Friday, September 16, 2011

And So It Begins Again....

It's been a long 5 months or so since the last update.  This time around, there's Educational Psychology and Instructional Methods (lesson plans and basically how to teach).
Right now, I'm working on my first lesson plan (Quadratic equations for Algebra 2) and a paper about homework for psychology.  Already, there's some interesting things to read in articles that I've come across.
(Please keep in mind that I'm planning on being in a high school, so my posts will be aimed at that. They may be exceptions, but those will be explicitly stated.)

The recommended grading from one group of researches is:
50% - exams
30% - classwork
10% - homework
10% - assigned papers

Yet another group claims:
60% - tests/quizzes
15% - class participation
15% - written/oral projects
10% - notebook/homework

Neither of these state what grade levels they are aimed at; the article mentions elementary and secondary teachers.  It does say that test scores are a better indication of progress than homework or papers, which (as a student) I have to agree with.  While there are always the issue of people who cannot take tests well, homework or papers have more time to be fixed up and could be worked on in a group.
It also talks about how tests should not be weighted the same. Just because a midterm and a final make up 60%, it doesn't mean they are both 30%.  It mentions using standard deviation, but I would think a more traditional 'which should be worth more' approach would be just as valid.  If the final is cumulative, it should be worth more.  If not cumulative, then it's possible to be worth the same, in my opinion.

Despite me being a math major, it doesn't mean I like relative grades, or grading on a curve.  Most curves are designed to be symmetrical, with the highest number of grades being C's, and a smaller (but equal) amount of B's and D's and an even smaller (but still equal) number of A's and F's.  To me, that is not only a bad way to grade students (especially if they are in the C+ range or so in terms of a traditional 'absolute' grade but would end up with an F when weighted) but also disrupts the way a class is run.  There are very few winners, except the top few students.  Imagine an honors class, for example.  All students who are used to getting A's and possibly B's, suddenly getting C's or even F's.  Are they goofing off, skipping class, or not doing their work? Nope, they just didn't do as well as the other students.  Basing this idea off of how frustrated an honors student like me was angry I got a C+ in one class, I would have been devastated if that was weighted down to an F.

(All of the above data came from The Nature of Grading in The Clearing House, 1989, vol. 62 no. 8, pgs. 635-369)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Join the Circus of Life

The following is what a friend posted online. I thought it fitting and hope everyone finds it enlightening.

Being mixed is like a tightrope act where you're forced to balance in the middle because of opposition at either extreme. There's hostility on both ends, but I've come to notice it more coming from black females. I hear things like "oh, she thinks she's so cute because she's light skinned and has hair," or "Quit trying to be black." Really. I may be beautiful but I'm not arrogant. I don't see how my skin or hair gives me reason to be "uppity" considering I've spent plenty of time (in the past) wishing for longer, straighter hair same as the darker sisters out there. Maybe you would be more attractive if you spent less time being bitter and jealous and more time enjoying yourselves. When it comes to people, I don't care what they look like or how they dress as long as there's basic hygiene. I care about how they treat me, how I feel in their presence. And I'm not TRYING to be black. I AM black. Black is not about dark skin or nappy hair or junk in the trunk. Its a code written in my DNA that says I'm the seed of a plant with half its roots in the same soil as yours. So why can't we be civil? A lot of black girls also seem to be under the impression that I'm a doormat just because I prefer to defuse a situation rather than escalate it to something unnecessary. Repeat after me. Half black does NOT mean half assed. On a final note, its pointless to try to generalize based off of my race because I am not one or the other. I'm in the grey. I am [name removed], and you can't categorize an individual. Stop hating me, and start loving yourself.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Education is Not a Political Toy

Education is Politics - Ira Shor

Shor talks a lot about what we've already heard so much about: the educational system we have is a broken system that works more often for those who have social or economic blessings than minorities and other students.  Oakes is mentioned in the article as having done research that helped reinforce his points.

What it comes down to is us as teachers.  We are the only ones who can make a difference, since it seems obvious to me that the bureaucracy in charge of running public education and even those in colleges are not going to change their ideas and change how the curriculum is designed or how the school system as a whole is run.  There is a bright side for us educators: we are many.  We can teach our own version of the curriculum, use students' input to enhance the lessons, and make things relevant to them.  Students need teachers who understand that not everyone is comfortable/capable of acing standardized tests and not everyone can learn or even wants to learn by being lectured to.

We need students to question the world around them, not accept it blindly.  You have to ask yourself, did your school or perhaps a single teacher encourage you to ask questions and not take things for granted?  If so, then you've got an example of what to do.  If not, there are many resources available.

Teaching is not easy.  Making an environment where every feels comfortable, conveying the material so that everyone (regardless of disability or learning style) can understand, and everything else Shor talks about like having students participate, relating to life, and being multicultural sounds nightmarish to implement.  But that's what we have to try.  We are not alone.  "TOTAL PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS: 3,178,142" And that is just for public schools; it does not include Catholic, private, or charter schools.  That's a lot of teachers, and if they all got together, used some sort of communication and could share lesson plans, teaching strategies, and general advice, imagine what could be accomplished.  I realize that some teachers do network already. But if there was a move to network all teachers, the benefit would be incredible.

I know I ask this question a lot, but we're seeing more and more that has to be changed, and it's up to us.  Can we make a difference and change how the educational system is perceived?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Breaking Glass

I've wanted to post this for a while now, but never got around to it.  I'm sure everyone remembers Dr. Bogad's example of people walking around with a pane of glass in front of them, only noticing it when something happens to scratch, blemish, or crack that glass.  My favorite song, Through Glass by Stone Sour, has a music video and lyrics that I think represent that.  When I first heard it, I thought it was a great song. And then I listened to it again and started to pick apart the lyrics and realized how they had a deeper meaning than I would have thought.

Corey Taylor, the singer/frontman of Stone Sour and Slipknot, wrote this song because he was sick of the artificiality that Hollywood was showcasing.
The above 2 links are quite short, I encourage you to read them.

I'm putting a few lines in bold that I think are particularly relevant.  The music video for this is very fitting, so I suggest watching it, rather than just listening and reading the lyrics at the same time.

Lyrics (c) Stone Sour

"Through Glass"

I'm looking at you through the glass...
Don't know how much time has passed
Oh, god it feels like forever
But no one ever tells you that forever
Feels like home sitting all alone inside your head

How do you feel? That is the question
But I forget.. you don't expect an easy answer
When something like a soul becomes
Initialized and folded up like paper dolls and little notes
You can't expect a bit of hope
So while you're outside looking in
Describing what you see
Remember what you're staring at is me

Cause I'm looking at you through the glass...
Don't know how much time has passed
All I know is that it feels like forever
When no one ever tells you that forever
Feels like home, sitting all alone inside your head

How much is real? So much to question
An epidemic of the mannequins

Contaminating everything
When thought came from the heart
It never did right from the start
Just listen to the noises
(Null and void instead of voices)
Before you tell yourself
It's just a different scene
Remember it's just different from what you've seen

I'm looking at you through the glass...
Don't know how much time has passed
And all I know is that it feels like forever
When no one ever tells you that forever
Feels like home, sitting all alone inside your head

And it's the starrrssss
The sttarrrsss
That shine for you
And it's the starrrssss
The sttarrrsss
That lie to you.. yeah-ah

I'm looking at you through the glass...
Don't know how much time has passed
Oh, god it feels like forever
But no one ever tells you that forever
Feels like home, sitting all alone inside your head

'Cause I'm looking at you through the glass...
Don't know how much time has passed
All I know is that it feels like forever
But no one ever tells you that forever
Feels like home, sitting all alone inside your heaaaaddd

And it's the starrrssss
The sttarrrsss
That shine for you.. yeah-ah
And it's the starrrssss
The sttarrrsss
That lie to you.. yeah-ah

And it's the starrrssss
The sttarrrsss
That shine for you.. yeah-ah
And it's the starrrssss
The sttarrrsss
That lie to you.. yeah-ah yeah

Ohhhoh when the starrs
Ohhh oh when the starrrrs that liieee

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Of Dogs and Dead Bodies

Today was the Leslie Grinner talk about Twilight.   By the look of it, half the class or more was there.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was very interesting and there were high points with her humor.  It's been a while since I've seen (maybe a year?) or read them (2.5 years), so I was glad she did a brief summary at the beginning.  I had a laugh to myself because I cringed slightly when she mentioned that Billy was "wheelchair bound".

SCWAMP - what society values.  Delpit resides here, with the culture of power.  I was impressed with how many connections there were and how convincing Grinner's arguments were.  There was one other thing Grinner brought up that was a recurring theme in Twilight and a decreasing portion of society: virginity.  As she said, three males worked to protect her purity while Bella's mother already assumed her daughter was not so pure and Bella was working on losing her innocence.  I really like how she brought up Edward's lines about not having a soul and being a beast, yet he represents Christianity, and would consent to turning Bella into a soulless monster but not allow her to have sex with him until they married.

SCWAMP ties in with McIntosh's white privilege aspect as well.  The Quileute tribe does not have the same luxuries as the Cullens or even Bella, being on a reservation.  Another thing Grinner said that I liked was how Bella has friends of all races and is insanely attractive to them all because she "transcends race".  That phrase is extremely familiar and I can't think who/how it was used.  Of course, given how Dr. Bogad said she was influenced by Grinner, it might have been something class related. If anyone should be struck with an epiphany of where I might have heard it, I would love to hear it.  Her other point was how Laurent was singled out because of his color and accent -- being the only vampire to have either.  It make you wonder why Meyer included him in the story.  Why give him those characteristics instead of being another ordinary vampire?

The whole Twilight franchise is quickly becoming a part of our culture.  Yet because of this, it's a danger.  Our media savvy generation is growing up with Twilight.  Could it have the same effects as some of the other films we discussed from Christensen's article?  Make girls think it's okay to be whacked in the face because Emily was but stayed in the relationship?  Sneak into someone's house to watch them sleep?  Do life threatening stunts to hear someone's voice in your head?  Find a way to kill yourself because your lover is dead?  There maybe a few good themes in Twilight, but people subconsciously pick up on the 'bad things' and integrate them into their thoughts and expectations.

Overall, I really liked this.  If the opportunity came up to hear Leslie Grinner speak again, I would definitely make an attempt to go.

I'll leave off with some demotivationals and this this page.
(Demotivationals are not mine)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Down and Out

Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome by Christopher Kliewer

When I first saw "Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome", the first thing that popped in my mind was the title of this post.  It's actually a song by the rock band Tantric.  I think some of the lyrics could be applied.
There is actually a line in the reading that made me think of Delpit.  Did anyone else see it? Pg 72, "silenced: Dialogue".  Well, "disabled" people are kept away from the culture of power.  "dialogue of citizenship" is another one on page 73 that reads like Delpit.  And as Dr. Bogad mentioned, would we see these connections to Delpit as often or would we see connections to others we have read if she emphasized another person we have read instead?

Respect. Humility. Creative listening.  These three things are key to defining everyone around us as "precious and irreplaceable".  Respect is going downhill.  If you've had the misfortune of listening to teenagers, you've probably seen how they don't care about anyone other than themselves.

Shayne presents a model of teaching that we will hopefully all follow one day.  She manages to incorporate all the students unique skills and joys into the classroom and manages to measure their progress not against each other and the 'standards' but by their own individual progress.  And above all, she teaches us that you have to listen, like when she found Anne a job at the video rental store because that was something she loved.  If we as teachers can make the 'normally functioning' students work with those who might be considered disabled, they would see their strengths and that they should be recognized as being important and having their own ideas and abilities.  Also, when working later in life, no one would feel like people were 'dumb' or unable to do something because everyone knows they are all valuable members of the community.

There need to be more performance evaluations other than just the traditional worksheet and exams.  This helps not only those who might be 'disabled' but also those who get test anxiety.
It's interesting, because I'm writing this as I read, and I just came across the section that talks about including more than the logical mathematical thinking and linguistic capabilities.  Naturally, I agree.  Spatial-representation intelligence, musical intelligence, kinesthetic knowledge, interpersonal intelligence, and intrapersonal intelligence are all highly important in life and also in education when measuring performance.  This is the idea of multiple intelligences, something you might have learned about if you took a psychology class.

All being said, this article reminds me of the tracking article, in how we need to completely redo the educational system and reform how teachers teach.

Yet again, it seems we come to the inevitable question of: how can we fix this? Is it possible in the next few years or is this something that will change so slowly, it will only be our great-grandchildren who see our dream come true?

More Facebook Pages that apply to us:
"i don't care if you're black, white, straight, bisexual, gay, lesbian, short, tall, fat, skinny, rich or poor.
If you're nice to me, I'll be nice to you. Simple as that.
- Eminem"

^ I have to agree. That's basically my policy.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Attitude Adjustment

Literacy With An Attitude by Patrick Finn

One of the most interesting things Finn says in the beginning is straight from Delpit. "I didn't say to an
errant student, "What are you doing?" I said, "Stop that and get to work." No discussion. No openings for an argument."  However, he then destroys the image of him doing something good by saying that he kept things simple for everyone.  Yes, he had his little extra credit assignments, but he played down the entire class.  He does redeem himself though, and it just goes to show us that not everyone is perfect and, as Dr. Bogad has said, "you're going to screw things up. A lot."

Just a thought, it makes me wonder if there would have been as much resistance if those schools were mixed race.  Would the other students balance out the white resistance and want to learn?  Or are the teaching methods so bad that no one would really benefit?

"Eight of twenty students interviewed expressed antagonism toward "the rich," who they said were greedy, spoiled, and snobby. This is interesting in light of the fact that these students' family incomes were in the top 10 percent for the nation."  So, since they're not rich, who is? Just those at the very top, it appears.

It's interesting that 16/20 in the affluent school said they could make knowledge but only half of those in the elite school said they could.  Perhaps this represents their privilege that they do not have to do as much work and direct those underneath them when they join/command the workforce.

This ending quote from Finn is quite extraordinary: "And so I ask, "Those who are smartest and work hardest go furthest?" Who's kidding whom? When students begin school in such different systems, the odds are set for them. President Kennedy once said that he hoped that a person's chance to become president was not determined on the day he was baptized (referring to the fact that some said a Catholic could never become president). I'd like to hope that a child's expectations are not determined on the day she or he enters kindergarten, but it would be foolish to entertain such a hope unless there are some drastic changes made."

To me, this entire article could be a pitch straight from Delpit and McIntosh.  And Kozol gets a silent mention because Finn references him himself. Students in the lower schools are not being taught the rules and codes of power to do anything other than minimum wage labor jobs.  White privilege here is selective based on who your parents are (which would in turn dictate where you live), not your individual abilities.

This was an interesting article to read.  There are so many relevant and startling points made, for anyone but especially for us.  Finn's book could be looked at as a road map of how to make a difference.  Maybe our classroom can be that one to do group work and more student involved learning.  Even if it's only that one teacher in the school doing it, do you think it would help to make a difference?


On a completely unrelated note, I just found this page on Facebook.  Especially today, when there are more openly gay individuals, how does this work?
"Parent's don't let you spend the night of the opposite sex, but they let you spend the night at the same sex?? Do they want us to be gay?"
^ While the grammar and final remark aren't very good, it does make a good point.  If someone is a lesbian, would their parents let them sleep over at a female friend's house?

Another page:
See that boy doing his homework in homeroom? He couldn’t do it last night because he was too busy talking his best friend out of suicide. See that girl, with her face caked in make up? She’s bullied, she needs to feel beautiful. See him, the one who wears long sleeves everyday? He covers his arms to hide the scars. See her, with the cheap, hand-me-down clothes? Her family can’t afford food for half the month, let alone get brand names. I'm against bullying. Like if you are too.

Yet another:
A 15 year old girl holds her 1 year old son, people call her a slut. But no one knew she was raped at 13; make fun of someone for being fat, but you don't know that person has a serious medical condition that causes her to be fat. Call the old guy ugly, but you don't know if he got a serious face injury after serving the country or saving a life. Stop stereotyping and think before you start talking trash of others

Promise I'll stop now:
Today, I was shopping with my daughter.
I am 17, she is 2.
A woman came up and said;;
"its a shame to see young girls having kids. Poor thing, she will never have a good life."
I had no idea what to say. She was wrong, and I could not believe some stranger said that.
Then my daughter Charlie goes:
"I love my mommy"
The woman was stunned and walked away.

I lied:
the class b**tch jokingly asked a slightly overweight girl
"So, when are you due?"
The b*tch was speechless when the girl replied,
"I don't know, ask your boyfriend ;)"

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Gender Gaps -- Which Way?

My mind works in strange ways. That being said, expect this post to be all over the place.

I was reading through Emily Onufrak's post and she mentioned how a man "couldn't apply for many jobs because a lot of the jobs that he wanted said they wanted a women." This reminded me of a flyer I saw in Gaige about a week ago. It was an job opportunity for someone who could speak Spanish.  That quickly perked my interest, so I went to read it. I can't give the exact wording anymore, but it was similar to 'pretty, Dominican female'.  Really? Any reason for that?  Did they want to add a height/weight requirement too?  First off, why limit it to pretty Dominican woman?  And second, just what does "pretty" mean?  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all.  What is they rejected someone because they didn't think she was pretty enough? What kind of an effect would that have on the poor women?

And while we're on the subject of job opportunities based on beauty, Hooters anyone?  *insert sighing noise here*  They hire mainly females but have started hiring more males.  Yet they only hire women that fit their desired image.  I encourage you to read the legal section in the Hooters link, it's short and interesting.

From the few posts that are up already, everyone is talking about how women are being discriminated against.  Emily Q.T. mentions that girls are ahead of boys when they first start school but then fall behind by the time they graduate high school or college.  There's an interesting article that disagrees with her.  I would like to first point out that this author fails to use links properly.  The first link for 'by the BLS' should lead here.  BLS stands for Bureau of Labor Statistics, a section of the Department of Labor.  More women than men are graduating college and earning degrees, despite the fact that the same amount of each sex are attending college to begin with.

Here's a quote from that article:
In other words, the standard “disparity-proves-discrimination” dogma will not be applied in this case of a huge gender imbalance in college completion by ages 22-23, because the disparity favors women, not men. But consider what happens when the disparity favors men, and this is just one example of many:
NY Times: “Women make up 46% of the American workforce but hold just 25% of the jobs in engineering, technology and science, according to the National Science Foundation. To Sally K. Ride, a former astronaut, that persistent gender gap is a national crisis that will prove to be deeply detrimental to America’s global competitiveness.”

Okay, I can see how this might be viewed as a problem.  It's supposed to be equal, so there should be 50% always, right?  Or maybe we should look at being EQUITABLE.  Women only make up 25% of those jobs listed above.  Is there a reason?  Do they not want to take those jobs?  Are there other jobs they prefer over engineering and science and technology?  Maybe we should look at the pay instead of the actual job?  If women are given the same opportunity to choose a degree in college, doesn't that mean they are picking a career choice they would prefer?  Forgive me for possibly stereotyping, but aren't women more people friendly?  Maybe they want to pursue careers like that, in teaching, social work, etc.?  Maybe we should look at the degrees being pursued by women before we start making claims that there is a gender gap.  Stereotype number two of my rant: I'm pretty sure the majority of nursing and education majors are female.  Personally, I don't care if my nurse is a male, female, or androgynous as long as they know what they're doing.  Statistics about RIC showed a very small percentage of students pursing those fields there is a gender gap on.  I believe these numbers are from the 2009 graduates. 29.5% of graduates pursued Education and Teaching, 13.06% for Therapy and Counseling, 12.35% for Business and Management.  Those were the top 3 majors.  Then, we have the very low majors.  Computer Science: 0.45%, Math: 0.71%, Science: 2.01%
I would also like to point out that RIC has a 68% female population, possibly the highest in the state.  It is certainly higher than Providence College (56%), University of Rhode Island (55%), and Brown University (53%).  [All these statistics pertaining to colleges were obtained in a project last semester.]

Do we normally see a 'problem' when women are being favored and not men?  Are there situations around us where this is the case?  What do you think about the gender gap in those three fields?  Should things be Equal in percentage or Equitable in the opportunity to pursue that career?
As for the stereotypes above, please forgive me if anyone finds them offensive.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Brown v. Board of Education was the catalyst that changed everything. Segregation is illegal, schools cannot be run separately based on race.

I'm in an interesting mood right now, so what you're about to read is going to be different from my usual.  Like puppets on a string, I'm going to play around with this. ** indicate actions.  And the initial descriptions are in there as well.  Direct quotes from anyone look like this.
I apologize if this seems long. It likely will be.

Wise and Herbert v. Society
*Tim Wise and Bob Herbert enter the crowded courtroom and take their place at the prosecutor's bench.  Wise is  a 42 year old white male and prominent anti-racist essayist.  Herbert is a 66 year old African American male, formerly an op-ed writer for the New York Times on poverty, racism, and politics.*

*An older white gentleman enters the courtroom next, walking to the defendant's place.  He has grey hair, slightly balding, and is wearing a formal pin-striped suit.  Wrinkles cover his face sparingly, making him appear younger than his 77 years.  He is the former CEO of a Fortune 500 company.*

Bailiff: All rise!  The honorable Judge Bogad presiding.

*Judge Bogad enters and sits.  She is a 39 year old white women and is a professor at Rhode Island College, teaching education and social justice classes.*

Judge Bogad: *bangs her gavel* Court is now in session. You may all be seated. In the matter of Wise and Herbert versus Society, are all parties prepared?

Wise/Herbert/Society (in unison): Yes, your honor.

Judge Bogad: Very well. If the prosecution would start?

Wise: Thank you, your honor. The prosecution alleges that the defendant knowingly discriminated against millions of American citizens on the basis of their race and social class, especially in education.

Herbert: Society was told years ago in 1954 that it could not have segregated schools, but this continues to be the case today.  Segregation in schools is still an issue.  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.

Wise: It has taken many years to get as far as ruling segregation to be illegal. Now, we need to charge society with changing, by making this an event big enough to inspire other events. The election of Barack Obama as President is one of those changes, but it only proves Racism 2.0 is alive and well--*Judge Bogad interrupts*

Judge Bogad: Forgive me, but I don't know what Racism 2.0 is and the jury probably doesn't either.

Wise: *nodding* Of course, your honor. Racism 2.0 is the second stage. There has been a decrease in what I call Racism 1.0, the old school overt bias.  2.0 deals with enlightened exceptionalism. In this instance, President Obama was elected because he is above the rest; he is essentially transcending race because of his rare credentials for a man of his race.  However, the norm for blacks and browns are still considered sub-par.  We live in a society of double standards, where a man can be an idiot and elected to office but it takes an exceptional black man to be elected.  And denial is everywhere. People are denying the problem and have been for many years. You can be a good person, a decent person, and remain oblivious to everything. We'll let Society give his opening.

Society:*Gives a curt nod to Wise before clearing his throat* Thank you. The American people respectfully deny your misinformed claim. We admit that there are some instances that might appear to be segregation, but we assure the court that it is not. Where parents choose to reside is their decision, and consequently, that is where their children enroll in school.  People are habitual, they return to their roots, make friends with people of the same social status and race as them, and then live near one another.  It is not due to any actions on the part of anyone else. It is their decision. There are no excuses. And blaming the white population at large of 'segregation' is an excuse.
(Above quote is by Wise)
----The End

Wise and Herbert would get along well with one another. Their viewpoints are similar in how segregation and racism still exist today.  To them, Brown v. Board of Education was a step in the right direction, but it needs to be followed up more other significant events as well.  Yes, it ended the overt racism (1.0), but 2.0 is still prevalent.  Until the day schools, communities, and the country are integrated and mixed, neither Wise nor Herbert will agree that racism and segregation have ceased to exist.  The point Wise makes about needing many large events over time to occur before change can happen is a good one and something that Herbert would prefer differed. Herbert wants change to happen now, widely, and without political sidesteps to achieve.

Why did I pick such a description for the representative of society?  Because he is a rich, white male who was 20 years old when Brown v. Education took place, and the fictional ex-CEO of Wal-Mart, which is currently fighting a lawsuit that it is discriminating on the basis of gender.
Also, I've tried to capture the style of everyone's speech. How well did I do?
I realize that this is a bit of a recap of everything we heard and read, but I wanted to let society 'defend' itself as well.  In your mind, are schools just as segregated as they were before? Or perhaps not to such a degree, but given that my school only has a 9% white population, it would appear that the neighborhood has a higher population of Hispanics and African Americans. Why not a more equalized population? What makes that area have such a lower percentage of white students?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Higher the Discourse, the More Rallied the People

This song is often called the Higher 9/11 Remix or World Trade Center Remix.
I'm comfortable enough with myself to admit that I'm not 'manly' and this song makes me cry. I don't know why, it just does. This, and I'm Already There by Lonestar.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

What are we doing this for?

In The Service Of What? The Politics of Service Learning -- Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer

This article was quite interesting. I don't know if many of us realized the two types of service learning. It raises several good questions. Is it enough to just 'help' and be charitable with your time or does it take some thought before and after to help and make a change? What we do in this class? I think it all depends on who you are. Yes, we have our discussions and the entire semester is spent learning about the differences and hardship some of the students may be facing. But really, it all comes down to what you make of it. Yes, we are giving our time. Yes, we don't have a choice in the matter. But aren't we working to help change lives? Isn't that why we want to become teachers? [It's not for the pay, certainly :) ] In trying to help the students, we should be trying to create that little spark within them to motivate them, to make them think that they can succeed, that they DESERVE to succeed and that they can go on to college, graduate, and live their lives the way they want to. That is the ideal. Without the discussion, the collaboration, the research that goes on in our classroom, that ideal would be further away than the sun. Without the classroom content we learn, we'd only be helping the students to pass their next test. There would be no lasting effect; once we left, they would be on their own again, perhaps only slightly better off than they were before. One person can change the world, yes, but only through effort and understanding.

What do you think? Are we making a difference and contributing 'change' rather than 'charity'? If we didn't discuss things so heavily in class, do you think it would be the same experience for you? Is there something I say that you disagree with?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Dissident of Dreams

Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us by Linda Christensen


Linda Christensen argues that children unconsciously have their ideals shaped through cartoons and other media.
We are all products of our environment.  Everything we see leaves an imprint on us, especially when younger.  Many cartoons and other media leave us with a small imprint, an expectation of values, that is distorted in some way, whether it be racially, socioeconomically, or sexist.  The "secret education" given to our children is one that must be questioned.  Only after it is questioned, can it be understood and applied to the world in a broader sense.  Christensen's other message is that an outlet needs to be formed.  It is not good to hold in all the thoughts and disgust these stereotypical media create.  Writing about it, to provoke others to search their own thoughts and those hidden in media, or creating projects that can be presented to family, church groups, members of the community, or beyond, is how she had her students cope.  Being frustrated with the tactics used in media and knowing that many of their dreams were by-products of ill-meaning childhood was crushing for many of her students.  After coming to terms with that, they were tasked with spreading the word to others, to help create a network of more informed people, distancing themselves from such media.
The most important aspect of her argument?  Don't keep it inside - unleash it on the world in a way that can help others see.

Reading this article, I thought back to many of the cartoons I watched as a child.  Most were dominated by white males.  Females were either no present or helpless.  And trying to think if there were different races, I can't remember any off the top of my head.  Did you watch any cartoons (or something else) that breaks this pattern and might make Christensen happy?

Just like Racism, it's not always easy to spot things in cartoons and other media.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


I'm hoping everyone has a chance to see this tonight and tomorrow.  If anyone would like to include the information from Infoworks but are unable to do so, try this link instead.  If you still have trouble, let me know :)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Harassment Hurts

Hyperlinks - connecting the world together

TheGLSEN website is filled with disturbing statistics about harassment and abuse toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexuals (LGBT) students. Perhaps one of the more disturbing statistics was the fact that two-thirds of LGBT students never reported being harassed and almost one-quarter say they did not report it because they felt that staff would not do anything to help. No student should feel that staff would not do anything to help stop or minimize the harassment. Many schools have anti-bullying policies, but only 18.2% of LGBT students say they go to a school that has protection based on sexual orientation or gender expression.

Rhode Island College's student handbook has some sections that help to prevent harassment of LGBT students. Freedom of speech is encouraged but "racial/sexual attacks and illegal harassment will not be tolerated." (pg. 27) It is curious to note that although there is a section for Sexual Harassment, readers are told to see this page. However, this only details the college's Affirmative Action plan -- not a Sexual Harassment Policy. However, there is a mention about sexuality in the Residential Life & Housing section on pg. 36. "These interactions, whether between" ... "members of different sexual orientations"... "will be tempered with sensitivity and a sense of responsibility toward others. The Harassment section includes (not limited to) "repeated questioning or implication concerning another's sexual activity, sexual orientation, or gender identity" To me, this is severely lacking. So only residents have to abide by these codes?

Teaching Tolerance has an article called 'Homo High' that details how much easier it is for all students, not just LGBT, to learn in an environment without bullies. The articles mentions that there has been some opposition to the idea because people claimed the school supported "separate but equal" by creating an environment just for LGBT students. However, this is not true. Even straight students enroll there for smaller class sizes and a friendlier learning environment. One straight student was uncomfortable, but became friends with some other students and realized that being LGBT doesn't change anything - they are just like you. A Christian group protested at the school and the same straight student who used to pass judgment on LGBT was quick to join in showing that the protesters were wrong.

Perhaps the scariest part of this article was what I was looking for: the extremes bullying has gone to. I'm sure everyone has heard, over the past several years, of cases when teens and young adults committed suicide after being bullied. There were a few well known cases locally within the past few months as well. These are reports the article used: the Minnesota student who was repeatedly harassed by teachers who assumed the student was gay; the 15-year-old Oxnard, Calif., boy who was shot in the head by a classmate after coming out as gay; the Massachusetts 11-year-old who hanged himself after enduring anti-gay bullying at school."

Especially the student who was harassed by teachers, this should not be happening. Does anyone know what it feels like to be treated like this? The kind of pain and emotional turmoil bullies are inflicting on people?
There are sites out there where people post secrets they've kept. While not all, some are related to LGBT. This is a video containing some relevant items from Postsecret.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Opportunity Cost

Aria by Richard Rodriguez

Extended Comment: Los gringos by Emily Q.T.

Hit ^ play, please.
When I hear the word 'aria', I think of a slow, somber melody. What you're listening to now is the closest I have.

1. Maybe it appears that Rodriguez is not being negative, but the entire piece rings with sadness to me.  Parts may not be negative, but I think he shows that the experience was a negative and, in his mind, necessary experience.  It's a good thing that he was able to have public individuality, but I think it cost him a great deal in private individuality and he knows it. Maybe he thinks it was an acceptable trade-off, but I don't think it was.

2.  Rodriguez may have started learning the code, but he failed to take into account something many English speakers use often -- the tone.  "Hearing someone's tone of voice--angry or questioning or sarcastic or happy or sad--I didn't distinguish it from the words it expressed."  He was just taking words at face value, something you wouldn't do in any language.  Such a disregard of the tone could potentially have alienated him further from the Culture of Power; he might have misinterpreted a remark and then became 'a representative of the entire group'.

3.  To me, it wasn't so much that he was proud of his public individuality but rather to emphasize that he lost any sense of private individuality.  Yes, he assimilated into the public, but at what cost?  To be 7 years old and alienated from your family like that?  Seems like a very high price to me.  While Rodriguez seems to support the uneven exchange of individuality, I doubt anyone else we've read from would agree with him.

Definition:  Opportunity cost - an economics term for the highest trade-off you make for something.

Music used in accordance with Fair Use.  Invitation to Mystery [Shinpoheno Sasoi] - Robert Etoll, featured on Zoids Chaotic Century OST 1.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Downfall of Society

Amazing Graze - Jonathon Kozol

#1 - "Evil exists, I believe that what the rich have done to the poor people in this city is something that a preacher would call evil.  Somebody has power.  Pretending that they don't so they don't need to use it to help people--that is my idea of evil." -- pg 23
To David, growing up while watching his mother struggle, people not doing anything to help one another is the worst things in this world.  There are rich people and people with power in New York, yet the area he lives in is the worst in the world.  Most people who are there didn't choose to live there.  Many of them tried to find ways to change or make the best out of their situation.  Unfortunately, there is a large number of people there who made the worst of it.  Violence to such an extreme should never exist.  Everyone who has some power could do something to help.  And this situation doesn't have to apply to just Hispanics or African-Americans.  This could happen to whites too.  Does it?  Would they remain in that situation for long?

#2 - "If poor people behaved rationally, they would seldom be poor for long in the first place." -- pg 21
I wonder if the opposite is true.  "If middle or upper class people behaved rationally, they will never be poor."  Is this true? Absolutely not.  People can fall.  some things are outside people's control.  Being let go from a job is not their choice, yet it negatively affects them.  A perfect example is Mr. Washington.  She was doing well, until she got sick and left her husband.  She was rational, doing everything she could to take care of herself and her two children.  Yet she is still poor.  Can the political science professors explain this?  And perhaps a better question would be, could they do better in her situation?  And besides, people have differing ideas of 'rational'.  The teenage girls who work as prostitutes think they are rational - they need money to buy food or they'll starve.  They can't get a 'normal' job, so they do the best they can in their situation.  Overall, this is a highly biased statement made by people who are not close to the issue and fail to understand the myriad of subtleties that shape people's lives.

#3 - "I saw a boy shot in the head right over there," he says a moment later, in a voice that does not sound particularly sad, [...] -- pg 6
The mere fact that a little boy can say this in such a tone in appalling.  Yet it shows that the violence, despite its horrific nature, is so commonplace that even a 6 year old child can say he saw someone shot in front of him as casually as if he said he saw a tree.  Over the years, its been shown that poorer neighborhoods have higher rates of violence.  I guess it would be natural that the poorest area would have extreme amounts of violence.  It creates an atmosphere that creates paranoia and is disheartening.  Nobody wants to stay outside or leave windows open for fear that it will make it easier to fall victim.  Growing up in an environment like that has to make it difficult to adjust to a normal life.  It's sad that people have to grow up poor like that, but to always look over your shoulder... that's not a life anyone deserves.

I think the main point I'd like to talk about deals with privilege.  Are whites privileged enough where they don't have to worry about growing up in an environment like this?  Violence exists everywhere, with varying degrees.  Do whites live in places such poverty?  And if so, can their natural born privilege allow them to escape their situation?  What makes the political science professors say blanket statements like that?  It makes you wonder what their background is and if they could manage what they say.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

A New Beginning

No, the title of this blog isn't misspelled.  Rather, it's a play on words with my nickname: Levells.  My real name is Nicholas, or Nick, Leveillee. I'm double majoring in Secondary Education Math and Math.  I'm a second year student, commuting from West Warwick.  So far, this semester seems like it will be a challenge, but the classes and professors seem pretty interesting.  When I'm not in school, I enjoy reading, learning more about computers, and talking to my international friends.  I'd like to leave you with a video I found that is relevant to us, the class, and our future.