Sunday, March 30, 2014

Literacy With an Attitude Connentions to Delpit

This week I decided I would do a connections post because while I was reading this week I kept being reminded of Delpit's arguments and thought that it would make a good connections piece !
Lisa Delpit

So of course I struggled like insanely with this reading. I'm assuming this was most likely because of the length. Long readings intimidate me and I tend to get lost in them. But just like with the Delpit reading I was able to get through it and I believe get the author's main point out of it. 

So as we all know, Lisa Delpit's argument is that teachers must explicitly state these rules and codes of power when in a classroom. This is because not every child will learn these rules in their homes and without knowing the rules and codes a child will never actually succeed in school. 

Within Finn's article we can see this same beliefs system emerging. Finn states, "I didn't say to an errant student, 'What are you doing?' I said, 'Stop that and get to work.' No discussions. No openings for an argument." This is dialogue that would Delpit would be thrilled with. When Finn is interacting with his students he doesn't beat around the bush and give them the opportunity to answer questions and sort of defend their actions.
If Finn saw a child not doing what they were supposed to be doing he was explicit with them, much like Delpit would be. He quickly addresses the situation and tells that child what he or she should be doing at that point in time. This  leaves the child with clear directions instead of an open ended question that he or she might not understand.

Although Finn states that he felt "controlling" over his classroom, that was exactly what needed to happen. Finn says the he knew those children needed an authoritative figure. This was obvious because otherwise, those kids would have walked all over him. Finn being controlling and explicitly stating to his students what he expected of them was a way to make sure that the students stayed obedient and that actual learning got done in the classroom.

Had Finn not been so clear about the "rules and codes of power" like Delpit, those kids might have not been productive the whole year and most likely would have fallen behind the rest of their peers.

So there ya have it, my connections post ! Below I've included a link to Finn's website for Literacy With an Attitude, check it out if you'd like ! Thanks for reading this week ! 

Literacy With and Attitude

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Brown vs. Board of Education Argument Post

 I guess my post this week is going to be an Argument/Connections/Reflection piece all in one. But I guess mainly argument and connections. I have a lot of thoughts and points I want to make in my post this week so I'm going to do my best to organize it nicely. So anyways here we go !

In about 7th or 8th grade the case of Brown vs. the Board of Education was taught to us in school. I remember the teacher concluding the lesson by saying "without this case our schools could still have been segregated today!" 
I then remember looking around the classroom at all my peers and seeing nothing but white kids surrounding me. I thought to myself, if we're so integrated then why am I still in a room filled entirely with white people over 50 years after Brown vs. Board took place? 

The article from the New York Times, "Separate and Unequal" really summed up everything that my middle school teacher neglected to mention. The reason I was still surrounded by only white people was because I was in Smithfield. If you remember in my first ever blog post from the Peggy McIntosh reading I included a pie chart of Smithfield High School's diversity....errr... or lack there of. Smithfield has a population made up of over 90% white people. In his New York Times article, Bob Hebert argues that "Schools are no longer legally segregated, but because of residential patterns, housing discrimination, economic disparities and long-held custom, they most emphatically are in reality". 

Hebert goes on to make the point that "If you really want to improve the education of poor children, you have to get them away from learning environments that are smothered by poverty". Which is obviously way easier said than done. 

It seems now a days that most lower class neighborhoods come complete with their own lower class schools. This is in direct agreement with the argument Hebert makes in the New York Times.  Hebert states that this is something that is highly detrimental to a students education and it's something that needs to change. 
It appears that the argument Bob Hebert is attempting to make is that even though legally we've desegregated these institutions it doesn't mean that black kids suddenly start to seamlessly blend into the high performing white schools, there's still years and years ahead of us to reach a truly equal education for all students. 

Stepping back from Hebert's article and taking a closer look at the interview with Tim Wise, author of Between Barack and a Hard Place,
it was kind of difficult for me to first decipher what Wise's main argument really was but after listening multiple times it seems to me that Wise concluded that Barack Obama's election as president, has been a really good and bad thing for black people.

 On a positive note, Obama's win has allowed black children everywhere to see someone with the same color skin as themselves lead a nation. This is something that white people have been able to do since the day they're born, which McIntosh stated in the first reading. And the fact that so many white people voted for Obama was encouraging too as a step towards ending racism. But the argument that Tim Wise makes is that white people only seem to be so accepting of Obama because of his educational status. Wise says Obama is able to transcend racial barriers because he is educated, intellectual, intelligent and eloquent when he presents himself. Obama is breaking these stereotypes that many white people had or have about black people, but the problem is, not many black people can be as educated and intelligent as Obama is, AND NEITHER CAN WHITE PEOPLE ! It's almost as if Obama has learned these rules and codes of power that Delpit was talking about but he learned them almost too well. The difference is that we accept mediocrity within whites. In the phone interview Wise says that it's almost as if society has said "In order to be a successful person of color you have to bring it the way Obama brings it." The interviewer responds to this statement by saying "You have to be truly exceptional to break that glass ceiling"

 In the end of the phone interview Tim Wise perfectly sums up what racial equality will finally mean and how we will know when we've reached it : "The proof of racial equity will be the day that people of color can be a mediocre as white people and still get hired." 

Wise connects back to Brown vs. Board of Education by reminding us that "nothing took place quickly" and that we need to keep our eyes on the prize and not be deterred by our slow progress.

Thanks for reading my blog this week ! While I was reading Hebert's article from the New York Times I couldn't help but think of my final paper that I had written for Writing 100 last year. In my paper I too discussed the affects of poverty stricken neighborhoods on children attending the schools in those neighborhoods. However, I argued that more vocational and technical schools could potentially help these schools. The paper is about 8 pages long but it has some facts in it that really relate to what Hebert is arguing in his article so check it out if you'd like ! :

writing 100 paper 4.pdf

Sunday, March 16, 2014

In the Service of What? Extended Comments Blog

So this week for my blog I decided I wanted to do an extended comment. When reading others' blogs this week I noticed myself really connecting with the things that Jaclyn was saying in her blog.

In her blog, Jaclyn says "As I go each week to tutor the kids at school for this class, I feel like there’s something more. Maybe it’s because this is something I want to do for a career but I really feel as if I am making an impact on these kids with this project. I know that this is a requirement for our class, but truly, I enjoy going and helping them and feel accomplished when I leave" 

I couldn't agree more with that statement. For me, going to service learning every Friday is truly enjoyable. I love walking into the classroom and seeing all their faces smiling back at me and their hands frantically waving at me. It's honestly an amazing feeling know that these kids are excited to see you and that they want to work with you.
I find myself feeling the proudest on Friday's as well. Nothing makes me feel better about myself than knowing that my morning was well spent helping these kids. I feel like going to service learning really gives me a purpose. Like I feel like I'm doing something important, and even though I'm only one person, that hour and a half I spent with those kids mattered to them and had a positive influence on them.

Another point that Jaclyn talks about in her blog is in the reading how the middle class children were concerned about going to the lower class school, but were pleasantly surprised to learn that their assumptions were very wrong and stereotypical.

I can honestly admit that I too was extremely weary of going to the elementary school for service learning. However just like the students in the reading I too learned that nothing is as terrifying as your imagination makes it to be, and schools in lower class neighborhoods are not all that frightening. Jaclyn states, "I am finally looking past the “otherness” and have full faith in these students."
This notion of "diminishing otherness" is what allows us to cross boarders and interact with people who are different from us.

I don't think I could have said it better myself. I too find myself "looking past the 'otherness'" and really seeing the potential in all the students who I work with. Just like Jaclyn said, when you tell one of the students "you're so smart!" or "awesome job!" they smile ear to ear and it's truly rewarding to see.

I ended up finding this video on YouTube. It's only 5 minutes and the message it sends is pretty good too :) I think it really connects to this week's post :)

So overall, I enjoyed the reading this week, it made me think a lot about my own service learning experience. And a big thanks to Jaclyn for inspiring my blog post this week !

Thanks for reading !!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Quotes From Unlearning the Myth that Binds Us


Let me start off by first saying how much I loved the reading this week. I was totally interested in everything Christensen had to say throughout the reading. I thought that the whole unit of unearthing stereotypes in cartoons and other popular media was a really awesome project. It seems like it's a truly eye opening experience. I mean it's crazy how early on into our lives that these stereotypes and societal rules get drilled into our heads. While reading Christensen's post there were a few quotes that I really liked and felt I wanted to highlight and share with you all. 

The first quote is from page 128 "Many students don't want to believe that they have been manipulated by children's media or advertising. No one wants to admit that they've been 'handled' by the media. They assure me that they make their own choices and the media has no power over them - as they sit with Fubu, Nike, Timberlands or whatever the lastest fashion rage might be"

I love this quote because it is just way too true. For me I feel like I've always somewhat been aware of the fact that my decision are usually not just solely my decision. For example. There's a reason that I wake up everyday and put on fitted girly clothes and do my makeup and straighten my hair, cause that's what I've been conditioned to do.
Between watching my mother wake up and do her makeup and hair everyday and seeing countless beauty ads in commercials and on billboards, its no surprise that I turned out liking to do my makeup and hair. This desire to look feminine and pretty all stems back to youth where we're first exposed to these things, with characters like Cinderella and Snow White. Which is one of the points that Christensen was trying to make in this reading. The quote from above also reminds me of a book I read a few years back called Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk. I won't go into the whole story line of the book but at one point the line "“Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I've ever known.”comes up.  That line seems so entirely true for what Christensen is saying about her students on page 128. It seems like Christensen's students just hadn't realized yet at that point that they too "were the combined effort of everyone" But that's what I thought about when I read Christensen's words on page 128.

The next quote that I wanted to share was one from page 134 where Christensen says "But what am I teaching them if the lesson ends there? That we can quietly rebel in privacy the classroom while practice our writing skills, but we don't really have to do anything about the problems that we uncover, nor do we need to create anything to take take the place of what we've expelled. Those are not the lessons I intend to teach. I want to develop their critical consciousness, but I also hope to move them to action"

I picked this quote cause when I first read it I was really pleased with what was being said. This idea that we all need to have this developed critical consciousness. That we need to be aware of when things like media and television shows are practically brainwashing us and shoving their ideals down our throats. This quote also made me think of something else I had seen in the past. 

One of my favorite artists ever is a man named Banksy. Bansky is an enigmatic character. His real name and identity is unknown. This anonymity surrounding Banksy is what allows him to spray paint his opinions all over the sides of buildings with little to no consequences. However he doesn't always use spray paint, such as the case in his piece "The Advertisers".
This work features a long rant about media influence on our society. I connected this image to Christensen's quote and decided to include it in by blog, not only because I love Bansky's work, because I think this picture epitomizes all the points she is making in the paragraph on page 134.  

But overall I really agreed with everything that Christensen had to say in the reading this week. Another link I found that was pretty relatable to this reading was from It talks about the struggles of rasing a daughter in today's time with a "princess complex" check it out ! 

Newsweek - Cinderella Ate My Daughter

Thanks for reading this week !