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.