Monday, April 28, 2014

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Empowering Education:Education In Politics Connections

Before I even begin this blog post, I just have to say that I can’t believe it is our last blog for FNED. Time went by so fast! When I found out that we were supposed to blog as a requirement for the class, I was so nervous about the idea of other people reading what I wrote, but now it feels kind of weird knowing that we don't have another bog post due next week, I had gotten used to it. I appreciated this experience a lot! 

Now getting to the reading: I have to say that this article was a nice way to end the semester. It brought everything together, and it was just great how in my mind I could see connections of past readings we have done. I just think is awesome how we have become better readers and more informed people about what is really going on in the eduction field. Although  I always  knew how education is political, this article definitely  helped me see in more detail how much politics is behind what we teach out students and what they lean from school. 

For this week’s blog I have decided to do a connections post. While I was reading, McIntosh and Finn were always in my mind. I could see their ideas reflected in what Shor was explaining  in detail. 

One of the things that really stuck my mind was how “the choice of subject matter cannot be neutral “ what we learn is all chosen by the people who give us funding, which is the government. They decide “which groups are included and which are left out of the reading list or test, from whose point of view is the past and present examined, and which themes are emphasized  and which not, along with many more decisions. I can relate to this because all throughout elementary school we learn about the great Christopher Columbus, what his journey was and what he accomplished in discovering the New World, all throughout the history books in my public schooling, I learned about what he did for humanity, but honestly he didn't do anything else but to harm people. I learned this in college, I was asked to read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, where the point of view is not the same as from the ones we get in  our history books, but rather we see things from the perspective of the minorities, of the people being hurt. From that book I learned that Columbus was not a hero, but a villain, who killed people just because  he wanted their gold, forgetting about their value as human beings. This power that the government has over us, and the students of this nation reminded me of McIntosh, and how she talked about privilege that white people experience due to their race, but I further connected it to the privilege that the upper class of this nation has, because  they control what everyone else in this nation sees and learns. McIntosh talked about how “when [she] was told about our national heritage or about civilization , [she] was shown that people of [her] color made it what it is” and that she is sure “that [her] chidden  will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race” and all of this is because of the power that the government has over us, and their ability to choose what students learn or at least what they want them to learn although it might not always be true. Keeping this system the way it is, just guarantees that the social classes remain the way they are and that the least advantaged remain to be so.

Finn, was always in my mind as I read this article. Just as Shor said, “Politics reside not only  in subject matter but in the discourse of the classroom, [and] in the way teachers and students speak to each other”. This reminded me of when Finn talked about the working-class schools, “Where knowledge was presented as fragmented facts isolated from wider bodies of meaning and from the lives and experiences  of the students”. Finn also talked about the lack of participation of students, which a key in education just as Shor described. Shor says that politics in present in “what the teachers say about the subject matter, [in how] students  respond to each others’s remarks, [and if ] they are asked  to think critically about the material and to see knowledge  as a field of contending interpretations” among many more things, which are not present in working-class schools that Finn described. Finn stated how in these poor schools the opposite of what Shor recommends takes place, because there is “little decision making [by the students] and teachers rarely explained why work was being assigned or how it was connected to other assignments”. From what Finn described we can see that what we tack in working-class schools is what McLaren, in Shor’s article describes as “a curriculum designed to empower students [that is]  transformative in nature and help[s] students to develop the knowledge, skills, and values needed to become social critics who can make reflective decisions and implement their decisions in effective personal, social, political, and economic action”, that way we can break the cycle and create students to learn about new opportunities for them in order to change their economic or social statuses thus breaking the cycle of the status quo that  the people in power want to keep in place. 

As for discussion points, I would like to talk about ways in which us future educators can make the curriculum a  better experience for our students, and helping them make more our of it than what it is intended. 

Here is an Article that talks about how the new Common Core Curriculum won't fix the many problems that the American schools face. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Social Justice Event: Dialogue on Diveristy

As part of my social justice event, I attended RIC’s Dialogue on Diversity, which featured the presence of Ana Maria Cano-Morales, a true “warrior” as she described herself and the thousands of Latino students struggling from day to day as she once did. I found this event to be very inspirational to me, and it showed me the importance for all to be united to make changes happen.

As I sit down to write down this reflection on Ana Maria’s presentation, I can’t help but to begin saying how she took the time to ask not for a moment of silence but for a “moment of active listening” in honor of RIC’s professor Jen Cook. For me it was a nice way to start, by honoring the legacy of what she described to be a great educator and one that truly cared about her students and a fighter for educational reforms. This perhaps was what set the tone for a great presentation, that I truly enjoyed, and one that became to be more than a requirement for the class. For me this dialogue on diversity was a realization of the struggles of the Latino community, but also a realization of all the positive things that are taking place thanks to people like Ana Maria and colleges like RIC.

There is no way we can see the greatness in Ana Maria Cano-Morales if we don’t get to know part of her story, and why she is a “warrior”. She told the audience the story of a Colombian-American girl born in Central Falls as the youngest of twelve siblings. Her parents were Colombian immigrants who came to this nation looking for a better life for them and most importantly for their children. She described how proud that little girl was of the hard working parents she had. They worked in factories all day long, just to give their children all that they needed, especially an education which they did not receive in Colombia. That little girl’s parents had limited education, and had no idea that their children needed academic support in their journey of learning English as ESL students. That little girl was Ana herself and her story just resembles the current story that many Latino students are experiencing right now. She was one of the few Latino students at that time. She didn’t attend preschool nor head-start, nor did she have any clue that she belonged in a bilingual classroom.  It was that fear or uncertainty of where she belonged, or what she had to learn, or what language she had to learn best, or the pressure of dealing with two cultures at once that made her have “lack of self-confidence”. Yet, the message that I got from her life story is the message that she didn’t use the obstacles she faced as an excuse, but rather as a motivation to succeed and be better in life. Her desire to overcome her obstacles made her earn a "bachelor of Science Degree - Human Development, Counseling, and Family Studies, with a minor in Latin American Literature, from the University of Rhode Island in 1991 [and in] 1999, she received a Master’s of Social Work – Policy, Administration, and Systems from Rhode Island College" until finally becoming the director of The Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University as we can further read in this Link. Together with The Latino Policy Institute, Ana Maria  "is committed to generating and communicating non-partisan data of Latinos in Rhode Island [and] stimulating public policy discussions [that] enhances the public’s understanding of the Rhode Island Latino experience".

Why Latinos? Why do we need reform for that particular ethnic group? Just in case there is any doubt why, she explained it. To begin with as she said, Latinos are the fastest growing population in RI and in the nation. In the recent census of 2010, the Latino population in RI increased 53%, resulting in RI “having the 13th largest population of Latinos in the US, and resulting in the fact that 13% of the state’s population is Latino”. For instance, she mentioned that in Central Falls, every three out of four people living there are Latinos. Most importantly, the reason why we should care is because Latino and minority students are the main consumers of public education in the state and in the nation. In RI, the biggest concentration of Latinos is in Providence, Pawtucket, and Central Falls, and these are among the districts which need the most reforms. A prove of the need for reforms in the educational system in school districts is that as Ana mentioned “by 8th grade, Latinos are behind 2-3 grades when compared to their white classmates”.  One of the possible reasons for this academic struggle can be the economic status of most Latinos in the state. When compared to their white counterparts, Latinos earn less. They earn an average of $32,000 yearly; meanwhile whites earn an average of $54,000 yearly.

Getting more in depth with regards to education and Latinos, Ana Maria mentioned that only 1-3 percent of the state’s teachers or administrators are Latinos. When I heard this I immediately thought of Delpit and her point on the importance that students find people that look like them, the importance that students see themselves reflected in the school system, so that they can know that they can also achieve what  the person standing in front of them one has become.  Ana Maria would agree with Delpit on her argument and suggestion that “the appropriate  education for poor children can only be devised in consultation  with adults who share their culture”, that way the decisions made regarding those students won’t  be only  made by white educators or legislators that don’t understand minority cultures, but “instead ensuring that each classroom incorporate[s] strategies appropriate for all the children in its confines”. 
This idea of having someone to look up to, that shares a similar history, life path, or difficulties, got me really inspired and I have found great examples of people that overcame their obstacles and are true role models for the Latino community.  One clear example is Mexican-American astronaut Jose Hernandez, this is his story...

 Another great example of leaders that the Latino community greatly needs to see, in order for them to realize their potential is Angel Taveras, the first Latino mayor in the City of Providence, this article talks about him and his historic win that can help as inspiration for the Latino youth in RI. 

 Adding on the topic of Latinos and education, Ana Maria mentioned one of the biggest topics regarding the Latino youth, and that is the importance of ESL programs to be established in the state. Young children and Latino youth are the ones that need help and support in their eduction when learning English, and it is important to mention that 75% of the Latino population in the state of RI were RI born, and they are the new generation of future leaders of the state, therefore we have to  prepare them. Ana Maria would agree with Collier that the key concept  in teaching multilingual students is the “true appreciation  of the different linguistic  and cultural values that students bring into the classroom”. Along with this key concept and the establishment of good ESL programs, Ana Maria and many more educators and advocates like Collier hope to end what Ana Maria mentioned which is that “ESL students don't have access to the same basic concepts  like English, reading, writing, and math” due to the lack of strong ESL programs. Ana Maria mentioned the importance of a team effort, and in this team we need educators that are widely prepared but most of all that they understand the process of learning another language. Certainly, Collier would agree saying that those teachers would have to know such things as “the social and emotional factors which affect the second language learner, [and other techniques such as] not forbidding  young students from code-switching in the classroom” enabling them to exchange among their two languages, that way increasing their usage of grammatical practices and vocabulary usage in both languages as well. 

One of the quotes that Ana Maria said, that stayed in my mind up to this day, is how “language is not the only barrier, but it stops teachers from seeing other problems”. I think it is true, there is something about the system that is wrong, and that keeps things running in such a way the rich gets richer and the poor get poorer. There is something wrong  when we have students in private schools “buying” their way out of NECAP, and at same time struggling working class families being left without an income simply to be able to pay for the private schools of their children so that they don't have to take the NECAP, thus creating an educational segregation. There is something wrong in our nation when we have schools  in Providence or Central Falls, that are so far behind the academic levels they should be at. Perhaps this problem comes from , the way we teach in this nation, how we teach a “domesticating education , which leads to functional literacy, literacy that makes a person productive and dependable, but not troublesome” as Patrick J. Finn mentions in “Literacy with an Attitude”. As I remember the statistical reports that Ana Maria showed, that displayed the low scores in poor towns and cities in RI, make me go back to the Finn reading, where we see that one of the problems is that in “working-class schools knowledge [is] presented as fragmented facts isolated from wider bodies of meaning and from the lives and experiences of the students”. In these schools, students are told what to do, with no opportunity to think for themselves, or think creatively or critically. Meanwhile, in executive elite schools the knowledge  taught is more “academic, intellectual , and rigorous [students there learn] to be the masters of the universe”. There is something in the system but we can help to change it just as RIC and Central Falls High School are doing. 
One of the things that Ana Maria was most proud to present, as being part of the Board of Trustees for the Central Falls School District, as we can see in this website was the partnership between RIC and Central Falls High School. Together they both joined in this  partnership, to help better the education and academic status of this high school. This gives the opportunity for only the students in Central Falls to have more support academically and in many other aspects, but also to future educators graduating from RIC to experience a true urban scenario and also the chance to take part in making a change in the lives of many struggling teenagers. This a project that makes me so proud, just as  much as the pride that Ana Maria and RIC must feel. As she talked about this project I had to google it and learn more about it, and this is the website that talks more about it in detail. I am sure that positive changes will come along this partnership, and great news as well, just like the one received just this past October, when it was announced that  the “Central Falls graduation rate increased 20% in three years” as we can read in this article

Overall, attending this Dialogue on Diversity made me realize and learn many things I wouldn't have known before, and it certainly made me connect back and reflect bak to past class discussions and readings, that I am sure have made me a better future educator. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Schooling Children with Down Syndrome: Reflection

The reading for this week, Schooling Children with Down Syndrome by Christopher Kliewer, was definitely great! I loved reading it, although I have to say that in some parts I had to reread to understand things better, but yet most of the time I just had to reread simply because the information and stories in the text were great. For this blog post I decided to do a reflection post.
 Every time I think of children with disabilities, I think of admiration. I admire them, for their greatness, for the unique people that they are, and most importantly I don’t see as different, but rather as extraordinary people who deserve to be treated just as everyone else. I am a big believer of integrated education and after reading this article that idea has been reaffirmed.
 I haven’t had many interactions with children with Down Syndrome, but just the few ones I have had have made be admire them even more. The first one was with my friend’s brother. He has Down Syndrome, and he attended middle school in Providence when I met him. For some it would have been a crazy idea to put him in an integrated middle school in Providence, but he loved it. He got to see the diversity in our schools, not just ethic wise but academic wise. My friend for her Junior Research Project, which in some schools would have seen their senior projects, did a presentation on integration for children like her brother, she got a perfect score. She showed the techniques her brother used and a calendar where he listed with symbols what he had to do each day. When I read the article, I remembered this story and I do believe that by having integrated classrooms we are creating “educational arenas where all students are welcomed, no voice is silenced, and children come to realize their self-worth through the unconditional acceptance of one another”, because we create a community were all children get to experience and see each other’s uniqueness and abilities. We mostly create a community where we establish respect for one another regardless of any disability.
My other interaction with a person with Down Syndrome was at the Sherlock Center on the RIC campus. I don’t know if she is a student here, or if she just worked there. She was organizing papers and putting some information about them in the computer, I sat next to get as I was trying to log in into the computer. I am always confused and she noticed it. She came and introduced herself, and shook my hand. I was so surprised, and so glad to meet her. She explained to me how to log in and the password and all of that, but most of all she was so friendly and independent. She talked to me like I was a friend. She was amazing. What was most fascinating as I mentioned was her independence, and again as I read the article I think integrated education can create that. If she worked at the Sherlock Center I think that is great. I think it is important to provide people with disabilities with employment opportunities. Just like “Shayne succeeded in finding a family- owned movie rental shop that hired Anne, [because by doing that we create] not only a valued community role for Anne but one that” she loved. It is important to make them feel like they are part of the community, and that they are not any different from what we are.

As part of my reflection I have to include this quote, “John’s North Hollywood existence was a lonely and isolated one. Outside of his family he had few acquaintances and little opportunity connection. School personnel abled him “uneducable”. I was just so mad when I read that. I can’t believe there are people like that that don’t understand the greatness of people with disabilities. As the article went on I was glad to hear he moved to Mendocino, California where he found a “safe space”, which connects back to August’s Safe Spaces. There he was comfortable and found people that appreciated him, for what he was worth not for their “stereotype, [and their] mind set [that] often obscures our ability to recognize the child as a child”.  He found a safe space where he could feel appreciated and not different from everyone else. I wanted to reflect on that because I think as a whole, as a whole community it is important to learn to integrate people with disabilities in everything not just schools.
This video shows the life of people with Down Syndrome in the 21st century, and all that they are able to do.

As for the points I would like to talk  about in class would be, what could we do as future teachers, to ensure that all of our students regardless of any disability are treated equally and with respect to enhance his or her abilities.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Literacy with an Attitude: Quotes

This week’s reading, Literacy with an Attitude by Patrick J. Finn, was definitely challenging for me. Most of the time I know what I want to write about and focus on for my blog post, but this week was different. I found myself highlighting a lot, learning a lot, but at the same time feeling overwhelmed and rereading much of the article. So after much reading I have decided to do a quotes blog for this week
“Literacy is not seen as dangerous among the working people and unemployed of the United States is that we have developed two kinds of education. First, there is empowering education, which leads to powerful literacy, the kind of literacy that leads to position of power and authority. Second there is domesticating education, which leads to functional literacy, literacy that makes a person productive and dependable, but not troublesome”.
This quote really caught my attention. Throughout the article we learn about the differences between the elite schools and the working class schools. “The working class children were learning how to follow directions and do mechanical, [and] low paying work” meanwhile the “executive elite children were learning to be masters of the universe”. This gap in education is what makes the pattern go in this country, how the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Is not that the working class children are any less smart than the elite executive children, what is happening is the way in which they are treated and taught. How there are different expectations for each group according to their social and economic status.  If we keep the system as it has been, then the cycle will continue on, and as Finn mentioned, the working class children will just learn the domesticating education, which benefits the elite, and most importantly that prevents the working class from realizing the injustice in the education system which prevents them from receiving an equal education, just like the one the upper class children receive.
“I say if they thought about it, because Freire understood a fundamental fact bout the lives of the illiterate Third World poor, they don’t think about it. They are so submerged in their daily lives that they have little or no awareness of the possibility for change.”
As I read the article and reread many parts of it, I just couldn’t get over Paulo Freire. His way of viewing literacy and the importance for illiterate people of Brazil to learn how to read, is amazing. His technique was the most fascinating. This quote was just one that I had to write about. It reminded me of Kozol and Mott Haven. The people there were so stuck in dealing with their problems, that they forgot there might be a way out. That what was happening to them was not a thing to do with fate, but it had to do with a broken system, and they had to fix it. This was happening in Brazil, and it is happening now in our country. As well as Freire, I believe that education and literacy is a tool that can help to initiate a revolution for equality and “today we understand that many social setups are possible [and that] roles and rules can be transformed so that there is greater justice and equity”.  Just like Paulo Freire did, if we teach our youth about the injustices taking place, and how they are going to part of it, perhaps there will be a greater desire to learn and to make a change. I think it is important to let them know. From what I can see in my Service Learning classroom children are so stuck in their own struggles that it is up to us to help them realize what is happening, perhaps even their parents. I can say from experience from working with tutoring Latino children, their parents are so busy working two jobs, or getting used to this country that they also don’t realize the possibility for change. Following Freire’s example, working on the literacy of adults can make a huge change, and here we could make a change happen by not only working with the literacy of our youth but of parents as well.
This is a video of Paulo Freire. He is just great.
“In the working class schools, knowledge was presented as fragmented facts isolated from wider bodies of meaning and from the lives and experiences of the students. [A] teacher in one working class school commented that she skipped pages dealing with mathematical reasoning and inference because they were too hard”
This is another quote I had to write about. Maybe because it made me so mad that I just had to talk about it. As mentioned before there shouldn’t be different expectations from different students simply because they come from lower or different social and economic classes. In the elite executive schools, they were learning to be creative and to be the “masters if the universe”, and there is no reason why in our schools there is a different standard and method of teaching towards students who don’t belong in the upper classes. This again reminds me of Kozol, and the idea of a broken system. How our education system is not equal for everyone, and how this inequality plays a role in the way students view themselves and in the knowledge they receive, which can later shape their future.
For discussion points, I would like to talk about why, why our education is the way it is and how us as future can do as much as possible to help change this. I was personally thinking to follow Freire’s example and even help minority parents learn more English and be more literate in it so that they can have more power in helping to have a more equal education system.  


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Brown vs. Board of Education : Reflection

Before I even get to discuss the material for this week, I just have to say that I felt overwhelmed and sad at the same time. I always knew there was inequality in the school system, and I learned about it even more as I went through public schools myself. I always knew it was not fair, but now reading the article, and exploring the website, as well as watching the videos, just made everything more real, and more sickening. For this week I decided to do a reflection, perhaps this way I can express in a hopefully organized way all that I felt when I went through the material for this week.

I went through the steps in order, exploring the website first. When I read about the exhibition and the importance of Brown vs. Board of Education, I felt proud that after a long time of fighting the nation had to come to realize the necessity to stop the cruelty of “separate but equal”. I loved to read that “the African American freedom struggle soon spread across the country [and that] the original battle for school desegregation became part of broader campaigns for social justice”. I do think that this was a stepping stone for further improvement in the treatment that African Americans received. Yet, then I went to watch videos. Tim Wise, is great, and a true example that blacks and minorities can have allies that help them out as much as possible even if they are not from the same race. He made so many good points that it was hard to just choose a few. His central idea was the election of Barack Obama, he does acknowledge the importance that this had, but it is not enough. I agree. I feel that his election was great; I mean we have talked about the Obama Effect, and the importance that black children can finally see a president that looks like them. In my middle school, his election was a big deal. I felt proud, I am not black, but I felt proud. My art class turned into a gathering area for anyone who wanted to see the historic moment. My teachers who were black were crying. I could feel their happiness, and they explained to us the hardships their families faced because of their skin color, and now seeing a black president just helped heal those memories a bit. My black schoolmates had papers taped to their shirts that said “Obama”. It was a nice day, a day of joy, and as I think about that day I feel what I felt in that moment. I can see my classmates on the tables chanting “Obama!”, and the vivid image makes me believe more than ever the power of having a role model to up to, but as Tim Wise said, that is not enough.  

He was “cautiously optimistic” about the effect of Obama’s election, because as he said that the chances of an average black person getting to where Obama is, are not high. He made it clear when he said that for instance a “vice president wouldn’t have been accepted if he went to five schools in six years”, because we live in “an unequal opportunity society”. On his reference to Brown vs. Board of Education, he said that those important events just remind us “to keep an eye on the price and remember how much work is needed to be done” and I agree. It would have been great if the decision of the Supreme Court would have solved all the problems, but sadly that’s not the case. We still see segregation in schools till this day as Bob Herbert makes it clear. But most importantly, as Tim Wise said “racism has never been an excuse, it is a reason, it is an obstacle,[and[ it is not the only reason” why blacks and minorities cannot achieve what whites have been able to do. This idea of privilege and power reminds me of Johnson, who states the idea that the ones that have power are the ones that least acknowledge it. A clear example is when Tim Wise mentioned that in 1963, two out of three white Americans responded that blacks had equal opportunities in housing and education. We can’t oblivious, and as power and privilege existed then it also exists now and we can’t ignore it.

This education segregation sadly didn’t stop with Brown vs, Board of education as Bob Herbert makes it clear as well. Reading this article just made everything clearer. I knew about the inequality but reading about it just made it more real, and it made me reflect about my own school years. As Herbert said it is “very difficult to get consistently good results in schools characterized by high concentrations of poverty” and these are the schools that minorities attend. I can really reflect to the idea that inequalities are still taking place. I went to school in Providence, and attended public schools. My experience was great, because I got to see many things I wouldn’t have been able to see till now. Yet, it is true, the poorest cities and school districts have such low performing scores because of poverty, and the lack of help. It was amazing if we got new books, most were used and a lot in bad condition. It was rare if we had a smart board. The schools were old. We could see the cracks on the walls and computers were rarely used. I saw my classmates receive reduced or free lunch, and struggle every day, and that’s why as I read Bob Herbert’s article in all came back to my mind. It was hard to attend a public school in Providence, because as I read the article I could see that my schoolmates and I were part of education segregation. Because we lived in a poor city, we were confined to poor schools and the consequences that come with it. Perhaps if we went to others schools we could have done better, as the “long years of evidence show that poor kids of all ethnic backgrounds do better academically when they go to school with their more affluent — that is, middle class — peers”. As I mentioned, reading the website for Brown vs. Board of Education, made me proud, and believe that people wanted to end “separate but equal” all together, but Bob Herbert’s article made me realize and reflect that that’s not the reality. Currently, “schools are no longer legally segregated, but because of residential patterns, housing discrimination, economic disparities and long-held custom” inequality that shouldn’t exist still does.

This video is another prove of the inequality that still exists, as students try to have their FIRST EVER integrated prom.

The points that I would like to talk about in class, are just the reasons why racism isn't over. Our feelings about it and the actions we could take to help change this at least a little bit.

Friday, March 14, 2014

In The Service Of What: Extended Comment

This week’s article “In the Service of What?” by Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer was quite interesting, because it made think of different aspects regarding service learning that I didn’t think of before. While reading it I got see and think about the three domains that make it up which are the “moral, political, and intellectual” domains. Most importantly this article really made me think about my own service learning experience at Robert F. Kennedy Elementary School for FNED. As I read the article and reflected on my experiences I was confused on how to put my ideas together, but looking at the blog posts my other classmates had posted really helped me out, especially Sarah’s blog and therefore my blog post this week will be an extended comment based on what she posted. I just have to say that I really liked reading her post and the way she connected the article to events in her life such as being part of the Special Olympics in her town. She simply did a great job!
This is a video that talks about the impact that Inspiring Minds or VIPS have in our community, most specifically in Providence.  
In her blog post Sarah did a great job connecting the article to her own life, and especially to experiences that have influenced her in wanting to “become an Elementary Education Major with a focus in Special Ed”. One of the main points that she makes throughout her post is that “Kahne and Westheimer are large believers in the idea that service learning should be able to teach you something, [and also how] they believe that in order to get the most out of your experience with service learning, you need to put yourself in the perspective of people that you are working with”. I can’t express enough how much I agree with this point that she made. In the article we were able to read about the “Two Service Learning Cases” in which both stressed “the importance of compassion for those in need, and encourage[d] children and young adults to find ways to help” and as much as both cases did show how help is provided to people in need, I do believe that if we do not put ourselves in the place of the people we are helping then we are not really creating a long lasting lesson or change. The clear example of this is Ms. Adams’ students. Her students were able to build a complete experience because they began “their work with a systematic and critical analysis of the causes of homelessness and of the strategies employed to prevent it”. I feel that by being informed of what can be some of the causes of homelessness and reading about the struggle that those people go through makes students and others in general want to help out in a more genuine way.

I have to say that reading Sarah’s post made me want to find out more about the Special Olympics in her town. I was glad to read about the great experience she had and the impact that it had in her to the point that it influenced her in deciding a major. I feel that sharing experiences with special needs children is what caused that impact in her, rather than if she just read about disabilities. For instance in my case, my best friend is blind, and seeing her struggle and the way she deals with her blindness makes me want to her out as much as I can, and not only her but every single person that I can. Now when I volunteer at camps for blind students I do it because I have a bigger desire for it not just because I want to be an altruist.

Additionally, another main point that Sarah made was that she thinks that “everybody should be involved in service learning at some point in their life; and [that] it is important for high schools and middles schools to make service learning a graduation requirement”, and once again I agree with her. I think it’s important to have teachers like Ms. Adams, that create opportunities for their students to be informed about a certain aspect of our society that needs help, like homeless people, and find ways to help out. Therefore, I think it’s great that throughout our nation more and more states are requiring service learning or community service hours to their students as a school or graduation requirement. “For example, students in Atlanta must complete 75 hours of volunteer service to graduate, [and] Maryland now requires that all high school students perform 75 hours of community service prior to graduation or participate in an alternative district program approved by the state”.
Service learning is a great tool that students should be able to experience in order for them to learn and see things they would not been able to see otherwise, like the upper middle class students that went to perform at a poor elementary school nearby. Just like those students learned that “that people can be different” or that rumors can be false regarding certain people or neighborhoods, anyone else should be able to experience that.

What I would like to discuss in class would be if my classmates and I would have been able to choose another place to do service learning or community service at, what place would we have chosen and why. I wonder if they would be like Ms. Adams’ or Mr. Johnson’s students.



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us: Argument

            Before I even get to discuss the argument from this week’s reading which was Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us by Linda Christensen, I have to say that I enjoyed reading it a lot. It was not only that it was easy to follow, or that it was nicely written, but what made me not want to stop reading it was how much sense it made, and especially how it made me reflect on my childhood and how cartoons and the media have influenced me all throughout my life and without me really knowing it. In a way it does feel kind of sad and depressing to see the reality behind cartoons that I used to see as innocent and simply entertaining. Yet, at the same time being aware of and being able to critique the true message behind a cartoon does really help to be informed and to not let them shape me or others as much as they already have.

This author Linda Christensen argues how society especially young children are taught and manipulated on “how to act, live, dream”, think, and form opinions and ideas by the “secret education” delivered through such things as cartoons, movies, and children’s books that teach them “the denomination of one sex, one race, one class, or one country over a weaker counterpart”. This is especially true in a time where most children “learn” by watching TV, and are spending hours and hours just watching cartoons or shows that greatly influence the way they think without them even knowing. Christensen argues how the information that children gather through watching movies such as Peter Pan, become “accepted knowledge” which greatly damages the way that children start to form their own views and ideas about life. The effect of the Disney movies or children’s book is such that even older people or students have a hard time understanding the true message behind these “innocent” and entertaining sources. In order to make a change in the way such things influence us she stated how important it was for people like her students to have the necessary tools “to critique media that encourage or legitimate social inequality”.
In order to help her students understand more about the true message of such things as cartoons Christensen argues how she sets up the “unlearning the myths” unit that has two main objectives the first to have them “critique portrayals of hierarchy and inequality in children’s movies and cartoons” and then have them “enlist them to imagine a better world” with equality. The methods she used are not only important or useful for her students, but to the whole public, in order to help us better understand the reality behind the fantasy. It is necessary to ask and to critique in order to realize how media plays a role in everyday life, from influencing how we dress to how we act. As one of her students stated, "true death equals a generation living by the rules and attitudes they never questioned and producing more children who do the same". If older people like her students, as she shows, had a hard time accepting reality, then her point is proven about how huge the impact must be on us when we are children.

Her style of teaching and especially the way she passes on her argument is just great. She is not the typical teacher to just say what’s wrong but instead she made her students see it for themselves in order to prove her argument right. I think this is important for everyone not just her students since her questions can make anyone reflect on the content of a movie or cartoon. Some of the questions she made were “Who plays the servant? Are there any people of color? [And] How does the film portray overweight people?” Through this exercise her argument was made clear, because as well as her students did I could also notice just by thinking about the cartoons she mentions in the text, how cartoons can really have an effect on us when we are young.  One of the things that her students noticed was the “absence of female characters in many of the older cartoons” which in turn can teach children that women are less important than men (which is totally not true!). Or perhaps how the Cinderella story can teach women that their life can just be changed by getting married, or by finding the ideal man, which again is not true, and we just can’t have young girls grow up thinking that way and underestimating their potential for a better life through their own work and intelligence rather than by relying on a man.

As well as Christensen argues about the manipulation that we as a society go through especially when we are young children, and also how important it is for us to realize that, one of her strongest points is that after realizing it we can’t just stop there, we need to help change happen. Her strategy was to ask her students “to create projects that would move beyond the classroom walls”, and her students surely did. One of her students wanted to “publish her piece in a magazine for young women so they would begin to question the origin of the standards by which they judge themselves” and others wrote articles for local and national newspapers. Her argument was embraced and taken for inspiration to create a better society, one where equality exists and especially one where we can be free of manipulations that sadly change and shape how we end up being as individuals.

Some of the points that I would like to talk about in class would be the effect that cartoons had in my classmates, if any, and then  discuss how they feel about it. Also perhaps to talk about what things we could  do ourselves to help create a society that is less manipulated by the media.

The Article below is called: "Effects of Cartoons on children’s Psychology & behavior Patterns" from the newspaper International:  THE NEWS It talks about the effects that cartoons can have on children.

Finally the link below is the one that Christensen refers to throughout the article



Sunday, February 23, 2014

Safe Spaces: Hyperlink

The reading for this week which was Safe Spaces by Annemarie Vaccaro, Gerri August, and Megan S. Kennedy was great. I really liked it, because it made me think a lot about the struggle that the LGBT community goes through. It is unfortunate how they have to be marginalized and ignored. It isn’t fair. Most importantly it made me think about how true this article is, in the sense that in school I never really had the LGBT topic mentioned. As a future educator I do see the need of really having that topic mentioned, to prevent generations of children from discriminating and bullying other classmates or individuals simply because of their sexual orientation.

For this week’s reading I decided to relate it to a hyperlink. Just when I typed LGBT in google trying to find a way to put all of my ideas together, the first thing that  came up was this cool website and organization  it’s called RI Pride, which is an organization that helps the RI LGBT community be represented and not discriminated against. At the same time it also helps them embrace who they are.

Trying to stop the discrimination and marginalization as mentioned in the reading against the LGBT community, in 1976 people who believed in educating the larger community about the struggle and rights of people with different sexual orientations but that at the same time believed in having the LGBT community embrace who they are and what their preferences are, created the first ever pride parade in RI.  State and City leaders attempted to block the parade, but they couldn’t. In the first ever pride parade 75 people marched through downtown Providence and eventually they formed the RI Pride organization. Events such as the RI pride parade helped with the “gay liberation movement” and also with the movement to extend civil rights protections to gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals in 1995, and also to transgender individuals in 2001.  


Today the RI Pride has over 25,000 members, even though it started with less than 100 members.

RI Pride has a lot to do with Safe Spaces. The way I connect both of them is that in Safe Spaces we learn about how marginalized the LGBT community is, but in the RI Pride website we learn about all of the activities they organize in order to stop that discrimination. RI Pride organizes “seminars, rallies, performances, theme events, art, and literacy programs, and projects” in order to stop the discrimination and bullying against the LBGT community, that as we see in Safe Spaces a lot of the time it sadly starts within the classroom and in schools all throughout America. . This is a link to RI Pride TV which is a series of videos in YouTube to help the public better understand the RI Pride organization and how they help the LGBT community.

As I mentioned before Safe Spaces and the RI Pride organization have a lot in common. In Safe Spaces we learn about how all throughout America students from K-12 are not informed about concerns and issues relating to the LGBT community. Perhaps this lack of information and this invisibility is what causes generations to continue having wrong ideas and opinions regarding the LGBT community, and thus creating a system of discrimination and bullying. Such system causes the death of many people such as “Justin, a promising musician [who] was bullied because of his sexual orientation, [causing him to take] his life after finishing his freshman year”. We continue on learning how the LGBT community is not represented in the curriculum, meaning that they are not represented in school. With a lack of representation in the curriculum they are not like the other students who do actually “see themselves as wise or powerful main characters or heroes worthy of celebration and emulation [and that] will feel validated, included, and safe inside their classrooms”.  Typical marriages are they only ones discussed, and at times even teachers with good intentions don’t know how to explain or represent the aspects of the LGBT community. As we see all of this creates students with a lack of understanding of LGBT concepts and thus we create a community who discriminates against their own fellow brothers and sisters.  This is where organizations like RI Pride come in, to make a change, and help “individuals in Rhode Island to learn about the issues, concerns and contributions of sexual minorities”. Most importantly trying to help with what sadly goes on in schools “The PrideFest also includes an education and interactive recreational area called theKid’s Pride Zone to provide GLBT parents a place to engage in family oriented activities with their children at the festival” that they organize each year celebrating who they are and what they represent.  Thankfully we have organizations like RI Pride who fight for equality.