Sunday, April 25, 2010

"Empowering Education"-Shor

"People are naturally curious. They are born leaders. Education can either develop or stifle their inclination to ask why and to learn."

Shor argues that the method of just teaching children facts and asking them to memorize things is not an effective method of educating. Instead children should be encouraged to think for themselves and to question everything. In this way, children will be able to reach their full potential.

"A curriculum that does not challenge the standard syllabus and conditions in society informs students that knowledge and the world are fixed and are fine the way they are, with no role for students to play in transforming them, and no need for change."

Students should be taught not to just take everything at face value and believe and accept everything the way it is presented to them. They should be taught to think outside of the box and to explore different options. In order to prepare these students to be our future leaders, they need to learn to form their own thoughts and ideas and to change the things in this world that they do not agree with.

"Participation provides students with active experiences in class, through which they develop knowledge that is reflective understanding, not mere memorization. Further, participation sends a hopeful message to students about their present and future; it encourages their achievement by encouraging their aspirations. They are treated as responsible, capable human beings who should expect to do a lot and do it well..."

Shor believes that students should be taught in an open form, participating in discussions as an effective teaching method. They should be taught to understand and reflect instead of just memorize and spit out information. This will lead to well-rounded and capable individuals, instead of robots.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

"Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome"-Kliewer

"To value another is to recognize diversity as the norm. It establishes the equal worth of all schoolchildren, a sense that we all benefit from each other, and the fundamental right of every student to belong."

We need to get over the fact that people are different. Everybody is different. There are no two people anywhere who are exactly the same. But these differences shouldn't define us in a negative way, but should highlight and celebrate diversity in a positive way. Just because someone is different does not make a person any less of a person, therefore nobody should be devalued or mistreated just because somebody thinks they're 'different'. A human being is a human being no matter what.

"According to Shayne, the notion of Down syndrome often obscures our ability to recognize the child as a child. She or he becomes a walking pathological syndrome, a mobile defect on the loose."

When people assign labels to other people, especially because of differences, then it becomes impossible to think of that person as just a person. Instead, stereotypes are often used instead of really getting to know the individual person as the important and valuable person that he or she is.

"Now we know that people with disabilities can learn and have a full, rich life. The challenge is to erase negative attitudes about people with developmental disabilities, get rid of the stereotypes and break the barriers for people with disabilities."

Every time someone says or hears the word 'disabled', it is automatically associated with a negative connotation. You never hear of a 'good disability'. Until people realize that 'disabled' people are capable of leading normal, fulfilling, and productive lives, these negative assumptions will not go away.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

"Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work"-Anyon

  • "The procedure is usually mechanical, involving rote behavior and very little decision making or choice. The teachers rarely explain why the work is being assigned, how it might connect to other assignments, or what the idea is that lies behind the procedure or gives it coherence and perhaps meaning or significance."

Can this even be considered teaching? It sounds more like giving a group of kids a bunch of orders to follow without them knowing what they're doing or why they're doing it. This is disgusting....I can't believe this is happening in schools. If this is indeed true, it doesn't really serve the purposed of educating students to go out in life and make something better and follow your dreams. It sounds more like a factory spitting out manufactured parts that all do the same thing.

  • "Thus doing well is important because there are thought to be other likely rewards: a good job or college."
Wow, this is really sad. Every student in every school should be looking forward to college or a good job and should know their potential to reach such goals. It's not only certain people from certain places who deserve to go to college. All schools are supposed to be preparing every student for the option of going to college and getting a good job later in life.

  • "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.""
Finally someone believes in the students and knows the value of their thoughts and opinions. But all students should be encouraged to use their brains to think things through and offer their opinions on issues. Every child's voice should be heard, not just the 'privileged' ones.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Gender & Equity

I think that this week's assignment was fairly difficult; I searched for awhile trying to find relevant information but there was a very limited amount that I found. On one website, Gender and Education, there is an interview with Linda Hallman, executive director of the American Association of University Women. She mentioned that in 1992 there was definitely a problem with girls' education, but that girls were improving very much and so were boys actually.

Another site that I found pretty informative was It stands for Intercultural Development Research Association. There was a really good podcast with Frances Guzman, M.Ed. She references Title IX and adds her own insight. She claims that in elementary school boys and girls act differently towards each other, but still consider themselves equals and are for the most part treated by others as equals as well. But starting in middle school adolescence comes into play, along with all the usual stereotypes about boys and girls. There are expectations from teachers that boys will behave in a certain way, and girls a different way. She claims that this is when girls are shortchanged. Guzman believes that boys and girls experience the same type of education, but they experience it differently.

I'm not really sure if I quite understand the idea of gender and equity in education, because I don't ever remember being consciously aware of any major differences between the ways boys and girls are treated or taught in schools.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tim Wise & Brown v. Board of Education

Brown v. Board of Education was obviously a huge milestone in the civil rights movement. It paved the way for everything to come in terms of equality. But just because the law now said that it was unjust to segregate people because of race, did not mean that white people still felt superior to minorities and that racism still heavily existed. Since then though, America has been steadily improving towards a more equal society. Many people may even say that racism is extinct. But there are more however who agree that racism is still very present in more subtle ways.
Tim Wise would argue that we have simply graduated to a less extreme or more disguised form of racism; racism 2.0 instead the blatant 'old school' racism 1.0 of 50 years ago. He thinks that while Obama was also a step towards racial equality, we are by no means free of racism, and that to continue to deny that is only hindering overcoming the issue. He claims that in order to be seen as a successful colored person you have to either be a stereotypical rapper/R&B artist, or athlete, or otherwise a 'perfect' individual. Whereas white people are considered successful every day for minimal achievements.

I really enjoyed browsing the Brown v. Board of Education website and being able to read all of the information. I originally thought that the video was also a great idea, but while listening to it, I'd find myself having to pause and rewind so I could jot down notes. Overall not an ideal mode of transmitting information, but creative nonetheless. I however would prefer to be presented with text that I can read, make notes on, highlight, and go back multiple times to reread. But overall, the topics were very interesting.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

In the Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning-Kahne & Westheimer

  • "By engaging in meaningful service--whether tutoring children for whom English is a second language, helping patients in a hospital, doing difficult chores for the elderly, or supervising younger children's recreational activities--students will have opportunities to experience what David Hornbeck, former Maryland state superintendent, referred to as "the joy of reaching out to others"."
This aspect of service learning encompasses the charity angle. Participants enjoy helping others and recognize that it not feels good to reach out, but it is beneficial to the recipients of their 'charity'. It does not however convey the reason behind their helping. The children see the effects of their efforts on the surface, but they may not really know why they are helping, or even why some people need their help so badly.

  • "The experimental and interpersonal components of service learning activities can achieve the first crucial step toward diminishing the sense of "otherness" that often separates students--particularly privileged students--from those in need."
What may be an obvious outcome of a service learning project is the willingness of a student to reach out and help, strengthening their sense of altruism. But what may not be so obvious is that a service learning project can be one of the first steps of change, starting with recognizing the similarities of all human beings.

  • They used a quote from Paul Hanna: "Time and energy given to such superficial betterment [Hanna gives as an example making Thanksgiving baskets for poor families] could much more efficiently be spent in getting at the basic inhibiting influences which perpetuate a scarcity economy in the midst of abundance."
Some people argue that service learning could be used much more effectively if it is done with the intent of making an overall impact in the grand scheme of things, instead of just making tiny, though not altogether insignificant, 'cosmetic' changes. Fixing something on the outside will make it appear better for a time. But if you don't get to the root of the problem, nothing really changes in the long run. We need to work on making permanent changes and coming up with methods of prevention, instead of a one-time assist that may camouflage the real underlying issue.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us-Linda Christensen

  1. "Our society's culture industry colonizes their minds and teaches them how to act, live, and dream"
  • This quote almost kind of sums up all of the readings we've had so far. Johnson, Delpit, everyone seems to agree that there is an overwhelming culture of power in America that very subtly instructs people on 'the way things should be'.

  1. "Children's cartoons, movies, and literature are perhaps the most influential genre "read." young people, unprotected by any intellectual armor, hear or watch these stories again and again, often from the warmth of their mother's or father's lap."
  • Christensen argues that even embedded within children's books, movies, and cartoons are many messages promoting the culture of power, and looking down upon everyone else. She also believes that these types of 'subliminal messaging' have the greatest effect, because young children have no filter yet, they are not skeptical of what they take in, especially when their parents are allowing these forms of media. They often lack the skills to separate and distinguish between knowledge, fact, fiction, deception. At such a young age, children are very moldable; everything they are exposed to is absorbed into their brains and helps to shape who they are and who they become.

  1. "I don't want students to believe that change can be bought at the mall, nor do I want them thinking that the pinnacle of a woman's life is an "I do" that supposedly leads them to a "happily ever after.""
  • The ideas that are portrayed through children's movies and shows and books can often give children a false sense of reality. Nobody's life is like a fairytale, and aiming for the perfection that is shown is movies is an unrealistic goal that leads to disappointment. Christensen wants children to know the truth.