Monday, April 25, 2011

Education Is Politics by Ira Shor

extended comment/ quotes/ hyperlinks:
      When reflecting upon what I just read I have to agree with Conor when he said, "I believe that this chapter from Shor's book is a good conglomeration everything that we have learned in FNED.  To me, the reading was like a channelling of all the things we've talked about into the perspective of a teacher."

         This reading was difficult for me at first but once I got thru a few pages I started to really be engaged in it. Although I could probably tie in everything we have read so far this semester in some way, I related this one most to Christopher Kliewer's Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome. This is probably because I enjoyed that article so much and because it is fresh in my mind.
          The first quote I want to pull from this article is a few sentences from page 12.
                                    "The defieciency is the curriculum in schools, which he saw as a one-way transmission of rules and knowledge from teacher to students, stifling their curiosity."
                                    " People are naturally curious. They are born learners."
                                    "Empowered students make meaning and act from reflection, instead of memorizing facts and values handed to them."
               What strikes me about the first quote is why it is acceptable to treat children with a different respect than we do adults. Why is it that in the United States we are supposedly a democracy but then in the classroom suddently it is a dictatorship? Why do adults think that they are so much better and wiser than children to the point that the children have no valued voice or opinion? I understand that the article further discusses this issue but I have never understood this concept. I have been a nanny/ babysitter most of my life and have gotten the comment from parents several times that their children are so much better behaved for me than them. I would explain to them it is because I do not have the authorative role of mom or dad. Typically in the situations I experienced, this role would be of the father being the diciplinarian and the mother being the push over. Next, I have to relate this again to Parelli natural horsemanship, I observed my own actions and saw that I was neither the diciplinarian nor the push over, I was what Parelli would call, "a carrot-stick person." He says there are carrot people and stick people that are both extremest but he wants you to be middle-of-the-road-ists by using both tactics in small amounts and appropriately in order to build stronger communication. I found that I first became "friends" with the kids I babysat; in order to do this I had to act equal to them, I am realizing now that basically I showed them respect and didn't act better than the children. If I did this, since I wasn't mom or dad, they then would open up to me and respect me back(and they would tell mom + dad they liked me and I would get steady work lol). I would set boundaries with them and myself or when we were in my car or alone with me but I often would include the children in setting the boundaries so that we all agreed upon and understood them... so when the boundaries were tested there was a clear understanding of what was acceptable. I found this prevented yelling and over diciplining as well as saved me some money because I didn't have to spend it on buying the kid what they wanted when they were pitching a fit. The second quote I think Parelli would also agree with 100% when talking about horses and people. I think he would agree that both horses and humans are born curious and learners and I also think he would agree that what our education system does to our children is directly affecting the relationships that people create with their horses.Pg.18 in Education is Politics states,"Participatory classes respect and rescue the curiousity of students."Parelli would call this, "revealing your horse." People come out of this political education system with the teacher being the authoritarian and they then become that dictator upon their horses. Shor explains that, "Students do not practice democratic habits in co-governing their classrooms,school, or colleges. There, they learn that unilateral authority is the normal way things are done in society. They are introduced in school to the reality of management holding dominant, unelected power. At the same time, they are told that they live in freedom and democracy."(pg.19)
                 The third quote made me think of tracking and inclusion because those articles made me realize how much we learn from group work and reflection, not just being given an answer to memorize and believe. Kliewer states that,"Freire (1993) emphasized, democracy can only occur when no person's voice is deterministically silenced...(and that)...Dialogue imposes itself as the way by which [people] achieve significance as human beings." (pg.72-73)  This statement, to me, emphasizes how important it is to create a safe learning environment that allows people to feel comfortable and confident enough to participate. Shor says, "Participation challenges the experience of education as something done to students. This is key to the passivity and resistance produced by the traditional syllabus: education is experienced by the students as something done to them, not something they do." What is so crazy to me about this statement is how true it really is. I know from personal experience I always hated school up until I was out and, on my own, chose to go back and therefore it is something I am now doing...not something being forced upon or done to me.

              I thought this video was great when looking at stereotypical teachers and childrens perspectives on school. This ofcoarse makes me think of Christensen and how much the media influences our perceptions on things and can create these stereotypes. This video especially made me think of Shor's explaination of empowerring education. Shor states that, "it is a social interaction involving both thought and feeling...(and) The difference between empowering and traditional pedagogy has to do with the positive or negative feelings students can develop for the learning process."(pg. 23) As you watch this cartoon you can see it focuses on how all of the children are feeling; mostly they show this by students speaking their true feelings to their peers, this is because school is such a social thing in addition to intellectual. You can see that most of the kids have negative feelings about school, teachers, principals and school work but I find it most interesting to what teachers are portrayed as the "cool" ones. In some clips this is the teacher who is laid back, dances and hands out snacks like popcorn is the one that everyone wants but the teacher I admired most is the one from the Magic School Bus, Ms. Frizzle. Ms. Frizzle would say things like,"Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!"  and make sure all learning was participatory learning. Shor quotes Horton and Friere(1990, 168-72), "The good school is that one in which studying I also get the pleasure of playing." Ms. Frizzle's class certainly did both; also I noticed that often times in the episodes Ms. Frizzle would disappear - this would leave the kids on their own causing them to interact, work together and really reflect amongst themselves to find an answer or solution. Shor seems to mention this often when discussing Student Participation and Positive Affect: The Teacher's Role. (pg.26 - 30)
                   Ira Shor says, "To help move students away from passivity and cynicism, a powerful signal has to be sent from the very start, as ingal that learning is participatory, involving humor, hope, and curiosity. A strong participatory and affective opening broadcasts optimistic feelings about the student's potental and about the future: students are people whose voices are worth listening to, whose minds can carry the weight of serious intellectual work, whose thought and feeling can entertain transforming self and society."(pg 26) I think Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus did an excellent job of this but it also made me think of a recent experience I had during my service learning project. I typically work with two groups of young people, the first being one boy and the second having two girls and a boy. This particular day was a bit different because not only was the teacher absent but so were some of the students. For my second group, which is normally three, was down to one girl today. I have heard the teacher label this girl as a "hand ful" at times but I didn't see her that way. I thought of Kliewer's article when Lee Larson's teacher Colleen said, "It's not Lee you're picking out. It's your stereotype, your mind-set. It's you, and it has nothing to do with Lee. But if that's how you choose to see him, I don't know that anything I could do, we could do, I don't think there's anyitng Lee could do to change your mind."(pg. 84) With Colleens words in mind, I was excited to work one on one with this girl today. At first I noticed she was hesitant to work with me, she had something she was into doing and had no interest in what I had for her to do but she was polite enough to come work with me anyway. Since I observed her hesitance I decided to ask her what she would like to do for the day, she started to name the typical options I have to offer as a tutor such as dolch words, segmentation, game, or book. She simply stated all the options but was not enthused, so as she was paused in thought about what to do I also gave her the option of continuing the work she was in the middle of. This work was a packet that the absent teacher had left for the students. At first the girl/student gave me a funny look as if that was not allowed, then I said to her that it was up to her, whatever she wanted to do would be fun. She chose the packet and was so excited to show me how much work had already been done and to ask me if she did it correctly. She then asked me how long I was going to be there for and I responded, "kick me out at any time, I am here for you." She smiled from ear to ear and just really seemed to open up to me, I have yet to witness this type of respect for students in the school and I could clearly see that it was shocking and exciting for this girl to be able to make a decision and be in charge of how long she is tutored for. To my surprise she kept me there up until the rest of the class was lining up for lunch, she then told me, "you can go now, its lunch time," and I was released. 
       Although I could probably quote this whole article I'd like to end on this one by Shor, "What students and teachers reinvent in problem-posing is their relationship to learning and authority."  I think mutual respect is key which can build up the confidence to question, reflect, share, and learn. What I would like to discuss in class is the discussion on the bottom of page 43 that talks about supervisors not following the same rules that is expected of the workers. This is the case at my work where all of the management and elites at the restaraunt have special privileges, do not need to follow the rules and act as though they are above others - often times I hear comment from the servers like "uh this is stupid, they(management) act as if they are in highschool again." When thinking about this I jotted down three quotes that I have no idea where they derived from but I have heard them thruout life: "Actions speak louder than words" and "lead by example" and "do onto others as you wish they do onto you"

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Social Justice Event: US Pain Foundation

            In the beginning of the year, on January 29th, I attended and worked this event that I found on Craigslist called the INvisible Project. I knew it would relate to our class but wanted to wait to post about it until we were further into the semester. This past weeks reading by Kliewer, "Citizenship in School:Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome" I felt related the most, as well as the video Going to School: Ir a la Escuela. I felt this because this event was all about inclusion for people with cronic pain. Most of these people had severe pain for many reason which often caused physical handicaps, which is a main topic when reading Kliewers work as well as watching the related video in class.
    - this is the link to the main website but their are many links off of this that are also interesting. The event that I worked is under the INvisible Project tab off of this main site.

Founder's Note

Hello! My name is Paul Gileno. I am the founder/president of US Pain Foundation. More importantly I am a person with chronic pain. I have CRPS in my left leg, failed back syndrome in my lower back and a severely damaged left sciatic nerve all of which cause severe pain, spasms, depression, loss of sleep, and a whole host of other problems. It all started on April 30, 2003 and basically it is getting progressively worse. Before my pain journey started, I owned a growing business and the work was very physical. Trained as a chef, I operated a gourmet food store and an off-premise catering business. At the age of 30, I broke the bottom of my spine at work, and since then life has been flipped upside down. I was forced to sell my business, had multiple back surgeries, endured months of physical therapy, and tried every kind of pain management treatment available. Nothing has worked to reduce the pain of the damaged nerve and CRPS. I now walk with a cane, and require a foot brace - without it, I keep tripping over my own foot! So I went from working 6 - 7 days per week, 12 - 15 hours per day, to being unable to get out of bed for several days at a time. I understand what constant pain is like, and what it does to you physically, mentally, and emotionally. I have gone thru so much, including the depression, sadness, anger, self-loathing and everything else that comes along with a pain disease.
 After a few years with chronic pain, I realized this was my new life so I sought out groups for help, sadly I could not find one which met my needs as a person with pain. I searched for educational programs; no luck with that, either. As I continued to search, I realized that the United States really needed an organization, one that can assist people through support groups,  education, information, giving people with pain a voice and by simply showing them they are not alone. I decided the best way to go through my own pain journey was to try and help others cope. And that is how US Pain Foundation was born.  Since we started this web site I have been joined by some wonderful people who help make this Foundation better then I could have imagined. People who help me grow personally - where there was once discouragement and anger, I now see pain as a blessing and I refuse to give up hope that one day I will be cured from pain, but I refuse to let life stop until then, I realize we can have fulfilling lives even with pain. There are many people who help shape the growth of US Pain Foundation - to a national level of healing and hope - because together we can learn to live fulfilling lives, each and every day, despite the pain.
I see the wonderful connections I have now with fellow pain people, and realize we are better off when we are in this together. I realize I am not alone, and I want you to be a part of our community, so you can feel that same sense of belonging. So if you live with pain, or support someone who does, welcome. We hope you'll find the information on this site informative and empowering. And please connect with us at a local US Pain Foundation Support Group, or educational event, an INvisible Event, a US Pain Triumph over Pain Run, Walk or Roll,  at one of the events we sponsor or announce; maybe visit the wonderful online communities we find inspiring. I hope you'll join us today - membership is free - and help make tomorrow a better day for all of us who live with pain.  Remember we are a pain organization created by people with pain for people with pain. I promise if I can do it we all can do it and we are here for you.
     When working this event, Paul was the main person I interacted with. He was such a nice man over the phone and even sweeter in person. I signed up for this because I needed some extra money and heard it involved photography, I had no idea how much it would relate to everything I was about to learn this semester in FNED 346. Paul's story really spoke to me because he is like a gateway between people who were born with pain or disabilities and "normal" people because Paul was once "normal". He lived an ordinary life and experienced something that could happen to anyone. He needed to let down his prejudice (if he had any) and open his world to people who would be considered outcasts. He now had a deeper understanding of what it was like to be so isolated and the effects that has on a person. He has become a great link not only for people who suffer from pain but also to connect people who dont with those who do.
      When I first arrived at Butler Hospital,(where the event took place) I was nervous because I really had no idea what I had signed up for. I had no idea what this event was about besides people with pain and photography. As I began to follow Paul's instructions I set up all of the easels and organized large framed photographs on them. Each easel had three framed pieces on them all about an individuals story; one was a large collage of photos, another was one photo blown up, and the third framed piece was a write up about them. Paul let me know which person out of the photos I was putting up was going to be speaking that day. The speaker was Ellen Smith whom, "was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) in 2004. Since then, she has undergone eighteen surgeries to help her severe case of joint hypermobility, skin extensibility and tissue fragility. As the slightest touch can easily cause her joints to dislodge, she has learned, among many things, to be cautious in public. Taking positive steps to living her best life, Ellen has not let EDS slow her down."
                    The photo on the website is not the photos I hung up during the event. The photo's I saw were much more graphic, she had oxegen tubes on her in many, some were her in bed looking frail and ill and others had her in a wheelchair. Personally I had not been exposed to people who lived with cronic pain so I didn't know what to expect. Looking at her photos I was unsure how to act when she arrived and a bit in disbelief that she could actually be capable of speaking in front of a crowd. Looking at her photos I was very judgemental, not in a mean way but in a way of ignorance. I didn't think this person who appeared to be so handicaped would be able to get up and speak to a crowd and I wondered to myself if her speach would be impaired and if it would actually be interesting. I figured people would just have to be polite and listen or that only the other handicapped people would be interested in hearing her. I know this sounds aweful of me but really I was just uneducated and never exposed to this. This reminded me of a quote I wrote down from the film Going to School: Ir a la Escuela,"inclusion is a better learning experience for all, it gives exposure for all, otherwise there would just be fear of the difference due to lack of knowledge." Unfortunately I do not believe I wrote it as an exact quote and I think it was said by a young boy in the film that was "normal" and had inclusion in his class. I think I thought all of these things about Ellen Smith because I did have fear due to lack of knowledge and exposure.
         When Ellen walked in the building I immediately noticed her dog, a black lab, that was a special trained service dog by NEADS. I did not even recognize Ellen compared to her photos, honestly I saw a healthy, well groomed, smiling woman walking with her dog but not relying on the dog. The dog stayed by her side but was off a leash and didn't seemed to be doing anything but be a dog. I initially assumed this must be someone who worked with Ellen and her dog, not Ellen herself becasue she was too "normal" looking. To my surprise, Ellen was "normal". She was having a good day she said and was ready to speak. She told us about an aweful plane ride and how she almost didn't make it due to the severe amount of pain plane rides can cause her but there she was, normal, peppy and practically running oxegen, cane, wheelchair or anything. This is why I feel they started the INvisible project, because "Pain itself is invisible.  But its affect is enormous.  The Connecticut Pain Foundation has supported a project to make pain more visible."
"Invisible Man" sculpture by Elizabeth Catlett

While thinking of this event and my feelings toward it, I often found myself thinking of Allan Johnson's Privilege, Power, and Difference. I mostly thought of his introduction when he talks about how we are all part of the problem "but we could also make ourselves part of the solution if we only knew how...become part of the solution by getting us unstuck. ... allow us to see not only where the trouble coms from, but how we as individuals are connected to it, which is the only thing that gives us the potential to make a difference." (pg vii) I felt as though Paul Gileno allowed me to see how I could be connected to these people who are suffering from pain. I thought about all of my work experiences as well as activities I enjoy doing, such as horseback riding, and how easy it would be for me to be injured in my everyday life, especially while driving, and how that could turn my privileged, able-bodied life into something totally different. Another Johnson quote that makes me think of how I initally felt at this event is, "But as a sociologist, I also know that it's possible to understand the world and myself in relation to it in ways that get past the defensive feelings and give us all a common ground from which to work for change." I feel that now I am much more educated about how isolation itself can be really painful and just the one day exposure and peek I had into these people's lives allowed me to get past those defensive and fearful feelings I had. Again it took a person like Paul and his story to help me relate and break down my personal prejudices.
               When I think about how stunned I was to see Ellen Smith behave so "normal" I think about a quote from Christopher Kliewer's Schooling Children with Down Syndrome. This quote is stated by Jason Kingsley saying, "Now we know that people with disabilities can learn and have a full, rich life. The challenge is to erase negative attituted about people with developmental disabilities, get rid of stereotypes and break the barriers for people with disabilites." (cover pg.) I agree completely that this is the biggest challenge and I see that my lack of exposure created a negative attitude and stereotype in my head.
        Although I think that what Paul Gileno and the US Pain Foundation has done is amazing I do feel that Kliewer would disagree a bit as well as Jeannie Oakes and some people in the Going to School: Ir a la Escuela film. I understand that the US Pain Foundation has the intention of connecting people with pain and has done such a wonderful job doing so that they have created their own community. This started out just in CT and became so big so fast that they had to rename it the US Pain Foundationg rather than the CT Pain Foundation. There was an enormous need for these people to connect but why I feel that some would disagree is because I feel that by creating this community for the people of pain, by the people with pain has still an isolating quality. Jeannie Oakes talks about tracking in schools and how that creates uneven opportunities and segregation, I think that relates to the US Pain Foundation because they are still isolating themselves by placing them into a tracked category of people with pain. In the film one of the fathers of an autistic boy said his son, "needs to be as socialized and normalized as possible; not be modeling other autistic behavior." So although I find it wonderful that the people with pain are able to come together, I wonder if it would be better if it weren't just people with pain they were associating with. These sufferers find it very helpful to be able to see that they are not alone and others can relate to their pain and isolation and often depression but it that doesn't allow people who are not in cronic pain to be exposed to this and therefore accepting and understanding of people who suffer. In Kliewer, Douglas Biklen says, "society itself is hurt when (schools) act as cultural sorting machines." (pg.73) Although they are speaking about schools, I think that there is still sorting going on by having only people of pain be joined together.  Kliewer also notes that, "Success in life requires an ability to form relationships with others who make up the web of community."(pg 73) I now believe this statement and wonder how to truely create an integrated society so that there are no more prejudices.

Lastly I felt this video was an interesting one to learn from. He talks about people with cronic pain but I think it can relate to anyone who feels isolated because they are "too different" in some way.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Continuation of Citizenship in School...

Sorry I missed class today! I think I need a "mental health" morning, I just could not get out of bed; I was run down from a long week/weekend. As soon as I got up and had energy I was very bummed that I missed class : (.
     Anyway, I have been thinking nonstop about this last reading and had a few more things to share, hope you enjoy!
                                           This movie is AMAZING!! It made me laugh and cry and is truly an inspiration. I highly recommend watching it, it is based on a true story and is just great!
                                                                     This second video is one of two parts. I posted it quick but have to watch it myself. My sister, who has years of experience working with people with "disabilities", recommended I watch this documentary when discussing this weeks topic!

              The last thing I was trying to find was a video I saw on tv a long time ago. This video was about Jenny Mcarthy's son who has autism. I found it amazing because it showed how she changed his diet and did research on how he can learn. When her son wouldn't do simple things like play with his trucks or catch a ball, she discovered he learned by actually seeing these activities be done. So, with this knowledge she and a friend would video tape themselves tossing a ball back and forth, etc and then let he son watch it. After watching it he would understand and now participate in the activity. When looking for this footage all I could find was her advocating against vaccines that she believes causes autism.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Citizenship in School:Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome

Hyperlinks, Quotes, Reflection:
 I felt this video would be a good introduction to Christopher Kliewer's Schooling Children with Down Syndrome. This reminded me of Christine Durovich's writing, "Knock it off! Knock it off! Becky is a girl who has cerebral palsy...She's not allowed in school because of her handicaps. I think her school should just knock it off and let her in. She needs an education. Just because she is handicapped doesn't mean she can't learn. She just got to do what she can do, which can be just about anything." (pg.93)
            Going off of Chrsitine's quote that instantly made me think of what one of John Mcgough's siblings noted on page 86, "...he's accepted for what he is, not what he isn't. And (therefore) he can concentrate on what he can do, instead of being shown or being told what he can't do."
             And this ofcoarse relates directly to what we have previously discussed in class about creating a safe environment in order to enhance learning.

                       I thought this article was amazing! I had a bit of difficulty with the language at times but it kept me very engaged. The problem I have with it is that it made my mind active in so many different ways that I do not know how to sum it up. As I was reading this I kept drifting off into experiences I have had in my personal life that relate to this. I feel like I have learned so much just by reading this because I agreed with so much of what was said. Page 73, "As Douglas Biklen has outlined, "society itself is hurt when schools act as cultural sorting machines..."" That quote as well as the surrounding text helped me really understand and apply the logic behind Jeannie Oakes Tracking:Why Schools Need to Take Another Route. When I read Oakes' piece I was sort of left feeling unsure as to why tracking is so negative and the consequences behind it.
            I feel like there is so much to reflect upon in this article that it is difficult to limit and choose what to talk about.

              With tracking in mind I then came across on pg 81 Gardner's," such valued patterns for solving problems and fashioning products." It then goes on to say that only two of these seven are emphasized in traditional schools and that Gardner suggests probably 10,000 more possibilities can be added to this list of seven. This made me think of Heather's blog about Tracking, in the blog she states, "Doing this(tracking) prevents children from really advancing because the teacher styles and “day to day learning experience” differs. However, I feel that sometimes it ok if the learning style is different because some kids just learn. There are actually many different ways, seven to nine, see them in detail here. 
Heather had actually already had Gardner's list of patterns of learning posted.

            I felt like this article wasn't just about people/students with Down Syndrome, I felt it related to everything we have been talking about so far in this class. I feel that Down Syndrome could be replaced with any negative stereotype that prevents from reaching one's learning potential. I feel as though this was an excellent article choice to follow Patrick J. Finn's Literacy with an Attitude and Oakes piece on tracking because those articles left me feeling upset about these issues and I wanted an answer. Well I think Kliewer provides one as well as gives stories of proof that it works.
          Proof that there is a solution was, to me, when reading about how Shayne Robbins at Shoshone School (starting pg. 83) "..saw incompetence as a perception ascribed by others who misunderstood the meaning of the child's performance." Reading these stories made me realize how much I was effected by tracking growing up as well as my boyfriend. We exchanged stories about how things made us feel in school and how much it hurt our self esteem, which then led to not trying or being engaged in classes. We were labeled as having ADD or ADHD and never looked at for what we can do. It was always about what you are doing poorly on and how you can improve rather than about what you are doing well in. I also believe greatly in what it says on pg 91, "Fundamental to constructivist teaching is a respect for each student as both an active agent in the learning process and an essental member of the learning community." I feel that our world is so competative that it forces us to have both a winner and a loser. This makes me think of the natural horsemanship that I follow thru Pat and Linda Parelli. They believe in having everyone be a winner so they have started their own show circut in the horse world where everyone gets a blue ribbon. Everyone wins something because they each have something to contribute that makes up the community.
                        I know this video starts out a bit corney but if you really sit and watch and listen to what Pat Parelli is saying about our view on horses I feel parallels what Christopher Kliewer and Shayne Robbins says about the view of Down Syndrome. They are all labels that just hinder us from benefiting from one another as a community. Parelli says to "look at it thru the horses point of view" which I think is exactly what is said in Kliewer's article about how, " voice is silenced, and children (horses + people) come to realize their own self-worth through the unconditional acceptance of one another" and how "...opportunity cannot existe outside of community built on recognition of individual value." (pg 74-75) I think that Pat Parelli demonstrates in the horse world just what Shayne Robbins demonstrates in the classroom. Both Shayne and Parelli seem to see every student and/or horse's supposed nonconformity instead as natural human diversity. I think it is amazing how beneficial and motivating it can be if your teacher looks at your adversities as a source of "strength that could be supported by the (school) community in order that it add a unique and valuable dimension to that community." I think it has everything to due with mutual respect.
                   This made me think of a very famous song by the Beatles, All You Need is Love.
When analyzing and over analyzing myself and how I have been influenced and if things were taught to me differently..etc...I then began to think about how to motivate and I came across another RSA Animate film that interested me:     

What I would like to talk about in class is our transforming society and how to overcome this challenge of erasing negative attitudes and stereotypes. I thought of how reality tv is even changing because it is losing its that society is becoming aware of how ignorant these prejudices are they must change things. One example is the show American Idol. This show used to have three judges that were known for constant bickering and also strongly putting people down, calling them names and making fun of them. Apparently this got old and is no longer being seen as acceptable, cool or funny so in order for the show to keep its audience it had to change its judging pannel. The pannel is now made up of three new judges who seem to get along well and be much more supportive of the contestants. We are making a difference!
I also want to talk about how easily we are influenced, how we learn often by seeing things so I realized how powerful tv is. Things that are not reality are now being seen on tv so therefore, if seeing is believing than we now have so much more pressure on us to be these things that we see although it is not really reality.

I hope this post made sense! My article is FILLED with highlighter marks, notes and just covered with me jotting down my ideas while reading. It was a little bit much for me to try to contain and explain!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Antz and A Bugs Life - relating to Finn

This first video is the movie Antz.  According to is about "A rather neurotic ant tries to break from his totalitarian society while trying to win the affection of the princess he loves." In this movie it shows how everyone is born into a certain status or class and they are all supposed to just be happy with their pre-set status. This reminds me a lot of  Patrick J. Finn's Literacy with an Attitude: Educating Working-Class Children in Their Own Self-Interest. Z the Ant would be one of those working class children who is about his own self-interest. Z the ant seems to be very well spoken and he would be a perfect example of Freire's wishes of using "literacy to engage in the struggle for justice."(pg.2 Finn's preface)

This second clip is from A Bug's Life. This clip shows the grasshoppers discussing what will happen if the ants stand up to them. The grasshoppers kind of represent that small percentage of the rich and powerful in a capitalistic society that keep the poor, poor in order to benefit themselves. This scene shows the lead grasshopper explaining "dangerous literacy"(pg.2 Finn) because one ant stood up and questioned the authoritative grasshopper.  

Both of these films remind me so much of how tracking effects people and like Finn says, "But, in fact I was schooling these children, not to take charge of their lives, but to take orders." I think these films both represent how our society is and how we are all trained to take orders from a young age, just like in class how when Dr. Bogad handed us that worksheet that we should have been offended by but instead we all put our heads down and did the work because that is what we are used to doing.  

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Literacy with an Attitude: Patrick J. Finn


      Literacy with an Attitude: Patrick J. Finn

            "Today we see literacy among the have-nots as the source of many social ills. One explanation is that we have come so far in our democracy that we have nothing to fear from the have-nots. We worry instead that the low levels of literacy among them make them a liability for the rest of us. The idea is that if we could raise their level of literacy they would join the haves. America would have no poor, just rich, richer, and richest."

         I am stuck on the Preface but when just reading the first page of this my mind was racing about just this area that I had to stop reading. I love articles and books like this that make you stop and think and then after anazlying and relating you want to know more! I feel like I relate to this quote so much because I feel like the idea of Utopia is engrained in me as everybody being equally rich and never have to worry about finances or comparing your items (ex: fancy car with my piece of junk.)

       Then this next quote got me, "An idea that is often associated with this point of view is that our schools offer literacy equally to all comers, but somehow the have-nots refuse to take us up on our offer. They're not smart enough or they're lazy or simply perverse."

       This one made me realize that I grew up with this idea and concept. I believed that people should "pull themselves up by their bootstraps". What I am now realizing is that this puts a LOT of pressure on people that mostly turns into negative pressure and then the person gives up because they don't believe in themselves or feel someone else is SO much better than them that their is no use of them trying. I feel like I see this more clearly now because I am experiencing it myself. I grew up in a "white privelege" upper middle-class household. My Dad worked a ton and my Mom was the housewife that took care of the kids, cook, cleaned and rubbed his feet when he got home. Then I grew up and saw things differently...I saw how unhappy they really were (they are now divorced) and then my values began to change. I began to seek a sense of self that really feels right and become more comfortable with myself and learn to take some of these pressures off of myself. My father is an incredible man, he came from a low income family so he realized how hard he must work to get the nice things he liked. He now works incredibly hard and seems to be very proud of his things and proud of himself for working so hard. For me, instead of wanting to work so hard to do what is taught by me through the "secret education" (Christensen) I just started to re-evaluate as to what happiness means.
             Sometimes I feel as though I am sabotoshing myself because I am doing something that feels right to me, in this case it is being with my boyfriend. I could easily go stay with my Mom or Dad and not have to worry about food or other stresses but instead I find that what makes me happy is living with my boyfriend. As of now my boyfriend is currently homeless but has set up a large tent on his sisters horsefarm. Now, this tent is nice: three room - has a bed, couch, tv, dresser, microwave and our cat that goes in and out, all in it. We are a couple who LOVES nature, hiking, camping, animals, and physical labor so this idea at first was exciting to us. Then the pressures of society came down on us and we felt as though we should not be happy or content with this situation. I feel like when I tell people how good things are and how I feel at home with this situation, they do not believe me. My boyfriend and I also realize that when we are upset or stressed it is not derived from our own happiness but the pressures and judgements of those around us. Really we have no money to the point of eating or not each day comes up, every night we ask each other first thing.. have you eaten today? Overall though, if the world would lighten up, I think we both love our situation. We love our semi-privacy, we love waking up and being in a park - did I mention this is on a horsefarm/ public park where my boyfriends sister lives?- well we wake up to fresh air and take advantage of the trails. We do my photography hw mostly during these trail walks and our cat (that thinks he is a dog) follows us. Today we had an excellent day, my boyfriend got out of bed and was asked to do pony rides during the day. The regular guide did not show so I was about to teach my boyfriend some basics about giving pony rides and he loved it. It was bright and sunny and we had excuses to enjoy the outside.

      My question is, why is there so much pressure on us to fit this mold. This reminds me of a quote from the movie Across the Universe. At the dinner table the character Jude says,"Surely its not what you do, its the way that you do it".  It also reminds me of  RSA Animate- Changing Education Pardigms. The RSA Animate video makes me feel like I am not crazy and the world or the economy does put a huge amount of unfair pressure on us as citizens. Looking at the map on this clip of how many people have ADHD in New England, really makes me want to move West!
                This article, Literacy with an Attitude, is really intriguing to me, I do not know if I should make separate posts or if I should just summarize my thoughts but every few sentences my brain is racing with relations to it. This then talks about how we have two kinds of education that prevent literacy from being seen as dangerous amoung the working people and unemployed of the United states. It says, "First, there is empowering education, which leads to powerful literacy, the kind that leads to positions 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. Over time, political, social, and economic forces have brought us to a place where the working class gets domesticating education and functional literacy, and the rich get empowering education and powerful literacy. We don't worry about the literate working class because the kind of literacy they get doesn't make them dangerous."
           I believe this 100% at this moment unless I read further or something changes my mind. I feel like I have directly seen this within my own "class" from when I considered my "class" to be the same as my father's vs. my current "class" as an independent 24 year old woman. When I was young I could clearly see a difference between my parents money vs. other kids who had less but also those who had more. I guess we would have been considered mid to upper-middle class so we were exposed to people above us and slightly below. I remember clearly as a kid comparing myself and my father to my cousin and my uncle, my father's brother. My Dad made/makes good money but his older brother makes a lot a young girl I was fascinated with horses so I showed my younger cousin. I had taken a few lessons at the time and had an excellent book with me that I wanted to share so bad with me cousin. My cousin, also a "wealthy" white female, had a slight interest in the horse things I had to show her but wanted to play a game instead of look at my silly horse book. My parents had some money but also had nice things that cost money so they did not have much to spare on their young daughters fantasy. I didn't care, I daydreamed about horses day in and day out, drew up my own barn plans and picked out a new name for my fantasy horse each day. Finally I was of age to start working at a barn to hopefully get some lessons. When are started taking lessons, my competative little cousin (from my jealous viewpoint) decided to ask her Daddy who has plenty of extra money to spend on his daughter if she could take lessons too. Well, instead, he skipped right to getting her the horse of my dreams that I described to her, that she was forced to take 8 lessons in order to own him. My self esteem was shot down and I realized that I would never be as good as her because I didn't have the money to go everyday and even if I did my Mom had an infant to take care of so she wasn't able to cart her preteen around everyday to to be at the barn. I became a "working class stiff" at the barn while my cousin continued to rise in the horse world. The further she got into it, the more money they invested so the better instructors she got. She has now been in magazines, qualified for the junior olympics and was asked to travel to Africa to train world class horses.
                I saw first hand what money could buy and how the rich got richer much faster than the poor got richer. I also see how this taught me the "domesticating education" that has made me productive and dependable, but not troublesome. I watched my father climb the "social latter" by working so hard that everything else came second and by playing by the rules. Now that I am independant and consider myself in the class of my income and more of what my boyfriends background/ economic class is I am seeing things all different. I am realizing that there is privilege and it makes a difference, it is a reason and not an excuse. Although I am living in the same conditions as my boyfriend I do feel that our political, social and economic backgrounds still divides us. Honestly I am facing many of the challenges of being homeless and poor but still my mindset is more of that of an observer. I guess in the back of my mind I know at any moment I have family/ relatives that could and most likely would help me if I just asked for it, where my boyfriend does not have that back up. His family/ relatives are just as kind as mind but they are all "stuck" in the poverty class that falls victim to the cycle of the poor staying poor. I see that my education plays a huge role in this as well. I am privileged mentally because I have more of the Delpit "rules and codes of power" thru my upper middle class and now college level education. Now I see first hand that many uncontrollable variables have prevented and slowed down my boyfriend from having the same privileges that I have, just as I see how the odds of my cousin going far in the horse world over me were much greater due to her privilege. I also see how important education really is and if ALL elementary students got the SAME education, as described in Jeannie Oakes' article, Tracking: Why Schools Need to Take Another Route. If everyone had the same educational privileges it may help greatly, although then you question equal vs. equity and how can you make education equal without making environments equal, and if you want to change environments isnt that imposing on people's personal rights.
I feel that this video is a modern day example of this cycle of rich get richer and poor stay poor or get poorer.


Sign I saw today near a small school house

Saw this sign today and was curious as to if anyone else thought the same as me when I saw this? I think it would be interesting to hear others thoughts before I shared my own. I def. related it a lot to class readings and am interested how others would relate without my prior influence. Thanks to anyone who participates and reads t his!!