Sunday, April 21, 2013

Last Blog Assignment :( EXTENDED COMMENTS

  This blog is based on the chapter "Education is Politics" from Empowering Education by Ira Shor. I chose to use my classmate Hannah's blog for my extended comments. She always has wonderful opinions and posts her blogs early so it is easy to comment on her blog. 
      As usual, I agree with Hannah's blog very much. She speaks about Delpit in relation to this text and says, "She would agree with Shor here, I think, because kids are going to need to know how to socialize properly all throughout their lives, so to be successful those are skills that kids need." I agree very much here. This link to Lisa Delpit is strong and validates what Shor's piece is all about. Children must learn these "codes of power" in order to be successful in life. Think about group projects for example. I have completed a countless number of projects in my life time and all involved me using these skills of socialization that I have learned in the past. If someone does not abide to these codes of power, that student will be much less successful.
     Hannah then brings up another important point. Her blog reads, "Shor argues that this is important because it enhances socialization but also that it by learning to socialize and question each other enhances learning". This statement is powerful to me because it demonstrates that questioning things such as why students must attend school does not hinder their performance but in fact allows these children to excel. If these students learn to socialize and question things at an early age, they will be prepared for college and careers where one's ability to with others is crucial. Hannah, Ira Shor, and I all agree that if children learn from a young age how to socialize with their peers, they will be on the track to a successful future. 

QUESTION: This is towards Hannah mostly but my other classmates can feel free to answer as well! Do you have an example of socializing students from your own experience? I have seen my service learning teacher take steps to show children how to speak to their peers which will help them in their futures. Have you witnessed anything either in your service learning class or out in the real world? If so, what did you see and how do you think it will effect the child's future?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Social Justice Event Reflection


     For my social justice event, I attended the Vagina Monologues. I expected it to be raunchy but not this raunchy. Some parts made me very uncomfortable, especially because I was sitting behind a group of older women and men. The video below is a clip from the Vagina Monologues and demonstrates how filthy some of the stories were. I attended this show back in February of this year but I still remember the stories very clearly.
     One of the stories that really stuck with me spoke about a woman being raped by a group of men. She was a poor woman living in a country that was invaded. The soldiers took advantage of her and gang raped her, extremely destroying her vagina. It may be a stretch since rape is such a huge issue but this relates to "Privilege, Power, and Difference" by Allan G. Johnson. His main point is that those we need to change these rules of power. He says, "All of us are part of the problem. There is no way to avoid that as long as we live in this world" (vii). This is the sad truth because not many people are willing to step up and change these codes of power.
     This woman's story also opened my eyes to how many unrecorded rapes there are every day. It is a sick world we live in and men and women across the globe are attacked or taken advantage of every day. This website  provides statistics for rape in the United States. It reports information such as every two minutes, someone is sexually assaulted in the U.S. and 97 percent of rapists never spend a day in jail. From unreported rapes to unknown rapists this statistic makes me sick. The woman who told her story in the Vagina Monologues is so brave for coming forward with her tragedy.  

     Another chapter of the Vagina Monologues talked about a young woman exploring her sexuality. She always thought she was attracted to males until she met one female that changed her ways completely. This reminded me of Safe Spaces by Annemarie Vaccaro, Gerri August, and Megan S. Kennedy. This piece states, "Assumptions that everyone is (or should be) heterosexual shape most classroom interactions, whether academic or social" (84). When the woman spoke about this piece during the Vagina Monologues, her main issue with being gay was how others would react. These two pieces tie together because both subjects were ashamed of their sexuality due to possible repercussions with friends and family.
     Coming out to your friends and family is an extremely difficult thing to do, especially when you do not have support from your loved ones. Unfortunately, many teens and adults enter a depression, hide their true sexual preference, or even commit suicide because they do not know how to deal with this huge life change. Luckily, there are many outlets to help these people such as LGBTQ organizations and counseling sites. It is very important to make teens aware of these organizations so they can get as much assistance as they need when coming out. 

     Finally my experience at the Vagina Monologues reminded me of Amazing Grace by Jonathan Kozol. One episode of the Vagina Monologues tells the story of women who are subjected to rape camps. Kozol says that the issues of racism and poverty are not the individual's fault but a result of the system of power. Similar to these rape camps, Kozol speaks of drug parks. He says, "It is, I later learn, one of the many drug parks in the South Bronx that police sometimes try to shut down but, for the most part, leave in peace for those who have no other place to shoot their drugs or drink their wine" (12). It is disturbing to know either one of these places exist and even more unsettling to know that they are not being shut down. 
     It may be ignorant for thinking this world was a better place but I did not think things like rape camps existed. The thought of them absolutely makes me ill. Women should have control of their own bodies and the fact that people are not doing all they can to shut down these rape camps should sicken society. This link explains what rape camps are and how they were huge during the Bosnian War. 

     I enjoyed the Vagina Monologues production at Rhode Island College very much. It has taught me a lot about how the articles we read in class can not only link to the classroom but also to real life scenarios. I would definitely recommend the Vagina Monologues to someone else. As long as you don't mind the raunchy talk, the other episodes in this production are very powerful. These stories were meant to be heard. I am very glad I chose this for my social justice event.



This is Mia Peterson. She is featured in this text and is a strong, brave woman who has worked very hard to prove that having down syndrome is not an excuse to be unsuccessful. In this video, she speaks about articles she has written. She speaks about her success in life and how she has never let her disability stop her from doing anything.

     In the chapter "Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome" from Schooling Children with Down Syndrome by Christopher Kliewer, some very interesting points are brought up. This piece starts off strong with a quote from Mia Peterson, a woman with down syndrome who has exceeded others' expectations of her. Mia says, "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 have never felt so mad. I wanted to cry" (Peterson, 1994, p. 6). This quote is very powerful. There are different levels of severity with down syndrome and Mia is high functioning. She proves that anything is possible. She had proved many people wrong by going back to school and doing what she wants and knows is achievable. Just because she has down syndrome does not mean she is incapable of living a normal life.
     I absolutely love this video. It explains what down syndrome is, how babies develop slower when they have down syndrome, and most importantly how these children can grow up to have successful lives. I learned that children with down syndrome can communicate with sign language. The children in this video show that they can be "normal" by being placed in regular education classrooms, making friends, and playing sports. I became aware of Special Olympics in the partners program at my high school and this video mentions it as well. It allows children to feel important and able to do whatever they want. These children do not let their disability hold them back.

COMMENTS: This was my favorite text to read. I am very passionate about children with disabilities since I have worked with them before. I am so proud to have read Mia Peterson's story. She is incredibly powerful and strong. Not only does she speak on important issues of down syndrome, she tells her own personal story. I loved the videos I put in this blog because they prove that anything is possible even if you do have a disability. Things will be more difficult but these children can still live "normal" lives.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


     I have been having a really tough time at my service learning school. These past few visits have definitely been a struggle and test of my patience. I have become very aggravated with one student and am doing my best not to lose my temper with him. I wish I was not saying this but I can not wait to be done with my service learning.
     The last visit I had in the kindergarten class was yesterday. Not only was it a Friday, it was the day before April vacation AND reading week. It was only two hours like the rest of my visits and yet it seemed to never end. The students were extremely riled up and did not want to focus. I try so hard each day to be patient with the students but this visit was unbearable.
     I struggled to keep my cool with one particular student that I usually work with. He has trouble with reading and writing so I always sit with him and help with the assignments. During this visit, he threw a crayon at a student, cried about his chair being too low to the ground, and had a temper tantrum over doing the work. I understand that he is five and struggles to comprehend some assignments but all he had to do was write a sentence. He just was not having it and neither was I. I did what Dr. Bogad advised and walked away until he was ready to learn but at that point I was ready to leave all together.

COMMENTS: This website provides great tips for staying calm and keeping your cool. I definitely need these tips if I want to become a teacher. I am struggling enough being in the classroom for two hours a week, never mind over six hours every day. My service learning classroom teacher deserves a great April vacation. I do not know how she deals with the chaos every single day.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Keeping Track- REFLECTION

For this post, I read "Tracking: Why Schools Need to Take Another Route" by Jeannie Oakes and "Literacy with an Attitude" by Patrick J. Finn. I would like to focus on Oakes's piece. I have never been a fan of placing children into different groups. This leads to students feeling either "smart" or "slow" in class. Personally, I was always placed in higher level groups and I was aware of this because the material came easy to me. What these school systems do not realize is that children are more aware than they believe. Some may think students don't realize which group they are in but trust me, they do. It is the unfortunate truth that the higher performing will be aware of the "slow group" which causes children to feel extremely stupid and worthless in the classroom. 
These readings reminded me of my service learning experience. When I work in the kindergarten classroom, I usually work with the same children. These students are the lowest performing in the class and if they do not realize this now, they soon will. It is only a matter of time for a child to realize that these two are constantly leaving the classroom or working with assistants for a reason. Oakes says, "Students who are placed in high ability groups have access to far richer school experiences than other students" (178). This can also be turned around because those who are in lower groups are bound to have lesser school experiences.
Schools need to change the way their classrooms are run. Grouping children together by their intelligence levels is unfair, especially at such a young age. In high school, it is understandable for more intelligent students to take higher level classes but this process is starting much too young. Children in elementary school should not feel more or less intelligent than their peers based on their groups. 

COMMENTS: As I said before, I am lucky that I was always ahead of the game in elementary school. I was considered one of the smart kids and always knew where I stood in the classroom. I received high grades and praise and finally realized that there were other students less intelligent than me because of the certain groups they were placed in. Schools definitely need to find something that works better than grouping these students together. If it weren't for these groups in elementary school, I would have never realized that there were children less intelligent than me and my fellow group mates. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Brown vs. Board of Education- QUOTES

This week's assignment reminded me of a show I used to watch. In this episode of American Dreams, we see an extreme amount of racism and discrimination in the 1960s (not far from Brown vs. Board of Education). The white police officers mistreat African American men and women simply because of their race. 

     The two videos featuring the author of Between Barack and a Hard Place, Tim Wise, really stuck with me. Since Brown vs. Board of Education and other anti-discrimination events did not happen in my lifetime, I think of it as history that does not need to be focused on. These videos, however, proved me wrong and showed that these events have all formed the way America is today.

     The passionate author of Between Barack and a Hard Place says, "There are a lot of people out there every bit as intelligent, every bit as wise and capable as Barack Obama but who have a different style." He explains that some people view Obama as not really black because he doesn't fit the typical stereotypes. This proves that America is not a non-discriminative place because we stereotype often. Electing Obama as President of the United States was a step in the right direction but the problems of stereotyping and discriminating still exist.

     Tim Wise says, "We as white folks can be really articulate or really inarticulate and still become president." This quote shows that Americans are living a double standard. Just because Barack Obama is our first black president does not mean that there is no racism in the United States. Obama is respected for how successful and well-educated he is. He had to work extremely hard to be respected as President of the United States while white men have a much easier opportunity to do so.

     Wise then goes on to say, "In 62 almost nine out of ten whites said that black children had fully equal educational opportunities. So we've been in denial a long time." When Wise stated this fact, I was appalled. This statistic proves how Americans were and still are living in oblivion. This also hits home because it ties into my service learning school. The school I am placed at is very diverse and it is able to be that way due in part to Brown vs. Board of Education. Nonwhite students are having more equal educational opportunities but it is not this way everywhere and certainly was not this way in 1962 with segregation of schools. 


QUESTION: Tim Wise makes a strong point about Barack Obama not fitting the typical black stereotypes. Why do you think this is? What are these stereotypes and how can we put a stop to them?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Service Learning- CONNECTIONS

For this blog, I read “In the Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning” by Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer. This piece speaks about  service learning and its importance in the classroom. Kahne and Westheimer make very strong points about service learning that can connect to “Other People’s Children” by Lisa Delpit as well as “110 People Who Are Screwing Up America” by Bernard Goldberg. In this text, Kahne and Westheimer say, “Just as the difference between change and charity may provide an important conceptual distinction for those analyzing service learning curricula, it is helpful to distinguish the moral, political, and intellectual goals to motivate those who support service learning” (5). This quote states that it is important to realize the meaning and purpose for what someone is doing in order to get the best results. Similarly, Delpit says, “I try to give them my experiences, to explain.” (22). The authors of both texts agree that it is crucial to explain the purpose of doing something to achieve the best possible outcome. Students and teachers will not be interested or try hard with something they think is pointless and therefore they will not benefit from the task. Kahne and Westheimer agree with Goldberg about what is being covered in the classroom. One section of this text focuses on the politics of service learning. It says, “When I care, Noddings explains, a relationship develops in which ‘the other’s reality becomes a possibility for me’” (7). This explains that each person is able to use each other to create their own success. Goldberg correspondingly says, “Jonathan Kozol is so admired in the education establishment, his ideas are put into practice every day in classrooms all across America, from high school all the way down to preschool” (295). With this statement, Goldberg supports Kahne and Westheimer’s main idea that students should work off of one another as well as with the teacher to be as successful as possible.

COMMENTS:  I did not enjoy reading this piece at all. After reading the past few pieces for the blogs, I found this one very difficult to read. It was not as interesting as the other texts and I found it hard to get into. This text is written more formally which I did not enjoy. It speaks more about professional and scholarly things than the other readings do.