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

Sunday, March 20, 2016

This American Life & The Problem We All Live With

The Problem We Live In: Episodes 562 & 563

Although this reading assignment was definitely a time-consuming one, it was extremely beneficial towards my current knowledge of how certain school systems are working and how we can seek to improve them in the future. I found episode 562 to be the more informative and intriguing of the two because it was coming directly from somebody negatively involved which made it more personal and eye opening. After listening to both episodes and reading Herbert's text, I found many similarities between his points and those stated in episode 562 as well. A point Herbert stressed just as Nikole and the student Maria did was that the environment plays a huge role in the students and schools lives. I found the fact that Nikole Hannah-Jones opened with stating that Michael Brown attended the Normandy School District. This was a way for listeners to familiarize themselves with the location and story-line. Something I found up for interpretation was her statement of the evaluation of "good vs. bad" schools. The views on what make schools good or bad change from person to person, usually depending on the type of schools they themselves attended. 

A fact that I found very interesting was how when in a school environment with a higher amount of races, standardized test scores improved among students who tested low previously. I found it humorous when Jones said "it's not like a switch turns on" when white students are testing with students of color, but those in the middle and higher classes are provided with superior facilities. Students not surrounded by poverty have a higher amount of available courses, preferred, certified teachers and less transportation issues. When following a student throughout the day in her school, Jones found that what was considered to be an "AP" English class was held in a science lab because of a scent in the original classroom and the only time the teacher was in the class was when they were handing out an elementary styled worksheet. The exposure of the lack of teachers in these schools opened my eyes as a future educator, wondering what credentials these people actually need to be hired and how I would be viewed upon if ever applying to a school like this.

Comments/Points to Share:
Listening to Maria's story made me question if anything like this happened within the Westerly Public Schools district that I attended, how our community would react as well. While completing all all of the readings this week, I couldn't help but relate each section to the idea of "White Privilege." An in-class connection that stood out to me in the real world occurred while watching an episode of Grey's Anatomy aka the show of life. Check it out here :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

In The Service of What?

In The Service of What? By: Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer 

Extended Comments
This week I have chosen to do a blog post using Katie's blog for extended comments. An idea Katie stated which stood out to me as well is when Dewey discusses his support of the service learning system and encourages students to take part in said services. Dewey shares he not only stressed the importance of these practices to enforce a student's personal abilities to contribute to a democratic education but to implement change throughout schools as well.  The idea of this being distributed through the assignment of a senior project is dominant in many schools now. In Katie's blog's points so share, she shares her personal enjoyment with completing her services in ways that relate to her personal life and career choice. She has worked in several different school communities with elementary and special education students. This is a prime example of how somebody's desire for their own life plan can be incorporated with helping others besides herself and provide many new opportunities to come.  

Comments/Questions/Points to Share
Just like many others discussed in their blogs, Westerly High School required 30 community service hours and the completion of a senior project as well. I was able to receive credit for the hours through marching in parades for the town, wrapping Christmas presents for families during the holidays and other acts among those lines. The senior project required students to help the community but looking back I realized that sole rule was not enforced as much as it could have been. For example I instructed dance classes for our school's football team and my version of helping the community was to benefit our local football team. While this was true, who was it really helping? Was the assistance that beneficial? What else could I have done to further benefit a wider group of people? Many other students did projects like this as well. When I was younger, my parents made me go to our town's local food and clothing shelter and volunteer every week. I was young and I didn't want to go. When I stopped going back I felt like I did miss it and looking back I realize it was a great thing to do at such a young age. I am also very interested in involving myself in more community service in areas that I feel personally connected to, such as volunteering at Westerly's local animal shelter or Mystic's Aquarium because humans aren't the only people who need a little extra love :)