacher's job to make sure that all of their students feel comfortable and equal to their classmates.

After this, I went to the curriculum resource fair. There were a lot of interesting materials and brochures to check out, so I took a few. I haven't really had the time to check them out though! I'll try and get around to that this weekend.

My second workshop was called Multicultural Teaching: A Best Practice Approach to Growing Academic Skills. The presenters were really nice, and had a few really good points. Their main idea is that many curriculums in school only discuss events and lessons from the "valued" culture of power - white, christian, etc. This reminded me of Johnson's S.C.W.A.A.M.P piece. We then had to view a power point lesson and write about how we would include other cultures and view points into the lesson. It was really informative, and I like that we got to really get involved in this workshop.

After that, we had lunch and listened to Dr. Tricia Rose. I was really excited to get to hear her talk, because her speech that we watched in class was really informative. I really liked the part of her speech when she talked about her personal experiences in the classroom with her students making subconcious innappropriate comments. Sometimes people don't even realize that just because society has started throwing around derogatory terms carelessly doesn't mean that they aren't ignorant and offensive. It's all part of the discussion that we all need to be a part of as a society.

Talking Points #8

This week's reading was an article by Jean Anyon. The article focuses primarily on the different economic classes, and how the children in each level are taught and dealt with in elementary schools. The four groupings are the working class schools, middle-class schools, affluent professional schools, and executive elite schools.

"There are no minority children in the school. Almost all the family incomes are over $100,000 with some in the $500,000 range. The incomes in this school represent less than 1 percent of the families in the United States."

This is a great quote to show how few children get to attend the executive elite schools, where they have access to more materials and are encouraged to work hard and be responsible for themselves.

"In social studies--but also in reading, science, and health--the teachers initiate classroom discussions of current social issues and problems. These discussions occurred on every one of the investigator's visits, and a teacher told me, "These children's opinions are important - it's important that they learn to reason things through."

This is an example from the executive elite schooling section. The children are expected to contribute with their thoughts and opinions - not just answer close-ended questions to get a good grade on a test. I feel that this type of education is more beneficial than doing worksheets or spelling tests every day.

"On the card the teacher has written the question to he answered, the books to use, and how much to write. Explaining the cards to the observer, the teacher said, "It tells them exactly what to do, or they couldn't do it."

This quote made me so angry. This teacher is essentially inhibiting their students' learning by assuming that they aren't smart enough or capable of completing their schoolwork without having all the answers handed to them. This was an example I took from the working class school section.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Blog 7 - Issues of Gender in Schooling

These are some interesting things that I found while searching on the topic of gender and schooling. The first two links are articles, and the last link is a video.

The link above was the first article that I came across. It's all about the stereotype that boys are better at math and sciences than girls. What makes this article different is that it reports about a survey they did which stated that parents of female students tried to help with their math homework without having been asked. It just goes to show you how people can unintentionally pass on their prejudices and how it can affect others.

I liked this article because it's a list of activities that you can do in the classroom to promote equality. It reminded me of an activity my class did in 6th grade, a woman came in and passed out 2 note cards to each student that either had a name, color, or profession listed on it. Then, she had 3 tables set up that said female, male, or both. She then asked us to place our note cards where we thought they belonged. I still remember the cards I had, pink and construction worker. Without so much as a second thought, I placed pink on the female table, and construction worker on the male table. After the activity was over, she reviewed our choices and explained that every card should have gone on the table that said both. Media and advertising really influences the way we look at certain professions/what colors go with what gender, but it's important to remember that that should not be the case

Lastly, I found this clip on Youtube. It's from a school in Tucson, Arizona during their battle of the sexes week. It's a bit lengthy, but it shows how something meant to be fun and harmless can really have a negative impact on gender equality in schools. The caption in the side bar sums it up really well.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Talking Points #6

I thought that both the videos and article by Tim Wise were really interesting to read, as I found myself agreeing with a lot of the things that he had to say about racism in the United States. His main point that I really agreed with is that the United States has made progress in becoming a more diverse, less racist country, but that racism still exists in the United States, and is a huge problem.

As I was writing this, I had planned to tie the first two quotes together. After reading all three of them again, I think they all relate to each other.

1."White families, on average, have a net worth that is II times the net worth of black families, according to a recent study; and this gap remains substantial even when only comparing families of like size. composition. education and income status."

The first quote is about how much more money white families have in comparison to black families in the exact same circumstances (same number of kids, same level of education, etc.). It's almost unbelievable to think that another human being could make less money doing the same exact job because of their skin color/gender, yet this is what continues to be the case.

2. "Very telling is the oft-heard comment by whites, "If had only been black I would have gotten into my first choice college."

The idea behind this quote is that many white people are off-put by affirmative action. They feel as though this benefits everyone but them. However, looking back at the first quote, it's important to realize that there are "white privileges" that they might not even realize they have. I definitely know that sometimes it's hard to see these privileges - I'm a college student paying to live in my first apartment away from home, so I know how it feels to think that you're going through a lot of the same struggles with money issues and the like, but it's important to realize that these privileges do exist and need to be dealt with.

My last quote is a bit lengthy, so please bear with me. I tried just choosing a few sentences from this, but I felt that the whole paragraph was important.

3. "The President attacked Michigan's policy of awarding 20 points (on a ISO-point evaluation scale) to undergraduate applicants who are members of under-represented minorities (which at U of M means blacks, Latinos and American Indians). To many whites such a "preference" is blatantly discriminatory. Bush failed to mention that greater numbers of points are awarded for other things that amount to preferences for whites to the exclusion of people of color.
For example,Michigan awards 20 points to any student from a low-income background, regardless of race. Since these points cannot be combined with those for minority status (in other words poor blacks don't get 40 points), in effect this is a preference for poor whites. Then Michigan awards 16 points to students who hail from the Upper Peninsula of the state: a rural, largely Isolated, and almost completely white area."

I think that this is a good quote to wrap up this blog with. As a general summary, this quote is showcasing that although affirmative action may come across as discriminatory against whites, this is not the case. Many white people also benefit from affirmative action; that's not the issue. The issue is that many white people are resentful of this, and continue to form misconceptions about the black community as a result.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Talking Points 5 - In the Service of What?

I really enjoyed reading this article. It was easy to relate to because it was about required service learning in schools, which we are doing in our FNED class right now. In addition, I was also required to complete 20 hours of community service in order to graduate high school. Because volunteer work and volunteering is a part of almost every high school, the concept of this article was not foreign to me.

"As is commonly the case with new policy initiatives, however, more attention has been focused on moving forward than on asking where we are headed."

It is easy to see flaws in the educational system, but often times principles and/or educators are likely put a quick fix on them, to fix errors one at a time as they rear. However, it is important to think further into the future, and to try and ask what the school system will be like in 5 or 10 years, and what we can do to ensure that it's a positive and open-minded environment.

"Mr. Johnson's curriculum included only minimal attention to any systematic analysis of the ills his students were helping to alleviate. Instead, his class focused on inculcating a sense of civic duty."

This was probably my favorite part from the article. Two classrooms were asked to do similar things - contribute to their community through community service. The first classroom, Mr. Johnson's, were allowed to volunteer at a location of their choosing. Many of them helped neighbors, family members, or volunteered at shelters. At first glance, this seems very noble, and it would appear that it would have a good impact on the kids. After reading about the second teacher, who actually had the students read and learn about homelessness, respond with their thoughts and feelings, and then raise money for homelessness relief, I realized that by only volunteering, students are not learning about the real issues. They don't get to examine how our culture, politics, and government are dealing (if they are at all) with these issues.

"After they returned, the students' perspectives on these elementary school children had changed. They were "surprised at the children's responsiveness and their attentiveness," they found the children to be "extremely polite and surprisingly friendly," and they discovered that they "listened well and had excellent behavior." One student wrote, "Everyone at the school had good manners, and I think more highly of [the neighborhood] now."

I think this is a really powerful quote, because it shows how we all have preconcieved notions that we have learned from our parents and the media. It is not often that people are willing to break out of their comfort zone, so I feel that by challenging students to witness and experience things first hand, and to then respond to these situations, it's very beneficial to the community.