Monday, March 30, 2009

Talking Points # 7 Anita Hill Is A Boy By: Peggy Orenstein

Orenstein argues for an education that is equal for male and female students and that represents them in a way that is not dominated by males. She also argues that people should "be the change they want to see in the world" and this is evident in that she rebels against popular methods of teaching and tries to teach Phase Five to students so that they learn the truth about history.

1. "Individually, teachers find that calling on students equitability, or simply waiting for a moment rather than recognizing the first child who raises his hand, encourages girls to participate more readily in class.

I heard all the time in High School how boys were good at Math and Science and that girls are good at English and Writing. Is it in guys genes to be better at Math and in girls genes to be better at Writing? Absolutely Not. I bet the whole stereotype began because for most of history, girls were not allowed to be educated. They were not allowed to study Math. In recent history, a common job for a woman is a secretary and this stereotype is still in place today. So, when boys and girls are asked a question about math in the classroom, the teacher is predisposed to look for the answers in boys because of the "common knowledge" that boys are supposed to be better at math. Teachers need to do a better of job of showing girls that they are perfectly capable of being good at math.
Later in the article I found similar examples. "By now, the list is all too familiar: the despised frilly dresses, the expectation that they will be tidy, the curtailed freedom in comparison to their brothers, the assumptions that they are emotionally fragile or bad at sports, the fear of being branded a slut. These are all assumptions about women that most teachers will bring into a classroom. If the teacher is not encouraging these stereotypes, the children will. They are all stereotypes that in our culture represent being weak. It is an example of who is the dominant culture in America. Why is there not much being done to fight this unequal balance? I feel that most white heterosexual men do not want to surrender dominance. It is very easy for us to ignore these issues because we are in the culture of power. However, these are issues that cannot be ignored because it is similar to "separate but equal."

2. "Even these girls, whose parents have placed them in this class in part because of Ms. Logan's sensitivity to gender issues, have already become used to taking up less space, to feeling less worthy of attention than boys.

The best way to describe this feeling is discomfort. I have felt a little uncomfortable in this FNED class with some of the readings. However, the more uncomfortable the reading makes me, the better. I have a hard time reading about women in class and I do not understand why. I feel like most of the things we read are about women's power and this may not even be true. Even though it makes me feel uncomfortable, I still read it. I want to be an educator. If I do not become a teacher, I will educate as a parent hopefully. These are issues in today's world and I need to stay open minded about it. I am used to reading and learning about men most of the time and women are used to learning about men too. In my high school, we students are used to "add women and stir" approach to gender equity." I bet some of the girls feel uncomfortable reading some of our female authors too. Studying such a wide range of issues in this class has been a bit overwhelming, but, I am reading everything I am supposed to and trying to keep an open mind and overcome misplaced feelings of discomfort. I am glad that these issues are really hitting me hard and that I can try to become a more well rounded teacher and learner.

3. "Of seventy-five surveys handed out to boys, only twelve were returned. Among those, the responses were often facetious, such as "I harassed her because she desrved it," or "because her butt's too big," or "because she has big tits."
"So what they're saying," Ms. Logan points out, "is that the responsibility for the harrassment rests with the female."

I feel that some guys will try to act tough around their friends when they fill out their surveys and do not really mean what they say. If my friends did this in front of me in high school, I probably would have just turned the other way because they would have made fun of me. When I was asked to fill out the survey, I honestly would not make comments like this just because my friends would try to pressure me to. Also, I've had debates in classes about sexual harrassment. Many people will say that when a girl wears a short skirt or skimpy clothing, she's asking for it. This is called Blaming the Victim. We are totally ignoring the fact that it is not the women's fault if a man takes advantage of her. Ignoring structural problems and in turn putting the blame on the individual is when you Blame the Victim.
The girls were also asked to take surveys. "The girls in these surveys are trying to be inconspicuous so they won't be harassed. They're trying not to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, trying not to dress a certain way. They learn to become silent, careful, not active or assertive in life. That's what the hidden curriculum teaches girls." This is an example that goes along with what Ms. Logan was talking about. This is another issue in today's world that needs to be addressed.

At first, as I mentioned earlier, I felt a little uncomfortable reading this article because it is all about women's power and I feel like that has been a constant theme throughout the semester. But then I really started to think about how almost everyone of my other classes focuses on men's power. It is okay that I feel this discomfort. Why wouldn't I? I've been brought up learning about important men for twenty years. I feel that this reading was the one that did it for me in acknowledging women's struggles.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Talking Points #6 "One more River to Cross" -- Recognizing the Real Injury in Brown By: Charles Lawrence

Lawrence argues that there will always be "one more river to cross" for Blacks in America because Blacks were labeled as an inferior race and that label has yet to be removed. He also argues The Brown v. Board of Education event should be judged on where it has left us.

1. "Woodward has called "Jim Crow" laws the "public symbols and constant reminders" of the inferior position of blacks."

I looked up Jim Crow laws on to get a better understanding of what Jim Crow laws were and how they relate to Lawrence.

"The Jim Crow laws were state and local laws in the United States enacted between 1876 and 1965. They mandated de jure segregation in all public facilities, with a "separate but equal" status for black Americans and members of other non-white racial groups.
Some examples of Jim Crow laws are the segregation of public schools, public places and public transportation, and the segregation of restrooms and restaurants for whites and blacks. The U.S. military was also segregated. These Jim Crow Laws were separate from the 1800-66 Black Codes, which had also restricted the civil rights and civil liberties of African Americans. State-sponsored school segregation was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education. Generally, the remaining Jim Crow laws were overruled by the Civil Rights Act of 1964[1] and the Voting Rights Act of 1965."

So, these laws were a major player and had a huge resposibility in labeling Blacks as an inferior race when they labeled Blacks "separate but equal." Jim Crow laws that allowed segegated restrooms and restaurants were the public symbols and constant reminders of their inferior status. Even in the military, there was segregation. Because of these laws, everywhere one looked, there was segregation. By 1954, Brown v Board of Education declared school segregation unconstitutional. By 1964, the remaining Jim Crow laws were overruled. During the Supreme Courts rulings to end segregation, did they really think that this would "solve everything?" Even today there is always "One more river to cross." Today we have a Black president and there is still "One more river to cross" and we are working on how to cross it when we study Johnson's piece on "saying the words" and Holder's speech about talking more about race. According to Lawrence, we need to remove the label of inferiority to "solve everything."

2. "Once it is understood that the injury results from the existence of the label of inferiority, it becomes clear that the cure must involve the removal of that label. The mere placement of black and white children in the same school does not remove the brand imprinted by years of segragation."

According to Lawrence, the problem and cure is clear. The problem is the label and the cure is the removal of that label. Having a label of inferiority is a very dangerous thing. I learned in my Social Work classes about a concept about Blaming the Victim. Blaming the Victim helped me understand that once you have a label, you may have a target. Now when things go wrong, people have a group of people to take out any anger and frustration on. For example, long before the Holocaust, the Jews were labeled as inferior. This is an extreme case, but, it is similar in categorizing a group of people into being inferior and all the terrible things that can become of it. Also, when you have Jim Crow laws as constant reminders of segragation and the inferiority of Blacks, their label is constantly negatively reinforced with terrible and disgusting things. So, removal of this label needs to be a top priority. So, a quick fix solution of throwing a bunch of balck and white children together in schools is a step in the right direction, but a very small step because it does not really do anything. There are still years of tensions between these kids who hate each other and this act of desegregating schools is not going to change that.

3. "Instead of taking judicial cognizance of the fact that the maifest purpose of segregation was to designate blacks as inferior, holding such a purpose constitutionally impermissible, the Court chose to focus upon the effect of school segregation."

Lawrence is arguing that the Supreme Court is merely taking one thing away from the problem and that will still hold Blacks inferior. Why not take away the label that designates Blacks as inferior at this time? What is really the point in just desegregating schools if you still constitutionally hold that Blacks are inferior? I hear Lawrence's argument, but disagree. I think such an important case needed a step down process in order for it to be effective. I feel that if all of a sudden, schools were desgregated and Blacks had all the same rights as Whites, it may not have worked like it has worked. People need time for things to change and when you change one thing at a time over a period of time it holds better. I hear Lawrence in saying that "There is always one more river to cross." If we could fix the problem all at once, I'm sure it would have been fixed. And anyway, how exactly do you constitutionally take away someone's label? In an issue as complicated as this, there needs to be plenty of time to make such drastic changes.

This piece was difficult to read and comprehend compared to other readings. I feel like when we go over it in class things will shape up a little better. I felt like during his argument, I agreed and disagreed at different things he said. However, at the same time, I may not have understood his exact intentions when he wrote something and that may be why i disagreed with it. What I liked the most about this piece was how he argues about something to end racism. The label is what separates us and that is the real issue. He is arguing for an America where one day a white person may look at a Black person or vice versa and not see the label because we have been working to get rid of it for good.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Talking Points #5 In the Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning By: Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer

The authors argue that it is "better to be explicit about the numerous and different visions that drive the creation and implementation of service learning activities in schools." When a service learning project is assigned, the assigner needs to explain to the assigned exactly what vision they have by this project being done to answer the question, "In the service of what?""

1. "Service learning makes students active participants in service projects that aim to respond to the needs of the community while furthering the academic goals of students."

This quotation is relevant to the text and the author's argument because it specifically explains the answer to the queston, "In the service of what?" In my service learning project, I am responding to the need of Providence schools with academic issues and working one on one with a student to improve his grades. After this it said, "Service learning can advance other priorities, such as the acquisition of vocational skills." This reminded me of my Habitat for Humanity trip where I went to Biloxi, MI to build a house for a week for a family who were victims of Hurricane Katrina. The trip taught me how important teamwork is and I learned many things about building a house. This was an obvious need in the community. Habitat for Humanity has explicit goals that they have in mind when sendind people on these trips. I knew exactly what I was working for and who I was serving. In fact, I even met the family that would be moving in. Because I knew exactly who I was serving, my teammates and I were able to have an even better attitude in building the house.

2. "After they returned, the students' perspectives of these elementary school children had changed. They were "surprised at the children's responsiveness and attentiveness," they found the children to be "extremely polite and surprisingly friendly," and they discovered that they "listened well and had excellent behavior." One student wrote, "Everyone at the school had good manners, and I think more highly of [the neighborhood] now."

When I told my parents I would be volunteering in Roger Williams Middle School on Thurbers Avenue for fifteen hours this semester, they had mixed feelings about it. They were just like the middle school parents in the article objecting to their children going into an elementary school in a "bad" neighborhood. From my experience in Roger Williams, I have found that the students there are not bad. They are regular middle school children who are finding themselves as they mature. This required service learning is helping to diminish the sense of "otherness." This word "otherness" is a key word that reinforces stereotypes within our community. For example, Roger Williams has a bad reputation when ranked against other middle schools in the state. However, these other middle schools outside of Providence probably do not have free or reduced lunch for over ninety-five percent of their students. Poverty is directly related to poorer grades in school. These facts are ignored during these rankings and when uneducated people look at the statistics and see Roger Williams at the bottom of the list, "fuel is added to the fire" in the stereotyping of Roger Williams of a "bad" school. I tutor a homeless student at Roger Williams. I do not remember any homeless students at my middle school, Mount Saint Charles Academy. So, before we go judging inner city schools, we need to remember they are kids and understand that where they come from directly influences their capabilities in school, and sometimes they cannot do anything about it.

3. "Time and energy given to such superficial betterment [Hannah gives as an example making Thanksgiving baskets for poor families] could much more efficiently be spent in getting at the basic inhibiting influences which perpetuate a scarcity economy in the midst of abundance."

This is an example of a bandaid on a broken arm. Who is to blame? "He [Bush] made no mention of changes that address the structural injustices that leave so many in need." Sometimes we spend time doing things like making Thanksgiving baskets and accept that there are people without food in our community. This is just like when Kozol talked about giving sleeping bags to the people in South Bronx and how it was a bandaid on a broken leg. They are not fixing the problem. They are accepting that those people are going to be cold, just like we accept that some people have no food. We can give them a meal, but that does not solve the problem. So, instead of giving them food every Thanksgiving, maybe all that time and energy could be spent on job training or in some cases, literacy skills.

I thought this article was pretty interesting. I am an advocate of making service learning part of the curriculum. However, I would agree with Mr. Johnson in that he let his students do community service projects of their choosing. There are certain things that I am curious about and really want to learn about. By being able to choose, I would be more enthusiastic about my project and definitely get more out of it. The authors presented a couple of case studies with different ideas of how service learning is presented. I would like to know what is the best way to introduce service learning to the classroom so that learning can take place.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us by: Linda Christensen

Christensen's argument is that very young children are being molded by a "secret language," which is basically the media, that teaches stereotyping of different cultures and genders. She also argues the importance of taking action to raise awareness and potentially create change.

1. "Consequently, most of the early information we receive about "others"-- people racially, religiously, or socioeconomically different from ourselves -- does not come as a result of firsthand experience. The secondhand information we receive has often been distorted, shaped by cultural stereotypes, and left incomplete...."

This shows how young children are attuned with "others" and immediately begin stereotyping them. An example from this article talked about a three year old who had already begun using information from Peter Pan to announce facts. Christensen is arguing that it is okay that a three year old is announcing facts from a movie. However, the movies should not be stereotypical in nature to begin with. Very young children should be initially exposed to a media that does not teach them to put people into categories like today's media does. As these children grow up and hear about others acting in a way that fits their specific category, it will reinforce the stereotypes in the children's minds. This is because it is much easier to store information in your mind when it already has somewhere to be stored. If these children hear something about others that does not fit their specific category, it contradicts what you thought was true and can be easily thrown out. It should not be like this. Something needs to be done about about the media so that one day this cycle of a pre determined image known to all about a specific culture will be eliminated.

2. "As they view each episide, they fill in a chart answering these questions. (For a ready to use copy of the chart visit

Christensen goes out of her way to include this note in her article. She is showing the importance of taking an action when a problem is presented. It shows that she is more than a talker, she is a "doer". This concept is very important in the world today and i feel like my generation is more doers than ever before.
I recently went to a "College Leadership RI" meeting where we had a tour of Crossroads RI and some young leaders came in to speak to us. One of the speakers was named Ray Harris and was one of the Providence Journal's top 10 (or 20) people to keep your eye on in RI. He is an executive director of a few groups that promote activities for teenagers in inner city schools and his topic of discussion for us was being a doer and not a talker. He used many examples about how his board has great ideas and that he knows if he does not do it, it will not get done. Because of his attitude, he is quickly as on the rise and his future is looking very bright. Christensen is doing her part in presenting easy ways for us, the readers, to take action if we want to. Later in the article she says, "But what am I teaching them if the lesson ends there! That it's enough to be critical without taking action?" I think she does a great job as a teacher to realize the importance of that part of the project.

3. "Women who aren't white begin to feel left out and ugly because they never get to play the princess."

I am a little confused about the second part of this quotation about ugly girls never being able to play the princess. In today's society, most ugly people marry ugly people just like good looking people marry good looking people. That is just the way it is. I learned in my Human Development class at RIC that the most successful relationships occur with people of the same socioeconomic status. I feel like even if an ugly man marries a gorgeous woman or an ugly woman marries a gorgeous man in a movie that it will not really matter because it is not the common case. I feel like it is not really something that works with her argument just because of the facts of the matter. As far as women who aren't white beginning to fell left out, I know the black singer Brandy played as a black cinderella. So, Christensen's ideas are definitely common because things are already being done about it today. There is a show today called Diego that Hispanic children will have an easier time relating to also. So, she definitely has a valid argument in that her issues on the media are being addressed and there has been action on it too.

I think Christensen does make good points, but, I do not really agree with the article. Some things need to be broken down to a very simple level for young viewers even if it means putting people into categories. I do not think that the media has shaped me as a young child to make me sterotype people. -- Christensen argued most people would say they are not shaped by the media-- I feel like most people quickly outgrow the Disney movies they saw as a young child and do not use that to group others. They are simply forms of entertainment. If family and teachers reinforce that stereotype in a child's mind, I do not believe it is Disney's fault, for example.
I do not see much of a connection to other authors other than how it relates to Johnson in that solutions and take action plans are embedded in the text. These two authors offer the readers ready to use solutions to begin using in their own life immediately.