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.