Wednesday, May 1, 2013

"I Won't Learn From You" By: Herbert Kohl- A final Reflection

"I Won't Learn From You; Thoughts on the Role of Assent in Learning"
By: Herbert Kohl

     In every classroom there is typically at least one student who decides they don't want to learn. In the case of Ms. Kota's class, there are multiple students on any given day I'm there. Sometimes the students who don't want to learn are in other groups in the classroom and I can observe the situation from my group far away protected by the horseshoe table I sit behind. Other times though I wasn't so removed because the child that didn't want to learn would be sitting right across that table from me and the student decided it was me they didn't want to learn from.
     This happened a few times throughout the semester, with different students but it happened more often with one little girl in particular, Jane*. She ALWAYS wants to be first, first one to read, first one to take a turn in the game, first one to get coins (Coins is what was used in this classroom as an extrinsic motivation system), first for everything. Whenever I chose a different student to do any of these things, Jane* would throw a tantrum, turn around in her seat and sit with her arms crossed refusing to participate. She refuses to learn from me. She is selective about her refusal to learn however, and is not as practiced as the examples Kohl gives in his article. She doesn't always refuse to learn, she listens and learns from Ms. Cota, her classroom teacher, and sometimes she learns from me, but other times she refuses.

Herbert Kohl
     I do not think that Jane* is a practiced non-learner like Kohl writes about in his examples. From what I know of her life she is not taking a stand against any form of oppression  In the article, however,  Kohl defines non-learning as "...willful rejection of even the most compassionate and well designed teaching." "Willful rejection" that seems to be more of what Jane* is doing. No matter what I did to try to coerce into participating in the lesson she did not want to learn. Eventually I moved on with helping the other kids thinking she would participate if she wanted to, and as it turned out she did. When I moved on with other students, she realized she would not get attention by throwing a tantrum and not learning, she found the only way should would get what she wanted was by paying attention and participating. Her actions demonstrated "willful rejection" of learning. The thing that she may have been protesting against, so to speak, might have been lack of attention.
    I don't know much about tis child's home life at all, but what the only thing she might be protesting is the lack of attention she gets at home. It could also be due the fact that she is only in the first grade and does not know any other way to get any attention at all. Whatever it is with this particular student, I do not believe she is standing up against a form of oppression. She is however, refusing to learn for whatever purpose, and could become a practiced non-learner like Kohl talks about if her situation is not given the attention it deserves.

*I changed the students name to Jane just for privacy reasons.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Social Justice Event- "The Sound of Music" at Deering Middle School

Earlier in the semester I had the opportunity to go to the musical put on at Deering Middle school in West Warwick. This year they put on the classic "The Sound of Music". Let me first start by saying that it was a great performance, and I was very impressed with the quality of their performance. Coming from a High School that had a ver strong and talented Performing Arts Department, I have to say I was skeptical going in if I was going to like but these kids did a great job!

So the first connection I drew was with Christiansen and "Unlearning the myths that bind us", this connection stood out to me because I saw during one of my favorite songs in the musical, Sixteen going on Seventeen, this is when the oldest daughter Leisel is singing with the boy she likes, Rolf. The lyrics in this song state specifically that because she is young he needs an "older" man to take care of her. And in the song and the rest of the play she agrees, the lyrics are; " need someone older and wiser telling you what to do, I am 17 going on 18, I'll take care, of you..." Her only rebuttal is her verse in the song that says the same things in first person and her last line is "I'll depend on you". Granted I do realize that this musical takes place in a different time period, however, I still think it connects to Christensen. Because even then, the young girl falls prey to the belief that she needs a man to "take care of her". Also, as a classic musical-turned-movie, it is showing others that this is a way girl can and even should act. Christensen would say that this is a bad influence on the youth of today, without giving someone the proper context, I would have to agree. I mean if you explained to someone that this took place in the past and that things should not work this way anymore i could justify it. Christensen would still probably argue against me, however.

My other two connections are with experience I had while I was there and not really the play itself.
I attended this play with the 12-year-old girl I work with as a PASS Worker. As I PASS worker I work with her to to improve her social skills and accomplish goals such as learning social cues. I regularly see connections in my job with Lisa Delpit. This outing in particular the connection really stood out to me. I had never taken my client to a play or anything similar before so we had to go over appropriate play etiquette. As I was driving and explaining this to her I thought of Delpit. I was almost literally going over the rules and codes of power with her before we got there. What was expected of her and she was required to act in this situation. Delpit would agree, I think, with going over expectations before we arrived, because the child I was going with did not the social codes of what is expected of her so she needed to be told how she was expected to act while going to a play. I had to remind of her of these codes throughout as well.

Finally, my last connection is to the actually production of the play and Ira Shor. I think extra curricular's, like plays and musicals, are a really great way to "socialize" kids. Our school systems struggle with allowing students to socialize in the classroom but many of our school systems do really thrive when it comes to socializing kids in after school activities such as this musical. I could really see this as during one of the scenes we had to run out to use the restroom. As I was waiting in the hallway, I saw the actors and actresses that were not on stage, as it was performed at a school and didn't have a proper backstage, so when the kids came of stage they would wait in the back hallway that happened to be by the restroom. So I got to witness the children socializing with each other. It was great to see their camaraderie and enthusiasm with each other and you tell they were genuinely happy and excited for each other. Ira Shor would say that this is a crucial part of the education process and although it is good that it is happening in after school settings it needs to happen in the classroom as well. I agree, however, I think that it is better to have it happening somewhere rather than not at all.

Overall, this was a great performance and I am glad I got to go. (Photography was not allowed though so no pictures-Sorry!)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Learning vs. Socialization- Argument/Connecetions

"Education is Politics"
By: Ira Shor

     In this piece Ira Shor argues that socialization is a critical-if not the most critical-aspect of schooling for children. Shor says that it is incredibly important for students to learn how to socialize with their peers and their teachers through school. As I was reading this, I actually though of Delpit and the rules and codes of power that she talks about. She would agree with Shor here, I think, because kids are going to need to know how to socialize properly all throughout their lives, so to be successful those are skills that kids need. Delpit would argue then, that they need to be taught to children in schools as the rules and codes of power.

     Shor argues that this is important because it enhances socialization but also that it by learning to socialize and question each other enhances learning. The story Shor uses about starting each year off by asking why do we have to go to school? why is it required that we do? really resonated with me.I was always bad at Math really from the 4th grade learning multiplication facts and on from there I really struggled. I had always had teachers that just gave me equations and formulas to memorize and plug numbers into and I got so lost. It was just last week when my Math 144 professor explained to my class why the formula for a circumference of circle works, when I realized how detrimental the "plug-and-chug" method is for kids. Shor argues that if just focus on trying to get kids to learn information that we as educators are missing the boat when it comes to educating children as we are missing a large aspect of the educational purpose. He does say that obviously we need to make sure kids are learning but a key part of the curriculum should be about socialization.
Points to share:
Do you think our schools are focused enough on socialization or are they too focused on academics?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Citizenship in Schools- Reflection

     I decided to write another Reflection post because I feel that I can connect strongly to this piece at least in part. I have an internship this semester at a preschool in Providence. It’s called The Livingston Center preschool and is run by The Groden Center. There have both typically developing and atypically developing 3,4, and 5-year-old students at this preschool and I can connect it so much to this article. The way they set up the schedule at the Livingston Center I have found very interesting. First of all it is a very structured schedule, which I think is beneficial for all students but especially the atypical students many of whom have autism. There day starts with free play for all students all together, then breaks into center time where 2 of the atypical students will go to a 1-on-1 work session and all the students will be playing at centers. This set up I think is a great way to have students included and integrated while also getting them the help and resources they need. These students also have ample time throughout the day that they spend alongside their typically developing peers which allows for them to socialize and interact with them as well. I think Keiwler  would agree with this method of teaching and structure because he talks about children being treated as school citizens and I feel that  here all the students are treated as citizens of the school, they are all treated equally by there teachers and peers and they are all allowed to learn together, Without any real fear of discrimination or teasing while they are school.

Points to Share:
I agree with Keiwler that schools should be more integrated as I have seen even as early as four years old that is beneficial for the students with disabilities as well as those without. I think there are even steps teachers and schools could start to do know to promote co-learning and integration. For example, having a structured schedule is something that some children require and at the same time is helpful for most students. I think we should work towards having students more integrated. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Grouping Students

Literacy with Attitude
By: Patrick Finn

Tracking: Why schools need to take a different route
By: Jeannie Oakes

Extended Comments to Lauren's Blog

     Both of the readings for this week talk about tracking and grouping students. One of the most common ways students are grouped is by academic ability, or abilities shown on a standardized test. Although I (like Lauren) can see why students are grouped this way, I find that there are multiple downfalls to these groupings, too. Lauren mentioned in her blog that she had been placed in the accelerated classes in school and did well, while a member of her family who's IQ is higher than hers gets placed in low  performing classes because of standardized test scores. I agree with Lauren that test scores are not always the best indicator of a students intelligence and grouping them based on those test scores is not always the best idea either. But I was thinking about any better ways to do it and I can not think of a better way, but I did think of something I think would improve this system. Oakes says in her article that students learn better in higher level classrooms not only because their IQ is higher but because the teachers in those classes are "more enthusiastic, make instructions clearer and use strong criticism,". She also says that students in those classes are expected to do more homework and they spend more in class time on school work. in my opinion this all comes down to expectations. To improve upon this system we, as educators, need to expect the same from both higher and lower level learners and have the same enthusiasm while teaching them.

Now, I'm not saying we should expect higher and lower learners to do exactly the same work, obviously that's unrealistic and one of the reasons students are split into classes like that, because they can't always do the same work. However, we should expect the same behavior from all students. If one class is expected to be sitting, and have their book out at the start of class, and the teacher only tells them once and they do it, there is no reason that  a lower level class has to be told more than once to do the same task. I think raising our expectations, and trying to keep the focus on learning while preparing students for the required standardized tests are a few key elements to improving the system we have in place.

Points to Share: I feel that teachers have to have the same enthusiasm and expectations for all their students, but obviously they can not be closed minded and have to be able to adapt with things that my not work with different students. There must be a way for teachers to find a happy medium between being understanding and having high standards for their students no matter what "group" they are placed in, just like their has to be a happy medium between teaching for testing and teaching for understanding.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Brown v. Board of Education- A "Post racial" America


     This is another reflection post because I felt that I could really connect this assignment to my life. As I have said in class and on my blog, I grew in North Kingstown, a town where the majority of the residents are white and are upper-middle class. I am very aware that I grew up in kind of a bubble, I learned about race issues in textbooks but never really had to deal with any first hand while I was in school. Dr. Bogad mentioned a few weeks ago in class that many white students she talks to say that RIC is the most diverse school the have ever attended. I admit that I am one of those students. So as I was reading the New York Times article by Bob Herbert I could definitely relate and find truth in what he was saying. He says that in schools there is really no such thing as separate and equal, and i would have to mostly agree with his point. There are exceptions but for the most part, from what I have experienced what he says about unintended school segregation is true. He says that because schools are districted by location that the public schools that are located in inner cities are populated by mostly non-white students. Also, primarily because these schools are located in inner cities they do not get proper or as much funding. This turns into a form of inadvertent racism.
     I say inadvertent because technically this is not racism, these schools are not not receiving funding because the students are not white, they do not receive funding because the city in which it is located does not have enough money. This is not overt intentional racism, it is racism however and needs to be stopped.
     Tim Wise raises this point in his interview as well. He says that just because America elected Barack Obama President does not make us a post racial nation yet. People could have voted for Obama and still be racist, according to Wise. This also demonstrates inadvertent racism, because Americans are taught that just because we have elected a black president means that we live in a post racial society, so they decide not to notice the racism still going on around them.

Point To Share:  
I think as teachers and educators we need to work towards a post racial society, and the first step in doing so is accepting that we currently are not living in one. If we can accept that, despite our optimism, we do not live in a post racial society yet then we can really work towards one. I feel that this needs to happen wherever we are working whether it be in an inner city or a suburb for it to have any positive effect. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Back to Princess Culture...

I found this video on Youtube and it kind of connects to what we were talking about in class last week with Princess culture but it puts a satirical spin in the endings. If you haven't seen it you should check it out!

I'm not sure why the video won't show up here, but to see it just follow the link! :)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Service Learning Connections

In the Service of What?-The Politics of Service Learning
By: Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer

Asa Messer Elementary School. This is where my Service  Learning Placement is. 

In the Service of What? talks about students learning in the environment of a school to learn how to teach appropriately in a school setting.
“Educators and legislators alike maintain that service learning can improve the community and invigorate the classroom, providing rich educational experiences for students at all levels of schooling. Service learning makes students active participants in service projects that aim to respond to the needs of the community while furthering the academic goals of students.”
This point and quote I feel relates to what we read by Lisa Delpit. Delpit writes about teaching students the rules and codes of power clearly as to give all students the same knowledge of the culture of power. I find that this article and this experience are similar and have a similar purpose. I think that part of the purpose of service learning is to learn the rules and codes of the classroom from the teacher perspective even before we are teachers. To learn the culture of power in a classroom to make sure that is a place where we want to be and work. Which is part of what Kahne and Westheimer in the quote above that it beneficial for all involved, partly because it helps teach the perspective teachers the dynamic of a classroom.
Another quote that really resonated with me was this one;
“The experiential and interpersonal components of service learning activities can achieve the first crucial step toward diminishing the sense of"otherness" that often separates students-particularly privileged students-from those in need. In so doing, the potential to develop caring relationships is created.”
I felt that I could relate to this personally coming from a rather privileged town being in Providence Elementary schools is very different from being in schools in my hometown, I also think this relates to Aria though. Aria’s main point was that he had to abandon his culture to take on the culture of power. While he didn’t think there was any middle ground I think this piece does not say that but rather to find common ground by giving potential teachers a different perspective, it will help them be more aware and accommodating of all students. As Aria said even if his teachers had said his name correctly he would have felt more comfortable in school.
Points to Share:
I think that Service Learning is for the purpose of exposing potential teachers to a classroom setting and the culture of power there, as well as students who may have grown up in a different culture. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Extended Comments to Cinderella Ate My Daughter

Cinderella Ate My Daughter
By:Peggy Orenstein

After reading this piece I read Nicole's blog on it and I found it really interesting, so I decided to write my post this week as an extended comment to hers. First off if you haven't read it, I really recommend you do, it really opened my eyes and mind to perspectives I hadn't even thought of while reading this, you can read it here. 

My first reaction to this piece was, "Wow, this is SO true!" As I sat  reading it on my computer that has a pink case, in my room with bubble gum pink walls, a pink lamp, a pink chair and I sat there with pink sweatpants, a pink sweatshirt, and pink socks on next to my pink backpack and purse. Okay so it wasn't until I read this that I realized all of my stuff was SO pink. Granted, pink has almost always been my favorite color although I would not really consider myself an extreme girly girl. Although my love for the color had to come from somewhere. Now here is where I totally agree with Nicole, that maybe that is my favorite color just because, she says in her blog that her favorite color is blue. I totally agree that it might be a little far fetched that the toys we play with determine everything about us even down to our favorite color. Do I think my favorite color would be pink even if I never played with dolls when I was younger? Probably. I just really like the color and I don't think things like that are nessesarily determined by our toy culture.
A Groovy Girl. The line of dolls me and my sister liked to play with when we were growing up. 

And that bring me to where I have to disagree with Nicole. Although I do not believe the toy culture determines every aspect of our lives I definitely thinks it has an influence. Nicole brings up a point while connecting this piece to Delpit that I found really interesting. She says "Children need to be told directly what to do; otherwise they will not follow the directions.  A child needs to be explicitly told what to do, so how can they get a message that is barely implied?" 
I find this to be a valid point, however, I think part of each child's toolbox that they come in with is their culture and I think part of that culture is implied and learned behavior.
Points to Share:
I found that this piece was easy to read (just a little long) and brought up some great valid points, and others that are a little over the top. Do you think that some of these veils are extreme? Do they necessarily dictate every aspect of our lives? Or are they Actually reality?