Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Quotes from Shor

Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change
Ira Shor 
  • A Curriculum that avoids questioning school and society is not, as is commonly supposed, politically neutral. It cuts off the students’ development as critical thinkers.”p. 12 
This quote explains the main message of Shor’s article. In this statement, Shor is explaining that education is a political entity and educators need to be aware of it. He cautions that if we chose to ignore the political aspects then we are doing a disservice to our students because they will become robots who do not challenge the world that they live in. Using this statement as a catalyst the rest of the article discusses how to make students critical thinkers. 
  • When we participate in critical classes, we can go beyond merely repeating what we know or what we have been taught. We can reflect on reality and on our received values, words, and interpretations in ways that illuminate meaning we haven’t perceived before. This reflection can transform our thoughts and behavior, which in turn have the power to alter reality itself if enough people reconstruct their knowledge and take action.” p. 22  
In this statement, Shor is validating his claim that teachers need to make their students critical thinkers and questioners of society. This quote explains what it means to be a critical thinker and the importance of reflecting. I found this statement to be a bit ironic, in that, in teaching training we are constantly told that we need to be reflective practitioners. However, Shor is saying we do not allow our students the same freedoms. The final sentence describes the results of students becoming critical thinkers; they can promote change in the society because they are not just following the “status quo”. This statement seems to me what Shor wants teachers to strive to make their students become; the end product democratic education (August). 
  • Situated, multicultural pedagogy increases the chance that students will feel ownership in their education and reduces the conditions that produce their alienation.” p.51 
In order to have all children succeed in becoming critical thinkers, teachers have to be cognizant of the diversity in their classrooms. Not only do they need to be aware of it but they also need to create a pedagogy around this diversity. Teachers need to include these students’ experiences (background knowledge), languages, culture and other aspects that shape who they are, into a curriculum that fosters critical thinking and questioning. If this is done successfully then Shor believes that these students will then become part of the classroom and not feel alienated, which can lead to resistance. Shor places a lot of emphasis on the diversity piece. He wants the reader to realize that it is imperative that we include these non-dominant groups in this critical thinking process so they too can fight the status quo.

Monday, June 20, 2011

August Arguement

Making Room by August
August argues in these chapters that there needs to be change in our classrooms so that every child feels safe and free to be themselves. Her main research question is :  “What happens when a child with lesbian parents and children from other non-dominant family structures share their family stories (via oral narrative, artwork, or writing) in a classroom that is led by a teacher committed to democratic pedagogy?” Throughout these chapters she tries to find the answer to this question.
In these chapters August explains that for one school year she spent three to four mornings a week observing and participating in a kindergarten classroom. The focus of her study was on a child named Cody whom has two mothers (which is a non-dominant family). She was interesting in finding how this child was part of the classroom and how the teacher dealt with problems that arose in his classroom. August provided dictations and analysis of interactions that Zeke ( the teacher) and the children had throughout the year. Within these analysis August interpreted what was being said and how the conflicts (“face-threats”) were resolved. August explains that her research was not a one sided data gathering experience. She was part of the classroom, interacted with the children, conferenced with the teacher, interview his aid and other colleagues. August explains that Zeke was a democratic teacher whom employed many methods to promote this democratic ideal. Many of August examples of face threats and their resolutions occurred in “morning meeting”. In this meeting many topics arose that Zeke had to intervene or guide the children in order to come to a solution that was fair and just for all of the children in the class. August also examined situations were Zeke did not wait for face threats to happen to address aspects of a democratic classroom but he created curriculum that focused on these things. In these chapters August tries to examine how a working democratic operates and how a child like Cody fits in that classroom. 
While I was reading these chapters I really tried to put myself in Zeke’s shoes. I had an easy time relating to some of the situations because I work with preschoolers and a lot of the conflicts that arose during the year are similar to what occurs in my classroom. It was interesting to me to see how August interpreted the conflict and solution because on a couple of occasions I interpreted them differently. I just makes me think that I have to be cognizant in how I view things in my classroom and how I handle them to make all of my students feel like they belong and are free to be themselves. I wonder how many classrooms have a truly democratic philosophy that they employ?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Connections Between Collier, Rodriguez, and Delpit:

In Collier’s  Teaching Multilingual Children, the article’s primary function is to instruct teachers how to teach multilingual students. The author focuses on seven main points that teachers need to be aware of when teaching these students. She explains that teachers need to be sensitive to children’s first language and they need to teach them using this language in conjunction to English. Collier explains that their first language/home language is very important and if you fail to incorporate this language your students will not feel they are in a safe learning environment. The third key point illustrates that point by stating, “Don’t teach a second language in any way that challenges or seeks to eliminate the first language.” The idea of not correcting the children when they make a grammatical error or when they code-switched was stressed throughout the article. 
I  have to wonder if Delpit would agree with this article by Collier. I feel that Delpit would say this approach of Collier’s was setting children up for failure. Delpit expresses the notion that children need to be explicitly taught the rules of the “culture of power” in order to be successful in that culture. Collier wants to have children learn English, which is the dominant language in the culture of power, by having children learn from exposure to the language. She also states that children should learn to read first by learning it through their first language. Delpit, in my opinion, would agree that children need to be taught to read in English so they can have the same opportunities of their peers that are already part of the culture of power. Delpit also explains that the parents of these children that are not part of the culture of power want their children to learn explicitly the rules of that culture. I think Rodriguez’s article Aria would agree with this. Rodriguez tells the story of how he acquired English as a second language. His parents did everything in their power to have their children learn English, which Rodriguez termed “public language.” Throughout this learning process, he explains how a rift grew for him between his Spanish speaking world and his English speaking world and how soon the English world was what he knew better. At the end of the article, Rodriguez says, “they (bi-linguists) do not seem to realize there are two ways a person is individualized so they do not realize that while one suffers a diminished sense of private (home language) individuality by becoming assimilated into public society, such assimilation makes possible the achievement of public individuality.”  This quote I believe Delpit would agree with completely. I cannot help but wonder if there are two completely different views on how to teach these multilingual children not from the culture of power which method is the correct method to use?   

Monday, June 13, 2011

Extended comments

Extended Comments to Amanda’s blog:

Amanda and I agree on Meyer’s main point, gender discrimination needs to be addressed by schools and teachers and it needs to be corrected. Amanda states that this discrimination is caused/leads to hate and can have serious consequences for those being bullied. She mentioned her experiences in high school and how the school never addressed these issues. I have to agree with this statement. I graduated school in 2001 and there were students who were bullied because of their sexual orientation and nothing was ever done for them. It seems that in a world were we are exposed to all of these issues daily (i.e. Suicides of teens because of harassment) these issues should be addressed. It makes me wonder if the statement “we only fear what is unknown” is true, because we do know about these topics and yet people still fear/hate them. Amanda points out that Meyer talks about how the administration effects the school culture. I have to agree with this statement. Last semester I took the Administration of a Reading Program and the number one thing that we discussed was the influence that the administration holds on school culture.  Amanda says that teachers who feel “marginalized by the culture of power” spoke out more, unless they felt they would be opposed by the administration. I thought that Meyer was saying the same thing. In this study Meyer interviewed teachers who fell into this “marginalized” group, I wonder if the results would be different if she had heterogeneous study group? Amanda’s blog was thought provoking and her links were very useful for educators.  

This Youtube video shows how society view sexual harassment and then how it is transmitted to teens. 
The net video discusses the sever consequences of bullying 
This last video is an interview with Meyer 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Not Waiting for Superman Hyperlinks

Karp discusses the issues that are facing education and educational reform, through illustrating how non-educators view the education system. In a presentation given to teachers in Oregon, Karp explains that there are so many proponents to educational “reform,” but they have to do their homework before they start creating these reforms and criticizing a system they do not really have any knowledge of. 

Like Kozol's article, Karp explains that the school system in the US is flawed in that there is a large gap between social class and race. He goes on to explain that the way these politicians and the wealth want to fix the education system is by using more standardized testing, merit pay for teachers, bigger class size, and computer-based teaching. These people are viewing education on a scientific and business perspective, but as Karp points out they are ignoring the larger picture of inequality and effective teaching. These people want to privatize education, which Karp says is the only real successful democratic system in the United States. They want to hold schools and teachers “accountable” for students' success but their aims are unrealistic. For example, Karp states that by 2014 the Department of Education wants 100% of the students in the US to achieve 100% proficient on standardized testing. They also blame the schools for the poverty that surrounds them. The following are links to websites and Youtube videos that support or negate Karp’s claims. 

The following two Youtube views focus on the communities and the students discussing the problems facing the school system today. One video illustrates how students feel in lower achieving school, expressed through poetry. The other video explains how, in 2007, across the country communities with low achieving schools came together to discuss the achievement gap between their students and those students from more affluent areas. In Karp's speech, he says that a parent who is concerned with their child's achievement and wants to change the education system, and those people in power who have no real vested interest are two different things. This view shows how these communities came together to find solutions that were not completely rooted in the schools but also the community itself.  

The following three links are websites and articles that Karp mentioned gave teachers a voice. They look more into the issues that Karp addressed in his speech. Website number three listed below contain hundreds of letters that teachers have written to President Obama explaining what is really going on in the education system. These links help to further expand upon Karp's view. 

  1. www.teachersforjustice.org
  2. www.art.org/notwaiting/
  3. blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2009/11/letters_to _obama_one_teacher_w.html
This last link is the official link to the documentary Waiting for Superman. I feel that in order to be well informed you need to have knowledge of both sides of the argument. waitingforsuperman.com

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Question Kozol provoked

Let me start off this post by saying how shocked and horrified I was when I finished reading the article Still Separate, Still Unequal by Kozol. As an educator, I was aware to an extent the unequal distribution of resources and money between inner-city schools and suburban schools. I, however, did not realize how much of a difference there was. The most powerful parts of this article were the distributions of the conditions in some of the inner-city schools and the interviews with the students at these schools. This article made me think about how there is a larger inequality that is present in the US school systems. This inequality effects children of color more than any other child in this country. The difference between the education of children continues into adulthood and then begins again with the next generation. Kozol points out that starting at birth, children in the inner-city are already at a higher disadvantage than their suburban counterparts. For example, the inner-city children may not have access to formal education until they go to kindergarten, while their counterparts have years more education under their belts. Another example Kozol expresses is based on students‘ experiences in an urban high school in LA. The school had deplorable health and sanitary conditions on top of a curriculum that prepares students for employment firmly in the working class. This inequality was made more apparent when he further explained that in Beverly Hills High School, the students are given advanced career training in professional fields. It amazes me how much these school, can differ and they are only a few miles apart. I wonder how school districts and the US Department of Education can get away with this blatant racism and as Kozol says, “the reversal of integration.”   
Based on Kozol’s article I have formulated some questions for educators:
  1. Is this reversal of integration intentionally being done by the education system and by society? If so, why? And how, as educators, can we change this?
  2. Why are programs that place a “managerial” and military-like emphasis on education now a prominent feature in inner-city schools? Kozol says that a student’s happiness cannot be measured by standardized testing, so how can we teach effectively and ready these children emotionally for the outside world, when we as teachers are held so highly accountable?        
  3. What can teachers and administrators do to close the gap between the schools that serve the inner-city and the schools that serve the suburban areas?
  4. What can be done with the large discrepancy between the curriculum of inner-city schools and those of suburban schools, which further widen the gap between the two social classes and continue the racial inequality? 
  5. As I stated before, this article shocked and horrified me, I am wondering how the article made you feel as an educator?