Sunday, October 23, 2016

Kahne and Westheimer

In this article about service learning entitled, "In the Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning" authors Kahne and Westheimer highlight two completely different approaches to service learning. One method, used by a 12th grade history teacher named Mr. Johnson, had less guidelines and was more of a volunteer experience rather than giving of a service. Mr. Johnson explained his assignment by saying "students would interact with those less fortunate than themselves and would experience the excitement and joy of learning while using the community as a classroom". The projects students chose ranged from volunteering in a center for babies whose mothers were addicted to drugs, and another student simply ran errands for a local doctor. While both projects are effective and useful, these two students did not get the same experience out of their projects. This teacher required no extra reflection or assignments to go along with their service learning, so the student who ran errands for the doctor, was not actually learning about or helping those less fortunate than themselves. To me, this seems like a waste of time and a waste of an opportunity to really gain great experience from the real world.

In a second service learning assignment with a different teacher, Ms. Adams, had her students all do the same project together. This allowed the students to talk with their peers and share knowledge and experiences that can spark interesting and intellectual conversations amongst the seventh grade class. These students focused on the prominent issue of homelessness in America. The students actually learned in class about homelessness prior to their service learning and continued to write journals and reflections about things they saw in their service learning. This seems effective because it gets the students to actually participate and reflect on what they are doing and realize why it is important.

After reading this article, I thought about my own service learning experience in this class. I enjoy the fact that after we go into our service learning, we are required to write down journal entries to reflect on our experiences. These journals will be interesting to look back on after a few years of being a teacher to see if our experiences in the classroom still match up or if we are using any of the teaching techniques we first saw with this service learning project. The fact that a majority of us were placed in kindergarten classes gives us the chance to share stories and tips with our peers. With this particular service learning project, I do not feel as though I am really making a difference, I feel like I am merely observing the approaches to teaching and the kindergarten environment. I hope that in the future when I do service learning that I will get the chance to personally impact the life of a student or have that student impact my teaching career.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Gender and the 2016 Election (option #1)

Clearly, gender has a huge role in the 2016 election. With Hillary Clinton having great potential to be the very first woman President, this could be a historic moment for our country. So in the natural reaction of America, people criticize Hillary Clinton for things that they may not talk about so much with Donald Trump. For example, Hillary Clinton is continuously asked about her husband, Bill Clinton, and his policies. However, Trump is never asked for the viewpoints of his spouse, which inexplicitly tells Clinton that her opinion  cannot be her own because she is a woman, so it must be from her husband.

In Jill Soloway's time magazine article entitled, "Jill Solloway on Donald Trump, Locker Rooms and Toxic Masculinity, she addresses why men's locker-room talk should not exist. Soloway explains how the way Trump talks about women is wrong and cannot be continued in general, never mind from a public figure. Soloway talks about how she refers to "classic masculinity" as "toxic masculinity" which comes from people saying phrases such as "boys will be boys". Soloway connects this toxic masculinity issue with the civil rights movement in America. Just as the N-word is now widely unaccepted as a usable term, America needs to make this locker-room talk unacceptable. Soloway explains how this type of language puts women into two different categories: the good women and the bad women. The good women are wives, daughters, and mothers and are off limits in this men's locker-room talk. The bad women are the women that this talk is revolved around. These women are referred to as property and are given no rights over their own bodies. The topics discussed in this article can relate to the Peggy McIntosh article, "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" where McIntosh discusses how people with privilege are often blind to it. In this case, it is the men who are blind to their privilege of being able to talk about women however they want and suffer no consequences.

In a New York Times article, author Amy Chozick discusses how the public has criticized Hillary Clinton for the way she speaks in public. Many people have accused her of screaming when she speaks and people do not take this well. Chozick quotes a public speaking coach named Ruth Sherman who says, "The tendency to yell on the campaign stump is not gender specific, but the public is much less accustomed to hearing a woman’s voice in such settings". This can basically explain the entire argument made by Chozick, that the way Clinton speaks is not based on her gender, rather than a campaign strategy or just the simple fact that this is not how women are expected to speak in our society. Women are supposed to be soft spoken and calm when speaking, not forceful and loud. This can relate to the Allen Johnson article, "Privilege, Power, and Difference" which discusses the relation between privilege and power. Johnson says that inequality is a problem in our society and that we have all created these inequalities by our instinct fear to things that are different. In this case, the way Hillary Clinton speaks is different from what we are used to from a women. So, instead of focusing on Clinton's opinions on foreign policy, or anything relevant to the Presidency, we are instead criticizing her over something that is only unsettling to us because it is different.  

Monday, October 10, 2016

Safe Spaces: Making Schools and Communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth - Extended Comments Post

In this book written by Annemarie Vaccaro, Gerri August, and Megan S. Kennedy, the authors offer strategies for incorporating LGBT topics into general curriculum. The authors express how vital it is to make sure that the classroom is a safe and encouraging place for all students, no matter their race, gender, or sexual orientation. Within the chapter, there are featured stories about instances where the LGBT community was silenced within the walls of the classroom. Some of the ways teachers handled situations with an LGBT student was mind boggling. The story about Maria, the Spanish college student who identified as a lesbian, and felt that her professor was forcing the heterosexuality norm within the classroom, the authors offered, "Did it always have to be a choice of denying herself or explaining herself" (88) when questioning whether or not Maria should approach her professor about the issue. Another example within the same page was about a student who identified as transgender and wished to be called a different name than was on the roster, and "[the professor] continued to call him the name on the official roster" (88).

After reading Kelsey's post where she admitted she was never taught about the LGBT community and was never exposed to it until her early high school years, I started to think back in my educational background. I can remember there was a girl in my second grade class who I became best friends with, and she had two moms. My mom still tells the story about the first day I came home from this girl's house and said "Mom can you believe how lucky [my friend] is!? She has two moms!". So at an early age I was exposed to the idea of a family that was not the normal heterosexual household.

Starting when I got to high school I joined the color guard activity which is very accepting of the LGBT community. While being a part of this activity, I have created special relationships with people that I consider to be my best friends, and many of them identify as gay. In 2015, I marched in a drum corps and one of my instructors was transgender and she is still one of my biggest inspirations in the activity. Because the color guard activity is culturally aimed towards females, being a male in the activity results in some negative commentary. Throughout high school I was faced with challenges amongst my peers who just did not understand or care to understand why I was spinning flags on a football field. Words such as "gay" and "fag" have been thrown my way for years and I boil it down to ignorance amongst my peers and in society. I would love to play a role in a child's understanding of the LGBT community in hopes of stoping any bullying or negative commentary this community faces.

Because of my experience and ties with the LGBT community I agree with the authors of this book, that it is an essential topic to introduce to children within their elementary school years. It allows them to grow up knowing that there is not only one type of family possible, and allows them to become more accepting of those around them who might be different than they are. I will definitely remember this reading and make sure to incorporate it into my teaching strategies one day.

Here is a link I found to an article that talks about how California is soon going to be incorporating LGBTQ History into their curriculum 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Christensen - Quotes Post

Quote #1

"Our students suckle the same pap. Our society's culture industry colo-
nizes their minds and teaches them how to act, live, and dream. This indoc-
trination hits young children especially hard. The "secret education," as
Chilean writer Ariel Dorfman dubs it, delivered by children's books and
movies, instructs young people to accept the world as it is portrayed in
these social blueprints. Ami often that world depicts the domination of one
sex, one race, one class, or one country over a weaker counterpart." Christensen 126.

This quotation sort of summarizes what the entire article is centered around, which is the issue of racism and sexism within popular children's media. This type of exposure to racism and sexism is what drives every aspect of a child's life later on.  The "secret education" that is discussed is the constant reinforcement of SCWAAMP within all types of popular children's shows. This reinforcement leads children to believe that this is how the world is and it shows them what they need to do to get to the top. The dominant role in many children's media is the white, male, upper-class, American who lives happily ever after in his huge mansion and black servants waiting on him hand and foot. Another popular theme is the white female who does anything she can to "win over" Prince Charming. This leads children to believe that this is all women are good for and that marrying the rich white man will make all of their problems disappear and it takes away women's humanity by saying this is all they will ever amount to.

Quote #2

"Women who aren't white begin to feel left out and ugly because they never get to play the princess" Christensen 131.

This quote also goes along with the main theme of the article and focuses more on the sexist side of the argument. Here, Christensen is showing how most of the media children are exposed to portray a beautiful white princess and that portrayal never changes. So when children are constantly seeing the beautiful white girl being the princess, it leads them to believe that if they are not white they will never be a princess, and if they are not a princess then they are obviously ugly. This belief comes from the fact that within princess movies (specifically Disney) the princess is always beautiful, and there is never any other character that is more beautiful than her, so it leads kids to think that if they are not the princess they must be ugly just like the rest of the characters in the movie.

Quote #3

"Pam and Nicole swore they would not let their children watch cartoons" Christensen 134.

When I came across this part of the article and read this sentence I was a little taken back. Of course it makes sense that two students of Christensen wouldn't want to allow there kids to be exposed to this type of racism and sexism in hopes that their children would grow up to think differently than most. However, my question becomes, if these television shows and movies are the structure of our society, then not exposing your kids to this becomes a problem. Like Lisa Delpit says, it is very hard to acquire power, when you do not know the rules and codes of power. So, if you deny your kids access to this information then they may never get power in the world. I am not saying that this is my opinion, I am just pointing out the fact that unless this way of thinking changes throughout the entire country, it would be an injustice to your children to deny them access to this culture, as wrong as it may be.