Sunday, February 21, 2016

Literacy with an ATTITTUDE


“When rich children get empowering education nothing changes. But when working-class children get empowering education you get literacy with an attitude” (Preface 11). Such a powerful and truthful statement about how knowledge=power. By being educated you have more power.  

In class, we have been focusing on exploring injustices through the realm of color. Literacy with an Attitude by Patrick Finn focuses on looking at injustices based on social class primarily towards working class children and using the teaching method of Paulo Freire. The reading contains a study by Jean Anyon who looked at five public elementary schools in rich and not so rich neighborhoods in northern New Jersey. The schools consisted of mostly all white students and were subjected to the same state requirements. They all used the same arithmetic book and same language art course of study. However these schools had some appalling differences. She looked at an executive elite school, an affluent professional school, a middle class school and 2 working class schools. In each of the schools, Anyon asked the students about knowledge, observed a dominant theme and discussed the relationship of what she observed to the role in economy. It is interesting to look at this and then look at the children who attend the schools. Its sad to think that a theme of  a place of educating young minds is resistance. The word resistance to me has such a negative feeling to it and education should be positive.   

Working Class School
No real answer
prepared for wage labor
Middle Class School
learn, remember, facts, intelligent, school, study brains
white collar working class and middle class jobs
Affluent Professional School
figuring stuff out, you think up ideas
artists, intellectuals, social power, high salaries
Executive Elite School
tradition-expected to learn it
achieve, excel and prepare for life at the top.

In the reading, Anyon talked about a teacher's guide of a textbook at the working class school where it stated that it intended for “educationally deficient students”. She wrote that this was not intended for special education but rather the entire school. This made me think back to Delpit when she talked about the issues of power in classrooms and “the power of the publishers of textbooks….the power of a group to determine another’s intelligence” (24). At this same school, teachers talked negatively about the students  and one teacher said, “they’re lazy. I hate to categorize them, but they’re lazy.” (11). Unfortunately I have heard this comment before from  my colleagues and other teachers I have come into contact with. I believe a student is not lazy...they need to be motivated and find relevance to what they are learning.
The reading also explored the idea of using literacy as a method/strategy to conquer injustices and look at oppression. This idea is based on Paulo Freire who connected literature to everyday life...the idea of teaching powerful literacy. Peterson, Bigelow and Christensen all used this method to teach their classes. Peterson’s teachers cultural journalism. His approach “lies in the connections it builds between the topic at hand, the students’ lives and the broader world around them.” He connected what they were learning to current events. He showed them real life examples of oppression. He taught the students to understand oppression and how to act upon it. What I appreciated about Peterson in the article is that “he created a classroom through activities that stressed self-affirmation, mutual respect, communication, group decision making, and cooperation because he knew these values and skills are associated with gentry... he believed that if his students didn’t have these values and skills; it was his job to teach them” (175). He taught more than textbook knowledge-he taught real life knowledge...he connected the two. He was a true examples of “teachers are supposed to teach, not blame children for what they don't know how to do” (175). Bigelow and Christensen connected the curriculum to students lives. They had open dialogue where they learned about oppression and then connected the main idea to their lives. By connecting the ideas “it helped them to see that they can create knowledge from their own lives. It helped them to reflect not only on their individual lives, but on their society and how society ‘makes and limits who they are.” (180).  I wish I had more teachers like this in high school that connected what we learned to our lives. We learned about oppression in the past but we never talked about how it still existed. I wonder if we never talked about real life oppression because I went to a predominately white affluent professional/middle class school.  

In conclusion,  “we are here to consider how we can best serve the whole child in each of our students.” (24). It would be interesting to see how schools would be if all teachers took this approach instead of lumping students together based on certain factors such as race,class gender etc.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Problem We All Live With

         In episode 562: The Problem We All Live With of This American Life, Ira Glassman speaks with New York Times magazine reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones about desegregation and the Normandy School District. Nikole did this radio segment so she could tell “the story of Michael Brown’s school district through the students who remain there. It is a story of children locked away from opportunity, what happens when those children are given a chance to escape failing schools and what happens to those children left behind. It is a story of how powerful people decided to do something only when the problems of the worst district in the state were no longer contained. And above all, it is a story of the staggering educational inequality we are willing to accept.” (NY Times Magazine-The Continuing reality of segregated schools)  The question Nikole proposes  and discusses is how do we cut the achievement gap between black and white students? The solution she believes is integration. In the prologue Nikole say, “ what integration does is it gets black kids in the same facilities as white kids. And therefore, it gets them access to the same things that those kids get-- quality teachers and quality instruction.”         In his article, Why our Schools are Segregated,  Rothenstein agrees that integration is also the solution to cutting the achievement gap between black and white students, “Integrating disadvantaged black students into schools in which more-privileged students predominate can narrow the black–white achievement gap.” He also goes on to discuss other benefits which include, “improved graduation rates, higher rates of employment, and higher earnings in adulthood, as well as avoidance of teen childbearing, delinquency, homicide, and incarceration.”
When the decision to integrate Normandy students into Francis Howell was made, the Francis Howell district had a town meeting to discuss it. During the recording, we heard many people make accusations against the students based on their race. One woman said “I'm hoping that their discipline records come with them, like their health records come with them.”  While another woman made comments about violent behavior and drug use among students. I think these adults need a lesson on color insight. They need to learn to “combat stereotypes by looking for the me in each individual.” (73). These parents made these points based on stereotypes without looking at the individual student. The students who chose to attend the Francis Howell school district were all truly invested in their education.
    The Normandy school district has been on probation for 15 years due to under achievement. They were the worst district in the state of Missouri. They had 10 points out of 140 for academic achievement, “English, zero; math, zero; social studies, zero; science, zero; points for college placement, zero.” They did not receive any points for academic standing. As I listened to these facts, I thought to myself, why did it take 15 years, for the state to finally come in and realize something had to be done. The education of many students could have been different if the problem had been addressed sooner. The state of Missouri let a whole generation down. The vice president for the Missouri Board of Education said, “the state owed students, quote, "a collective apology for failing to provide you with the education experience you should have.” They can apologize all they want but they can never make up for the disservice they did to the students. "Every day a student attends an unaccredited school, the child could suffer harm that cannot be repaired." (quote from the judge who sided with the parents during the ruling). Every day that they ignored the problem in Normandy, was another day a child suffered the disadvantage of not having a quality education.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

"Colorblindness is the new racism" and #blacklivesmatter

      As I read the first section of “Colorblindess is the new racism” by Maryanne Armstrong and Stephanie Wildman, I agree with Amanda that I felt guilty that I am in part the person they are talking about . Like Amanda and Michael I don’t see people based on their race rather as a person and has always been taught treat others as you want to be treated. After being in this class for a few weeks I have definitely begun to understand what they mean by white privilege and how it exists.I’ve never really thought much about privilege and how it affects me y and society as a whole.  Before the SCWAAMP activity it never came to  my mind that the color of band-aids are more similar to caucasian skin than non-caucasian skin. I’ve been more intuned when I watch commercials and noticing how more characters are caucasian than non-caucasian.
    In the article, the authors talk about a Powerline which is similar to the idea in Johnson’s about the Diversity Wheel. An example they give on page 64 is “a white lesbian professor might be privileged in respect to her race and education, but lack privilege based on gender or sexual orientation.”  This example made me think of the the article I posted on Johnson’s blog about Altaf Saadi. She lacked privilege based on her culture. These examples relate to  the idea on page 64, “most individuals have some privileges while being excluded from privilege for other aspects of personhood.” This quote is similar to what Kivel talked about in chapter 3 of Johnson’s article , "In the United States, a person is considered a member of the lowest status group from which they have any heritage"

    One of the main focuses of the article is what the authors call, Color Insight, “serves to promote equality and to emphasize non-discrimination amongst races (68). To develop color insight there are four steps one must take. The first step is “considering context for any discussion about race” meaning we must be willing to mention and discuss race which relates to a point that Johnson made on page 11, “you can’t deal with a problem if you don’t name it; once you name it, you can think, talk and write about it.”  In order to discuss race we have to be willing to say there is a race problem and that discussion must be an open dialogue amongst the group. In his article Johnson talked in great detail of what privilege is; in this article by Armstrong and Wilman they give examples of things we can do to examine ourselves in terms of privilege.

          In the second article, “The next time someone says ‘all lives matter,’ show them these 5 paragraphs,” by Kevin Roose gives some great insight into the #blacklivesmatter and #alllivesmatter debate. Even though this article is only 5 paragraphs it makes a strong and clear point. I agree that Reddit game the best explanation of the why #alllivesmatter is bothersome to those involved in the movement. I have to admit that even though I watch the news daily and have heard about the #blacklivesmatter movement, I have never really fully understood what it meant. This article gave clear insight into what the hashtag means, they are saying our lives matter….our stories deserve to be heard. In the article they talk about a scene in the movie Nightcrawler where one character tells another she doesn't want footage of a black or latino person dying she wants stories about affluent white people being killed because the media wants to hear stories about white people not black people, “there is a news bias toward stories that the majority of audience (who are white) can identify with.” This point makes me think of the many discussions I have had regarding the media and coverage of missing children; there is so much more national coverage about missing caucasian girls then there are about non-caucasian  girls. In a CNN report posted on Mediaite, they talk about a black girl that went missing and “the fact that she is black has made her less attractive of a news story for national media.” This is so absurd, any child or person that goes missing should get equal coverage...they are first and foremost a human being and coverage should not depend on race.

P.S. *I tried to look up more information on color insight but couldn’t find anything….could anybody else find anything*