Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Social Justice Event

Event: Gen Silent documentary
Date: 4/27/16
Location: Gender Studies Suite Adams Library

To be honest I was annoyed at the fact we had to go to a social justice event because I don't have any free time during my week outside class, work and service learning but I'm really glad I chose to go see the Gen Silent movie. The movie was overall about the elderly LGBT community. It told stories of a lesbian couple, two gay couples and a transgender women. I was happy to see the lesbian couple was together for as long as they were and made me smile when they rode a bus through a gay pride parade. It really goes to show how they paved the way for people marching through the parades to be where they are today, as they confidently acknowledged as well. It was crazy hearing them talk about how when they were young, being gay was considered a mental disorder and people were actually sent to asylums. 

What really got to me was the stories of one of the gay couples and the transgender women. One of the men had been in and out of nursing homes and never got treated the way his partner wanted him to. His relationship was not recognized, they didn't even feel comfortable holding hands inside of the room. The man said he retired at a young age to take care of his lover which made me upset because nobody should have to do that. Every person is entitled to a comfortable and loving environment regardless of who they love.

Another story told which was extremely eye opening was "KrysAnne." She had spent about 40 years of her life as a man, a life of agony and almost lead to suicide twice. After making her transition she lost her entire family, the video even showed photos of mail she had attempted to send out that had horrid replies on it from family members. I'm not one to judge other peoples circumstances but I know if anyone in my family whom I loved was not happy with themselves I would encourage them to pursue what they wanted. What really opened my eyes as well was when a care worker discussed how when asking LGBT elderly people their emergency contacts, they did not have any. That was heartbreaking.

I was able to relate this movie to several texts we have read in class. Obviously Safe Spaces. These people are old, most are sick, some are dying. It's time for their families to put their shit aside and love them for who they are. Everyone deserves to feel 100% safe especially when having to adjust to new living situations. Another text I linked this to is Christensen. One of her main points is that not everyone is the same. Everyone looks, feels, acts differently. If we're so quick to point out Disney princesses aren't that perfect, why are we just as quick to make the same claim against people just wanting to be respected for who they love, in a comfortable setting? Kristof is another author as well. He says "talent is universal, opportunity is not." This is true and sad. LGBT community members deserve the same opportunities straight elderly people do.

I relate to the LGBT community because my sister is a lesbian. It comforts me knowing she will never have these issues but saddens me for all the people that do. The fact I was so in the shadows about the elderly LGBT community goes to show how many other people are as well. I hope that the community can strengthen by more people reaching out to comfort and care for those who need it and have fought their whole lives to earn their freedom. The video informed me of Cafe Emmanuel, a place for seniors to get together and enjoy events. The film is definitely worth the watch.

My Pecha Kucha

Thursday, April 21, 2016

my life is sick joke

Monday, April 18, 2016

Empowering Education in Service Learning

Argument & Connections

I interpreted Shor's argument to be that education is primarily controlled through politics, societal standards and lack of curiosity within the classroom. I agree with the fact that some schools and teachers have one way of teaching and this lacks many values that increase students knowledge and questioning. While reading Shor's piece I collected a page of notes like I do for every reading. About half way through I found that I was mostly writing down questions asked throughout the essay, answering myself and hoping to further answer in the future. Because this reading is about education's positive and negative effects, how it is crafted and how it can be changed, I related it completely to my service learning site: Mount Pleasant High School and the school I attended: Westerly High. While analyzing points throughout the reading I was also able to make connections to many other authors and how their opinions would respond to these methods of teaching.

1. Can education develop students as critical thinkers, skilled workers and active citizens?

My thoughts: While schools teach students the basic categories of information; English, Math, Science and History, how are they teaching students how to be actual citizens? I used to always ask myself, why doesn't school teach me how to do things I need to do further in life? Why am I learning to find slopes over learning how to do my taxes, balance a checkbook or how to manage a home mortgage? Do all students have to depend on themselves or their parents to learn these necessities, and what about the kids who don't have the reliance of their parents, or need the extra help to understand?
WHS/MPHS: In my high school and another one close by, their was a cosmetology program, a shop program and a mechanic program. These are the only programs that could give students their first step as skilled workers. Why don't more schools have these programs, or have more programs to offer? Not every student is going to go onto college after high school. Some will be working. Why are we putting their plans last? Just the other day in my service learning site, a student said to me "I'm not going to college. I'm going to be a mechanic, I wish their was a class I could take in that now."

2. Apple states that schools play the role of acting agents of economical/cultural re-production of classes. How does your classroom discuss different classes of economy and cultures? How were you presented this growing up?
My thoughts: While students take classes on different subjects, there is a silent but empowering background effect that can go unnoticed; the categorization of classes. How do less privileged classrooms discuss people of higher power and more economical advantage? On the other hand, how to "high-class" classroom environments discuss those "below them?" I wonder how this creates an automatic discrimination of classes. 
WHS/MPHS: Westerly is not necessarily a rich town or a poor town. But let me tell you, many people I have talked to about going to school and teaching here have expressed concern and had that look on their faces. Westerly students think nothing of having a book for each of us, laptop carts everywhere and a surplus of calculators. While I never noticed an overwhelming appreciation of these utilities, I have not seen it at Mount Pleasant either, because they barely use them. Is this because they don't realize they should appreciate having them? Or they were never taught that some schools with less advantages do not receive these?
Connection: These taken or missed advantages screams SCWAAMP by Leslie Grinner. "Leslie Grinner argues that there are some categories/identities that are most valued (dominant) in our culture and they are privileged, or given more access and opportunity than other categories/identities that are not valued." Here's the question: do the higher class students not appreciate come privileges because they're so unaware of not having them? Or do the lower class students not appreciate them for the same reason, or because they don't see them as a higher form of technology/learning because they don't have access to said utilities at home? I look around at RIC and even in westerly and everyone has laptops on their desks. At my service learning site I asked a student why he was not using a laptop for a project, he responded he had never used one and did not want to have the hassle of learning because he did not see a point.

3. How much open discussion is there in class? How much one way teacher-talk? Is there a mutual dialog between teacher and student or one-way transfers of information from teacher to student? (Bottom of 14)
My thoughts: I believe the most effective form of communication within a classroom is a mutual dialog between teacher and student.
WHS/MPHS: I guess that the communications depends on the teacher and the students. Westerly is considered a middle class school while there are mixed higher class and lower class people. I've had teachers before that delivered the one-way information transfers before, and that's not because the class was not engaged, the teacher just did not care as much. I can honestly say that the majority of my teachers did involve in the mutual dialog while teaching, making us question and increasing our knowledge. I am grateful for that. My appreciation does not blind me to other relationships between teachers and students out there. In my Mount Pleasant classroom the relationship is completely different. There is one-way communication happening, because the students are not engaged. The teacher tries and fights for a better relationship but does not get the results he needs. He encourages the students to ask, to wonder and to involve themselves in an open discussion, and they all give off the vibe that they're "too cool" to care about their academics. I don't mean to use slang but it is true, and sad to watch.
Connection: This scenario reminds me of August's piece. August states that in order for an effective and positive learning experience, the student must feel safe. While she is focusing more on students of the LGBT community, it still applies to all students. I recognize I will never be able to tell what another is feeling/thinking, but from what I experience in my SL class, the teacher does not give the students any reason to feel "erased, absent or invisible" just as August says teachers should do.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Citizenship In School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome


Douglas Binken
"Society itself is hurt when schools act as cultural sorting machines-locations that "justify a competitive ethic that marginalizes certain students or groups of students" (73)

I found this quote thought provoking in the sense that what Binken is saying relates to Kozol. Binken is saying that society is damaged when students are being categorized and sorted through matters of ability, race, gender and ethnicity. He states that while this separation process meets "bureaucratic organizational needs" it takes away tremendously from a community's intellectual, spiritual, emotional and economic needs (Kozol) While reading this I could not help but making a Harry Potter connection. I imagined each student entering their school and being sorted into sections depending on their abilities and race as the Sorting Hat does while putting each student into their house. I agree that this is not beneficial at all, separating students who have different learning skills and abilities from being exposed to such learning techniques and opportunities that students considered to be "higher up" have. 

John Dewey 
"Dewey believed schools must serve as the sites in which children develop both a sense of commitment to one another and a sense of self-direction leading to the deepest and best guarantee of a larger society which is worth, lovely and harmonious" (74)

Throughout my service learning something I have noticed is that some of the students feel more comfortable asking one another for questions over the teacher. I believe maybe this is because they feel more comfortable with a fellow student/friend than asking an adult professional. Maybe they even feel embarrassed to ask the teacher. I then imagined a classroom setting where students with disabilities like down-syndrome were emerged with students without said disabilities. This is when teacher Shayne Robbin's story connected with the quote and gave me a sense of release that some teachers can see how the interactions are extremely beneficial on both ends. When Shayne tells the story of how enthusiastic and interactive student  Isaac got with the book Where the Wild Things Are and how she then had the class put together an acting assignment of the book I related this to SCWAAMP. Leslie Grinner discusses how some categories of people are higher valued in our culture thus receiving higher opportunity. She stresses the "tap the glass" technique to expose and explore categories society may seem as "lower" and become informed about them. This is what Shayne did as a teacher. She viewed that Isaac was able to interpret something in a unique way that came not only easy but enjoyable to him. Having the rest of her classroom take part in a similar activity not only exposed her other students to a different way of learning but I'm sure made Isaac feel great having his own idea spread throughout the classroom. Shayne established a representation for Isaac's learning techniques and used it as an educational opportunity. This was inspiring.

"The townspeople assumed John's humanness, which left to community connections that further established his thoughtfulness, individuality and community value" (89)

Another example of this representation lies in the story of John Mcgough. Mcgough was labeled "mentally retarded" throughout his life and lacked the ability of communicating thoughts beyond a rudimentary level (I had to look that word up) John had strong feelings of disconnection and isolation, feelings nobody should have to go through. After his move, he was entered into a community in which recognized and valued his abilities. This just goes to show how some communities and school districts have more friendly views and creating this atmosphere in every school can help those who may need it not only in school but mentally and socially. 

Points to Share:

In my elementary school, all students with special needs were in their own classroom named the "Star" classroom. In middle and high school these students were now taking classes with me and I did not feel like it negatively affected my learning at all. If anything it made me feel grateful for the opportunities I have and hopeful that they were receiving the same. I hope someday as a future educator I have the opportunity to work with students who have special needs. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Literacy with an Attitude, Patrick J. Finn


"Working class children with varying degrees of opposition identity resist school through means reminiscent of the factory shop floor-slowdowns, strikes, sabotage and occasionally open confrontation. The result is the "pretend-school model" Teachers ask little of students in return for enough cooperation to maintain the appearance of conducting school"

I couldn't help but compare this quote to the classroom I am completing my service learning in. To me this meant that Finn was comparing the resistance within classrooms to those in factories performed in strikes and in person battles. I interpreted that the pretend school model is when a classroom is set up to look like ideals classrooms with ideal informative and helpful teachers and behaved, engaged students. In order for the classrooms to look like this, the teachers lower their expectations to keep the students at a "happy" or maintained level. They do this by lowering their standards as teachers and expectations from their students just so they don't get out of hand. In the classroom I assist, I see this happening every week. Often, a teacher will try to promote the work to a student with intensives at hand, persuading them to cooperate just so the environment will appear stable. I agree with Finn completely when saying this is not the path we need to take as educators. I believe a teacher should praise the student when the student truly deserves said praise, after providing them with the same educational opportunities and assignments that a "higher-class" student would receive. 

"The status quo is the status quo because people who have the power to make changes are comfortable with the way things are. It takes energy to make changes, and the energy must come from the people who will benefit from the change."

This quote made me think about the education school here at RIC and our FNED class in particular. According to RIC, our Schooling in a Democratic Society classroom is described as "An interdisciplinary approach is used to examine the social and cultural forces that affect schools. Attention is given to diversity and equity." Although I am early in my journey through the education courses thus far, I have already learned an overwhelming amount of teaching approaches and considerations in this course. With this at hand, I imagined what our curriculum would look like taking away the exposure to these cultural and multi-privileged classrooms and further more how much this context will improve the next generation of teachers pushed out into the world. I questioned if every college education curriculum included courses such as FNED and Educational Psychology. On my first day of my service learning, the teacher asked me if I saw myself wanting to teach in a classroom with the same background information as the one I was in. I related this experience to this quote, questioning if those with power would refuse to participate in a service learning act such as this if given the opportunity to. I wondered if having the power to make changes would truly take "too much energy" from them. I finally asked myself, if the powerful were exposed to some of the things us in FNED 346 were, would they then feel the push to make the change? Is it that they're too comfortable, or too uninformed? 

Defined Words:
Have Nots: an individual or group that is without wealth, social position, or other material benefits