Sunday, December 1, 2013

Talking Points #10: Connections for Ira Shor's “Education is Politics"

A) Shor, Ira. Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1992. Print.

"To educate is to adapt the child to adult social environment" (Shor 12). 

    In Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change, Ira Shor argues that in order for a sense of democracy to be established in schools, school curriculums must allow for students to become active participants in the classroom. Shor points out that at times, curriculum can serve as an issue concerning individual students' learning. Jean Piaget refers to it as a "deficiency" (Shor 12), but only when students are not actively engaged in critical thinking processes. This particular design of curriculum fails to provide students with material that will truly aid them in considering diverse perspectives, in addition to gaining deeper insight. It demonstrates "no need for change" (Shor 12), even when the need is evident. Shor states that students will benefit more so from a curriculum that is centered on inquiry, for it allows them to personally reflect upon issues of importance.

As I was reading Shor's piece, I took note that ideas from the text could also serve as an accumulation of all of the readings/themes that we have done this semester. I was able to connect "Education is Politics" to a number of the theories:
  • Johnson: Shor argues that "administrations and institutions" (Shor 15) possess the power to determine the curriculum in schools. Issues of privilege, power, and difference are prevalent in some schools according to Shor's text: "...existing canons of knowledge and usage are not a common culture; they have ignored the multicultural themes, idioms, and achievements of nonelite groups, such as women, minorities, homosexuals, and working people" (Shor 32).
  • Delpit: "The teacher is the person who mediates the relationship between outside authorities, formal knowledge, and individual students in the classroom" (Shor 13). The Silenced Dialogue states that there are rules and codes of power in the classroom, where "teachers make numerous decisions" (Shor 14).
  • Kozol: Amazing Grace offers readers awareness into the role of the system and its effects on citizens. "[The] knowledge that now gets into schools is already a choice from a much larger universe of possible social knowledge and principles.... Social and economic values, hence, are already embedded in the design of the institutions we work in..." (Shor 13). The power accessed by "institutions" (Shor 15) is a part of this "system" (Shor 18). The system can benefit students, but it can also produce undesired effects when the curriculum meets the status quo.
  • Rodriguez: The author shares his personal struggle with the language barrier in his essay, "Aria." Through Rodriguez's silence, the depth of his learning was restricted. In "Education is Politics," Shor shares an example from Elsasser and Irvine (1987) regarding sacrificing private identity in school for society's public identity.
  • Collier: Collier argues for a "balanced and multicultural" (Shor 14) curriculum in "Teaching Multilingual Children." To revert back to the 1987 example from Elsasser and Irvine, the writing teachers "taught the community idiom, Creole, and Standard English simultaneously" (Shor 48), in an effort to make a more inclusive learning environment.
  • August: Safe Spaces discusses the benefits of having an inclusive curriculum in schools. In Empowering Education, Shor also argues for an "inclusive" (Shor 32) curriculum, as opposed to a curriculum "viewed as exclusion" (Shor 32).
  • Kohl: Shor argues that a curriculum that fails to engage students can promote a "lack of passion for learning" (Shor 26) in the classroom. In "I Won't Learn From You!," Kohl provides numerous instances in which students have "sometimes [resisted] the intentions of the school and the teacher" (Shor 13). Shor states that "the authoritarian traditional curriculum itself generates bad feelings which lead many students to resist or sabotage lessons" (Shor 24). 
  • Kohn: In "Five Reasons to Stop Saying 'Good Job!'", Kohn implies that praise in the classroom can sometimes serve as "indicators of comparative achievement and worth" (Shor 23), as Shor also details in "Education is Politics."
  • Christensen: Like Shor, Linda Christensen emphasizes that students need to be active participants in the classroom, while also acquiring knowledge about society. Christensen says that individuals are not aware of the "secret education" created by society until made aware, but, according to Shor, this education cannot be evaluated until curriculum in schools involve an "automatic reproduction of society through the classroom" (Shor 13). Christensen also implies that this secret education "teaches students what kind of people to be and what kind of society to build" (Shor 15). Shor believes that school curriculum should enable students to "reflect on reality" (Shor 22), and, like Christensen, "take action" (Shor 22). In "Unlearning the Myths that Bind Us," students in Christensen's classroom took a participatory role. Society did not enforce them on how to "act, live, and dream" (Christensen 126), but rather, students took a deeper glimpse into the influence of society. Shor even uses Christensen's work on page 53 of the text as an example to demonstrate this theory.
  • Kahne & Westheimer: Kahne and Westheimer discuss political goals of service learning, as well as community involvement in regards to citizenship, in "In the Service of What?" Shor believes that schools should "promote democracy" (Shor 11) through curriculum. These authors encourage the need for "transformative" (Shor 16) learning experiences. Like Shor, Kahne and Westheimer also state that means for "[reflection] on reality" (Shor 22) is essential in schools, and that a "democratic transformation of society" (Shor 29) will only occur through students' "active citizenship" (Shor 29).
  • Brown v. Board of Education: The case of Brown v. Board of Education reflected the fight for racial equality in schools. At the beginning of "Education is Politics," Shor poses the question of how education can both "promote democracy and serve students equitably" (Shor 11), while later providing solutions.
I found that Shor's piece was able to connect to all of the course themes/theories.
Question: Have you seen evidence of the curriculum that Shor promotes in your Service Learning classrooms?

Additional References:
Christensen, Linda. "Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us: Critiquing Cartoons and Society." Rethinking Schools 01 Feb. 2007: 126-137. Print.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Talking Points #9: Quotes on Kliewer's “Schooling Children with Down Syndrome"

A) Kliewer, Christopher. Schooling Children with Down Syndrome: Toward an Understanding of Possibility (Special Education Series). New York, N.Y.: Teachers College Press, 1998. Print.

1) "Now we know that people with disabilities can learn and have a full, rich life. The challenge is to erase negative attitudes about people with developmental disabilities, get rid of the stereotypes and break the barriers for people with disabilities. (Kingsley, 1996, p. 6)" (Kliewer 71).

    Schooling Children with Down Syndrome provides others with a look into the educational opportunities that can be available to students with Down Syndrome when society's negative judgments of those with disabilities is disregarded. Those who are considered less privileged may not fit into the mold created by society. This is where judgment arises, and this is where difference evolves. Everyone should be valued. We were created to be one people. Why can't we allow for this to be a reality? How can we permit for society to say otherwise? Barriers are constructed and stereotypes evolve concerning individuals with disabilities when others cast judgment on them. Kliewer quoted a line stated by Paulo Freire: "How can I dialogue if I always project ignorance onto others and never perceive my own? (p. 71)" (Kliewer 73). This is where judgment stems. How can one look negatively on another without examining his/her own faults? Why should he or she perceive the innocent in a negative light in the first place? In this text, Kliewer explores a number of situations in which students with Down Syndrome had their lives altered for the better when these negative barriers were broken, and when stereotypes were cast aside.
2) "How absurd to be judged by others at all, especially by those who have never experienced a disability or who are unwillingly providing us with support or who don't listen to the voices we have. (Snow, p. 12)" (Kliewer 72).

    In the text, Christopher Kliewer emphasizes that dialogue is an important part of establishing community, that "democracy can only occur when no person's voice is deterministically silenced" (Kliewer 72). Society often overlooks recognizing the humanity and individuality of a single person. Society mistakenly attributes the negative to one who is diagnosed with a disability, never truly emphasizing his/her individuality and abilities. Kliewer quotes Paulo Freire in regards to this silence and judgment. Freire states that "Dialogue cannot occur... between those who deny others the right to speak their word and those whose right to speak has been denied them. (p. 69)" (Kliewer 72-73). Kliewer's text explores the challenges that students with Down Syndrome face involving society, and how community is established when their voices are heard. The examples of John Mcgough and Christine Durovich demonstrate how society can segregate those with disabilities, but when community makes an effort to work together, the silence disappears and the true individual shines through. Shayne Robbins of Shoshone School was a perfect example of a teacher who catered to each individual child, and did not segregate students due to disabilities. Rather, Shayne established a sense of community within her classroom, and valued each student while providing them each with support and beneficial learning experiences. Shayne listened to her students, and did not dismiss their dialogue (whether spoken or through motion). There is an importance and value to listening. In Schooling Children with Down Syndrome, Kliewer advocates for listening to others, and through this action, one shows that another is valued.

3) "[Community] requires a willingness to see people as they are - different perhaps in their minds and in their bodies, but not different in their spirits or in their willingness and ability to contribute to the mosaic of society. (Snow, p. 12)" (Kliewer 73).
    Colleen Madison, the second-grade teacher of Lee Larson, a child with Down Syndrome, reflected on society's judgment of those with disabilities: "That's what they see, but they wouldn't be seeing him [Lee]... It's your stereotype, your mind-set" (Kliewer 84). Why does society retain such a tendency to view people differently, and to not take in regards one's strengths and individuality? With the example of John Mcgough, John's move to Mendocino was for the better. "[H]e's accepted for what he is, not what he isn't. (quoted in Andrews, 1995, p. 105)" (Kliewer 86). In Mendocino, community was formed to recognize the value and importance of each member. The establishment of community is a model that we should follow, that should already be in existence. Kliewer states that "opportunity cannot exist outside of community acceptance" (Kliewer 75). Society's perception of those with disabilities creates a false image, and results in exclusion and oppression. Kliewer reinforces this issue by writing, "It is not the individual who owns the problem; rather, the dilemma exists in the interconnected relationships that both form and hinder community" (Kliewer 94).

I found that Christopher Kliewer's Schooling Children with Down Syndrome could be connected to a number of our class readings. Two of the themes that I felt were quite present in Kliewer's text were the issues of silence and segregation:
  • So many students with Down Syndrome have been segregated in their schooling due to their disability. This segregation by disability sometimes results in frustration and sadness. When teachers and schools based classroom curriculum on the individual needs of students, the results were wonderful. The case of Brown v. Board of Education initiated the Civil Rights Movement. Segregation in schools was a major issue during this time, and it resulted in unequal educational opportunities for blacks, as well as unfair treatment by society. When Plessy v. Ferguson was overturned, racial segregation was deemed unconstitutional, and schools would later work to offer equal educational opportunities.
  • In "Aria," Richard Rodriguez explored the frustrations of having his voice silenced due to having to deal with the language barrier. Kliewer's text presents the issues created by society that are posed at students with Down Syndrome and disabilities. There are barriers in the educational field regarding children with disabilities, and these barriers result in segregation and silence. So many voices have been silenced due to society's recognition of disabilities, rather than the recognition and value of abilities and individuality.

Additional References:
Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Behring Center. Separate Is Not Equal: Brown v. Board of Education. Smithsonian; Zamore Design; Morgan Stanley. Web. 01 Nov. 2013.

Rodriguez, Richard. "Aria." Tongue-Tied: The Lives of Multilingual Children in Public Education. Ed. Otto Santa Ana. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2004. 34-39. Print.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Social Justice Event: Reflection on Diversity Week

On October 7th, I attended two Social Justice events that took place on campus during Diversity Week. After partaking in these events, I found that I could directly link each event to readings that we have done in class.

Diversity Week Events:
  • Sociology 208 - Minority Group Relations (Open Class)
  • Interfaith Center Forum
Sociology 208 - Minority Group Relations
    The first Diversity Week event that I attended was an open sociology class on minority group relations. The primary focus of the lesson for that particular day was on the issue regarding the concepts of "whiteness" and "blackness" in society. As I took notes during the lecture, I felt that I could relate the themes discussed in the sociology class to the issues of white privilege and racism that we have discussed in class. Racism, the treatment of certain groups, issues of privilege in society, and confronting societal issues surfaced. Peggy McIntosh's "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" was also brought into the sociology class discussion.
    The Discussion Surrounding the Sociology Lesson:
    Whiteness is not to be mistaken as identity, but rather, should be regarded as a structure. It is a structural logic, and the idea of "whiteness" enacts power to those who promote it, namely white supremacists (those who promote anti-blackness). Society argues that whiteness is a "normative" reality of everyday life, and that any individual can inhabit whiteness. Yet whiteness is a code for white supremacy. Under white supremacy, the concept of anti-blackness originates.
    Being both human and a citizen is considered of universal logic, separate from the structural premise of white supremacy. As humans, we are entitled to rights. The universal concept is that we, as both humans and citizens, are granted civil rights. Civil rights are also human rights, therefore as a human, an individual can be a victim. Blacks are victimized, but social logic claims that blacks are not victims. The ideology of white supremacy calls blackness "non-human." These ideas derive from the concept of "anti-blackness."
    The structure of identity differentiates from other societal structures. However, these concepts present what is considered of value to society. Discrimination plays a major role in these ideologies, but it serves as part of a larger enterprise. Blackness is viewed as at the bottom of the societal structure, and anti-blackness is where discrimination is at. (For example, southern Italians were discriminated against because their living location was close to the African continent. White supremacists considered them black. Joseph Stalin was white racially, and murdered whites. He had a white supremacist mindset.)
   White supremacy is still in existence, and anti-blackness can root itself in any individual. One must remember that white supremacy has nothing to do with racial identity. Civil society never attended to anti-blackness. Anti-blackness is not just a term targeting blacks. The term is called racism as opposed to anti-blackness and white supremacy.
    In The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B Du Bois presents that the problem of the system is anti-blackness/white supremacy. In this particular sociology class, the professor stated that Du Bois' text focused on the topic of: "You know what the problem is. What are you going to do?" (*This idea is exactly what Allan G. Johnson and Linda Christensen promote.) White supremacy is soulless, and those who adopt the immoral ideology are soulless, regardless of their racial identity. White supremacy and anti-blackness corrupt pureness, for the structure itself is soulless.
    White privilege reestablishes these issues. It involves the use of micro-aggressions, which are viewed as affirmative actions to the idea of white privilege in society. The behavior of members of society leads to a re-perpetuation of the structure. The basis of society is structural, but one can still combat it somewhat from the inside. One can resist white supremacy by working against the structure, and embracing blackness.
Interfaith Center Forum
    The second Diversity Week event that I attended was the Interfaith Forum in the Interfaith Center. All participants discussed personal faith backgrounds and contributed ideas to the forum in regards to what would interest both students and staff, as well as make the Interfaith Center inviting to the entire campus community. It was quite a welcoming environment, and the group seemed to value each individual's perspective on potential activities. The course theme that I felt was most prevalent in the Interfaith Forum was the idea of creating a safe space (*August, Kennedy, and Vaccaro's Safe Spaces) for all.
    The basis of the discussion of the forum was for everyone to embrace faith, and to be respectful of religion. The group offered input as to what activities could be developed in the Interfaith Center that would allow for people of the same faith or different faiths to come together. In a sense, this could relate to the idea of an integrated curriculum. The creation of artwork and music, and icebreakers were taken into account as possible activities for members of the campus community to participate in. What would make the community feel invited and comfortable? The Interfaith Forum also sought to educate others that it serves as a place to go on campus when one is seeking help or is in distress. Someone may need a friend or may simply would like to get to know others. Students and staff have stated that they have either taken interest in learning more about their personal faiths, or about other faiths.
    Safe Spaces provides a number of methods for educators to use to help make schools safer places for LGBT youth. The Interfaith Center is trying to adopt new tools to ensure a safe experience, and I do believe that it is a safe environment for all of the campus community.
Text References:
Du Bois, W.E.B. The Souls of Black Folk, Dover Thrift Editions. Dover Publications; Unabridged Edition, 1994. Print.
McIntosh, Peggy. "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack." Independent School Winter 1990: 1-6. Print.
Johnson, Allan G. Privilege, Power, and Difference. McGraw-Hill; 2nd edition, 2005. Print.
Christensen, Linda. "Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us: Critiquing Cartoons and Society." Rethinking Schools 01 Feb. 2007: 126-137. Print.
August, Gerri, Megan S. Kennedy, and Annemarie Vaccaro. Safe Spaces: Making Schools and Communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth. Praeger, 2011. 1, 83-100. Print.
Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Behring Center. Separate Is Not Equal: Brown v. Board of Education. Smithsonian; Zamore Design; Morgan Stanley. Web. 01 Nov. 2013.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Talking Points #7: Free Response on “Readings" on Brown v. Board of Education

A) Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Behring Center. Separate Is Not Equal: Brown v. Board of Education. Smithsonian; Zamore Design; Morgan Stanley. Web. 01 Nov. 2013.

Wise, Tim. "Between Barack and a Hard Place." Ring of Fire. Web. 01 Nov. 2013.

Herbert, Bob. "Separate and Unequal." New York Times 21 Mar. 2011. Op-Ed: A27. Print.

What is the relationship between the historical issues you see in the website on Brown v. Board of Education and the contemporary issues of race that Bob Herbert and Tim Wise raise here?
There is an interconnected relationship between the historical issues that I see in the website on Brown v. Board of Education and the contemporary issues of race that Bob Herbert and Tim Wise raise. All three deal with the issues of equality and segregation in society, although each differentiates in forms of equality/segregation.

Historical Issues
May 17, 1954 marked a pivotal moment in history. The case of Brown v. Board of Education sparked the initiation of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, with the segregation of race in education being deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
    Although the Civil War abolished slavery in the United States, racial division continued to be an issue in society. Segregation developed as a result of the unjust and unfair mindset of some white Americans. These white Americans valued "whiteness," thus laws and regulations in each state began to surface promoting segregation. Even with the existence of the Reconstruction Amendments, much inequality developed. The Amendments posed new equalities to blacks, but segregation itself did not conform to these laws, but rather, acted contrary to them. Voting rights, although one of the many steps taken in helping to support complete freedom for African Americans, was dismissed, therefore not enabling freedom, but limiting it. This occurred as a result of the actions of whites who had chosen to oppress blacks, the "white supremacists." Segregation was also enacted through the Jim Crow Legislation laws, as well as political campaigns. The Civil War had eliminated the issue of slavery, yet society's treatment of African Americans proved that everything was far from equal.
    Efforts were taken by African Americans, Chinese Americans, Jews, Irish Americans, and whites [who had chosen not to oppress], to strive for racial equality. Many of the cases presented in court ruled in favor of segregation. The case of Plessy v. Ferguson ruled that segregation was not unconstitutional because there "was no discrimination." Yet segregation itself was wrong, unequal, immoral, and everything discriminatory. A series of cases then appeared in both federal courts and the Supreme Court surrounding the major issue that segregation created involving citizens' rights to an equal education. Communities fought back to the unjust treatment that they faced in schools. Public schooling was viewed by Americans as an essential element in establishing democracy. Yet segregation set so many children apart from this "entitlement."    Some judges then ruled in favor of racial desegregation in schools. African Americans took laborious efforts to construct a legal plan that would combat segregation. Howard University School of Law and NAACP were among the institutions that aided in promoting this battle. Lawsuits arose that challenged segregated school systems. Charles Hamilton Houston, the Vice Dean of the Howard University School of Law in 1929, was one of the most influential figures of the Civil Rights Movement. He took considerable efforts to put an end to this discrimination against blacks. Houston's personal experience with racial prejudice as an artillery officer influenced him into the practice of law, and he took on a number of civil rights cases. Houston also created a program at the Howard University School of Law that integrated civil rights into the curriculum. He trained world-class lawyers, as well as mentored and graduated Thurgood Marshall (*pictured). Houston helped to found the National Bar Association, and was also a leader of the NAACP. Marshall argued a number of cases that were successful.
    NAACP's Legal Defense Fund won a significant amount of cases, drawing attention to the issue of segregation in all grade levels: Kindergarten through university. The Brown v. Board of Education case first appeared in Topeka Kansas, when Oliver Brown joined the lawsuit. Brown's daughter, Linda, was forced to walk a series of blocks to reach the bus stop that would take her to the black elementary school. The white school was only seven blocks from her home, but Linda had to travel over a mile to attend school because she was black. Following the NAACP's input, Brown attempted to enroll Linda into the white school, but was denied. A lawsuit followed, with Brown among fourteen parents from Topeka acting as plaintiffs in the case. A federal court did not rule in favor of the plaintiffs, but their appeal was taken to the Supreme Court.
    Brown v. Board of Education was a compilation of cases throughout the nation that involved the issue of segregation in America's schools. Thurgood Marshall was among the attorneys that argued for integration in education. In 1953, Earl Warren was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Warren supported desegregation in schools, whereas his predecessor, Fred Vinson, had not previously ruled in favor of it. A unanimous decision was reached, and Plessy v. Ferguson was overturned. Segregation was separate and not equal, therefore it was deemed unconstitutional. Desegregation in schools then resulted.

Contemporary Issues of Race
    Bob Herbert argues in "Separate and Unequal" that segregation still exists in present-day society, but not in the same way as it had during the Civil Rights era. Herbert calls to mind a rather different outlook on segregation: separate schools for the rich and poor. Although race can be linked to this form of segregation, its connection is primarily due to income. Privilege affects the academic environment, thus influencing the academic success of a student. This is quite similar to the issue that Allan G. Johnson raises in "Privilege, Power, and Difference," where he argues that privilege and class can either positively or negatively affect an individual. Herbert states that financial stability creates segregation in communities. The issue today is not based on race in schools, but rather on income's effects on black and Hispanic children in poor public schools.
    Tim Wise argues that evidence of racism and discrimination against blacks continues to remain. Wise states that whites do obtain certain privileges, whereas society may not see the potential of blacks due to particular styles. Society demands that blacks meet certain standards, even if they are equally or more competent than white peers. Wise also argues that while the nation is moving forward in terms of combating racism, it is false for society to behave as if it is truly in a post-racial state.

"Between Barack and a Hard Place": Ring of Fire Interview with Tim Wise
What does Wise have to do with Brown v. Board of Education?
    Wise speaks of the landmarks that have been established in history dealing with racism in the United States. While Wise relates that there have been a series of events that have helped to promote equality and desegregation (for example, Barack Obama being elected president), he believes that Brown v. Board of Education was the biggest event, as part of the Civil Rights Movement.    Similar to Brown v. Board of Education and the stress for equal opportunity in schools, there is a quote by Wise concerning equality in society: "If we're going to have a truly equal opportunity society, we have to have a truly equal opportunity society, and the evidence that we will have accomplished that is when we begin to see the research and the evidence on discrimination... begin to diminish" (Wise,

"Separate and Unequal" by Bob Herbert
How do the issues that Bob Herbert raises shape how you think about Brown v. Board of Education?
    The main concern that Bob Herbert raises in his article is that schools are segregated based on income within a particular community, and race is sometimes involved. After reading "Separate but Unequal," I did understand the financial issue that Herbert was addressing, and how it can deal with race. However, this form of segregation is different form the segregation that existed during the Civil Rights movement. The issues that Herbert raises makes me refer to the issues of equality from the era of Brown v. Board of Education, but the form of segregation (in this case: financial) is still different from racism.

As I examined each piece in regards to the case of Brown v. Board of Education and inequality in education, I took note that many of the readings that we have discussed in class could connect to the text.
For example:
  • Allan G. Johnson's "Privilege, Power, and Difference" - The three titular elements of Johnson's text can be found in the case of Brown v. Board of Education, the Tim Wise Interview, and Bob Herbert's "Separate but Unequal."
  • Jonathan Kozol's "Amazing Grace"- Racism and poverty are major issues in these readings.
  • "Safe Spaces" by August, Kennedy, and Vaccaro - Inequality and unjust treatment result from oppression, and there is a need for safe spaces and an integrated curriculum in schools.
  • Linda Christensen's "Unlearning the Myths that Bind Us" - Society creates these major issues, and action is needed and action is taken to combat oppression.
Additional References:
Johnson, Allan G. Privilege, Power, and Difference. McGraw-Hill; 2nd edition, 2005. Print.

Kozol, Jonathan. Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation. Harper Perennial, 1995. Print.

August, Gerri, Megan S. Kennedy, and Annemarie Vaccaro. Safe Spaces: Making Schools and Communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth. Praeger, 2011. 1, 83-100. Print.

Christensen, Linda. "Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us: Critiquing Cartoons and Society." Rethinking Schools 01 Feb. 2007: 126-137. Print.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Talking Points #6: The Argument of Kahne & Westheimer's “In the Service of What?"

A) Kahne, Joseph; Westheimer, Joel. "In The Service Of What? The Politics of Service Learning." Phi Delta Kappan 1996: 1-15. Print.

    Kahne and Westheimer argue that service learning experiences contain underlying objectives, that of which can be separated into the categories of moral, political, and intellectual development. The authors address that the intentions behind service learning are not often explored, thus Kahne and Westheimer present these ideas in their text. "In the Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning" concludes with the idea that service learning possesses more political motives. A number of students and educators mentioned throughout the text appear to be either opposed to or in agreement with this stance on the subject, although Kahne and Westheimer also argue that moral, political, and intellectual goals often work hand-in-hand.
    The authors of this particular text present the idea that "controversial issues surrounding the means and ends of service learning" (Kahne and Westheimer 2) do exist. Service learning is meant to produce a beneficial impact on target communities. However, each experience differentiates. Kahne and Westheimer emphasize that these outcomes vary based upon the moral, political, and/or intellectual goals of the student participating in this form of service. Regardless of one's intentions (whether moral, political, and/or intellectual), all participants of service learning are involved in identifying an issue and working to come to a solution. This education is directly related to Allan G. Johnson's "Privilege, Power, and Difference," for Johnson also obtains this outlook regarding the issues of difference and privilege within society. Service learning experiences provide a greater look into the social problems of society, and both Kahne and Westheimer state that this service "[responds] to America's social problems" (Kahne and Westheimer 7).
  • EX: Case in point with the example of the middle school music classroom. The parents of the students participating in this service learning experience had false perceptions of the reality of the lives of the poor income elementary school children, thus creating warped imagery in the minds of their own children. When the middle school students developed relationships with this set of youth, and had undergone this hands-on experience, they came back with new mindsets based on the true reality.
                     Moral Goals
    The text argues that service learning is presently focused more so on charity, for it is often promoted over change. The moral purpose of service learning is to care and/or give back to a particular community. Students work to understand the strife that those less fortunate encounter on a daily basis, and attempt to promote change. What if society were to promote and integrate both charity and change? However, there is a distinct difference between efforts of "charity" and "change." Change permits students to consider the viewpoints of those faced with a specific struggle, whereas the outcome of charity does not always include this. The difference is based on the presence of the relationship between the student and the target community. Change promotes the development of respective relationships. Imagine if both charity and change were correlated?

                                                                    Political Goals
    In terms of the political outlooks regarding service learning, students work towards establishing a "strong democracy" (Kahne and Westheimer 6) and explore aspects of citizenship. Civic duty is emphasized.  The political element of some service learning experiences primarily centers on the issue of developing citizenship. It acts as a way in which to promote democracy in both society and target communities, enabling the influence of good citizenship and an impact on the rights of citizens. However, those like Benjamin Barber argue that the basis of service learning should rely solely on charity and empathy for others. Others claim that both citizenship and charity are interconnected, therefore providing an alternate stance on the subject. The text later stresses that citizenship is needed to enforce political action, and that charity alone cannot undertake this task. This is a bit of a perplexing issue. While this is valid in some cases, what about the instances when this notion does not ring true? Political motive is not always the intent for students participating in service learning.

        Intellectual Goals
    The intellectual goal of service learning seeks to promote rich learning experiences for students, as well as academic growth. Intellectual development always serves as a component of service learning, on behalf of both participants: the student and the respective community. However, the experience differentiates per student, resulting in "varying" levels of intellectual achievement. Community also impacts intellectual development, with the intent of benefitting both the student and community.

    At my Service Learning placement on Friday, I was working with a student on prewriting. His assignment was to write an essay based on a selection of prompts, and the prompt he chose was quite relative to some of the work that we've done in class (Issue in Society). When we developed main ideas based on this prompt, he wanted to write about how everyone wants to meet certain expectations, and that they are both a part of this issue as well as the solution. I thought that this was interesting because it goes back to Allan G. Johnson's text. The student also wanted to write about the political aspects of this issue.

Additional References: Johnson, Allan G. Privilege, Power, and Difference. McGraw-Hill; 2nd edition, 2005. Print.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Revisiting Kozol & August with Johnson

I realized that in two of my previous posts (Talking Points #1 & 3), I had forgotten to include connections to other texts that we had discussed in class. As I revisited these posts, I found that both Jonathan Kozol's "Amazing Grace" and "Safe Spaces" by Vaccaro, August, and Kennedy could be directly linked to Allan G. Johnson's "Privilege, Power, and Difference."

Jonathan Kozol's "Amazing Grace"
    Kozol's text reflects the struggle that so many individuals experience as a result of living in conditions of poverty. In Mott Haven, the health of both children and adults is compromised, due to the polluted atmosphere and perpetual risk of disease. Crime rate is high, and the poverty level is of the worst in the entire nation.
    If one were to refer back to Johnson's "Privilege, Power, and Difference," he/she would find that one of the differences in society that he analyzes is social class. Johnson's text explains how privilege determines who holds power, and in the case of "Amazing Grace," the citizens of Mott Haven had little power due to their poverty. In the instance of the incinerator, it was placed in Mott Haven as opposed to Manhattan due to the refusal of the upper class citizens. Mott Haven's hospitals were also in harsh conditions, where patients were forced to wait days in order to be seen. Crime ran rampant in the area, whereas reduced levels of crime may have been reported in districts of higher class. The difference that Johnson explains in his text is quite relative to Kozol's "Amazing Grace," for this difference of privilege was evident, as it affected the lives of all citizens of Mott Haven. 

"Safe Spaces" by Annemarie Vaccaro, Gerri August, & Megan Kennedy
    "Safe Spaces: Making Schools and Communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth" examines the struggles that LGBT youth face in the educational setting. So many LGBT youth have had their voices silenced. They have been subjected to harassment and exclusion, as well as have become victims of suicide. "Safe Spaces" explores the constant battle that LGBT youth experience, as well as provides helpful methods for educators to use to help make schools safer places.
    In Johnson's "Privilege, Power, and Difference," the author discusses how the issue of privilege relates to race, gender, sexual orientation, and social class. One group has privilege over another, which results in greater power for a certain group over other groups. This issue of privilege creates difference, and the treatment of individuals differs. On page 32 and 33 of "Privilege, Power, and Difference," Johnson provides multiple examples of heterosexual privilege. The treatment of those who do not fit these molds of "privilege" is always unfair, as this is evident for LGBT youth, as well as in the case of the residents of Mott Haven.
Kozol, Jonathan. Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation. Harper Perennial, 1995. Print.
August, Gerri, Megan S. Kennedy, and Annemarie Vaccaro. Safe Spaces: Making Schools and Communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth. Praeger, 2011. 1, 83-100. Print.

Johnson, Allan G. Privilege, Power, and Difference. McGraw-Hill; 2nd edition, 2005. Print.

Talking Points #5: Connections for Linda Christensen's “Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us"

A) Christensen, Linda. "Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us: Critiquing Cartoons and Society." Rethinking Schools 01 Feb. 2007: 126-137. Print.

    Linda Christensen's "Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us" serves as an informative piece that permits readers to take a step back and truly analyze the influence of "American culture" (Christensen 126) on society and children. Christensen argues that certain cartoons, fairy tales, children's books, and television programs are actually educating children in an improper way, posing "myths" about acceptance, success, and happiness that will subsequently impact children's mindsets. As I was reading, I found that the points that Christensen raised in the text were actually quite relative to some of the texts that we have discussed in class, most notably Allan G. Johnson's "Privilege, Power, and Difference," as well as Peggy McIntosh's "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" and Richard Rodriguez's "Aria."

Linking the Text to Johnson's "Privilege, Power, and Difference"

    One of the main ideas of Christensen's to article is expressed in one line on page 126: "Our society's culture industry colonizes their minds and teaches them how to act, live, and dream" (Christensen 126). Christensen goes on to state that "often the world depicts the domination of one sex, one race, one class, or one country over a weaker counterpart" (Christensen 126). I found this quote to be quite befitting to the affirmations made by Allan G. Johnson in "Privilege, Power, and Difference." Johnson's text thoroughly explores the differences of society, as well as its relation to power and privilege. Privilege induces power, and power from the individuals who choose to oppress enables these differences, for it creates it. Christensen presents society's differences in "Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us," and also shows how and where it is derived. Johnson continuously speaks of the differences, declaring that "the trouble we're in privileges some groups at the expense of others" (Johnson 9). If we analyze Johnson's quote, we would find that this issue directly relates to the issue that Christensen brings about in her text (i.e. The media and literacy that children are influenced by displays both privilege and power by certain groups.). Christensen also discusses the influence of this depiction of privilege on children and how the media's representation of difference has helped to mold the society that children are surrounded by.

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    The second main idea that I came across in Christensen's article can be found on page 133 of the text (Justine's quote): " can be overwhelming and discouraging to find that our self-images have been formed by others, but if we don't dissect them, we will continue to be influenced by them" (Christensen 133). Society has helped to shape individual perceptions negatively, and some children's media and literacy can actually aid in enabling this. However, if one chooses to dismiss these issues/differences, how will he or she be able to stop this negative influence? The quote reminded me of Johnson's article, and how everyone is a part of the problem, as well as the solution. We just need to make the effort to promote change, to ask the questions that both Christensen and Johnson encourage. In spite of alterations, difference may continue to remain. However, Christensen implies that change is needed to attempt to eliminate these issues, but first, one must be able to identify the problems and take initiative. Johnson sums this up perfectly: " means I have to take the initiative to find out how privilege operates in the world, how it affects people, and what all that has to do with me. It means I have to think the unthinkable, speak the unspeakable, break the silence, acknowledge the elephant, and then take my share of responsibility for what comes next" (Johnson 10-11).

Linking the Text to McIntosh's "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" 
    Christensen's "Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us" offers a greater glimpse into the issue of privilege. What may come as a surprise to some is that privilege is rather quite evident in children's cartoons, films, etc. Some may not even be aware of the "secret education" (Christensen 127) that is hidden in these forms of media. McIntosh also implies this in her article, providing examples of white privilege in television, children's toys, books, etc.

Linking the Text to Rodriguez's "Aria"

    I was also reminded of Richard Rodriguez's struggle with the language barrier when I read about Kenya's perspective on the issue of "...a society that rarely acknowledges the wit or beauty of women of her race" (Christensen 131). It made me think of society pressuring Rodriguez to replace his native dialogue, eliminating a part of his identity and culture due to solely learning English (society's language) because he did not understand how to learn both languages. Kenya's example relates to Rodriguez in a sense, because society had dismissed her race and culture for what was considered privileged, similar to Rodriguez, whose culture and language was seemingly discarded for society's language.

  • How can we distinguish the difference between what children's films/cartoons/literacy/media promote and do not promote issues of difference and privilege?
  • How can we promote change and take initiative in order to succeed in achieving this goal?
  • How can we, too, attempt to "unlearn" these "myths" created by society?
Additional References:
Johnson, Allan G. Privilege, Power, and Difference. McGraw-Hill; 2nd edition, 2005. Print.

McIntosh, Peggy. "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack." Independent School Winter 1990: 1-6. Print.

Rodriguez, Richard. "Aria." Tongue-Tied: The Lives of Multilingual Children in Public Education. Ed. Otto Santa Ana. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2004. 34-39. Print.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Talking Points #4: Reflection on Kohn's “Five Reasons to Stop Saying ‘Good Job!'" & Kohl's “I Won't Learn From You!"

A) "Five Reasons to Stop Saying 'Good Job!'." Kohn, Alfie. Alfie Kohn, 2001. Web. 11 Oct. 2013.
Kohl, Herbert. "I Won't Learn From You!: Thoughts on the Role of Assent in Learning." Rethinking Schools, Autumn 1992 Vol 7, No 1: 165. Print.

Upon reading the texts by both Kohn and Kohl, I was reminded of a child who I had baby-sat for. He exhibited the behavior discussed throughout both texts, therefore I could relate my own personal experience to the arguments made and the examples provided for the corresponding texts.
Kohn's "Five Reasons to Stop Saying 'Good Job!'"
    Kohn argues in "Five Reasons to Stop Saying 'Good Job!' that an overabundance of praise can cause children to become reluctant of their own emotions, for they come to rely solely on the approval of another (in place of their own individual mindset). Not only will a child not be able to formulate his or her own opinions and decisions, but excess praise can alter a child's behavior in a negative manner. This form of "praise" does not help the child, but rather, hurts the child, causing them to become dependent on others' opinions in order to be satisfied. This satisfaction, however, is based on the feelings of the one giving praise, and the child's behavior changes, in a way that is either withdrawn or where the child simply comes to expect constant praise.
    The author of the text also identifies how the actions of a child receiving much praise become less genuine, meaning that constant acknowledgement, even when praise is unnecessary, can result in less acts of generosity. In addition, Kohn later goes on to state that certain individuals reward children who have misbehaved with praise.
    While reading the article, I was reminded of my experience with this particular child. I had observed that his parent would regularly praise him, even when he had behaved in ways that were unacceptable or inappropriate. The child's parent would also use rewards (as discussed in Kohn's text) in some instances where the behavior of this child was concerned. I feel that the child had grown to expect this constant overflow of praise, and his perspectives on certain things were not developed on his own, but rather, were based on the outlook of his parent. His parent's constant use of excess praise led the child to develop the opinions/attitude of his guardian. It was a learning experience to provide child care, because in spite of love and support, and positive reinforcement, the child would just continue to dismiss these factors and expect to be commended for inappropriate behavior.

Kohl's "I Won't Learn From You!"
    Not-learning, although commonly mistaken by some teachers as disruptive behavior made by students or as their failure or inability to learn, is a form of retaliation on behalf of students to combat oppression that is either apparent or perceived within schools. As I was reading the text, I considered the difference between the students who chose to participate in "not-learning." Some children believed that others would not value their opinions, for they perceived things differently. Others simply desired to take on the role of being the "authority figure." In the educational setting, teachers are viewed as those in authority, and the children who practiced the method of not-learning oppressed this viewpoint.
    I believe that the child that I had provided care for fit into the description of the text. In the classroom, he would sometimes act out in the ways cited by Kohl by overriding certain activities because he seemingly perceived himself to be the "authority figure." He would also act in this manner when I provided child care for him. No matter the amount of support, love, and discipline that I gave him, he continued to act in control of the older figures around him.
Regarding a point to share for both texts:
Kohn's "Five Reasons to Stop Saying 'Good Job!'"
    Reading this article left me with a bit of a conflicted perspective. I find that I cannot completely agree with the argument of voiding the use of the phrase, "Good Job!", in its entirety. "Good Job!" does seem deserving at times, whereas at other times, it may simply be used as a form of manipulation or excess praise made by those giving it. When motives/intentions are untrue or bad, the praise will affect a child's perceptions negatively. I do, however, agree with positive reinforcement for certain situations. I believe that it is acceptable to say "Good Job!" when a child is deserving of it, but manipulation, bribery, and surplus praise is unnecessary when it is not well-intentioned, as it is also not essential in all cases.
Kohl's "I Won't Learn From You!"
    I found that Kohl's "I Won't Learn From You!" could be connected to two of the texts that were discussed in class (Rodriguez's "Aria"; Delpit's "The Silenced Dialogue). Rodriguez did not use the "not-learning" approach for when it came to him having to learn the English language. Rather, Rodriguez, unaware and unknowing of how to integrate both languages into his social life and daily learning (as discussed in Collier's text), was affected by the oppression of solely learning society's public language. In "I Won't Learn From You!", the children who enacted the "not-learning" method succeeded in keeping a part of their identities that they themselves believed that the schools were attempting to oppress, in addition to learning the schools' teachings. Kohl's article also offered examples of students from varying grade levels and "their relationships with teachers and other adults in authority" (Kohl). Delpit's text consistently referenced the roles of the authority figures (teachers and adults) and the effects they had on students/children. "I Won't Learn From You!" explored this issue in much detail.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Talking Points #3: Hyperlinks on Safe Spaces: Making Schools and Communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth (Vaccaro, August, & Kennedy)

A) August, Gerri, Megan S. Kennedy, and Annemarie Vaccaro. Safe Spaces: Making Schools and Communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth. Praeger, 2011. 1, 83-100. Print.

    The excerpt from Safe Spaces: Making Schools and Communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth serves as a detailed account of the struggles that LGBT youth encounter in the educational setting. In addition, the text provides a number of methods that teachers of each grade level can use to integrate LGBT studies into school curriculum. August, Kennedy, and Vaccaro discuss the appropriate methods of which to teach LGBT issues in schools, as well as examine the concerns, judgments, and harm that arises when students who identify as LGBT are silenced, excluded, harassed, and dismissed. The authors encourage educators to incorporate LGBT issues into elementary and secondary curriculum, and express how proper communication between teachers and students is vital in deeming schools as safe environments.
    According to August, Kennedy, and Vaccaro, both communication and curriculum act as core components in order to effectively teach LGBT issues to students, regardless of their grade level. The two factors work hand-in-hand. However, societal figures, educators, and family members may not be aware of the correct forms in which to educate others regarding LGBT issues. Some schools dismiss the idea of introducing this curricula, whereas states such as California have incorporated LGBT issues into the curriculum to promote safety and respect. In the instance of California, data and statistics for schools in this state that educated students on LGBT issues supported the assertion made by August, Kennedy, and Vaccaro that the inclusive curriculum helped to improve overall safety and respect for both LGBT and straight youth.
    As discussed in Safe Spaces, there remains multiple approaches to teaching LGBT issues to youth that are quite effective. GLSEN contains a list of valuable resources for educators to use in the classroom setting. There remains a need in current society for the incorporation of LGBT curricula, and some classroom materials discussed in the text have also been used effectively by educators in other schools throughout the nation. In August 2013, the state of California also passed the School Success and Opportunity Act aimed in helping transgender youth to receive the same opportunities in schools as their straight peers. The development of new laws to protect LGBT youth in schools, as well as the incorporation of inclusive curriculum in schools, has aided in making the school environment safer.
    The ineffectiveness or disregard of some teachers to educate students on LGBT issues can actually place students in harm's way. Not all educators who promote the integration of LGBT issues in school curriculum are as successful in teaching LGBT awareness to students as other educators have been. Other educators, however, have chosen to reject the idea of teaching students about LGBT issues, or have directed inappropriate behavior and comments to LGBT youth (as discussed in Safe Spaces). Such behavior made by teachers and peers in the classroom has impacted LGBT youth in a negative manner, affecting them emotionally, as well as their overall well-being. Bullying is unacceptable, and when both students and teachers engage in this particular form of bullying, there are dire consequences. Recently, several adolescents committed suicide as a result of incessant bullying. Had both the teachers and students at the schools stood up for LGBT youth rather than contributing to the hurt or ignoring to help, the school environment would have been more protective for LGBT youth, and deaths could have been prevented.

    Regarding a point to share, I feel that more schools should introduce LGBT issues into their curriculum, and that society should become more aware of the pain that LGBT youth experience as a result of bullying by fellow peers and some teachers. It is startling to know the number of children today who have taken their lives due to the amount of harassment that had plagued them. Other LGBT youth, like the young man in the article by Linda Robertson, have fallen into the negative clutches of society due to being uncertain of what to do to please those around them. In the article, Robertson discusses what she had prayed for as a parent. I think that society makes the mistake of not realizing that God loves everyone unconditionally. Many people of this world do not love others enough, and make the mistake of hating one another over meaningless things. Race, class, and sexual identity does not stop God from loving all, and none of those factors makes Him love anyone any less. Robertson had prayed not to have a gay son, but realized that her prayer had been answered in a way that she had not expected when her son passed away. She learned to love him unconditionally, and at the end of the article, Robertson discusses how she wished she had not considered limitations and made mistakes, but had instead loved her son completely. I believe that the lesson shared in Robertson's article applies to Safe Spaces and society as a whole. In Safe Spaces, the authors discuss how individuals (whether it be in educational settings or the community) can help others become more aware of LGBT issues in order to make LGBT youth feel safe and respected. If everyone were to just love and respect one another without limitations, then the hurt would cease, and both schools and society would become safe places for all.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Talking Points #2: The Argument of Richard Rodriguez's “Aria"

A) Rodriguez, Richard. "Aria." Tongue-Tied: The Lives of Multilingual Children in Public Education. Ed. Otto Santa Ana. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2004. 34-39. Print.

    Richard Rodriguez argues that a fragment of a child's "individuality" (Rodriguez 39) can go missing as a result of abandoning his/her home language in order to achieve success in the language of public society. Upon reading Richard Rodriguez's piece regarding his personal experiences with the language barrier, I found myself contemplating the very first line of the text: "Supporters of bilingual education today imply that students like me miss a great deal by not being taught in their family's language" (Rodriguez 34). From my perspective, it does seem appropriate for educators/supporters to encourage the teaching of a student's home dialect. In the case of this particular author, however, I perceived that the methods that he, his family, and his school used to aid him in learning English had separated him from developing in the Spanish language, rather than helping him to become a proficient learner/speaker in both languages.
    Towards the start of "Aria," Rodriguez discusses how he considered his primary language (Spanish) to be his "private language" (Rodriguez 34), hence his reluctance to speak it in school. As I read Rodriguez's personal account of his struggle with specific languages and the corresponding dialogue, I took note that Rodriguez seemed to associate the English language as being an expectation of both the educational field and society itself. This enabled Rodriguez to observe that English was perhaps what was to be spoken in public. The "public identity" (Rodriguez 34) of an individual, according to Rodriguez, is formed through the language (i.e. English) taught in school.
    Rodriguez also expresses that he would have perhaps felt more comfortable with the Spanish dialogue in the school setting. However, he does state that incorporating the Spanish dialogue in school would have postponed the process of learning "public language" (Rodriguez 34). The language used in the classroom setting can differentiate vastly from home language, as was the case with Rodriguez. Both Rodriguez's family and school encouraged the teaching of English at home, but perhaps did not carry out this option as fittingly as they should have. Rodriguez's parents and his fellow siblings may not have executed the correct resolution to the issue either, for with the author's parents being more fluent in Spanish, teaching English to their children would prove difficult. Undoubtedly, I am sure that other individuals and schools do enforce these same opinions and policies.
    I believe that there are perks to learning a second language, and remaining fluent in both languages. However, the two languages should be used to one's benefit, not to dismiss him or her of his/her home language. Rodriguez, as a child, had viewed himself to be at a "disadvantage" in school prior to learning English. The author felt as though the instance of speaking English in class helped him to establish a sense of acceptance in school.
    Was Rodriguez upset, presumably, that this element (i.e. the Spanish language) of his identity had been seemingly neglected? He mentioned that upon grasping English, he came to feel as though he had "become" an American, despite the fact that he had always been one. The use of "public language in the home," and the pronunciation of words differing from words spoken, resulted in confusion for the Rodriguez household. What language was to be deemed appropriate in the home environment? The Spanish language no longer served as Rodriguez's "main" language. Rodriguez himself began to contemplate the intimacy of his family. Could this be relative to the American Dream? Public language appeared to have replaced Rodriguez's private one, making it arduous for his parents to comprehend spoken English word (Rodriguez 37). Rodriguez's father grew silent, opting for the absence of words as the new language used at home became more complex, only revealing more of his inner self through his home language. On the other hand, Rodriguez's mother took more charge where the English language was concerned. Their personalities/identities altered as a result of the language barrier.

    Regarding a point to share, it seems as though Rodriguez grew apart from the Spanish language as he further developed his English. He states on page 38 of the text that "At about the time I no longer bothered to listen with care to the sounds of English in public, I grew careless about listening to the sounds family members made when they spoke" (Rodriguez 38). However, it appears that Rodriguez is rather sorrowful when he reminisces of his culture and of his heritage whilst hearing the sound of Spanish dialogue. There is a familiarity to the language, as if the author is reminded of his family, and his mind refers back to his childhood. Had a part of his cultural identity dissipated through the pressure of enforcing public language in his home? The last sentence of Rodriguez's text depicts how a piece of a child's "individuality" (Rodriguez 39) is lost when his/her private language is traded for the public language. This, which I believe serves as the main idea of Rodriguez's text, coincides with Virginia Collier's quote from "Teaching Multilingual Children": "Don't teach a second language in a way that challenges or seeks to eliminate the first language" (Collier 227).

Additional References: Collier, Virginia. "Teaching Multilingual Children." Tongue-Tied: The Lives of Multilingual Children in Public Education. Ed. Otto Santa Ana. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2004. 222-235. Print.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Talking Points #1: Quotes on Jonathan Kozol's Amazing Grace

A) Kozol, Jonathan. Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation. Harper Perennial, 1995. Print.

"There are children in the poorest, most abandoned places who, despite the miseries and poisons that the world has pumped into their lives, seem, when you first meet them, to be cheerful anyway" (Kozol 6).

    Childhood innocence surpasses the hurt inflicted by this world. Children tend to find beauty in things, but as they enter periods of adolescence and adulthood, they are susceptible to becoming  involved in the issues exposed to them since childhood. As children grow older, they may become more inclined to the negative patterns that wrack adulthood. An impending future may result involving these worldly wrongs. Kozol also mentions how the children, although surrounded by drug addiction, pollution, disease, violence, and death, still remain strong in their faith and values. I feel that through this quote, Kozol is demonstrating that despite the harshness of the world and the individual sufferings that accompany it, children view the world with different eyes.

"These are almost the only things she says that have an edge of indignation; even here, it is more sadness than a real indignation. She seems resigned to things the way they are" (Kozol 17).

    In Kozol's text, the sorrow that the people endure as a result of being forced to live this way is evident. Anguish occupies their daily lives, and it is shameful to know that those in power are refusing to take action to right the wrongs, but have rather contributed to the misery that these individuals are afflicted by. Early in the text, Kozol mentions how a waste incinerator was established in the neighborhood of St. Ann's Church, posing cancer risks to children. Citizens of the East Side of Manhattan had successfully protested having the incinerator placed in their area. The city then presented harm to the children of poverty, therefore not resolving the health issue. Kozol also discusses the appalling conditions of the nearby hospitals. The quote above displays the hurt and the anger that the poor in these situations must experience, but are forced to accept. It seems so careless for those in power to dismiss the needs of the people.

"I believe that we were put here for a purpose, but these people in the streets can't see a purpose. There's a whole world out there if you know it's there, if you can see it. But they're in a cage. They cannot see" (Kozol 24).

    David Washington had discussed with Kozol how evil existed in the world, and how so many of the area's population had gone astray. They became lost due to the world's grasp. Some yearn for an escape, but those preoccupied in inflicting unnecessary harm attempt to make others succumb to worldly desires. Those who fail to realize or even search for life's purpose have conformed to the way of the world, which I believe David is describing. They dwell in drug addiction, prostitution, illegal affairs, etc. The people who hope are suffering, but those who choose to do wrong fail to see life outside of the world, merely seeking to do evil.

    Regarding a point to share, there is a quote concerning the "lifestyles and behavior of the poor" on page 21 that Kozol references. I thought to myself how truly wrong it was for the professor quoted to cast judgment on the poor. How can people speak of those in poverty in this way when they themselves have not lived it? I agree with Kozol having said, "I have yet to figure out what she has done that was irrational" (Kozol 22). What I perceive as "irrational" is the judgment, not the individuals who strive but cannot escape from poverty.