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.

1 comment:

  1. Callie this was so good !! I honestly have found myself wondering the same thing about under-privileged (individuals/youth etc) know they are under-privileged, but I don't feel it is recognized to the full extent. if you have never experienced better, how would you know what it is like? Imagine knowing that there is something better out there but not really knowing what that is, what it means to be, or what it looks like because you have never experienced it before. .. i agree it is sad to watch .