Thursday, December 8, 2016

Ira Shor

                I found this article by Ira Shor to be harder to read than most of the past topics. Not only because the text was just extremely hard to visually look at but also because of the style of writing. With that said I found the article to be very I opening. I really liked all the questions that it proposed throughout and perhaps that was done on purpose because the whole time Shor’s point is to questions the education you are receiving. For me I loved this; it provided a way of looking at the education system that I truly like myself. I personally like to be challenged in a classroom and forced to think outside the box, it’s fun.

                The two things that stood out to me the most while reading this was that this article clear was a way to sum up the rest of the articles we had read throughout the semester. Shor basically can be related to almost anyone we would like. The second thing is that our class this semester feels like it is planned with Ira Shor’smessages in mind. By challenging us and getting us to speak opening, it empowers everyone in the class to feel important, smart, and comfortable most of all.
                While maybe not the key point of the article there was a line that resonated with me more than any other. “In class, as Apple suggested and as Giroux (1983) and Banks (1991) have as argues, the choice of subject matter cannot be neutral.” (Shor 3) This too me started getting me thinking about the schooling system and how it is extremely bias. I knew that SCWAAP and other things played a role in schools and how the curriculum is set up but I did not think about it in depth.
                Our schools are made up of people from so many cultures however, our schools only teach from the perspectives of one culture. What I mean by that and possibly the easier to understand is that we teach our history lessons from the point of view of “our” ancestors. “Our” being the keep phase here. They are not my ancestors my family was French then moved to Canada were they finally came into the United States about four generations back. So even though the founding fathers may have the same skin tone as me they are not my ancestors. This is even more true for the people who were forced here as slaves or the Native Americans who were here first. However, our history lessons do no teach the history of early Africa and what it was like for them prior to being ripped from their homes, they don’t teach about Native American culture prior to settling in the Americas. Even the parts they do touch on its how the Europeans affected those people not about the people themselves.

                Never the less I got a little off topic but the point is still valid. We do not allow students to thing about the things that are outside the box. Maybe if we let them find things that they want to learn about they would push the envelope and want to learn more and more.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Citizenship in School

Kliewer's article about how students with disabilities, specifically down syndrome, are treated in schools today and how we should fix the issues that many schools take part in. For my this article was special because while I do not have any family members that are down syndrome, I do have a cousin who is autistic. While the two are not same by any means, I have witnessed first hand how differently he is treated. Kliewer argues that children with disabilities should be placed into rooms with non-disabled children. I could not agree more. My cousin was held back for many years by the school system until my aunt and uncle moved to change to a school system that would not isolate him with only other disabled child. When he was finally given a chance he started to shine. He was able to get some good grades and got into college. After GRADUATING he was offered a career opportunity and holds down that job today. This is an example of what Kliewer wants to happen with our schools. To make sure that everyone is on a level playing field while in school and receives the same education.

 For me this article could not relate to anyone better then Jennie Oakes. It does not matter if you are talking about students who are extremely bright for their age, ones that are just falling behind a bit, or students with disabilities, Oakes would agree that they all deserve the same education and should be treated equally in our schools. "Colleen Madison agreed with Shayne that no child was inherently an intellectual burden to a classroom; in fact, she argues, each student contributes a unique and potentially valuable dimension to the web of relationships that form a school community." (Kleiwer p7) I really liked this because when I think back to my days in high school we did not have the students that were disabled in the classrooms with us but yet we all still knew their names. How did we know their names when they were never in any class with any of us? They still played a role in how the schools community was even when the school itself was trying to keep them separated. I think the thing to take away from this is that Oake and Kliewer would agree that putting students in the same room no matter what their abilities are can only help them.

Promising Practice

           I attended the Promising Practice seminar in the hopes that I would be able to learn something that could help me with my career in education. I’m extremely sad to say that I found the workshops to be a waste of my time. While the guest speaker at the event was great and extremely enlightening the workshops that followed did not provide me with any kind of use. The two workshops that I attended were “How mentoring relationships improve resiliency of our youth and our workforce” and “Healthy Lifestyles: Your health, your choice”.  I was excited going into this because I felt like both of these topics could have a lot to offer me. I was sad when this became a flop.
            What made me the most upset was that the guest speaker that came was fantastic. Dr Robert Brooks was well prepared and well spoken and by far the best part of the day. He told us some great stories of his life and how it affected him and his decisions in life. All of these things turned out to be a precursor to a huge waste of my time. What makes it worse is I spoke with some of my other classmates who took other workshops and they loved theirs. I’m happy that they found something useful but upset that I just felt like mine were not done right at all.
            My first workshop “How mentoring relationships improve resiliency of our youth and our workforce sounded like it was going to be great I was excited to go into the class. It sounded like they would be addressing things similar to the Big Brother Program. Instead the first thing we did in our 45 min workshop was went around the room of about 20 people and talked about ourselves and why we took the class. OK; I’m OK with this but then she asked us to talk with another person in the group for a little bit about someone who is a mentor to us. We didn’t share this with anyone they didn’t elaborate on this with their own thoughts, nothing it just took up more time. Finally there was a PowerPoint presentation to wrap up the workshop. The thing that was the worst in the class is they had a younger girl in the room from a rough high school that they were mentoring. Instead of letting her tell us her story or what the program did from her they had her read two slides of a presentation that seemed extremely insincere. She seemed like they asked her to come and read what they wrote on the presentation. She was struggling with some of the works on the board the “she” was supposed to have written. The whole thing seem staged and lost credibility to me. The girl in the class however could be related to Kristof's story about his friend Rick. This girl was said to be smart and now back on track with their help however, before she entered the program she was just like Rick. The girl was always acting up and getting in trouble, but instead of suspending her now she gets help and i think Kristof would be pleased with the goals. I guess if I was to take what they were saying at face value and assume that the girl was just not into the presentation, which is why she would have came off insincere, I would say that Oakes would make a strong case of change here versus just charity. However if this program is what I saw and this girl might have been getting help but nothing is changing its just another case of charity.
            I left the first workshop and was talking to other people I knew that had taken other ones. They seemed happy and excited still, so I got my hopes back up. Maybe this second workshop would be better; maybe it would be like what the others had experienced in their first one. 

It sure wasn’t. It was worse than the first one! The second workshop “Healthy Lifestyles: Your health, your choice” was a much smaller class so I thought maybe it would be more personalized. Maybe this would give tips on how to be more nutritious or physically active, even the basics would be nice but I had my hopes up for nothing. They had a few interesting facts to throw at us but the entire time we were there they were pitching us. In other words, I felt like they were trying to recruit us to work for their group.  I could not believe that I was just sitting in a room for 45 minutes again and listening to them talk about their company and how if we wanted we could work with them too. Even though I felt that this was worse than the first experience however, looking back I cannot help but realize that Delpit would look at my actions and see the rules and codes of power. Even though nothing that came out of the presenters mouth was important to me and I felt like it was a waste of time I knew that I needed to stay in the class to finish my assignment and receive a better grade. This kept me from leaving the room even though if I has left no one would have said a word and there would have been no way anyone would have known. So the Code of power made me consciously stay in the room.  
            I don’t know, I could just be looking at this the wrong way but to me I was disappointed. What I thought had such great potential turned out to be a waste of a Saturday morning. I will always be open to giving something like this another shot but I might want to have a way to find out more on the workshops first. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Oakes Quotes

In Jeannie Oakes article on tracking in our school systems, she talked about how we as a society place our children into groups early in life that basically predetermines their futures. Oakes discusses how children’s intelligence is determined early in their life and when they appear to be above average intelligence they are put into classroom with other students who are deemed to above average. The same goes for the children who are deemed to have low abilities in the classroom. The issue that is being made here is that by placing these children in groups you are helping definitely helping the students in the above average levels however you are subsequently hurting the majority of other students. There are three quotes that I would like to use to help to convey this point in Oakes article.

“A number of studies have found that top-track classes spend more class time on learning activities and less on discipline, socializing, or class routines.”(Oakes p1)

This line to me truly stood out because of how important focus and the ability to lock into material are to me. I have been in both types of these rooms in high school myself. For my math classes I was initially placed in a general education level class that was far beneath my skill level. When I was in this class we were handed worksheets and the teacher walked around the room trying to keep order and keep kids on task more often than trying to teach new or harder material. As it became clear to the teacher that I was doing the worksheets and other materials in minutes and then was bored looking for things to do, she decided to talk to administration about bumping me up into an honors math class. After a few weeks I was transferred into this class and things changed drastically for me. Rather than worrying about what the students were doing the teacher was doing problems on the board asking for the us to get involved in the problems and how we might solve things that might be just slightly ahead of what we are learning to see if we can think logically using what we already have known.  The class became more challenging for sure however; I pushed me to become better in math than I already was. This is a perfect example or what Oakes was talking about when she talks about tracking. Sadly not all teachers would have noticed that I was ahead of the rest of the class or even if they did they might not have done anything about it. This would have caused me to sit and be bored and more than likely not have learned as much in math as I did.

“In low-ability classes, for example, teachers seem to be less encouraging and more punitive, placing more emphasis on discipline and behavior and less on academic learning.” (Oakes p2)

Again just to relate this back to my own personal life this sentence makes a strong impression on me. When I was in high school we had 3 floors the lowest floor being called the “basement” The only class’s that were held in “the basement”, were the heath classes for everyone, and the low-ability classes for the kids who were extremely disruptive. The example of tracking started from their early childhood when most of the kids were placed into special programs they use to be taken out of their classes for extra help and which would take away from their time with the other students to interact. Once at the high school level these kids seemed to have lost all desire to do anything school related and would just mess around. Within the school they were known as a “basement kid”, which was a term that no one used in a positive way. It meant that you were stupid. Other children would be fighting about a problem in a class and use it in conversation saying “are you stupid? What are you a basement kid?” and no one would think anything of that. The classrooms were known for being loud and extremely out of control. The students were curse out their teachers, throw things across the room as other people, and just flat out refuse to do work in the classroom. Most of their classes from what I saw when I would pass by for health, were the teachers just trying to joke and reason with the kids to keep them calm. It’s no wonder why a vast majority of those kids dropped out of high school or were expelled. The sad thing is I lived next door to one of those kids for a few years before his family moved to the other side of town and he was an extremely intelligent person he was just placed into this class early on and became cynical toward schooling.

“Recent work of cognitive psychologists suggests, for example, that academic ability is not unchangeable bud developmental and grows throughout childhood.”(Oakes p3)

This point argument brought up by Oakes I found to be really interesting to the piece. It discusses 

how as a child grows their ability to learn can become better with age if taught be others or 

themselves. In other words even if you start off not being able to read well or understand math well, 

you can work hard at it and the ability to learn it will come in time. This is extremely interesting and 

relevant to her point because if the child can learn the materials later in life but they are placed in a 

low-ability classroom and never taken out, they will be deprived or an education.


Monday, October 31, 2016

The Problem We All Live With

        During this audio clip and reading this weak the authors and narrators have a common theme of segregation in the schools. While they point out time and time again that it has been decades since Brown vs The Board of Education, they want to bring awareness to the fact that schools across this country are still not as unsegregated as they could be. Laws have made sure that a school system cannot tell a student of different race or ethnicity that they cannot come to their school. What instead happens is that due to demographics playing out to where minorities tend to live in inner cities they end up getting segregated anyway. The concern here is that these inner city schools have a bad track record with not being able to provide the proper education for the youth of that area.
Short on Brown v Board of Education

            The trick becomes how do you fix the system so that child of all backgrounds and incomes receive the same education? Many different options have been tried usually changes being made to the curriculum or teachers being fired and new ones being hired. The issues with this are that it doesn’t fix the problems at their core. For me, I see Joseph Kayne’s argument of charity versus change here. By making alterations to the faculty, the curriculum, or anything else you are just putting band-aids on the real problems, which is almost a form of charity. The real problem is that the poverty of the area out weights anything else and has a chain reaction that affects the quality of supplies, teachers, and curriculum. Unfortunately there are not many things currently in place that will help fix this situation except for what the narrators of the audio link talk about, which is to integrate the school systems. This is the change that Kayne tells us we need in order to really have what we are doing make a difference. By integrating the school and making it so children in lower income areas can go to a higher income school system they will be able to achieve better things in life.

            The problem that this plan takes on is criticism from others. People misinterpreted why things are the way they are quite often. It’s easier to categorize people than to help and want to change the way the world is. What Bob Herbert of the New York Times tells us is “Studies have shown that it is not the race of the students that is significant, but rather the improved all-around environment of schools with better teachers, fewer classroom disruptions, pupils who are more engaged academically, parents who are more involved, and so on.”(Herbert p10) What he is saying and how it correlates to the audio link is that with a more involved community in the academic area of children’s lives, these young students all have the same potential to reach whatever goals and dreams they might have.

          There are a lot of things that can go wrong with this plan however as well. Even though this method has proven to be helpful to the children, two major issues come about. The first is that it becomes hard to transport the students from one district to another, in the sense that it just takes times. So when students would have to get up an extra one to two hours earlier to go to this better school sometimes they won’t want to deal with it. The other issue is that when integration takes place what will sometimes happen are the affluent families in the area move away. This defeats the whole purpose of integrating the school since if the families you are trying to merge with are moving away the school just becomes a long commute to the same school the students were already in. Going back to Kayne and charity vs change; regardless of what we are trying to do unless we can implement this integration strategy or something like it country wide there will never really be “Change” in the country, sadly.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Politics of Service Learning

Joseph Kahne writes about how service learning is used in our society to help better both the individuals taking part in the service learning projects as well as the people or community they are trying to help.  He also brings into light that while a wide spread group of people from all affiliations and background agree that service learning projects are helpful, they do sometimes disagree on how service learning should be done. The two types in a nut shell are “charity” and “change”. Charity is more about how you can give things to the less fortunate in order to help them, whether it be your time, food, or something else it’s about helping them out with something that will make their lives better. Change is more about being hands on and interacting or putting more research into something. It’s about makes a personal connection with what or who you are trying to help with in society. While both of these sides have valid points and contribute to helping everyone involved they have different outcomes on the students that are taking part in the service learning projects. The students that are working more along the lines of charity tend to get a warm and happy feeling that they did something to help out and the people or groups that they helped receive the support they needed. On the other side the students working to affect change in the community have more of a person relationship with the group or people that they are working with and have a better understanding of the individuals they are helping. In turn these students are able to both look at a group in possibly a different way than before. (A more educated way.)

An additional benefit to service learning is that students get hands on experience in areas that might interest them for later in life. These experiences could be volunteering in areas like public service such as elementary schools or even areas like hospitals where students can help do minor tasks but can see the ins and outs of the fields and possibly gain a direction for themselves before heading off to college.
Students helped raise money for local hospital in a fun way.