Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Misc Post!

Below are links to a couple of videos featuring my friends and their college wrestling teams doing the Harlem Shake. I thought they were pretty funny myself.

Rider Wrestling Harlem Shake

Roger Williams Harlem Shake

Social Justice Event!

          For my social justice event I returned home to volunteer for a day with the Jason Roberts Challenger League. The Jason Roberts Challenger league is a baseball league for mentally handicapped children that accept volunteers of most ages. You are assigned a “buddy” who you help and keep an eye on during the baseball games. It also gives parents the opportunity to coach and play with their handicapped children in a new and exciting way. When I was in middle school I would attend it regularly but as I grew older, I became busier and was unable to continue. But after a phone call from a family friend I went back as a favor because they were short-handed for a game. At first I did not realize that this could be categorized as a social justice event, but then I remembered our readings by Kliewer and Kahne and Westheimer.
            The reason I would volunteer for this league when I was younger was because my grandmother, as most of you know by now, used to work in the Boston public school system in a special needs/handicapped classroom. So naturally she encouraged me to participate. I was assigned a young boy named Alan who unfortunately has down-syndrome. This event connects to our readings through Kliewer’s work “Citizenship in school: Reconceptualizing Down-syndrome”. Within this reading there is an excerpt that I believe accurately describes what the Jason Roberts Challenger League tries to do. “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.” The Challenger league gives these children an opportunity to participate in a sport that otherwise would not be available to them. It also allows them to play this sport with children just like them. It breaks down a barrier that had been holding these children back.
            It also connects to Kahne & Westheimer’s piece entitled “In the Service of What?” This goes into detail about various ways in which students can perform community service and talks about what the students feel they get out of it. What I feel I get out of this is knowing that I helped someone do something fun that they were not able to do before. Even though I am not playing in the game myself, I am still having fun watching the children play baseball in their own unique way. Also seeing the smiles on the parent’s faces as they watch their children have fun is another bonus. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Shor "Education in Politics" Reflection/Quote

             For Shor’s “Education in Politics” I am choosing to do a quote analysis to start off my reflection. Shor says that: “A participatory classroom offers chances to hear the largely silent voices of students from which teachers learn how to integrate subject matter into their existing knowledge. Students routinely hold back their voices as a means of resisting traditional classrooms where authority is unilateral and where they lack an inspiring life of the mind which speaks to their dreams and needs.” I believe this quote gets Shor’s point across in a much briefer way. I can attest to this method being a preferred way of learning for students because I myself am a student and have observed that students participate far more in this type of lesson structure rather than a mainstream lecture in which students scribble notes. I observed this first hand in Dr. Bogad’s classroom and personally because I usually do not talk often in classroom yet in FNED I can’t seem to keep my mouth shut because I actually want express my opinion and get feedback from the teacher as well as my classmates. As a history secondary education major I am constantly just sitting in classrooms typing endless amounts of notes from a professors lecture, so it’s a nice change of pace when we have classroom discussions that stimulate my need to reason thoughts out and carefully choose how I want to convey what I have to say.  In essence I am saying that as a student and future teacher, I prefer the idea of a participatory classroom because it forces students to think and reason. It makes them want to learn and understand and I believe that should be the students attitude in every single classroom. 

Below is a link to a rather lengthy but relevant video on participatory classrooms.

Kliewer, "Citizenship in School" Reflection

              For Kliewer’s “Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome” I have decided to comment on it in a reflection. Prior to my grandmother’s retirement, she was employed by the city of Boston as an assistant teacher in a special education classroom. Due to my mother’s poor health my grandmother primarily raised me and had no choice but to bring me to work with her when I was a child. I remember it as if it was yesterday and it causes me to question Kliewer’s idea of inclusion in “regular” classrooms. My reasoning is based off of the behavior I observed as a child. The children in the classroom were in diapers, violent, and some were even in wheelchairs. I am struggling with the idea of children with severe down syndrome/disabilities like those I shared above being integrated into a “regular” classroom. However there are children with Down syndrome that is not as severe who I can see being integrated into regular classrooms.  An example of this is a child in my kindergarten class who is extremely smart however due to his down syndrome he cannot be left alone. I was working with him today on blending and sentence reading and he flew through it faster than most of the other children in the class. So in a sense I am torn, I believe children like Caiden should be allowed in regular classrooms. However on the other hand I remember how unstable my grandmother’s classroom was due to the children’s behavior and special needs and I cannot fathom them being in a regular classroom. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Literacy with an Attitude

         For the text “Literacy with an Attitude” I wanted to focus on two quotes that I believe summarize the main point that Finn is trying to convey.

“If teachers who are transforming intellectuals are successful, the real-school model is established because the students want what the teacher has and teachers are prepared to teach it. The bastardized progressivism that separates students on the basis of scholastic achievement tests (which correlate highly with socioeconomic status) and "attitude" (which also correlates highly with socioeconomic status) and differentiates the curriculum and method of teaching (as we saw in Anyon and elsewhere) gives way to education for liberation across the board. Phony democracy and easy work in working-class schools give way to real democracy and hard work.”

Finn makes a good point straight off with this quotation. It is critical to create an environment in schools similar to the “real-school model”, which is when the students desire what the teacher has and the teachers are ready to teach it. What is it that Finn means when he says “it”? The “it” is knowledge. These students understand how valuable possession knowledge is. They recognize that knowledge can be traded for good grades, better educational opportunities after high school, and better jobs when they enter the real world. He also comments on how ineffective our current educational separation policies are inhibiting progress and ultimately is flawed. The techniques currently employed are too intertwined with the student’s socioeconomic status and, in a way, predetermines the future of the student and limits possible opportunities. Finn goes on to say:

“When this happens, progressive, collaborative methods begin to emerge because traditional, directive methods are inherently domesticating, not liberating. “Do it my way or it's wrong," is not liberating. "What we're trying to do here is get some notes for Friday's test," is not liberating. Progressive, collaborative methods can be liberating, but for many children they are not possible without simultaneous conscientization and dialogue.”

With this I believe Finn is trying to say that as educators we must be open to ideas in regards to education that go against the norm. We have to be open to the idea of progress through scientific observation. The text provided clearly displays the findings of Anyon. It showed that the students from the higher echelons of society are educated in an entirely new and new age manner. It is liberated, and by this Finn means that due to the freedom and unique relationships/interactions between the students and teachers, the students actually want to learn and obtain the knowledge that teachers want to share.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Between Barack and a Hard Place

The website provided says that “The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education marked a turning point in the history of race relations in the United States. On May 17, 1954, the Court stripped away constitutional sanctions for segregation by race, and made equal opportunity in education the law of the land.” However the videos featuring Tim Wise suggest that white America is only pretending that the United States is equal in regards to race. As much as I was annoyed with the host of the interview for his annoyingly liberal and obnoxious remarks, I respected and agreed with what Tim Wise suggested. He warns us that “we need to be on the look-out for racism 2.0” which is when white Americans act as if non-whites have complete equality in education and the workplace. I must admit, until recently I believed that non-whites no longer had to deal with much bias in the school system or workplace. However how could I? I’m not the target, so it is not a big deal for me. In order for me to understand I would have to speak to the individuals who directly affected by the bias. Wise also notes that there is a racism in the idea that if you are non-white “you have to be truly exceptional to break that glass ceiling.” This in turn means that non-whites must be something like Obama, a mix of white and black with a Harvard education.  Or in other words, he or she must be exceptional in order to rise to the highest levels of our society. This is a sad truth that not many people recognize yet, and in order to make progress people must be made aware of the problem. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

In the Service of What?

           Kahne & Westheimer’s piece entitled “In the Service of What?” goes into detail about various ways in which students can perform community service and talks about what the students feel they get out of it. I personally have done various types of community service, from volunteering in the Jason Roberts Challenger Baseball league (a baseball league for the mentally handicapped) to coaching at Doughboy Wrestling Club in Lowell Massachusetts. I have volunteered in kindergarten classes before entering into FNED, my church, as well as other random events such as the campus clean up that RIC has in the fall and the Walk for Breast Cancer. My favorite community service however is coaching at my wrestling club in Lowell. I did not even know that coaching was community service until my coaches told me.

            Doughboy Wrestling Club is a youth, high school, and college wrestling club located in Lowell Massachusetts and is regarded as one of the best New England has to offer. I love coaching and helping these kids because they want to learn and get better. They have dreams and ambitions and are willing to do what it takes to achieve their goals. That is a big factor for me, because if they are motivated to get better then I am motivated to help them get where they need to be. Another thing I enjoy seeing is when the kids we coach carry over their work ethic and mental focus into their everyday lives, I.E. their school and social lives. I believe that the way I coach is the way that I am going to teach, and by that I mean that I am going to expect more out of my students. I know that if I can get them to want to learn like I can get wrestlers to want to work hard that I will be a much more successful educator than if my students were just going through the paces.

              Community service in my opinion is about giving to others with the intent of actually making a difference in their life. You should not be doing community service if you are required to or pressured, you need to want to do it. When I step off the mat from coaching I feel satisfied more than anything. I had my time in high school, now it’s theirs and as long as they are motivated and excited at the thought of being the best (on and off the mat) I am going to everything in my power to assist them.

High School Teacher: What wrestling has done for me.

Cinderella Ate My Daughter

Orenstein’s argument is that girls are molded by industries such as Disney to believe that the only way to have power and status is to be pretty, I.E. be a princess. Orenstein’s argument is not without evidence, she discusses how in Disney movies you see princess’s as breath taking in their appearance and they always have certain womanizing personality traits. Take a look at beauty and the beast, the princess is displayed as a good looking brunette who is looked at as strange for her obsession with reading and has a drastically different appearance than the rest of her town. Orenstein believes that girls are sent subliminal messages that they need to be pretty and princess-like in order to be looked at as something special. Girls will put masks of makeup on before going out into public in order to place an illusion of beauty upon themselves and they will dress in clothes that highlight the curves of their bodies all in an attempt to be attractive. The one argument I have against Orenstein however is that people can mature, and even if these subliminal messages are in fact being transmitted it is up to the girl to have the intelligence and maturity to realize there is more to a woman than just looking like a beauty pageant queen or a Disney princess. 

I apologize for how brief this blog was, I'm not a girl so I had trouble getting into this...

Monday, March 4, 2013

Unlearning the Myths That Bind us - Reflection

Linda Christensen’s argument is that all children’s cartoons and television programs are giving children secret educations on how to succeed and be accepted by society. She continues to go on about how toys and video games are all sexist and racist and promote violence and contribute to the children’s “secret education”. 

The option I chose for this week’s blog post is going to be a reflection, and I apologize if I offend anyone who agrees with Christensen but I had to bite my tongue continuously with this text. At first I kind of buy into what Christensen is saying, I do agree that there are subliminal messages in television and cartoons, however to say that they are all racist, sexist, and womanizing is a stretch and I cannot agree with that. I lost it when I read the quote from the mother who went into the toy store and said “I want a toy that isn’t sexist or racist.” If I had been behind this woman when she said this I would not have been able to maintain my silence. As long as it is within reason, why not give your child what toy they want? Why must you hide your child away from what the world is really like? Yes there are toys out there that promote certain self-images and there are toys out there that have violence associated with them. What toys do you want your children to play with, a toy car and a Teddy Bear? That is only going to get you so far. The world consists of sex (i.e. Barbie, certain body types, appearances), violence (action heroes, G.I. Joe, etc.), and unfortunately racism (certain stereotypes for races on television). Now I am not saying go out and let your son buy a bb gun or let your daughter watch teen mom, however I am saying that it is up to the parent to monitor and educate their children when it comes to toys and cartoons/media. 

I snipped this excerpt out of the reading because it annoyed me to the point that I could not ignore it. The amount of over-analyzing and cynicism done by Christensen’s students is nauseating. So in response I am going to counter their argument with my own over-analysis.
Duck Tales: They argue that this cartoon deserves a C- because “Uncle Scrooge and the gang teach children that money is the only important thing in life.” Well in reality these children are going to have to eventually accept the fact that great value is placed on money in our society, you cannot survive in our society without understanding the meaning and importance of money.  I mean this is what children up to around age thirteen or so are thinking when they watch this show right? They are thinking about money and how it rules our world?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: This review begins with a very educated statement by Christensen’s students. “Pizza-eating Ninja Turtles. What’s the point? There isn’t any.” Well generally the point of a cartoon is to entertain and amuse children, Not sure though so don’t quote me on that buddy. Her students continue to ramble on about how this cartoon depicts the ninja turtles as having no regard for the safety of the townspeople and ends with them saying that it teaches children to solve problems through “fists and swords instead of words.” Well first of the plot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is that the turtles are fighting the bad guy “Shredder” because he is trying to take control of the world. So the ninja turtles are fighting someone who wants to seize dictator-like control of the world and this shows that they have no concern for the regular people like you and me. Also in regards to the quote saying it tells children to use “fists and swords instead of words.” I am responding with a quote from a book I read.

“Despite what your mama told you, violence does solve problems.”- Ryan Job U.S. Navy S.E.A.L.

By saying this, he is not saying that you should go out and try to solve all your problems with violence. He is saying that sometimes, even though you had always been told not to, you have to defend yourself or someone else with violence. This is reality. Here is a hypothetical situation that I wish to present you and get your opinion on. Let’s say you have a son, and your son is a fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and observes the good guys fighting to protect everyone from the bad guy. Now imagine your son is playing in the playground at school and is approached or sees someone else approached by a larger child who is notorious for bullying. Your son tries to use words to stop the bully from hurting him or the other child, but to no avail and either your son or another child get punched in the face. Would you want your son to stand up and defend himself or someone else who could not defend themselves or would you want him to continue to try to use words. I grew up with only a mother so I was always told “violence isn’t the answer! Find a teacher!” Well that’s what I did when I was a child, but finding a teacher did not do me much good in high school. I eventually had to learn (after numerous instances of bullying aimed at me) that there comes a point where you have to defend yourself with more than words.
Popeye: I must agree however that Popeye is extremely sexist, however we must take into consideration the time period it was created in as well as the social construction associated with that time period. Women’s rights and representation was not as strong as it is now. Also when it comments that it teaches AMERICAN children that             AMERICANS are the best. Well I would assume so, especially due to the fact that it was in the same time period of World War II where military propaganda and national pride were running rampant. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Talking Points #3 August

In safe spaces by Gerri August, August argues that the LGBT students (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender identities) are not properly accounted for in the classroom and teachers often, and a lot of the times unknowingly, offend and make the LGBT students feel alienated and invisible. August says that “We adult’s need to pay attention because the stakes are high; these moment’s shape attitudes and ideologies have physical and psychological consequences- particularly for LGBT youth.” In essence by this he means that we as educators and adults need to educate ourselves deeper in regards to sexual orientation tolerance and awareness so that we do not inadvertently offend our students who may not meet our typical heterosexism template.
My opinion of this piece is that it has the right idea. I personally believe that in regards to LGBT students a neutral acceptance policy should be taken. I as a teacher accept you and your family’s sexual orientation and gender identity but I do not have to go out of my way to bring it up in discussion or promote it. Also I believe that as a teacher I am obligated not only professionally but also morally to defend you if you fall under verbal or even physical attack due to you or your family’s sexual orientation or gender identity. I agree with a lot of August’s points on this matter, however I believe some of the examples used cannot be included because the offenses displayed were not intended to be of harm and honestly the offenses seem a bit mild and not worthy of mention. An example of this is the story of Erica the transgender student who was asked to stand to stand up if you identified yourself as a boy or a girl in the classroom. As much as I wish that Erica was not offended I am sorry but this could not have been avoided. The world officially recognizes two genders, male and female. I wish I could ask Erica if she would want the teacher to say “if you a transgender please stand up.” I would find her response very interesting. Even if she responded to my question with “yes” I would have to ask how she expected the teacher to do so? Is the teacher supposed to automatically know that there is a transgender student in the classroom? Is the teacher supposed to assume that asking such a question will not upset anyone? It is a very touchy subject that I believe, as does August, that it is an ongoing and complex issue.
What is your opinion? Do you think the teacher can be held accountable for this?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Talking Points #2 Rodriguez "Aria"

I personally cannot relate to this article because English my primary and sole language that I am fluent in. I can speak a little Italian and a little Russian but I cannot speak it fluently and do not claim to. So the idea of going to school and feeling uncomfortable because I can speak another language is foreign to me. Rodriguez says that “Without question, it would have pleased me to hear my teachers address me in Spanish when I entered the classroom. I would have felt much less afraid. I would have trusted them and responded with ease.  But I would have delayed-for how long postponed?-having to learn the language of public society.” This statement stands out to me because it makes a very important point about our society. Even though English is not the official language of the United States (there is no official language for the United States) it is the most commonly used language in the country and in a sense is the language of the land. If you want to be able to function in our society you must be able to communicate effectively with the other members of society. Therefore why should teachers and administration speak to you in any other language than English, it would be going against their job description. A teacher’s job is to educate you and give you the tools needed to function effectively in our society. That requires you to be able to speak English fluently so that you are able to communicate with your peers quickly and efficiently. He also says that “Today I hear bilingual educators say that children lose a degree of individuality by becoming assimilated into public society”, In my opinion this statement is worded incorrectly. The teachers should be saying that children are losing a “skill” by becoming completely assimilated into public society. Being able to speak another language as a “secondary language” is a very useful skill to have once you enter to mainstream working world. It can open doors to jobs you could not otherwise obtain if you did not speak another language.

English and the Global Citizen Video 

Sunday, February 10, 2013


I found Kozol’s piece to be very interesting and really pulled at my heart strings. He seems to be arguing that the children of the South Bronx grow up in a lifestyle that breeds despair, hatred, and a sense that the rest of the world is out to get them. He says “What is it like for children to grow up here? What do they think the world has done to them? Do they believe that they are being shunned or hidden by society? If so, do they think that they deserve this? What is it that enables some of them to pray? When they pray. What do they say to God?” As I read more and more into his piece I can see how they would think the world is out to get them. The people from better walks of society come to their neighborhood and dump their unwanted possessions and trash on the sidewalk in front of the kid’s homes. I personally would take offense to that. Kozol even asks Cliffie’s mother if she took offense to this and she said she used to get offended but “Actually, I've got quite a few nice things that way. Not long ago, somebody dumped a pile of chairs and tables in the street.  Brand-new.  I was offended but I was also blessed. I took two chairs.” I really started to feel something for the children of the Bronx after reading the last few paragraphs of Kozol’s piece in which he recalls his conversation with David in regards to his mother and getting medical treatment. This quote should sum up what point Kozol is trying to make. "I don't think my mother's asking for something she does not deserve.  She worked hard all her life.  She’s a nicer person than a lot of the rich people I notice on TV. She gives more of herself to other people. My mother means a great deal to me. I don't know what I'll do after she's gone.” This quote puts you in a position where you think of how you would feel if you were one of these children with a mother who is dying.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation