Sunday, February 23, 2014

"Safe Spaces"

Extended comment

For my blog post this week, I decided to do an "Extended Comments" piece on Alex's post :) Ever since I was told that we need to at least do one of the different types of posts each week, I was choosing between an extended comment and relating it to one of our previous readings. I realized I had no idea how I could relate it, so I started reading other people's posts to see who I could expand upon. I thought Alex had a great post because she was able to connect something that I wasn't sure how to connect!

Like Alex said, I wish that Rodriguez was able to read this piece. He lost the only thing that really held his family together, his language. He thought that in order to fit in, and as the nuns said "to get ahead in the classroom", he would have to start speaking English at home too. While reading the "Safe Spaces" piece, one could clearly see that you don't need to forget what you are (or where you came from), but just be aware that there are other things (if that makes sense) besides what you may be. I also loved how Alex said that in "Safe Spaces", they "gave plenty of scenarios in classrooms where teachers connected the idea of being LGBT as a normal, great thing to be or to be connected to". I believe if every teacher did this, there would be no LGBT problem at all since it would be a "norm". But then again, that's not how society works. We can only try to make it better.

I also loved Alex's connection to Collier's piece. She said it could relate to "Safe Spaces" because if "their ideas of instituting topics like these in the classroom all the time, for the sake of giving the students the background knowledge they need and should be comfortable with talking about and thinking about." I completely agree with this because you don't necessarily have to talk about it all the time, but when you need it - it's there. It's not affecting your teaching ability... If anything, it's improving it.

LASTLY, I LOVED THE VIDEO. At first, I saw Madison's and Sarah's comments saying how much they liked the video so I started watching it. In the beginning, I was like "oh, I'll just watch a few minutes" but before I knew it I ended up watching the entire thing. It was amazing how young these kids were and how unaffected they were by the topic. One little girl kept saying it was crazy for a man to propose to a man, but she said it was okay. It wasn't a bad thing. If you're happy with someone, be with them. It shouldn't affect anyone else's life, it's your decision after all.

Although this isn't as interesting as Alex's video, I really liked watching this... It's a teacher talking about sexuality and LGBT issues. She started a group called "Affective Beginnings" that talks about a variety of topics. She said that her group is going to help teachers with this subject. I think that's a great idea! :)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

"Aria" by Richard Rodriguez


"Supporters of bilingual education today imply that students like me miss a great deal by not being taught in their family's language. What they seem not to recognize is that, as a socially disadvantaged child, I considered Spanish to be a private language" (34).
          This was the first but most powerful sentence, at least in my eyes. Richard was only a first grader at this point, and he considered his first known language as a “private language”. I think this was such a powerful line due to the fact that it wasn’t a public language. When I think of private, I think that it sounds like a language he has to hide from everyone else. If that’s your first known language, why should you feel socially disadvantaged and not allowed to speak it? It really upset me when reading that. He only felt comfort at home because he was able to talk to his close, tight-knit family, since they spoke the language he was comfortable in (which soon was changed).

"Had they been taught (as upper­ middle-class children are often taught early) a second language like Spanish or French, they could have regarded it simply as that: another public language" (34). 
          I thought that this was a very interesting way of looking at learning a different language. You don’t have to say it as a “second language”, or a “private language”, yet you can look at it as just “another public language”. When you say it like this, it doesn’t seem bad. If everyone was accustomed to learning more than one language, no one would have to feel weird speaking a different language since everyone would be. Also, no child would feel “socially disadvantaged” if all of the other children were able to speak more than one language as all. In addition, in high school – it is mandatory to take another language as a class for one to two years in order to graduate. As we get older, it’s harder to learn a new language. I think it would be very effective if we taught children another language at an early age, preferably in middle school.

“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, but one greatly changed. No longer so close; no longer bound tight by the pleasing and troubling knowledge of our public separateness" (36) AND "Matching the silence I started hearing in public was a new quiet at home. The family's quiet was partly due to the fact that, as we children learned more and more English, we shared fewer and fewer words with our parents" (37).
          I had to include both of these quotes, because they both have to do with the same subject. Richard’s family was very close, as he said in the beginning, and he loved how close he was to his parents and siblings. As soon as they started transitioning into speaking the “common language”, or English, his family started to become distant from each other. I thought it was amazing how just changing their language that they speak at home changed how they acted towards each other. They didn’t communicate as much and I believe communication is the healthiest part of any relationship, especially a families. It also really upset me that he mentioned that his father barely even spoke afterwards. All because his first grade teachers wanted him to speak English at home.

I really enjoyed reading “Aria”. It was astonishing how much could change by trying to learn the “common language” in Richard’s household. In 2004, it was almost as if it was mandatory to learn English. Nowadays, ten years later, being bilingual is such a great thing and is recommended greatly. In the internship I’m presently taking, half of my class is bilingual. They speak English in class, but they probably speak the other language at home which isn't a bad thing.

In addition, I am currently trying to learn how to speak Spanish. Yes, it’s required to take another language to become a teacher, but I also want to because I think it’s interesting. 

Here's an article that I have attached talking about the pro's of a bilingual education... Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

"They listen, but they don't hear"

My mind was opened to things I had never thought of while reading “The Silenced Dialogue” by Delpit. While reading it, there were many good points about black teachers versus white teachers. She mentioned numerous times that the black teachers ways of teaching were not “correct” or “good enough” according to white teachers. Even at the beginning of her piece, she says that

            “When you're talking to white people they still want it to be their way. You can try to talk to them and give them examples, but they're so headstrong, they think they know what's best for everybody, for everybody’s children. They won’t listen; white folks are going to do what they want to do anyway” (21).

When you think of it that way, it seems true. You may not realize it happening but black people probably do have a tough time teaching or sharing their thoughts. I know a few years ago my teacher was talking to us in class, randomly, about how people think black teachers don’t know how to teach (my teacher was not one of those people who thought that) and that they weren't treated fairly. It made us all think a lot and has always impacted me. Regardless, I have never had a teacher that was a person of color, but if I did I would not think of him/her any differently than I would a white teacher. I cannot remember what class, what teacher, or exactly what grade that was brought up in, but it kept reoccurring in my head while reading Delpit’s piece.

Also, while reading “The Silenced Dialogue”, there was one more section that really caught my attention. On page 30, Deplit says “this does not mean separating children according to family background, but instead, ensuring that each classroom incorporate strategies appropriate for all the children it confines”.  I think this is a major problem in today’s world. I started my first internship at Frank D. Spaziano Elementary School this Friday. When the children were doing work from the book, my teacher pulled me over to talk to me. She was telling me about certain students – what they struggled with, who had IEPS, and so forth. She also mentioned something that made me think of the pervious quote above – “there are some really bright students in here, and then there are some students that are really struggling. Of course, you cannot have a class with students all on the same level. That’s the hard part… You cannot meet the requirements for each and every student. Sometimes you go too fast for some students, and sometimes you go too slow and bore the really advanced ones. You’ll find this out when you start teaching, but you just have to do your best”. Although what my teacher said didn’t have to do exactly with what Delpit said, it had generally the same idea. You need to incorporate strategies for all students, not just some.

I also thought that these two pictures were funny. Within Delpit’s piece, she says at one point that black students find the white teacher boring and the black teacher more fun. The white teacher didn’t know what she was doing (which I completely disagree with) and the black teacher was strict and told them what to do. I thought these pictures were very relative to this topic.

Below I have attached an article that I think goes perfectly with this topic! It talks about whether or not having a white teacher or a black teacher has an effect on a black male student. I think it fits perfectly with what we’re talking about! 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Be thankful for what you have...

After reading Amazing Grace by Johnathon Kozol, I was in complete shock. I love reading interesting books, especially ones that make me want to read the whole thing through. This one like one of those books, except it was a real life situation which made it all the more likable. I'm not saying that I enjoyed what happened in the story, but it made me realize how lucky I am and that I shouldn't take things for granted; and needless to say - Kozol is a great author.

Kozol talks about the life in Mott Haven, New York in 1995. I was born in 1995, making this piece around 18 years old, and it's amazing how terrible the living situations were. I was astonished. People always talk about New York in such a positive manner, such as Times Square and New York City, yet I have never heard about the bad parts of this state. That is until I read Amazing Grace. Ninety-five percent of the people living here are the "poorest of poor" (3). Kozol even used the word "destitute" to describe them which goes beyond the word poor. 

It amazed me when Kozol mentioned that only seven out of eight hundred students did not qualify for free lunch (five of them had reduced lunch). I know that when we were talking about internships for class, we had to find a place that had over 50% of the students qualify for reduced lunch and I thought that was hard. Not one school in Johnston, Rhode Island met that qualification. Less than 1% (0.875%) of the children in Mott Haven, NY didn't qualify for free/reduced lunch. It's amazing how different two area's could be that aren't even that far apart.

Kozol then goes on to talk about the shootings in this area. Within three years, 1991-1993, a total of 106 people were murdered (one of the victims had his head cut off in a bathtub) (5). This stuff should only be allowed in horror movies! That's absolutely sickening. I was disgusted by these statistics and it didn't seem real to me. People living in Mott Haven, New York hear of people dying all of the time which seems surreal to me because you almost never hear of this in Johnston, Rhode Island (where I live).

The last thing I would like to comment upon from reading Amazing Grace would have to be Cliffie. This seven year old boy takes Kozol around to show him different areas. It amazed me how much he knew about and how mature he was for such a young boy. He knew directions so well, he seemed smarter than I am now, he was extremely polite and he even knew what needles were. He knew that people used them, why they used them and where they got them. At the age of seven, I was clueless on many topics; especially the use of needles. To be completely honest, I'm pretty sure I didn't even know what sex was at that age. He knew that he lived in a bad area and no one was healthy. People were drug addicts and had sex for money. It's almost as if they gave up on hope. Cliffie even mentions "the day is coming when the world will be destroyed" (10).

In conclusion, I believe that Kozol wrote a really powerful piece. It made me feel like I was right there on the side of him as he was walking through the streets with Cliffie, or when he was boarding the train to see Mrs. Washington. I think the best stories are ones that make you feel like you're actually there, experiencing what they're experiencing. I really hope that Mrs. Washington was able to find treatment. And I also hope that Mott Haven, NY is doing better than it was in 1995. 

I found this picture on google and I thought it was interesting. From Rhode Island to New York, it is roughly 250 miles away. In Rhode Island, the most common race, or majority,  is Caucasian (or white) and New York has the white race as the minority. It's remarkable how two places that are not even that far away from each other have such opposite statistics.  

ALSO: I think everyone should check this out. It has terrible music, but its a youtube video of Mott Haven New York and you could see all the different area's in there. It kind of shows you what Kozol was walking through and it shows you where the people have to live everyday. It's so much different from where we live.