Monday, February 23, 2009

Gayness, Multicultural Education, and Community By: Dennis Carlson

I believe Carlson's argument is to raise awareness in how America's public education system is still "normalizing" today's students, but at the same time, the system has made improvements. When she sums up her article, she says "We have a responsibility as public educators in a democratic society to engage them (students) in a dialogue in which all voices get heard or represented and in which gay students and teachers feel free to "come out" and find their own voices."

1. “Three techniques of normalization and (hence) marginalization have been of primary importance in this regard: (1) the erasure of gayness in the curriculum. (2) the “closeting” and “witch hunting” of gay teachers, and (3) verbal and physical intimidation of gay teachers and students.”

Two of my teachers were lesbians at my junior high school and I did not find out until other students in the class told me much later into eighth grade. As my friends told me, we laughed as if it was a big deal. If my friends did not tell me that my teacher was a lesbian, I never would have known. In fact, she was one of the best teachers I ever had and I still remember some of the ways in which she conducted her class. When she asked a student a question and the student said, “I don’t know,” she would work with that student no matter how stubborn that student was until that student gave an answer. My teachers knew that being open with their orientation at school was frowned upon and therefore, I never knew and they “closeted” their orientation. My school consisted of one thousand students and I only knew of one gay student. He felt tremendous discrimination and any guy that was friends with him was considered a loser. It especially shows the intimidation of students because I find it hard to believe only one in one thousand was gay. Gayness was definitely not in the curriculum at my school and I do not recall learning any of the history of gay people. I agree with Carlson in how the erasure of gayness in the curriculum encourages America’s students to see it as something that is abnormal.

2. “Willard Waller, in his 1932 classic The Sociology of Teaching, argued that homosexuals should not be allowed to teach for several reasons.”

I found this part of the article to be confusing. Why would Carlson bring up one person’s argument from the 1930’s? This was a long time ago and does not reflect today’s methods in regards to normalizing. I feel like Carlson is digging for an argument and is bringing up something from a long time ago to strengthen her case when I think it weakens it. For example, Attorney General Eric Holder is not going to talk about racism in the past as a means of showing how it is still portrayed today. Holder spoke about new things like how Americans simply do not talk to each other enough about race. I am not saying that Carlson believes this 1930’s view is the view of America today but she definitely uses that 1930’s view as part of her argument.

3. “For example, it is now estimated that up to one-third of all adolescent suicide victims are gay, approximately one quarter of all homeless youth in the United States are gay, and dropout and drug abuse rates among gay youth are likewise high (Gibson 1989).

This is very important because it shows how gays are not respected in society and are so hurt because of it that some give up on themselves and some give up on life. This is a staggering statistic and definitely needs more attention. It shows the extent to which American culture is normalized. Whenever a small portion of the population makes up a large portion of a depressing statistic, I believe it is because of injustice within a system. Why do over ninety five percent of students in Providence schools get free or reduced lunch? Why do African Americans make up such a large percentage of people in prison when they do not represent the same percentage of people in the population? These people are oppressed because they are not part of the culture of power and I hope Carlson is right when she says “the modernist idea of homogeneous, normalizing community is being more seriously disrupted than ever before.”

This article took me a long time to read because it is a scholarly article and I needed to look up many words. I hope we talk more in class about marginalization and normalization. Sometimes when you are immersed in a community where there are “normal” and “abnormal” views, you do not take time to seriously look at why some views are “abnormal” and address them. I never thought about how textbooks are normalized to disregard a whole gay community and never really took time to think about how intimated gay students are in coming out. It has always been so easy to “go with the flow” and not upset common views.
It relates to other texts that we have read like “Johnson” in which it talks about those with power and privilege. Carlson talks about markers of difference including class, gender, and race. She also talks about white, middle class, male, and heterosexual versus black, working class, female, and homosexual. Johnson talked about how mentioning you are homosexual before giving a speech will totally change how a crowd will receive you and that being heterosexual will not surface weird feelings. Where Johnson names homosexuals those without power, Carlson names them abnormal according to today’s society. They are both referring to the same problem and are trying to raise awareness on the issue and offer insight to solving it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"Teaching Multilingual Children," Virginia Collier

Collier argues that teachers can properly teach multilingual students if they are careful in the manner in which they teach them and need to use the right tools from their "tool box." If the right tools are used, students will be eager to learn a new language and at the same time appreciate their very important home language and culture.

1. "People untrained in linguistics, particularly politicians, tend to believe that if limited English proficient students can converse with their monolingual English-speaking peers, then these English-language learners can compete with them on an equal footing. If it were only so easy! English-language learners who can chat comfortably in English do not automatically develop the academic language skills needed to compete."

During group activities in class, we are usually asked to find who the author is blaming. This definitely shows that at least part of the blame is being put on politicians. As I was reading this quotation, it reminded me of the article we just read by Kozol in which there were the quotations, "Why would you want to put so many people with small children in a place with so much sickness" and "The point is that they put a lot of things into our neighborhood that no one wants." Politicians are quick to be blamed for many problems in society. It is not possible for politicians to make everyone happy and that is why politicians have such a difficult job and are always under so much pressure. It is an easy solution to blame a politician, but maybe we should be trying to find other roots to the problem instead of pointing fingers.

2."Native like conversation proficiency generally takes students two or three years to master. It is not as intellectually as demanding as school or academic language."

This quotation captures what many students are doing in order to get by in the classroom and announcing that there is a difference between native language and academic language. Also included in this quotation was "This level of English proficiency in the U.S. context includes the ability to handle complex conversation (one might call it the ability to get along in the outside world) using contextual cues such as gestures and intonation from the other speakers, and situational cues to meaning." The reason why I liked these quotations is because I can relate it to an example in my life. It reminds me of a recent Domino's Pizza co-worker named Suilo. It reminds me of him because this quotation directly expresses how people can get by in the U.S. by being able to handle native like conversation proficiency but not academic language. Suilo, a Dominican, knows as much as he needs to about the English language know to work for Domino's and deliver pizza. He was able to have small conversations in the store and was able to pick up on gestures when dealing with customers. The only thing that Suilo had trouble with was answering the phone because it required a little more knowledge and understanding of the English language. By talking on the phone, it was impossible to pick up on gestures, and that was part of the reason he passed the phone onto me.
So, I think this quotation is important because I believe there are many people out there who are only proficient in native speaking because they have mastered that and are able to get by in America because of that. Some of these people may not have been challenged enough in school and had been allowed through the system not knowing enough academic English.

3. "Be aware that children use first language acquisition strategies for learning a second language."

I find this to be true in my life because I used English as a model when I learned Spanish in high school. The teachers know that we do this in order to learn, so, they set up the classroom in ways that show how it relates to English. Collier is presenting a model to all teachers of language that this is the number one thing to know when teaching students a second language. There is a great burden put on teachers of language because sometimes students will not be able to adapt and will become extremely frustrated. While this is happening, Collier still presents ways in which teachers can keep the students interested and eager to learn. These are key aspects in her article in which teachers and students learn together and from each other.

This was pretty tough to read and I found myself going back to re-read many sections. I found a few ways in which this article related to our class and the articles we have read. I observed a connection between Collier and Delpit when Collier says, "One must teach in two languages, affirm the cultural values of both home and school, teach standardized forms of the two languages but respect and affirm the multiple varieties and dialects represented among students in class, be a ... on and on." I think these "standardized forms" is something Delpit would agree with so that students can learn the codes of power to succeed in mainstream America. Furthermore, Delpit would agree that teachers should also encourage and adapt to students background, culture, and language styles. So, I see a similar argument between these two authors.
I found an example from this article that related to our classroom discussion of equal versus equitable. "On the false premise that English oral competence is all that an immigrant child needs to compete with native English speaking peers, too many ESL or other English-language learner programs fail to provide a literacy curriculum for their unique needs." Being equitable to these students would mean that these unique needs were acknowledged. Immigrant students usually speak their native language at home and are put at a serious disadvantage when placed in schools when children native to America have already had a head start at learning English at home.

Talking Points #1 completed on time... I just posted it to the wrong section of my blog

Talking Points #1 completed on time... I just posted it to the wrong section of my blog