Monday, May 2, 2011

Social Justice Event

  For my social justice event I attended Dr. Lesley Grinner's presentation about the aspects of SCWAAMP in Twilight.  I am not a big Twilight fan and I probably couldn't tell you the names of all the characters, however I did see the first one when it came out on DVD a while ago and I watched the second one the weekend before this lecture so I would have an idea of what was going on.
     Like when we read the article in class that had to do with SCWAAMP, at first I was defensive, I felt I was being blamed for all the atrocities, taboos and social faux pas that every white, christian, straight, American, Able-bodied, property owning man ever committed. But then I remembered class and that it was okay to feel like this, so on and so forth.  Dr. Grinner also said something that I really liked, she said this was just showing how SCWAAMP is valued, it is not a personal attack on white people.  She also talked about how not all non-SCWAAMP would agree with each other on the issues she discussed.  "How do i make this look like the problems aren't my own personal problems with other people," was one of her biggest challenges and where Twilight (or Grease, a pop-american film) filled a void.
     This presentation obviously connected to McIntosh's "White Privilege" article.  Dr. Grinner went over the how the "white" vampire family is rich, powerful and good looking, which gave Edward, the white, the advantage over Jacob, the native american, in attracting Bella.  Edward had that invisible  knapsack that included, his high education, similar culture to Bella, the nice cars, money, etc. that allowed him to win Bella over Jacob.
     There were also connections to the "Gender and Education" unit we did in class.  While Bella has to choose between the two male characters, the movie is no longer about this plain, whitest of white girl's choice, but a competition between Jacob and Edward.  Bella is helpless and insignificant at points throughout the story as the two males display their manly attributes.  Jacob is muscular, works with his hands (because he's a minority according to Grinner) and appeals to Bella's more primal attractions.  While Edward is clean, rich, white, powerful, Christian valued (No sex before, marriage or commitment or whatever) intelligent, educated and of course, he wins her love.

     Grinner talked about how this movie portrays the Quileute indians in a traditional, stereotypical way and has created buzz around their tribe, reservation and traditions.  All while using their name and they are receiving no benefit, this reminded me of a report I watched on ESPN's Outside the Lines about the controversy over the North Dakota University Fighting Sioux name, as the Indians never gave permission to use their name and they want it back.  Couldn't find the video but here is an article.
     Grinner also talked about Bella's choice between the rich white boy or the beast, wolf minority.  Bella is given the option of picking the rick white boy who has money power and can live forever or the beast, who could be abusive... so obviously she picks the white boy.  This portrays, Grinner points out, minorities as abusive, beast-like and the white male as the better, safer option for the female character.  This reminds me "Beauty and the Beast" and how she tries to change the beast into the beautiful white boy.  Bella couldn't change the beast, so she said "screw it, I'll take the one that already is white, rich, SCWAAMP, etc.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Quote's for Shor's "Education is Politics"

     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.  
      "The teacher leads and directs the curriculum, but does so democratically with the participation of he students, balancing the need for structure with the need for openness (pg. 16)."

     I love this quote.  It brings into question one of the the main challenges of being a teacher: working the curriculum into our agenda as teachers.  As much as we talk about it in class, we don't know what kind of teachers we are going to be until we enter the classroom.  Though we had strong opinions and ideals now about what a classroom is and how it should be run, I believe that conforming to the curriculums of different school systems could hinder these ideals.  Thus it is really the struggle of the teacher to make their lessons fit to the curriculum, as well as their own standards.  I also really like the how this quote talks about democratic participation because the two are one in the same.  Democracy means nothing without participation.  Student participation is essential to lessons and a overall successful learning environment.

     "Non participatory institutions depress the performance levels of the people working in them.  Mass education has become notorious for the low motivation of many students (and the burn out of many teachers)(pg.20)."

     This quote also shows the importance of student participation to the overall success of a classroom but focuses more on the individual scale.  I really like this quote because I am a strong believer that everybody learns differently and it is the teachers job to try to assign work that can be accessed by different learning styles.  A super specific, district disseminated curriculum is bull shit.  It allows no room for innovation or creativity.  It limits the teachers, therefore limiting the students, showing them that there is only one way to be successful, when in life there are many ways.  No curriculum created by anyone other than the teacher, can accent the individual personalities and dynamics of each individual classroom.

     "The teacher plays a key role in the critical classroom.  Student participation and positive emotions are influenced by the teacher's commitment to both (pg. 26)."
     Teacher enthusiasm has always been a key way to keep students interested.  If the teacher is enjoying what he/she is doing, odds are that the student will have a better chance at enjoying it as well.  This quote reminded me of Kohn's "What to look for in a classroom," the teacher can do a lot to help create a positive learning space for students with physical features of their classroom.  This will hopefully domino effect into the positive emotions and student participation.  I believe that positive emotions are critical to the success of the classroom and the individual student, especially in the stressful, cram time, save all the assignments for the end of the semester that we are in now.  I personally feel as though i learn a lot more when I am less stressed and feeling good about school.



Sunday, April 17, 2011

Schooling Children with Down Syndrome

In Christopher Kliewer book (?) he argues for that children with disability need to be educated with the rest of their classmates and not segregated.  Kliewer sets the back drop for his argument against the basic outline of democracy and community.  He basically says individual involvement by everyone in a community as democracy, is the reason why children with learning disabilities should be integrated into the larger school community.  He goes on to explain how citizenship is important to learning and learning disabilities, using Shayne and her experience with Where the Wild Things Are as an agent to highlight his point.

      - This made me think of our FNED class, Dr. Bogad is always saying how she has tried to build a      sense of community in the classroom.  Between the comments on the attendance sheet, sitting in a circle and provoking class discussion, I believe that our class is a stronger community then other classes and we are learning better because of this.-

     Kliewer goes on in an attempt to redefine intelligence using a Soviet social scientist's theories about the people that surround a child with down syndrome when they learn. He also writes about how this sense of community helps the disabled child believe in themself.   Kliewer's overall thesis is that everyone especially the child with down syndrome learn better when surround by diversity thought and individuals as part of a larger community.

Monday, April 11, 2011

John Lennon- Working Class Hero (Lyrics)

CONNECTIONS: Parallels Between Patrick Flinn's "Literacy with an Attitude" and Delpit/Kozol

     As I read the Preface to Flinn's, "Literacy with an Attitude," I had numerous thoughts running through my head that connected the ideas Flinn was outlining to FNED.  First I thought about the quote on Dr. Bogad's blog from Gandhi.  Flinn must be a firm believer in"Be the change you wish to see in the world" because in his preface, he was not only pointing out the inequalities he saw in the educational system and the difficulties that young working class students must combat but more importantly he was calling out TEACHERS, PARENTS and OLDER STUDENTS to

                                                    "understand the mechanisms that have subverted honest efforts to give working- 
                                                    class children a decent education. They must understand the rela- 
                                                    tionships between society, culture, language, and schooling. They 
                                                    must. understand the relationships between progressive methods, 
                                                    liberating education, and powerful literacy on the one hand and 
                                                    traditional methods, domesticating education, and functional lit-eracy on the other. "

     I also saw relations between this idea and Lisa Delpit's "The Silenced Dialogue."  Delpit argues that those who are a part of the "culture of power" are responsible for showing people that are not a part of the culture of power (The Working Class, according to Flinn) how to function in that system.  Delpit would have agreed with Flinn, especially when he says that teachers (assuming they are white authority figures) are responsible for helping children become literate.  

                      Flinn's "Literate"  =  Delpit's "Culture of Power"

     Flinn talks about Kozol on the first page of chapter one, so it is obvious that there is a connection between Flinn and Kozol.  When I think about Kozol piece that we read in relation to Flinn, the part that really stood out to me was the part about the incinerator.  The upper class didn't want the incinerator in their neighborhood, but they did not mind when it was in the poorer neighborhood.  This is much like how Flinn says today's upper classes are literate and not much is being done to help the struggling working class.  If the struggling working class student got help becoming literate, or the incinerator removed from their neighborhood, it would be easier for them to succeed.  However, there was a difference between these two authors, I thought that Kozol was calling out the upper class for causing this problem while Flinn isn't calling anyone out but rather pointing out that it exists and this is what the upper class can do to help fix it.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Title IX


     Almost 40 years after the passing of Title IX (Gov't Doc), controversy still surrounds the subject.  After reading a basic History of the subject I researched modern day issues, opinions and theories.  After sifting through the ignorant male chauvinistic and extreme feminist rants and absurdities, I found very convincing arguments for both sides.  In a Kate O'Bearn Interview, she argues against Title IX claiming it is harmful to young boys.  However in a more convincing argument, New York University Ethics and Philosophy Professor Christian Hoff Sommers.  She is the author of a couple of books however her two most controversial are The War Against Boys and Who Stole Feminism?  Personally I found her opinions to be very unique, as she argues that feminism has put men, but especially boys in a dilemma, as they don't know how to be a "boy" or "gentleman" anymore in a society dominated by feminists. (I am computer illiterate so  I will post some of her videos in a separate blog)

In a 60 minutes report, male college athletes say that they are losing sports programs to women's programs by way of Title IX.  I found it harder to find a Pro Title IX opinion than finding material against Title IX. 

Chivalry and Feminists

feminists ruin "feminism"

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Arguments for Tim Wise's "Between Barack and a Hard Place" and Bob Herbert "Separate and Unequal"

     In Tim Wise's interview about his book, Between Barack and a Hard Place, he argues that the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States does not represent the transcendence of racism in America.
     Wise describes what he calls Racism 2.0, which is American society's election of Obama as not accepting black culture but rather seeing Obama not as a stereotypical black man who acts white, that is why he is elected.  Wise argues that this is sending the wrong message to blacks and whites and represents that racism still exists in an American society. Society does not accept black culture because in order to be a successful black man you must conform to white standards. CONNECTION: Delpit would argue that Obama is an example of someone who was shown the culture of power.  Wise argues that just like Brown vs. Board, though Obama's election was a huge step forward, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.
     In Bob Herbert's editorial, "Separate and Unequal" he points out that there is still racial segregation in schools today even after Brown vs. Board made it illegal.  Though segregation is not legally enforced, residential patterns, housing discrimination and economic disparities have influenced the public school systems that keep the poor hispanics and blacks separate from the middle class.  Herbert argues that in order to bring success to the students in these poor school systems they need to be interwoven into middle class public school communities.  The race and class of the students is not the problem he points out, but the problem is the academic environment that the poorer minorities are being exposed to and forced to learn in.  He backs his opinion with evidence where his theory was successful in Montgomery. Some middle class schools have accepted this and asked and received additional resources to help benefit their entire school community.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Reflection "In the Service of What?"

     I started to write this post in the "author's argument" format, however once I got about a paragraph done I realized that I am not entirely sure what the authors' were trying to say.  Though the essay was while organized and put together, the two opposing strategies that were being contrasted were not distinguished well from one another.  I found myself rereading multiple sections to figure out which example they were talking about.

     Also while reading this article, I thought I sensed the author's bias toward the Democratic party and the important of government programs, which I thought seemed misplaced an essay that I was reading as more comparing the two side then picking a better one.  All of my confusion however could be a testament to my trouble following the narrative voice of the essay as well.  I'm not really sure, maybe I am just foggy after a week off.

     In my opinion, both forms of community service were valuable.  The person experience of charity, that the authors alluded to as almost narcissistic, can be great for both those receiving and giving.  It could also be an eye opener to issues that have not been experienced by first hand by students.  And if people get a little ego boost from helping others, why is that a bad thing? I could propel them to do it more often, get others involved and/or give people a lead to follow.
     Equally as admirable, in my eyes, was the community service that was compared to government programs.  While it is less hands on, it heightens awareness tremendously and could be the gateway for some people to help out the cause in their own way.  The way it was done in the example also could help students with other parts of their education.  Such as it could help writing, literary, group work, organizational and problem solving skills.  It is also a way for students to have an affect on conflicts and problems that are out of there reach geographically or because of their age.

     All in all, I was not a fan of this essay because it did not, in my opinion, take into account that students learn in different ways.  Maybe one kind of community service is better for student A and the opposite is better for student B.  Maybe experience to both types of community service, or a combination of the two, would be beneficial to students learning.  I believe that as future teachers it is important to keep in mind the different learning styles and backgrounds of students and giving them options so that they can play to their academic strengths and challenge their weaknesses.    

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Quotes: Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us

     Linda Christensen is a high school teacher who set out to teach her students about the subliminal messages that we as young children experience through cartoons and the media.  In Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us, she explains her findings through her student's reactions to her lessons and hypothesis.

"Our society's culture industry colonizes their minds and teaches them how to act, live and dream (126)."

     This quote encapsulates Christensen's main idea and highlights what she sees as the problem with cartoons.  Further in depth, she believes that the race, gender, physical, economic, etc. stereotypes that are found in cartoons are so deeply embedded in our minds when we are children, that they change the things we want, our behavior and our aspirations for future endeavors.  She goes on to talk about how some of her students reject this hypothesis right off the bat, while others have a much more radical reaction and begin to change.  Some students even felt depressed, expressing that they had felt like they had been lied to.  This quote sets up the rest of the paper.

"Without giving students an outlet for their despair, I was indeed creating "factories of cynicism" in my classroom- and it wasn't pretty (134-135)."

     The students felt as though their innocence in youth had been taken advantage of, and indeed it had.  A situation that I have encountered as a student many times through out Middle and High School, cynicism just ran rampant through the students.  A good lesson can get the students thinking and even emotionally invested, however it is when students have no way of expressing their new knowledge or frustration of other people's ignorance when cynicism kicks in, creating a cycle in the classroom where the students would be brought down by negativity and seeing the world as hopeless.      

"Instead of leaving students full of bile, standing around with their hands on their hips, shaking their heads about how bad the world is, I provided them with the opportunity to make a difference (137)."

     Christensen is tooting her own horn here a little bit, however I could not agree with her more.  She describes how too many times lessons are given in classrooms that leave students feeling cynical and helpless to the reality that they have just experienced.  Christensen goes on to justify a change in her lesson plan from just a regular essay to a written assignment that would not be confined to the barriers of the classroom. The students were encouraged to publish their written pieces in public literary sources, like newspapers, church bulletins, neighborhood new letters, editorials, etc.  This shows the students enthusiasm to get the new information they just learned into the real world and spread it.  The effectiveness of the lesson is demonstrated through the students excitement and devotion to their work.  Christensen gave her students the opportunity to teach something to their community, applying learning beyond the classroom, inspiring conversation and the spread of knowledge.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

GLSEN Hyperlink

     As I read the various articles on the GLSEN website, what first struck me was the websites claims to raising awareness about Lesbian, Gay and Transgendered with the statistical information to back up their claims.  I immediately thought about my awareness about the gay, lesbian and transgendered society, people and culture.  From the first time I asked my Mom what "gay" was, after watching an episode of the Ellen Degeneres show, no it wasn't during that iconic moment but rather later when my older sister pointed at her and said she was gay.  Since then LGT remarks with a negative connotation have become a common part of societies' vocabulary.  Despite this insensitivity towards the subject of LGT issues, I noticed there have been movements toward equality and sensitivity to the issues, especially in the media.  I believe that the media has played a big role in desensitizing society to the LGT.  These two movie trailers are movies that received critical acclaim and numerous awards, I had to watch both of them in High School in my health class, the artistic qualities of the movie highlight the feelings and difficulties that LGT people go through and I credit my teachers to having us watch them and to the creators and actors in the films for trying to bring some justice and respect to Lesbians, Gays and Transgendered people through film.  After watching the movie I definitely was more conscious of mine and societies prejudices against LGT.     
     The bullying article, From Teasing to Torment, had the greatest effect on me.  Everyone has felt bullied at one point or another, including myself but I always had someone I could turn to, who would understand because we had something in common.  Along with the academic issues that the article highlights, there is also the mental well being of the bullied kids.  A lot of LGT kids in schools  who are bullied feel like they have no where to turn and this can lead to social problems and even attempts at suicide.  I don't know if everyone remembers when this student at Rutgers committed suicide but it was truly horrifying and a sickening display of bullying. The numbers in the article are also truly staggering to see the direct correlation of LGT students who are essentially bullied out of school.
     Because of the religious sentiment toward homosexuality, our predominantly christian society has taken issue with a lot of homosexual culture.  This had led to negative connotations with the words "gay" and "homosexual"and has had a harmful affect on any and all students, employees and people that are lesbian, gay or transgendered.  However I believe that the right course of action is being taken to raise awareness through the media, organizations and groups to start a movement to move for equality.  This website is a perfect testament to this.  Regardless, atrocities still happen.  Matthew Shepard was kidnapped, beat up basically tortured and left to die tied to a fence in the middle of a field in Laramie, Wyoming because he was gay.   It is important to remember that people who are Lesbian, Gay or Transgendered are people, and they should be treated as such.               

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Reflection on "Aria" by Richard Rodriguez

    I have long envied bilingual people.  I think the ability to speak two or more languages is awesome, door-opening and interesting.  With that being said I believe that it is of the utmost importance that immigrants coming to live in this country learn the language and this article has strengthened that belief.  To not learn the language of a country you move to is ignorant, how do you expect to get along in the society? or communicate with people? For whatever reason some people believe that society should adjust itself to accommodate immigrants who do not speak the language, but does that really make sense?  If you move to Italy, should your teachers immediately teach in english on your behalf?  Because we live in an immigrant friendly country some people believe that we should cater to their disadvantages.  Rodriguez offers the perfect counter argument to those people advocating for bilingual education.  His experiences that he outlines in "Aria" exhibit the benefits of being forced to learn the language of society.  He claims, even though it made his relationship with his parents deteriorate, that by being "americanized" by learning english, he became part of the public realm.
    I see a lot of Lisa Delpit's argument in this article.  Delpit argues that it is the white educator's duty to assimilate colored students with the culture of power, in order for them to find success.  Rodriguez would agree with Delpit and could back up his successes with evidence of being force to learn english (or in other words, the culture of power).  The Delpit article seems to be creeping its way into every article i read for this class, proving its relevance and legitimacy.
    Like I said earlier though, I believe that being bilingual is a great thing.  It is a shame that it can be a burden to balance the "public language" and the "private language," but it is a burden worth carrying (in my opinion).  If speaking your native tongue is a way to keep your culture alive, then by all means do so, however, what I'm saying is, don't be so naive as to not learn the language of the culture as well.  This is another Delpit argument, one culture is wrong, but in order to be successful one must be familiar and comfortable with the culture of power.
    As teachers, I believe, that it is important to always have this in the back of our minds.  To be patient with students and considerate of whatever background they are coming from.      

Sunday, February 13, 2011

White Privilege:Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

      In White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, author Peggy McIntosh argues that she, and other white people, are not overtly racist but instead are just oblivious to their own privileges.
      McIntosh uses the metaphor of a knapsack that is filled with survival materials that can help you get through and tell you what to do.  She says that white people have this knapsack and minorities do not.  White people are privileged with every day things that they take for advantage, things like just knowing that you won't be out numbered in most given situations that you enter into or not having to worry about their race counting against them in various situations.
     I really liked the way this article was written.  I like the way the author discovered her views on racism through advantages of being a male.  It seems simplistic and obvious but for me, as a reader, it gave me a new angle at which to view the topic. After the unique introduction of her argument, I was able to read through the rest of the article with out being put off and feeling accused.        

Monday, January 31, 2011

About Me

        My name is Conor McCloskey, I am a sophomore at RIC and a Secondary Education/ History Major.  This semester, like each one before it, is proving to be the busiest yet.  I was born in New York and moved to Rhode Island around the age of five. I went to South Kingstown High School where I ran cross country and track, all three seasons, all four years and even managed to be captain of all three teams my junior and senior year.  I currently run for the track team here at RIC.
        Outside of the classroom I spend most of my time running and doing school work, however I enjoy doing other things for fun.  I play guitar and I am a huge music fan, I like too many different musicians to list and I do not like people to know my music taste before they know me because I believe too many people (including myself) judge other people by their music taste. Musical taste is an opinion, not a fact.  I am also a big movie fan, and again there are too many great ones to list, though currently i would say my favorite movie is Inception (subject to change). I support the New York Yankees- again I was born in New York.  My favorite sport is to watch is soccer, I do my best to follow the English Premiere League though it is hard because it is based in another country, I am a HUGE Liverpool fan. I also love hiking and traveling.