Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bystander Syndrome/Theory??

Just wanted to share what happened this morning. I'm not sure if we referred to it in class as Bystande Theory or Syndrome, but we all know what it means. I live in a condiminium complex and as I pulled in to the parking lot around noon, I heard a man yelling at who I assumed to be his wife/girlfriend/partner...He was using swear words and threatening statements. There have been a few nights when I overheard the same type of yelling from my bedroom windows, but only laid there hoping it would stop so I could sleep. Today, a lightbulb went off, and where I usually would just let it go and hope or think someone else would call the police, I stepped in and called myself. I was witnessing an injustice, even though I could only hear it. I guess maybe I took it upon myself to be the voice for the woman/significant other who was being silenced by this verbal abuser.

Thanks, Dr. Bogad...what a great summer session! I felt very empowered this morning! : )

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Blog-Helpful Hyperlinks

I was trying to find information on the web regarding how to break children from their "silence" for whatever preexisting reasons they may have for not wanting to be heard. I came across a great resource that uses Art Therapy for children from violent homes to get children to express their feelings. I read the foreword to the book and it contained some interesting tips to use to get children to talk. Although this book discusses children who come from violent homes, I think some of the strategies presented may be helpful and can be adapted for various situations (i.e. the children who were silenced in the most recent reading assignments).

Here is another reference that uses Art Therapy to create expression in children who do not want to talk. It is by their innate nature to express themselves more creatively.

This website featured articles, one of which discussed children who are victims of sexual abuse. One of the quotes I found noteworthy about integrating art therapy was, "Art is a non-threatening way to visually communicate anything that is too painful to put into words." While this article focused on children victim to sexual abuse, I think this type of therapy is a way to get through the glass and allow a children to open up in a way that feels safe to them. As educators we must learn how to interpret and use effective tools for communication with children, especially in special education, even if the method does not involve actual verbal communication.

After reviewing the information that exists about Art Therapy, I think it would be a great teaching method to integrate in every classroom. It will specifically reach out to the students who are shy, ashamed, or unwilling to speak what is on their mind. If we can effectively get all students to communicate in one way or another, we will break down the walls and barriers that exist and help these children out of their "silence."

Rodriguez/August Blog--Connections/Questions

I think the two readings from Rogriguez and August share some common themes. While they both focus on different concepts, the underlying message stayed apparent to me. The idea of "silence" or when kids are afraid to say what they are thinking for fear of being judged. I think this is an area to be examined.

In the Rodriguez article, we read of a student from a bilingual (mostly Spanish speaking) family who attended a school where the English language was treated most highly. He was expected to speak only English at school and soon his parents were even asked to do the same in their home to ensure the best learning for this child. In requesting that their household become an English-only one was appaling to me. This child, who felt so comfortable at home "in his own skin" was asked to give up his culture, his very sense of being. This young student retreated to "silence." He may have spoken words, but he was silenced for all that he stood for, for all that his family represented. Families should not have to give up their heritage, but embrace the culture from which they came. This is what makes America the diverse place it is. There is no other country that shares the differences that ours does and we must foster and be proud of what we stand for! Asking a child to steer away from his comfort zone in order to conform to a school society is unfair. When a child becomes "silent" or is unable to express their emotions or feelings, we must take a closer look and examine the causes of these "silences." This child had no where to turn for comfort. His home was no longer a safe haven and he was forced into "silence." He retreated and was forced to conform to the norm. This is unacceptable. As an educator, I find it amazing to listen to bilingual children. They truly have an upperhand in our current society. Translators are always needed and children should be able to acquire the English language while also preserving the heritage and culture from which they came.

Now, in the same sense, the August dissertation focused on Cody's "silence" in the classroom, despite Zeke's multiple attempts to get him to speak. It seemed Cody was an active participant in his classroom, except when it came to fully disclosing that he had two moms. Cody would also be forced in to "silence" all because he did not want to openly share about his home situation, having two lesbian mothers. He subconsciously knew that the societal norm was a mommy and a daddy, it seemed. And because of this "normed" situation, he did not care to share about his family. Rather than accept Cody's "shyness" as he termed it, Zeke prodded and pryed but it took Cody a long time to say the words "two moms." Maybe Zeke's forceful, or designed dialogicality, attempt to create a teachable moment for his classmates, shouldn't have been what he, as a teacher, was to be focused on. Maybe Zeke should have interpreted and further examined Cody's "silence." I think there could have been other instances or ways that Zeke could have addressed Cody's not wanting to discuss his family life with the entire class.

This notion of "silence" has so many underlying meanings. As educators, we must look in to the causes for this "silence" and do whatever we can to create opportunities to break the silence.

How can we get children to talk without feeling pressured?

What tools can we use to create a risk-taking, comfortable learning environment for each and every student?

Is designed dialogicality the best way to be certain that these teachable moments happen? Or is there something special about the dynamic nature of children's conversations?

Will children talk and make themselves heard if they truly want to be heard?

How can we model the importance of diversity in all that we do in the classroom and out?

I used to think I had the answers to all of these questions, but then when I read the articles we have over this summer session, I feel that there is such a huge discrepancy in what I thought actually happened in schools. There is so much for me to learn and that is what will keep it interesting.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tonight's Class...

Hi Everyone,

If anyone would kindly like to send me a few thoughts about what I missed during tonight's class, I would so much appreciate it. My Papa is in the hospital in critical condition so I have been with him all afternoon. I know how important the material we learn in class is so even a comment or two about some key points would be great! Hope to see everyone Monday!

Thank you,

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Extended Comments Blog...GLSEN

Joe started his first paragraph of this week's blog saying,

"Today’s assignment was to surf the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) website. My original thought was, here we go, another special interest group organization. If minorities want to fit in and be like everyone else, why do they segregate themselves by forming “their” organizations? Why do we have BET? And Stonewall Democrats? These organizations seem to say, “Look at us, we’re different.”

There are many instances when I think about certain special interest groups and feel as though they are intentionally attracting the spotlight and receive the attention that they seek. Sometimes, it is "negative" attention. But, this assignment required us to look at GLSEN. Having a cousin who is a lesbian and a second cousin who is gay, I did not question or think negatively about what this website would be about. Instead, I thought about sharing it with my female cousin because she has a very difficult time dealing with acceptance and isn't true to others about her sexual preferences. While she hasn't dealt with many acceptance issues with those around her age, it is our older family members who she is uncomfortable with sharing her orientation.

This website is informational and educational. I think it is so wonderful that it promotes a "safe environment" in schools regarding more than just understanding and accepting others of different sexual orientations. It discusses and has endless links and lesson plans for addressing what I consider to be the biggest issue facing our youth today: bullying. This problem affects children from all backgrounds...biases regarding race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, "beautifulness", etc. are all causes that bring about bullying. Bullying causes many children to feel inferior, less self-confident, and submissive. It is unfair and is a form of injustice that we see in our schools all too often. The GLSEN website is an excellent tool that educators can use in their classroom to address this issue, educate children about the effects of bullying, and evoke the change that is necessary to rid our schools of bullying. As Joe said, "Their [GLSEN] mission is not to cater only to gays, but to work towards safer schools and prevent damage to young lives. Their motto is that ALL students are valued and respected."

I would like to close with my thoughts in response to the following quote from the website and Joe's blog. Danielle Smith, student advocate of the year, who said, “This isn’t a gay movement, this is a civil rights movement.” The natural rights of each human being, regardless of gender, sexual preference, race, or the choices they make in life, MUST be preserved, respected, and advocated for. We must remember that we are all connected in the circle of life. While we may have individual differences, we all share a common bond with this earth. There is no superior race. We are all created equal. These simple statements cannot be forgotten.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Finn Post-Extended Comments in Response to Mary's Blog

Mary wrote:

"In Finn's article, He discusses Anyon's study of the different types of schools, ranging from working class to the elite schools. I tried to determine which type of schooling I received. I think that the middle class school closely matches the experience I had in school. There wasn't a lot of creative thinking and everything was taken from the text book. What I found interesting was that Finn said that most of the middle class teachers grew up in the same city where they teach. Almost all of my teachers in high school lived in the same city and probably received the same type of education as I did. Does this mean that this is what a teacher may know about educating a child ? The same goes for the teachers in the district I am teaching in now. I would say 90% of the teacher's grew up, attended and now teach in the same school."

I think at some point in every post I write, I say, "This article, thought, idea, or notion really got me thinking..." Well, Mary's post did. I began thinking about my childhood schooling, my teachers, and where I lived growing up. While my father worked daily, my mother was able to stay home with me as a young child. I would say I came from a middle class background, never having to go without, but not being spoiled in the sense either. I, however, attended Catholic school. Although not public education, as we have discussed in the past articles, I did receive a well-rounded education. Even in Catholic schools, there was a method and a way of teaching that was not individualized to meet the needs of every child. I remember learning one way to diagram sentences, one way to solve division problems, etc. Hands-on activities and experiments in science class, in my elementary years, I cannot recall. The teachers I had in elementary school ALL lived in my town, and some had even attended the school as a child! Crazy, huh? Guess what? My first three years teaching after one year subbing in public schools was at my very own elementary school. One of the teachers I had in elementary school was now one of my colleagues. The difference was that because our principal was very modern and wanted to keep up with the times, the teaching styles of the teachers also had to change to address the diverse needs of a changing world in education. I would have to say most of the students in our school were from the middle class or below. Did this mean we taught with absolute control? Absolutely, not. We embraced any opportunity to grow professionally to learn how to best suit the needs of the individual learner. My principal fostered a child's growth emotionally, spiritually, physically, but most of all creatively. We, teachers, were encouraged and expected to differentiate instruction and use various times of assessments with our students. So, despite the fact that almost all the teachers were from the same town and even alumni of the school, doesn't mean that they taught like the teachers Finn referenced in the article. I think administration has a whole lot to do with what is going on daily in our schools. If it wasn't for our new principal wanting to make a difference and stay modern, who knows where the school would be. She advocated for every child, especially those that did not have as glorious a homelife as some. Those were the children she treasured most. This may seem far-fetched because this was not a public school, but the connection I'm trying to make and the point I want to get across is that the administration of our schools need to make the difference. Teachers will do what is expected and deemed appropriate as is determined by the higher ups in the power position. Our campaign to end these injustices in certain schools must be directed at the people of power--building principals, superintendents, etc. They are the ones responsible for evoking this change that we are all seeking and hoping for.

PBS Blog-Brief Connection to Kozol's Article

After "playing" on the People Like Us website for a while, I had to pull myself away because I was becoming very aggravated. I cannot believe that simple responses, choices we make each day categorize what social class we belong to. I do not like being labeled. I find it outrageous that the kind of carpet we would choose for our living room, coupled with a wall art selection and type of television can identify which social class we belong to. In the third game, I found the choices to be very biased and stereotypical and, to be honest, wouldn't have chosen any of the options...F. NONE OF THE ABOVE would have been my selection. The fact that a perfect spouse can be identified using one of the statments given was crazy! Having a steady job was about the most important thing to me and my perfect spouse; however, that doesn't entirely matter to me if I am truly happy. But, imagine that, being happy was not even a choice??!! This website raised an awareness for me that every day, we are JUDGED and LABELED by the choices we make, the cars we drive, the food we take for lunch...Social class is determined by every word that echoes in our very ears. Is this what our world has come to? Why has social class become such a determining factor for all of our lives? As in Kozol's article, it discussed how where you live determines what kind of schooling your child will be given. This is so true. If you live in the right part of the state, drive the elite cars, and have an affluent career, your child will be given a better, more creative education. Those who cannot afford the above listed are forced to suffer and their children are forced to attend school with poor conditions. Our "class" determines our futures. This is an unfortunate and sad determination. We must not fall at fault to this. We have to beat the system and be better than this. We need to get children out of this mindset. Their class may determine where they go to school, unfortunately, but, as teachers, we must show them a way out, a way to a better and brighter future. We cannot allow them to believe that they are doomed into a "category" for the rest of their lives. Success can be granted to all.