Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Pecha Kucha PowerPoint

Copy and paste the link below for a direct view to Jenna and I's Pecha Kucha for FNED 346!

Social Justice Event: Kate McKinnon from Saturday Night Live

      On April 21st, Rhode Island College was graced with the opportunity to host the comedian and actress, Kate McKinnon, most noted from her work on Saturday Night Live, in Roberts Auditorium. The getting to see such a powerful female figure in today's society was absolutely incredible in-and-of itself, but it also gave me opportunities to connect her and her stand-up performance to what we have been going over in class.

     I know some of you might be thinking, "How on Earth is she going to relate a comedian from SNL to what we've gone over in class?", but I assure you, there are multiple connections, especially from "Safe Spaces", the full Brown v. Board of Education segment of FNED 346, and "Schooling Children with Down Syndrome" because they all have one key component in common; acceptance.
     As you already know, Kate McKinnon is one of the most popular comedians currently on SNL. That alone is a huge accomplishment, as when a lot of people are asked to name comedians, they mainly think of famous male comedians rather than female. The connection to Brown v. Board is more closely based on gender, but none-the-less, still a valid connection. Although the article from Herbert states that, "Schools are no longer legally segregated, but because of residential patterns, housing discrimination, economic disparities and long-held custom, they most emphatically are in reality", this can be applied to gender, which can then be applied to SCWAAMP. It is believed that you can only truly succeed by being a male, while women continue to be segregated against in the work force, while out on their own, or really anything. Some believe that to be a woman is to be weak, dumb, and submissive, but women are moving up in the world finally thanks to some major figures. Along with others such as Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, and Kristen Wiig, McKinnon has been helping to pave the way for women across the nation by not being afraid to show the world what women are capable of doing, refusing to let any boundaries get in her way of achieving her goals. In this way, her actions can be related to both the "Schooling Children with Down Syndrome" reading by Christopher Kliewer, although again replacing gender with disabilities, but in this case, again relating to SCWAAMP, the female gender can be seen as a disability. In the excerpt we were instructed to read from the book, Kliewer stated that we should form, "... actual educational arenas where all students are welcomed, no voice is silenced, and children come to realize their own self-worth through the unconditional acceptance of one another" (Page 74). This connects to McKinnon because through SNL and her career, she has found a place in her life where she is welcomed, isn't silenced in what she has to say about anything, and she realizes her self-worth based on her fans and her fellow actors who continue to support her every day, as she does with them.

     Although both Brown v. Board and "Schooling Children with Down Syndrome" can be related to McKinnon and her performance, the reading that most closely connects to her and her stand-up routine on the 21st has to be "Safe Spaces". As some of you may or may not know, Kate McKinnon is a lesbian and completely open about her sexuality, going so far as to make a skit out of it on SNL with close friend and co-worker Aidy Bryant, which can be seen here. Even in her stand-up routine in Roberts, she made subtle gestures to her sexuality through a fake PowerPoint she created for senior thesis topics and saying how she finally had a partner which got a rousing applause, but then brought the audience into laughter by saying that it was her cat. In "Safe Spaces", August states, "Assumptions, if left unchallenged and unexamined, can devolve into active bigotry. Bigotry is a heat-seeking missile- it will find its target" (Page 88). Based this quote, Kate McKinnon, through her talent of comedy, has defied any prejudice against her by showing the world that she doesn't care what the world thinks of her; she knows who she is and she is proud of the person she has become. Her sexuality has a place in her life, but she doesn't let it control what people think of her

(Here a clip of one of the songs she made up for the show at RIC! Enjoy! :D )

Sunday, April 19, 2015

"Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change" by Ira Shor

For this week, I decided that I was going to base my post around Julienne's blog on her reflection and connections to the piece as an extended commentary!

Julienne, as always, I thought you did an amazing job on your blog post. You always go so in depth with your posts, which shows how dedicated you are to this course. Additionally, you did very well adding in your personal thoughts and connections, which definitely helped to make your blog all the more interesting. Great work! :)

     At the beginning of her post, Julienne made some personal connections, noting how excited she was when she noticed how some of the previous authors we have studied (such as Finn and Christensen) were referenced in the reading.
     Julienne then proceeded with the rest of the blog by listing quotes from Shor's reading and then writing her reactions to them, similarly to that of a blog whose topic was quotes rather than reflection, but none-the-less, still powerful. The very first quote she listed was actually by Jean Piaget, whom she had been recently studying in her psychology class and had posted a hyperlink connected to Piaget's theory on cognitive theory. The quote stated, "If the aim of intellectual memory training is to form the intelligence rather than to stock the memory, and to produce intellectual explorers rather than mere erudition, then traditional education is manifestly guilty of grave deficiency." (Page 12)
Julienne reflected on this by stating, "The students are also forced to learn information that is not interesting to them. I always feel bad because anybody can just tell based on their body language that these fifth graders would rather be somewhere else. As future educators, we need to avoid forcing our students to shove information that they can care less about in their heads. Instead, we need to keep our lessons interesting so that our students maintain their enthusiasm in learning." and I couldn't agree more with her opinion. If students are having difficulty absorbing and enjoying the information that is being given to them, perhaps it is a better option to adapt our own means to educating the students rather than just staying with a certain method what we know and confusing the kids.

     Everyone learns and must be told what to in various ways, as explained in the readings of Delpit and even being connected to Julienne's blog when she states, "Even though some of us may deny this, but we all do not like it when things change because we like to be in control and be familiar with things in our everyday lives. If the orthodoxies changed, then the culture of power would no longer exist. Whatever happened to change being a good thing?" The culture of power is always in effect, whether we agree with it or not, but in terms of being part of a classroom, it can either be a phenomenal or terrible thing, all depending on the teacher. If the instructor chooses to use the culture of power for the good of their students rather than just themselves, they can tailor the lessons they are teaching to their students individually, creating new and engaging ways to help get the lessons and ideas across rather than just simply throwing materials at the kids. In this way, the teachers are providing students with the opportunities to directly impact their future for the better. Change must be enforced since no one is exactly the same from our backgrounds, to the ways we look, and even to our academic and education levels.

     Overall, I very much enjoyed Julienne's blog post. All of the quotes she used and her reflections on them were extremely informative, so much so that upon reading her post I was even able to better understand Shor's reading having gotten insight into what others thought. She kept me engaged the entire time while I was reading and her personal thoughts made the post seem more engaged rather than simply writing a reflection of what Shor was saying. All in all, amazing job on your final FNED 346 post Julienne! You're going to do great out there in the world of education!

(Video of Ira Shor giving input to his son's education, which similarly reflects his opinions that education should be a personalized, "homey" experience for students to feel comfortable and learn their best>)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

"Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome" by Christopher Kliewer

     After reading Chapter 4, "Citizenship in Schools: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome" from "Schooling Children with Down Syndrome" by Christopher Kliewer, I got a major impression of his argument. Kliewer argues that children with Down Syndrome, students with other disabilities, and the classrooms in which they learn are being segregated from the rest of the educational community. Although I never witness this occurring at my own town's schools, I have become aware from friends around the state and country that this is indeed a problem and should absolutely be addressed and fixed.
     Kliewer begins his argument stating by segregating the special education to their own classrooms far away from the rest of the student population, this is only emphasizes the belief that some people hold that if a child is diagnosed with a disability, they are immediately rendered useless, unable to learn, and a threat to the learning of other students without disabilities. He then proceeds to say that if classrooms were changed to be more diverse and accepting towards all students no matter who they are, where they come from, and what is a part of their lives, the educational community would greatly advance and improve the lives and self-esteem of countless individuals,. Additionally, this change would give all students the right they deserve to feel important regarding their educational experience and that they are cared about. Lastly, and probably most importantly, Kliewer expressed in his argument that in today's society, and in the future's, people must stop stereotyping, labelling, or naming others for being different than themselves because it will only prevent us from ever having a good and understanding democratic society. Through this, Kliewer states that we will be able to form "... actual educational arenas where all students are welcomed, no voice is silenced, and children come to realize their own self-worth through the unconditional acceptance of one another" (Page 74). Additionally, he enforces that being able to attend school, students with disabilities, especially Down Syndrome, are given opportunities to gain  "(1) literacy development, of central importance in experiencing school success, and (2) friendship formation, a possible consequence of being recognized as communally valuable" (Page 74), which will greatly improve their likelihood to succeed academically, socially, and emotionally.
     Although this reading had to do with the segregation of classrooms, such as in the "Brown vs. Board" readings we did in class, I felt that this particular reading was more closely related to that of the "Safe Spaces" reading by A. Vaccaro, G. August, and M.S. Kennedy. Both readings focused on the fact that schools need to strictly enforce that their classrooms are welcoming and open to anyone, regardless of their differences to others. Although "Safe Spaces" was more geared towards defending students of the LGBTQ community and Kliewer's reading on students with disabilities, they both had one thing in common; they discussed helping and defending students who are being discriminated against because of their DNA. No one chooses to be gay, bisexual, or straight, it's just a part of who they, just as it is for someone to be diagnosed with a mental or physical disability. We should embrace those in the world who are different from us and let them know they are important, not ship them off to segregated classrooms or ridicule them.

Question to Share:
     I know several others have asked this question in their own blogs, but I thought it was an important question to be address: has anyone ever been in a school environment where special education students were segregated from the rest of the school community? I know in my own high school, students with disabilities were given a classroom of their own to work on their schoolwork with their aids, but they were integrated into the rest of the school environment for their legitimate classes (math, science, English, history, phys. ed, etc.). Did anyone else have a school like this, or was it completely different?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

"Literacy with an Attitude" by Patrick J. Finn

     For this post, I chose to write a reflection of "Literacy with an Attitude" by Patrick Finn through comparing my own service learning environment to the ideas and beliefs of the Jean Anyon study expressed by Finn. I got the inspiration to do my blog about this based on Allee Krause's blog when I was posting comments on people's most recent blogs. I admired her take on the reading, so I decided to set up my newest post similarly to her's (great job on your bog Allee!).
     Jean Anyon's study expressed how differences in the socioeconomic status of its students resulted in differences in the classroom, causing children to become labelled as executive elite, affluent professional, middle class, and working class based on their social and economic stability. In my service learning assignment, I am currently working in a school that can most likely be categorized as working class. Much like Allee's service learning though, the description of a working class classroom that Anyon produced didn't really match my classroom's environment. I thought this was understandable, as not every school under a certain socioeconomic category are all the same.

"In the working class schools, the dominant theme was resistance" (Page 12)
This does not seem to fit the theme of my service learning school at all; practically all of the students are pretty open to learning and appreciate being taught by such caring and interactive teachers. Resistance doesn't seem to the theme of any school I've been to in my life honestly.

 "Knowledge in the affluent professional school was viewed as being open to discovery" 
(Page 16)
Although I don't necessarily agree that this quality is solely found in affluent professional schools, I do believe it has the possibility to be applied to and found in all types of school environments. In my service learning school, this particular aspect is much more apparent in its students compared to the previous quality of resistance. Whenever I've helped a student one-on-one, they seem extremely eager to learn from what I can help them with and they are constantly interested in their classwork because of how new everything is to them.

"Control involved constant negotiation" (Page 17)
Again, while this aspect was used in Finn's reading to describe qualities found primarily in affluent professional schools, I found this quite prominent in my own service learning "working class" school. The teacher I am assisting is constantly having her students engage in the learning process and always presents questions to them asking for their own ideas or inputs. I really admire this choice in how she teaches because it makes the students feel like their thoughts and opinions are truly being taken into account, resulting in a better learning environment.

Question to Share:
     Even though I know Allee and I didn't find many matching qualities between Anyon's typical "working class" school and our own student learning experiences, did anyone else find their service learning classrooms did not match up with their supposed socioeconomic label? I personally felt this reading had a particular connection to Rodriguez's "Aria" based on the fact that both readings dealt with stereotypes in educational society. While Finn's reading focuses more on the socioeconomic stereotypes in schools, how they effect the students' learning, and ultimately how far they can go in life, Rodriguez's reading focuses on racial stereotyping and conforming to society in order to improve oneself, resulting in going further in life.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Brown vs Board of Education-, Bob Herbert, and Tim Wise

     Upon learning about the Brown vs Board of Education court case, I was able to take the information I had learned and apply it to my knowledge of school systems today, with the help of Bob Herbert and Tim Wise's contemporary issues with race. The historical issues the court case brought up, that being the segregation of races, and the contemporary race issues brought up by Herbert and Wise, coincide with one another in terms that while the original case was supposed to prevent further segregation for future generations, poverty and race still play a role in segregation in schools today.
     On the American History website featuring the "Separate Is Not Equal" reading, the website states that "On May 17, 1954, the Court stripped away constitutional sanctions for segregation by race, and made equal opportunity in education the law of the land." Through this court ruling, the educational system of the US had simply offered equal opportunity, not truly enforcing that segregation is illegal and that there should be no opportunities; equality for all should be enforced and acted upon, not simply offered or suggested. Although the court ruling did lighten tensions between races and has made the educational system more equal now racially, segregation in a new form has risen, fiercer than before. In Bob Herbert's New York Times article from 2011, "Separate and Unequal", Herbert claims that although racial segregation definitely isn't as bad as it once was, it has now been combined with economic segregation and is attacking anyone of any race that isn't as financially well-off as those in the middle-high class society. Herbert states, "Schools are no longer legally segregated, but because of residential patterns, housing discrimination, economic disparities and long-held custom, they most emphatically are in reality", bringing to light the fact that while racial segregation isn't as common today, by being at or below the poverty level in today's world or being in a less financially stable household, the students in these circumstances are being segregated by their wealthier, well-off peers. 
     In conclusion, these articles have overall helped me to understand the difficulties facing today's society. Even though the Brown vs Board of Education sentenced that segregation in schools would henceforth be illegal to do, new forms of segregation have risen out of the economic despair of the United States. Those who aren't as financially stable are basically forced into a social and economic segregation through no fault of their own, and because of this, are forcefully set up to encounter great difficulties throughout their lives. In Jonathan Kozel's article, "Amazing Grace", Kozel brings up a quote from Lawrence Mead, a political science professor at NYU, who stated ""If poor people behaved rationally, they would seldom be poor for long in the first place" (pg. 21 of "Amazing Grace"). Kozel then proceeds to say that people in poverty are more often then not in that state through no fault of their own, doing their best to provide for their families by working multiple jobs, no mater how low the pay, and generally doing whatever they can to give their families what they need. On top of this, Ullucci used the quote, “… they are poorly paid, underemployed, or working part-time. Thus, the problem is not that those in poverty are lazy and unmotivated, but that we have a low-wage and too-few-jobs problem (Anyon, 2005)", so again, this shows how the poverty problems are not the faults of those in poverty, but that of society as a whole. Bob Herbert stated at the end of his article, "Separate but equal. The Supreme Court understood in 1954 that it would never work. But our perpetual bad faith on matters of race keeps us trying" and in a way, this is true; despite the fact that segregation was a problem and will always continue to be one, we as humans will always find it in our hearts to try for a better world. Someday, I do hope total equality will be possible, but until then, I refuse to give up being kind and unprejudiced towards anyone that I meet. Like Lily James says in her role in the new Cinderella film, "Have courage and be kind."

(This particular topic made me think of the song "Imagine" by John Lennon since it expresses the want and dream for equality and world peace.)
I would have talked more about the videos from Tim Wise,  but the videos on Dr. Bogad's blog wouldn't load on my computer for some reason, so I just focused on Bob Herbert. I feel terrible I didn't to hear what he had to say, but I loved Herbert's article!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

"In the Service of What?" by Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer

"...ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."- John F. Kennedy (quoted on Page 1)
     This quote from JFK was a great way to open up and begin the article considering it's obvious connection to the overall message of the piece. Kahne and Westheimer's whole point of writing this article is to get the message across that Service Learning should be integrated into all schools to give students experience in working in the real world and help them make connections with adults in their possible intended career field of choice. This process will additionally promote students to get out in the world and help others. This is currently happening here at Rhode Island College, most notably in the FNED 346: Schooling in a Democratic Society course, the one which I am currently enrolled in with many of you, the readers of this blog. The Inspiring Minds organization works with the professors of the FNED classes to set up locations throughout the Providence School District which the education students work with young students from early childhood through high school settings. For FNED 346, we are required to complete 15 hours of community service helping students through the Inspiring Minds organization to help the students in the Providence schools while also gaining first hand experience working with students since this is most of our intended careers. This additionally connects to Kozel's work, "Amazing Grace" due to the fact that by working with the students in the Providence School District, many of them aren't from the same backgrounds, beliefs, and cultures as us, resulting in us college students learning to work with a great variety of people.

"In addition to helping those they serve, such service learning activities seek to promote students' self-esteem, to develop higher-order thinking skills, to make use of multiple abilities, and to provide authentic learning experiences- all goals of current curriculum reform efforts." (Page 2)
     This quote definitely connects to myself, and hopefully to others as well. Through the course of the FNED 346 class, we've been groomed and taught how to properly interact and communicate with the students around us, working towards the goal of helping them in any way possible. In order to do this, we are required to make use of our social skills and gradually developing teaching skills. Through these efforts, we improve our learning experiences, teaching methods and skills, and hopefully develop the skills and knowledge of those we are assisting. By performing this duty, not only are we raising our own confidence and self-esteem levels, we are additionally raising those of the students whom we help. In my own teaching experience at Mount Pleasant High school, by helping the members of the band and chorus through working one on one or in small groups, the students I've helped seem genuinely grateful for the assistance and individual time I'm spending with them and leave the classroom looking a little more happy than when they came in.

"The importance of a meaningful reflective component becomes clearer when one considers the kind of deliberation and student empowerment that such a curriculum can foster. " (Page 11)
     Finally, this quote spoke enormously to me. In the article, Kahne and Westheimer are discussing the reflection some students were required to complete once they had finished their service learning assignments. While I don't personally think having the students write a long reflection of their experience should dominate the grading aspect of the assignment, what they said in between the reflection did have an impact on me. In general, they stated that the students who helped in volunteering and performing their service learning, depending on the amount of effort and time they put into their assignments, got exactly what they put into it. The more hours and quality of work they put into their work, the better of a grade they got compared, as they absolutely should have. But overall, this shows that if you deliberately put effort into working with these students and help to improve their academic experience, the students you are working with will feel more empowered and feel more confident in themselves, and as a result, do better in their school work.

Point to Share:
      Although I do think that having a service learning assignment is helpful to anyone looking to become a teacher or work in an environment where you help others, I don't think that it should be mandatory, or at the very least have a lower amount of hours to be completed. In my own situation, I wouldn't have minded doing my service learning assignment if I wasn't so busy. My schedule is completely filled from 9 am to 4pm or later every day of the school week, so to start off, I barely have enough time to get from class to class and have a small meal, let alone drive to a school and teach students for an hour that I don't have to spare. If there was another way to complete the service learning requirement, such as having options available for several hours during the weekend or something similar, that would have made the service learning experience less stressful and more enjoyable for me.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

"Unlearning the Myths That Blind Us" by Linda Christensen

     For this week's blog entry, we were all assigned to read "Unlearning the Myths That Blind Us" by Linda Christensen. As some of you might know, I am a SUPER hardcore Disney fan; my family and I go to Disney World every year, I always make it a point to see any new Disney movies that come out in theatres, I have my own collection of Disney items/souvenirs and own practically every Disney movie ever made. So upon reading this article, my personal defense system went up within the first minute of reading and as a result, I've decided to write a reflection post for this specific blog entry to defend Disney.

     The first issue I'd like to discuss that people seem to have a problem with, most recently that is, is the waistlines of the Disney Princesses. In an article from The Huffington Post, images were discovered from Buzzfeed's Loryn Brantz where she digitally edited the figures of 6 Disney Princesses. In Christensen's reading, she states " My waist didn't dip into an hourglass; in fact, according to the novels I read my thick ankles doomed me to be cast as the peasant woman reaping hay while the heroine swept by with her handsome man in hot pursuit" (Pg. 126). 
     I personally took offense to these statements. All my life, through no intent of my own besides my genetics, I've always been extremely tiny; tiny waist, tiny chest, tiny feet, everything on me is tiny. Surprisingly though, I was made fun of because of my small features that contrasted with my "unnaturally huge" eyes, according to classmates, much like what people use to describe Disney characters. This is just all in my DNA; I can't help what I look like. My legitimately diagnosed fast metabolism has kept me thin all my life and even though I eat the most unhealthy things every day like bacon burgers, pizza, chicken wings, steak, french fries, tacos, etc, nothing changes my tiny figure. And several months ago, I found some article that listed the various Disney Princesses' measurements and mine almost perfectly aligned with Ariel. So reading articles like the one from The Huffington Post, or Christensen's book, or even hearing songs like "All About that Bass" by Meghan Trainor where they put down and shame skinny people, is hurtful to me. These kinds of articles or songs makes me sound like a freak, when I love myself just the way I am. I've only just turned 18 two months ago, Ariel was 16 in "The Little Mermaid", so obviously people so young are supposed to look small; they haven't grown into their full selves yet. Plus, people always say, including Christensen, that the Princesses always get the handsome Prince in the end because of their figure and pretty features, but if you're not between a size 2 and 6, you're never going to find your "Prince Charming". Again, this is an unrealistic assumption; I've been called the living stereotype for a Disney Princess and I don't have a boyfriend and my friends who are older or look different than me in amazing ways have boyfriends. How you look, how pretty you are, or how much you weigh doesn't always necessarily mean your life is going to go a certain way.

     The second issue I'd like to argue concerns the problem people seem to have with Disney "white-washing" all their Princesses and heroes. Even Christensen makes nods to this belief in her reading, stating that "'Have you ever seen a black person, an Asian, a Hispanic in a cartoon!? Did they have a leading role or were they a servant? What do you think this is doing to your child's mind?' She ended her piece: "Women who aren't white begin to feel left out and ugly because they never get to play the princess" (Pg. 131).
     First off, I'd just like to say how ridiculous this sounds. I know I'm an intense Disney fan, but this isn't even a valid argument. Disney Princesses and other Disney characters look the way they do racially based on the intended location of their films. Example; in Disney and Pixar's "Brave" set in a fictional part of Ireland/Scotland, the main character, Merida, is a pale, red-headed young girl with a thick Scottish accent. Most people in Ireland and Scotland are fair-skinned with light colored hair, ranging mainly from blonde to light brown with red in between. It wouldn't make sense geographically to have this young Scottish girl be Hispanic or African American because it wouldn't make sense with the location of her story. The same goes with other tales as well; "Aladdin" = Middle East (tan/dark skin), "Frozen" and "The Little Mermaid" = Norway/Denmark (mainly fair-skinned to lightly tanned), "Tangled" and "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" = Germany (again, mostly white to lightly tanned), "The Princess and the Frog" = New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A (various, diverse skin-tones because the U.S. is a racially diverse nation). The creators of Disney aren't trying to "white-wash" their characters as some people apparently believe they are. They're simply creating characters based on stories written by people (The Brothers Grimm in Germany and Hans Christian Anderson in Northern Europe, ex. Norway/Denmark) in a way the authors intended for their characters to be made based on their respective locations.

Conclusion/Point to Share:
     Okay, now that I've had my little rant, I'd just like to bring up one final point for you to think of. These things are CARTOONS, caricatures of real life. They are in no way meant to mirror real life people, only to satirize the way people act and do things. There are stories about mermaids, flying carpets, and magic, glowing hair that heals people when the owner of said head of hair sings, for crying-out loud! So personally, and I'm not just saying this because of my love of all things Disney, if you take the time to pick out the most insignificant problems of cartoons because you don't agree with somethings or make uneducated assumptions about it, then you should find something better to do with your life. Gerri August said in "Safe Spaces", her book co-written with Annemarie Vaccaro and Megan S. Kennedy, "Assumptions, if left unchallenged and unexamined, can devolve into active bigotry. Bigotry is a heat-seeking missile- it will find its target" (Page 88 of "Safe Spaces"), so if you choose to make assumptions about something like the waistline of a Disney Princess or the racial diversity of a cartoon, you should think before you speak; there could be some little girl out there who's being bullied because of how small she is, like I was, or even some child being picked on for being the only Caucasian student at an almost entirely African American or Hispanic school. There are always more sides to the argument than just being black and white.

(YouTuber, PAINT, parodying the issues/jokes in various Disney Princess films. Love them even though they make fun of Disney!)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

"Safe Spaces" by A. Vaccaro, G. August, and M.S. Kennedy

"Assumptions, if left unchallenged and unexamined, can devolve into active bigotry. Bigotry is a heat-seeking missile- it will find its target." (Page 88)
     This quote by Vaccaro, August, and Kennedy spoke strongly to me upon reading the except from their book. In high school, but even more so now that I'm in college, I have made numerous friends who are part of the LGBT community. These friends are some of the most genuinely caring and wonderful people I've ever met, while also being some of the most popular and well-liked people in my department. But, I do have to admit, they wouldn't be the amazing individuals they are today if they hadn't gone through troubles of their own to help shape them into who they are now. Some of these friends were ridiculed in their past while others were not, but they all had to face the judgement and assumptions of those closest to them. Coming out to their family and closest friends was one of the hardest things a lot of them had done, but they do not regret it at all; they have each felt that by being truthful with who they truly are to those close to them has made them better people and allowed them to be themselves without fear that they'll be unloved or judged by their loved ones.

"Our classrooms need to be "mirrors and windows" for all students--mirrors in which youth see themselves in the curriculum and recognize their place in the group; windows through which youth see beyond themselves to experiences connected with, but not identical to, their own. Creating safe spaces for all students means not ignoring or erasing the experiences of LGBT in K-12 and higher education curricula." (Page 88)
     I absolutely loved this quote from the excerpt of "Safe Spaces". I loved it not just because it expresses how classroom environments should treat their LGBT students equally, but it relates to how all students, no matter who they are, what they look like, where they come from, what their sexual orientation and identity is, should be treated as equals, none being better  than another and getting fair treatment. This made me think of "Aria" by Richard Rodriguez because of the fact that he was being treated differently for a while based on his language orientation. Because he spoke Spanish primarily and little to no English, he was discriminated against by his peers and his teachers, which resulted in him failing academically and socially, much like bullied and discriminated members of the LGBT community. Having difficulties or being picked on because of your language and culture is the same as being gay, bisexual, or transgender; it isn't anyone's faults. Being different from others isn't a choice, is a part of who we are, it's in our DNA as much as our eye color, hair color, or voice is. Everyone should be accepted for who they are, or at the very least be respected as being happy with who they are even though others may not agree.

"What messages did you receive about the LGBT community when you were in school? Which messages were explicit, which were implied? Did you ever question these messages? If so, what empowered you to do so? If not, what would have helped you to question them? What do you know about the gay civil rights movement? (Stonewall, for example?) Do you talk to the youth in your life about what they are learning about the LGBT community in their curriculum? If not, what would help facilitate this conversation?" (Page 89)
     I thought it was very clever of the authors, including Gerri August who is a member of the RIC faculty, to directly address their readers with these questions. It makes it that more interesting to read and connect with the authors' points that they're trying to convince the audience of. In my own high school, we spoke very little information about the LGBT community while in school except for the yearly presentation from a LGBTQ support group speaker. Most of the messages were very similar to the messages expressed in "Safe Spaces", such as that LGBTQ students are just like everyone else, so they shouldn't be treated any differently solely because of their sexual orientation or identity. Personally, I never questioned these messages because I believe that everyone deserves to be treated the same way as everyone else and deserves their own form of happiness. In early high school or late middle school, my history teachers did instruct us about the gay civil rights movement, even about Stonewall, but it was a very vague and touchy subject, something that the teachers obviously had some discomfort discussing because they didn't want to offend any of the students. Now though, I don't really speak with the youth in my life about what they're learning about the LGBT community in their curriculum. I still stand by my beliefs that everyone deserves their own forms of happiness and that people have every right to believe in or have an opinion about whatever they please, so if they have taken any interest about learning about the LGBT community, that is entirely up to them and their own choice, and I respect that.

Point to Share:

     Much like one of my past points to share, I again hope that the people of the world can at least show respect for others' differences. By showing others that you acknowledge that their beliefs, opinions, or ideals are valid, at least to them, you're giving others respect that we should all share for each other to make the world a better place, even if it's just a little bit. The last time I spoke about this, I related it to race and one's personal culture/background, but this equally important concerning those of the LGBT community. Everyone is different in unique ways; everyone in the world knows this. But that doesn't mean that being different is a valid cause for hate.

(One of my favorite YouTube celebrities, "Sassy Gay Friend", who typically reenacts famous works of literature if the protagonist had a "sassy gay friend" to help them, talks about life getting better for him once he finally accepted who he was and came out.)

Sunday, February 15, 2015

"Aria" by Richard Rodriguez

“Without question, it would have pleased me to hear my teachers address me in Spanish when I entered the classroom. I would have felt much less afraid. I would have trusted and responded with ease. But I would have delayed—for how long postponed? – having to learn the language of the public society…learning the great lesson of of school, that I had a public identity. Fortunately, my teachers were unsentimental about their responsibility. What they understood was that I needed to speak a public language.” (Page 34)
     This specific quote from Rodriguez's reading spoke very strongly to me. While many people in today's society most commonly speak English, those students whom English is a second language to go unnoticed concerning their language development. Some teachers take for granted, such as the teachers Rodriguez had when he was a child, that some of their students come from entirely different backgrounds than their own and thus, dismiss the possibility that a few of their students are having difficulty developing academically. In her own reading, Lisa Delpit makes the point that we should be supporting the languages children bring to the public community from their home lives, while also working to help those students develop their knowledge of English, instead of smothering their most common tongue and forcing them into failure.

"But the special feeling of closeness at home was diminished by then. Gone was the desperate, urgent, intense feeling of being at home; rare was the experience of feeling myself individualized by family intimates. We remained a loving family, bur one greatly changed. No longer so close; no longer bound tight by the pleasing and troubling knowledge of our public separateness." (Page 36)
     In this section of the reading,  Rodriguez expresses the heart-breaking reality he was being forced to partake in, that being losing the once strong connection he had to his family. The more that the English language was being brought into the home, the further apart Richard and his family grew. It wasn't their fault, though, much like Ullucci expressed in her own article about poverty not being the faults of the poor. In order to accurately assimilate into society and be, not only accepted, but understood by others, Richard's entire family had to alter their entire way of life, going so far enough to damage their connection and closeness one another. Being an only child, I am extremely close to my family; we always have sit-down family dinners to talk and catch up on what's been going on during the day. I couldn't imagine giving up my relationship with them since they've always been there for me and always supported me. Knowing this, I can only assume how unbearable it was fr Rodriguez losing the close-knit relationship he had with his parents and siblings.
“They do not seem to realize that there are two ways a person is individualized. So they do not realize that while one suffers a diminished sense of private individuality by becoming assimilated into public society, such assimilation makes possible the achievement of public individuality.” (Pages 38-39)
     Rodriguez seems to be making the point that even though he had to completely alter his lifestyle, it allowed him to get a better chance at success in today's society. Even though he had to basically erase his private life and cut practically all ties with his old Spanish-based past in order to be accepted by his peers and authoritative figures, he claims it made him much more susceptible to be successful and achieve his goals as long as his life was more influenced by English. 
One of my friends whom I've met through RIC's music department is of Armenian descent, and is currently helping the chorus that we're in to actually speak Armenian for several of our songs. Although she has grown up almost completely in an English-based community, she says that most of her family, especially her grandparents, had some difficulties coming to the United States from Armenia, especially since they came over during the time Armenian Genocide. They had to pick up their entire lives, their families, their possessions, whatever they had, and get out of the country as quickly as they could to save themselves and by coming to the U.S., had to learn how to adapt to the new culture around them.
Question to Share:
I never could truly grasp why Rodriguez titled his article, "Aria". I know the name from music, especially from Mozart's various arias for voice and one for a string quartet, but it never really explains why the author would choose a musical term for his article. Is it because his parents' native, Spanish language sounded like beautiful music to him? Just some food for thought!.
(One of Mozart's Arias that Rodriguez could have linked to the beauty of listening to the smooth, fluency of his Spanish-speaking parents)

Saturday, February 7, 2015

"Amazing Grace" by Jonathan Kozol

"There are children in the poorest, most abandoned places who, despite their miseries and poisons that the world has pumped into their lives, seem, when you first meet them, to be cheerful anyway." (Page 6)
     Throughout my own life's experiences, I've made and lost many friends. Throughout the short eighteen years that I've lived though, many of the people who have stayed in my life and remained my friends have had innumerable accounts of "miseries" put in their lives. Despite this, these are the friends who are the happiest whenever I speak to them, the friends that I have never seen shed a tear over the difficulties they have had to overcome. This quote really spoke to me because it made me even further appreciate the friendships I've made that will last for a lifetime. So to me, this quote expresses in the text that despite all the troubles and turmoil a child can go through, they can have the uncanny ability to see the light and goodness in their lives. 
(Sorry, but I just had to add this! Some of the lyrics of the song reminded me of the first quote, so I thought I'd add it in!)

"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." (Page 24)
     Upon reading this quote, I immediately agreed with Kozol. People need to stop being so self-indulgent and narcissistic or else they will never be able to truly appreciate the beauty and wonder of the world. This quote additionally made me think of a quote from my favorite episode Doctor Who, titled "Vincent and the Doctor". The episode is about the character of the Doctor and his companion, Amy Pond, travelling to see Vincent Van Gogh in the midst of his work, but while meeting him, get wrapped up in an adventure battling a centipede like alien beast. You're probably wondering what anything like Doctor Who has to do with Kozol's reading. Well, towards the end of the episode, Vincent Van Gogh makes a statement, very much in fact like the quote above. He says to the Doctor and Amy:
     This quote has been my favorite in the show, so much that I even used it as my senior quote, but overall, it still has a connection to Kozol. Both quotes, no matter how you look at them express the need for everyone to take a step back from the egotistical views of today's society and appreciate the wonders of the world around us and look at life with a child-like amazement. All in all, just living life to the fullest that it can be lived.

"If poor people behaved rationally, they would seldom be poor for long in the first place." (pg. 21)
     Although this quote was stated by Lawrence Mead, a political science professor at New York University, I personally believe this is an extremely uneducated assumption and statement. Unlike the Ullucci's work, where the author discusses that people in poverty are more often than not forced into poverty through no fault of their own, this statement simply claims that all those in poverty are uncivilized idiots. Ullucci used the quote, “… they are poorly paid, underemployed, or working part-time. Thus, the problem is not that those in poverty are lazy and unmotivated, but that we have a low-wage and too-few-jobs problem (Anyon, 2005)" to express the real problem with those stuck in the rut we call poverty, so in my opinion, Professor Mead should do better research before making insensitive and utterly moronic statements.

Point to Share:
     Even though I do realize that humanity will never be able to truly "just get along", there should still be no reason why we don't try to do the best we can to make the world the best possible place for everyone. No one is ever going to fully agree on any points, but we can at least make it possible to be respectful of other people's views, beliefs, and opinions. No one should create an argument over little things and no one should ever get into a war over selfish reasons, such as material things or economical and social advancement. Humanity will never be able to get along with one another, we will never have that ability despite all of the amazing things we have created throughout such short years. But again, we should learn to be more accepting or respectful of differences, then at least, we can have done something right for humanity as a whole.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

"The Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People's Children" by Lisa Delpit

In the reading from "Other People's Children" by Lisa Delpit, the author argues that while a teacher needs to show their students that they are indeed the one in charge, they can't exhibit too much power, forcing their dominance upon the students. Delpit calls the theme of issues with a teacher's power over their students, "the culture of power", naming five aspects to this "culture". She states that the five aspects consist of, "1. Issues of power are enacted in classrooms. 2. There are codes or rules for participating in power; that is, there is a "culture of power." 3· The rules of the culture of power are a reflection of the rules of the culture of those who have power. 4. If you are not already a participant in the culture of power, being told explicitly the rules of that culture makes acquiring power easier. 5. Those with power are frequently least aware of - or least willing to acknowledge - its existence. Those with less power are often most aware of its existence" (pg 24-26). Each of these aspects greatly support the overall argument Delpit is trying to enforce, that being that teachers can't exert too much power over their students, or else they are basically dooming the children they are being paid to instruct. Additionally, like the other authors we have discussed since the beginning of class, Delpit presents issues relating to how race comes into factor with power as well, stating, "It was the lack of attention to this concern that created such a negative outcry in the black community when well-intentioned white liberal educators introduced "dialect readers." These were seen as a plot to prevent the schools from teaching the linguistic aspects of the culture of power, thus dooming black children to a permanent outsider caste. As one parent demanded, 'My kids know how to be black - you all reach them how to be successful in the white man's world.'" (pg 29).
This reading overall made me think how important it is for teachers to present a learning environment to their students that can all feel welcome in, no matter what kind of life they come from. They can't be solely focused on the extremely bright students, or the one who are of a higher social status than others; they need to accept all their students from each of their backgrounds and treat them equally. But they can't forget who is in charge either; too much or too little power could tip the scales and ruin the balance in a classroom.


Hi there! I'm Lauren, but you probably already knew that based on my profile. Here at RIC, I am a second semester freshman Music Education major, with my main instrument being my voice. Besides music, I am an avid reader (some of my favorite books being the Harry Potter series, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Fault in Our Stars, etc), a hardcore gamer, a Disney fanatic, and an absolute TV show fangirl, loving shows such as Doctor Who, Once Upon a Time, Sherlock, and Game of Thrones. I am currently enrolled in FNED 346 because I hope to someday become a music teacher, preferably in a high school or college setting. When I'm not in one of my numerous classes, you can most likely find me practicing singing for one of RIC's choruses or just for fun, catching up on my latest TV addiction, or hanging out with some of the amazing friends I've made in just my first semester of college. Over winter break, I just enjoyed time off and relaxed, at least for the first two days. After that, I grew bored and missed all of my friends, so I made it my goal to have the best winter break ever hanging out with them! I can't wait to continue down the path as a future educator and I look forward to all the adventures life has in store!