Monday, November 30, 2009

Talking Points #10

"Empowering Education"
Ira Shor

1)"You must arouse children’s curiosity and make them think about school. For example, it's very important to begin the school year with a discussion of why we go to school? Why does the government force us to go to school? This would set a questioning tone and show the children that you trust them and that they are intelligent enough, at their own level, to investigate and come up with answers.” (Pg. 11)

I liked this quote because it talks about making children want to learn. Most kids feel forced into school and don't want to go on a daily basis. I also like the idea of trusting the children's intelligence. They are smarter than many people think so when you start the school year with a question, they feel like you believe in them.

2)"If the students' task is to memorize rules and existing knowledge, without questioning the subject matter or the learning process, their potential for critical thought and action will be restricted." (Pg. 12)

Children want the opportunity to learn something new and they want the opportunity to question what they are learning. If they are not allowed to question their learning when they are young, how can they be expected to think critically in college? Kids get so excited when they learn something new that they can teach to their families and friends.

3)"In school and society, the lack of meaningful participation alienate workers, teachers, and students. This alienation lowers their productivity in class and on the job. I think of this, lowered productivity, a performancestrike, an unorganized mass refusal to perform well, an informal and unacknowledged strike." (Pg. 20)

I think that this quote shows just how important participation is in schools. The students will not participate if they do not feel engaged. If all students actively participated in all their classes, then they would learn and retain more information. They would also want to go to school if they feel engaged.

I thought that the article was very interesting. I like that he talks about the curiosity in not just kids, but everyone. If curiosity is encouraged then the children learn a lot more. If a kid is not curious about what they are learning, then they'll have no desire to look any further into the topic. My brother came home from school one day and he was so excited about his gladiator project he had for his history class. For the first time, he wanted to do the research and find out more about the topic. My brother hated school for the most part, but that class was enjoyable for him. The teacher had the class participate in the way the class progressed. He did not hand out a syllabus because he allowed the class to decide which way the class was going. He did have some loose guidelines, but the class worked together to learn. I think that Shor would agree with his style.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Service Learning Story

I went to my school like usual on the Friday before Thanksgiving and the first thing the teacher asked me to do was to write down my address and leave it on her desk. I did and I was curious why she wanted it. However, when I asked about it, she wouldn't tell me anything. I went about the day helping the kids with reading and their vocabulary work books. All day I kept trying to think of the reason for writing down my address. I'm the kind of person who needs to know everything that's going to happen. I'm not a huge fan of surprises. I left for the day and went home. I forgot about Friday in all of the end of the semester craziness, but I was reminded when a package came to my door on Wednesday. It didn't have a return name on it and the address was not the address from the school so I didn't recognize it. I opened the package and inside were all paper turkeys and horns of plenty. Some of them were origami and others were colored pictures. Also inside was a card with Thanksgiving wishes from my class. I was so touched by it. It hit me that I'm really making a difference with these kids and I love it. Just thought that I would share that story with everybody. Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Talking Points #9

Christopher Kliewer
"Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome"

1) "Community acceptance requires opportunity for individual participation in the group, but opportunity cannot exist outside community acceptance." Pg. 75

I thought this quote was interesting because I think that it is totally true. In order to be accepted one has to contribute something to the group, but one cannot contribute anything to the group if one does not feel accepted. I like that it is talking about the reciprocity of community and acceptance. It's a two way street.

2) "The presence of a thoughtful mind has been linked to patterns of behavioral and communicative conformity associated with competence in logical-mathematical thinking and linguistic skills." Pg. 79

I think that this is a very narrow description of an intelligent mind. I think that many people can be thoughtful without having great math or language skills. A student may not be able to express their thoughts in writing or math, but they may be able to do so in art or music. I don't think that a person who cannot do math or speak well is unintelligent.

3) "If you came into the room and were told there was a retarded child in the class, a child with special needs, I don't think you would pick Lee out. The kids really agree that he's as capable as they are. Intellectually the same." Pg. 83

I liked this story because it shows that a child with special needs can fit in with the rest of a class. Special needs, to me, means that a child learns differently, but it does not mean that they are incapable of learning. I think that people are too quick to write off a child with special needs as unintelligent.

I thought the article was interesting because I have worked with kids with special needs and have seen just how thoughtful or intelligent they are. In my dance class that I'm teaching this year, there is a three year old little boy who has down syndrome. He's absolutely adorable and does everything the other kids do. One of the mothers came up to me and the owner on Saturday and asked if it was safe to have him in a class with the other kids. For a minute I didn't know what to say, then I told her that down syndrome doesn't make a child dangerous or unstable. I feel like people are a little afraid of what they don't know and it makes them treat someone with special needs in a different way. One of my friends has a nephew with autism and she says the best thing about him. She says it's not "autism", but "awetism" because she is amazed by what he can do everyday. I think that she has a better attitude and more people or schools should adopt it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Promising Practices

The day did not start of well. I woke up late and I wasn't in a very good mood so I was rushing around the house to get ready and get up to RIC. My mother and my brother were both up asking me about the night before and I really didn't have time for them. Their questions just made me more aggrivated than I already was, but eventually I got out the door. I headed up to RIC with a stop at Dunkin Donuts because I was definitely going to need my coffee.

When I arrived, the curriculum fair was being set up and I got in line to get my registration packet. I was a little disappointed in the sessions that I got because they were like my third choice. I didn't even remember picking them. After I got my packet, I sat and read over the materials and waited for the first session to begin.

The first session was about art and multiculturalism in the classroom, with a focus on Diego Rivera. The presenter could not get the powerpoint presentation to work so we had to follow along in packets that she gave us. She seemed very nervous about presenting, but I enjoyed what she was talking about. I thought that her presentation was interesting, but it would have been better with the powerpoint presentation. She talked about projects the students did on the American Revolution and it connects with Anyon's idea about creativity in the classroom. Also the students learned a little about the Mexican Revolution by studying Rivera. The subject also reminded me of Collier a little, in that studying a different culture allows students of different ethnicities to feel a part of the curriculum. The session went by quickly and we all left to go back to Donovan. I walked around the curriculum fair and then sat with some of the other members of our class.

The second session I was in was the power of numbers. It was about how important it is to know numbers in real life. It is very easy to be taken advantage of if you do not know how to do simple math like figuring out interest and percents. The presenter was interesting to listen to and she had us interact. We took a poll and worked with a partner so it was more interesting then listening to a lecture. This article that she included was about how hard it is for english language learners to talk about money. It was interesting to hear about language barriers in math. I wouldn't have thought that it was an issue in numbers. She had great videos and links that we used during the presentation. The one posted below is about an independent film made a couple of years ago. It was interesting and powerful.

I did not get to see Tricia Rose speak because I had a previous engagement that I could not be excused from. I hope to watch it in the library when the DVD comes in. From what was discussed in class on Tuesday, I could see that there were all kinds of references to Johnson and Delpit as far as being the change and power in the classroom or school setting. It sounds like she was a very powerful speaker and I'm interesting to hear the exact wording of the pledge. The event that I had to go to turned out to be miserable for me so I'm disappointed to have missed her. I'll add another post once I watch the video.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Talking Points #8

Jean Anyon
"Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work"

1)"In the middle-class school, work is getting the right answer. If one accumulates enough right answers, one gets a good grade. One must follow the directions in order to get the right answers, but the directions often call for some figuring, some choice, some decision making."

I thought this quote was interesting because this is how my elementary school was. The teachers were more worried about the right answer than the process of getting the answer. I used to ask questions on how to get the answer and many times the teacher had trouble explaining it to me in a way that I could understand. It wasn't until I got to middle school that the teachers starting giving points on math quizzes for showing the work. After thinking about it, I realized that my elementary school worksheets didn't even have spaces for work, just the answer.

2)"Work tasks do not usually request creativity. Serious attention is rarely given in school work on how the children develop or express their own feelings and ideas, either linguistically or in graphic form."

I think this is a problem in the school curriculum. I think that if subjects allowed creativity then students would be more open to them and more excited to learn. I remember once in the seventh grade, we had a book journal. It was essentially a book report, but we had blue journals that we wrote in after every chapter and we also drew a picture for every chapter. I loved it. It was way more memorable than the other billion boring book reports or other projects I did.

3)"Scholars in political economy and the sociology of knowledge have recently argued that public schools in complex industrial societies like our own make available different types of educational experience and curriculum knowledge to students in different social classes."

I think that it is interesting that the curriculum of schools is different according to the economic level of the school. I don't think that it is necessarily a bad thing to have different types of educational experiences as long as the quality of the education is equal. I don't think that always happens though.

I found the article interesting and it was a very easy read. I could place my schools in the different categories. I moved from a middle-class school to an affluent school and I did notice the changes in style when I reflect. I think that it is important for creativity to be expressed not only in the affluent schools, but in every school. I think that when a child is allowed to use his or her creativity in school, they retain more information. It provides an outlet for all the extra energy young children have. Personally, I loved when we could make pictures from a scene in the book or do a replica of an archaeological dig and then make up a story about what we think happened there. Those are the kinds of things that stick with you and the rest of it fades in to the background.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Just a story

I talked about this in our small groups during class today, but I forgot to put it in my blog. I thought I would add it as a seperate post. When I was in high school, we had to do the presidential fitness test every year. The coach would conduct it during the first half of the semester. In freshman year, we were being weighed in before we started the test. I've always been athletic and always had a more athletic build. When it was my turn to weigh in, he told me that I was fat and I needed to loose weight. He said similar things to all the other girls in the class, but when a boy who was morbidly obese weighed in, he said nothing. The coach would pick on girls until they just gave up on the activity. He was an absolutely awful teacher and thankfully he was fired after we complained about him.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Talking Points #7

I thought that this website had the right idea about education. It is basically saying that education is beneficial for everyone and that both genders should have the same opportunity for an education. It also said that education is a right and not a privilege. I totally agree. Everyone should have the same education whether they are male or female, rich or poor.

When I was younger, my mother considered sending me to an all girls private school. I hated the idea just because I didn't want to be with only girls all day. I thought it was weird. Looking back now, I still don't really like the idea, but for different reasons. It seperates the male and female education and curriculum. It puts home economics at the girls school and takes wood shop out of the girls school. I think that it is unfair to limit the curriculum based on gender. All kids should have the choice to take wood shop even if they're a girl or take home ec even if they're a boy.
This website had interesting data about the enrollment of girls in schools and how it has gone up, worldwide, over the past thirty years. This gives some hope that equality in schools can be achieved. If girls are just as educated as boys, then it will lead them to the same jobs as the males. Through equalities in schools, we can achieve equality in jobs, housing, and other important issues.