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!