Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Silenced Dialogue (Lisa Delpit)

In Privilege, Power and Difference written by Allan Johnson he talked about the power of privilege in society whereas in The Silenced Dialogue Lisa Delpit talks about power within the educational system. I had a more difficult time reading and comprehending Delpit’s article then I did Johnson’s. One example that left me perplexed was on page 34 she discusses a quote by Shirley Brice Heath who wrote Way with Words about the differences in directives that are given by a middle class “townspeople” teachers (I assume that these are white teachers) and that of black teachers. She gave an example regarding scissors. The white teacher asked “Is this where the scissors belong?” while the black teacher said “Put those scissors on that shelf.”  I sat wondering if this was a fact or was it just her opinion and if it was fact was it based upon certain schools in certain areas.  I think this has more to do with the teachers teaching style rather than based on their race.  Looking to gather more information I researched Heath and the book which was written in 1983 and is based upon two communities in Piedmont California: Roadville a white working-class and Trackton a black working-class. During her time of research in 1969-1978 she recorded and interpreted the language habits of children and teachers. Now knowing the context of this information and that it was from over 40 years ago it is easier to comprehend her point and what she is saying. Also with it being written over 40 years ago I ponder what research would show not especially with teacher evaluation systems in place.

One powerful and truthful quote that really stuck out to me while reading the article was on page 32 where Delpit wrote “The teacher cannot be the only expert in the classroom. To deny students their own expert knowledge is to disempower them.” An example Delpit provided was of a teacher who taught her students about the structure of grammar and Shakespeare by first giving them the power in the classroom of learning the skills needed through the use of something of interest to them-rap music.  She taught the skill using a topic that was motivating to her students. She gave them the power to succeed. She put thought into her process of teaching the skill.  

While reading the article I came across a point that made me think of something I read in Johnson’s article. On page 38 Delpit writes “A white applicant who exhibits problems is an individual with problems. A person of color who exhibits problems immediately becomes a representative of her cultural group” which made me think back to a quote in Johnson’s article on page 34 by Paul Kivel “In the united states, a person is considered a member of the lowest status group from which they have any heritage.”  It shows the correlation of being pegged into a group based on one unchangeable factor and not based on who the individual is.

 Learn more about Lisa Delpit

On a complete side note, since doing the Schwaamp activity in class on Wednesday I have been much more aware of and recognizing what we talked about in class. This week Lego revealed its first character with a disability who is in a wheelchair. In the article they talked about a campaign called Toy Like me which is a viral Facebook campaign calling attention to toy makers to create toys that “better culturally represent 150 million disabled kids worldwide.  
Also this week Mattel announced that they have expanded its line to include three new body types-tall curvy and petite and a variety of skin tones and hairstyles. They did not post any pictures so it will be interested to see how their interpretation comes to life.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Privilege, Power, and Difference-Allan Johnson

Privilege, Power, and Difference
Allan G. Johnson

Johnson’s main goal in this excerpt is “to change how people think about issues of difference and privilege.” In the article he focuses on differences in the area of gender, race, social class and sexual orientation. One point I took away from the article is on page 3 when Johnson said, “People can’t help fearing the unfamiliar-including people of other races.” This quote makes me think about a blog that was recently posted on Huffington Post. In her blog Altaf Saadi, talks about how people form an opinion of her based on her race-Middle Eastern. Dr. Saadi is a well-educated doctor who attended Ivy League schools but when her patients look at her all they see is a Middle Eastern women and make comments toward her based on that one factor. People do not look at her and see her expertise, they see her skin color and based on that they form an impression that she is not qualified. In her blog Saadi talks about the prejudice seen in the medical profession-white male doctors versus female middle eastern doctors. They both have the same education but one is viewed completely different. This idea relates to the point Johnson made in the article on page 8 about how race and gender shape lives in different ways.   Dr. Saadi has to defend her expertise daily whereas her white male colleague does not.

Another thing I took away from the article is The Diversity Wheel he talks about that was developed by Loden and Rosener. In the article, Johnson poses to us to stop reading and look at ourselves through this wheel. When I look at myself according to the inner wheel I’m female, white, 29 years old, and heterosexual. In the outer ring, I’m single, I have a bachelor’s degree and am working on my master’s degree, I’ve lived in Cranston my whole life (minus the 4 semesters I lived on college campus in North Providence) and I don’t have strong religious beliefs. I agree with Johnson that the wheel does not say much about myself as an individual. These characteristics basically just puts me into categories based on race, gender, and sexual orientation…people form opinions just based on this information and not based on who the individual is. On page 21, Johnson talks about how these characteristics are very hard to change and can “profoundly affect our lives.” This makes me think back to Dr Saadi and how her race is something she cannot change and it affects her life every day when people doubt that she is a qualified doctor. Patients make an impression of her based on her race.

After reading the article I feel like Johnson achieved his purpose that he talked about on page 8 in the introduction. He wrote that he wanted to express his insight in a way that was clear, compelling, and useful. Even though by society definition he is a white privileged male he did a great job of explaining power and privilege without sounding condescending.  He provided insight in a way that appealed to all readers. Prior to writing my blog entry I went onto his website to read about him and I think his background helped him to convey his ideas in a way that was not condescending. He did a great job of explaining his understanding of power and privilege and not persuading people to his view. While on his site, I also found some other books of his that I would be interested in reading.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

About me :)

My name is Alicia. I am a preschool Special Education teacher at The Groden Center. In my classroom I have a co-teacher, 5 special education students and 4 typical peers who serve as role models.  I have been at Groden for the past 7 years and previously worked with students ages 6-21. I can truly say I love my job (granted it can be stressful at times but at the end of the day I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to teach). I have my undergraduate degree in Social Work from RIC and am currently fulfilling the required classes for my Severe Profound Special Education Certification. Once I complete my certification classes I plan on continuing my education by taking classes to obtain my Master's in Special Education. I only have about 4 more classes left then I will be done.  In my free time I enjoy spending time with family and friends. This year is a big year for me as I turn 30 and am also getting my own house. I look forward to getting to know my peers in this class and having enriched discussions about social issues in education.