Sunday, October 27, 2013

Talking Point 6

   This article had some pretty valid ideals concerning service learning in America and what it means to not only the community but also to the people that help out. As everyone who reads this is aware, our service learning is a huge part of our curriculum, and speaking for myself, it is the best part of my week. The idea that I can make a difference in the community is exactly what service learning is all about. It's the most rewarding part of the process and the lessons that it gives is integral to the development of aspiring teachers. It also brings invaluable experience in dealing with situations that you may not think of normally.

   What I mean by that is every student has a different story, and with that different living situations they deal with on a daily basis. Some people have a bad habit of seeing the "troubled" child as someone who just doesn't want to learn. However, much of the time that is not the case at all. Sometimes if a student is labeled as "troubled" right off the bat then they just won't want to learn from that instructor plain and simple. There are also the cases where a teacher won't try to relate to every individual student and that creates a disconnect in the learning process. By going through the process of Service Learning, we as students can identify these problems in a real time scenario. The real enlightening thing is when you can identify when a teacher is having one of those disconnect moments and remember not to do what they do.

  This isn't about criticizing the teacher you are put with constantly though, it's merely just a learning experience for people like us in a real environment. With service learning we are able to ease ourselves into a classroom, and instead of having a whole class alone, we have just a small group of students while the teacher of the class has the majority. I can personally say I'm beginning to feel very comfortable in that environment because of this. It's just not as overwhelming when you only have about four or five kids to pay attention to rather than about twenty as your first experience in a classroom. My major thing I want to get out of Service Learning would be to avoid the aforementioned "not learning from you" moments, after all the main reason I decided to go into teaching was because of my experiences with that as a student. To be able to identify when I could be losing a student is just so important to what I want to do and who I want to be. Thanks to Service Learning, I'm understanding what to do and what not to do more and more week after week.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Talking point 5

      This piece is no shock to me at all. As noted, children's entertainment is lazy and for the most part just plain wrong. It's been this way for a long time from Popeye to Disney movies, the amount of racism and sexism is truly shocking if you don't pay attention to it. Popeye is a show about the big, strong, American male saving his helpless girlfriend from the big bad ethnic groups. Not as entertaining when you talk about it like that is it? Naturally the show creators never have an episode where they just come out and say it but the interpretation is that America is the best and it's people superior to every other ethnic group.
      Disney movies really aren't any better in that regard. Granted, the racial undertones are not as noticeable as in Popeye because really I don't think they could have been even if they wanted to. The problem with Disney movies would be the unrealistic standard they have for women in general. They constantly portray them as almost physically perfect but absolutely helpless in ever other category. They aren't what you would call brilliant and have all the personality of a wooden log you would find on the side of the road. You can name every Disney movie plot the same way; the helpless princess gets in some sort of trouble "she couldn't possibly get herself out of" and the male lead has to save her so they can happily ride of into the sunset together. Kind of odd how that works out when you think about it, the man saves the damsel and apparently she is his for life. Talk about unrealistic expectations, if a firefighter or a police officer were in a Disney movie they certainly would have quite a few partners in their lifetime.

    So really it's all about the standards these movies and cartoons set for children. They can give the males that watch them an unearned and definitely unmerited feeling of superiority over women. In turn, the girls that watch these cartoons gain this dependence on feeling pretty and looking perfect as well as a constant need of a man to feel complete. To me it's all laziness on the part of the writers. Just because it's aimed at children does not mean that the characters in the story can't have their own distinct personality and development. It's easier to write stereotypical characters because there is nothing to establish, the connection to the audience is already there because of the common usage of these stereotypes. I really feel that if you can improve the writing and actually try to send a positive message to children of every demographic you can challenge them to think as well as make them feel positive for who they are.
   As shown in the link it's just respecting the culture of all that needs to be fixed. Plenty of children that come from different ethnicities shut down and hate these cartoons because they can't relate to the characters. So these movies and other forms of media will never teach these children anything because of the insults of the movie and the imminent shutdown that is coupled with it. If a child can't relate or is told right off the bat he or she is bad for being different then they won't want to hear the message that movie or person wants to tell them.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Journal entry 2

      I'm about halfway through my service learning and I can say with all honesty that this has been the most positive experience of my life. This is no hyperbole at all; I've never been able to help so many kids at one time and I feel like for the first time I am making a difference in multiple lives. I'm beginning to learn names without having to look at name placements and that is a huge thing for me because I've never really been very good at remembering names. I've been working with a particular child and I can say I'm almost shocked at his progress. It's not like I felt this particular child was slow by any means but I figured at such a young age it would be difficult for them to retain information, and with all they are learning the specifics I figured would get lost in translation. However his progress has really opened my eyes on just how fast children can learn.
      I can also say that it feels like the children are much more comfortable with me than I had anticipated. I have a pretty large extended family and I've dealt with children sure, but they've always been family and I figured they would react differently to someone they've never met before. However I couldn't be more wrong. They actually seemed overjoyed at my constant involvement, and as the weeks have passed they all want me to sit at their tables for snack time or help them with their activities.
     I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to expect in the second half of this experience. Just about all my questions have been answered and my concerns put to rest. It's like I said earlier this experience has been incredibly positive, as the teachers in the school has made me feel incredibly welcome and there hasn't been one situation where I felt like I didn't belong. I honestly can't wait until next week because this truly has been the highlight of my week from trip to trip.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

"I Won't Learn, But you can Make Me"

           Teaching isn't as easy as making a lesson plan and presenting it to a classroom of children or young adults, not that most believe this to be true but it's always good to clear up misconceptions right off the bat. Every child is different and they come with different learning needs. Simply put, you can not just teach a class and expect every student to learn the same way or to act the same way.
          Children that come from different cultures may have encountered problems with teachers in the past and may reject the idea of learning, much like Barry in this article. Barry had been deemed a problem child and the teacher decided it would be easier to just assume he couldn't learn the material and should be held back on that merit alone. The real problem had lied with the fact that teachers almost feared him, treating him as "6'1" and addicted to drugs". Essentially they saw him, at six years old mind you, as a threat to society. Now I don't know about you but I don't know of that many dangerous six year olds roaming the country.
          It comes down to just being able to deal with different situations and not trying to force anything. The teacher realized in that situation that even though he was in a position of power it didn't really matter at that junction because the student did not respect that power (Delpit). It's not about trying to get every student to like you but they have to respect you as a teacher in order for them to learn anything. Barry only learned when he felt that there was something in it for him, and that particular thing was recognition from class that not only was he the "tough" kid but he was also smart this entire time. When teaching the point in this article would be to play to the attitude of the students in question.

         This link leads to a webpage all about the importance of a good attitude when it comes to students at a young age. Granted all students won't have a great attitude at first but by identifying these students and trying to teach to their strengths can improve that attitude rather than having them regress through negligence or even negative terms.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Inclusion in the Classroom

     "Safe Spaces" was a writing piece that really raised some issues that people don't think about on a daily basis. LGBT students face a problem that most other students don't even see. The lack of relativity in curriculum must make them feel like what they are is wrong. In a time period (K-12) where children are trying to find out who they are any type of negative reinforcement can cause issues for the child in question. There are some alarming numbers concerning teenager suicide with many of them having to do with the fact they were bullied because of their sexual orientation.
       Thinking back to the our first writing piece concerning privilege. While it may not be known to people who don't put emphasis on it (remember people with privilege unaware of that position) but heterosexuality is a position of privilege. Everything about heterosexuality is what is seen as normal. A "family" is constantly seen as a mother, father, and children. Even single parents are mentioned as part of the norm but the issue lies strictly on that of same sex parents. The author mentions that same sex parenting isn't mentioned in elementary school, and thinking back to my schooling I don't remember really hearing about it until high school. This has to be a terrible feeling for children of same sex parenting. Think about being a child in elementary school and having teachers and classmates constantly telling you that it is "unusual" or even "wrong" to not have a mother and a father. Children are impressionable, especially the age in question, so this constant negative reinforcement may make them begin to resent their living situation and even themselves.
        The call to action is all about trying to integrate same sex parenting into the norm of curriculum. A kindergarten teacher in the article put three scenarios up for interpretation, with only one of them being what would be called a "normal" family. The emphasis wasn't put on what each family consisted of but how the families cared for each other. The idea isn't to point out the differences of each family, but to teach that every family is normal not just heterosexual ones.
       Students have to stop feeling like they are different for the wrong reasons. Things like sexual orientation have to be introduced at a younger age in order for children to learn that it is ok and normal to feel or be the way they want. The reason why children make fun of each other would be because they are afraid of what is different. If gay or lesbian isn't a term or concept they understand they will immediately think it is wrong due to that fear of the unknown. The easiest thing to combat this would be to teach them what it is and why there is nothing wrong with it.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My first day (Kozol style journal entry)

     My first day went about as well as I could have asked for. Not expecting perfection I suppose really made things easier I guess, but nevertheless I gathered my things from home and set off for my first experience in my service learning program. I'd be lying if I said that finding the school was as easy as anticipated. I don't spend much time in Providence so getting to the school was in a sense difficult considering the road work in the area and all the detours I had to take. When I finally did get there I noticed that the elementary school itself was very large, much more so than my elementary school I attended in Johnston years ago. I was buzzed in after a few minutes of waiting and when I walked into the office it seemed very busy. In fact it was so busy that I had to speak up slightly just so I could get noticed. I signed in and waited for my assignment, I knew who I was looking for but not necessarily where they would be. After some more waiting my contact came to meet me and instructed me to go to a room down the hall to help out in a kindergarten class.
       Talk about surprise, I went into the day thinking I would be helping out in a third grade class and to hear that I would be going to a kindergarten class really threw me off. Not in a bad way of course but it changed how I was going to act for sure, while both age groups are children kindergarten are the youngest of the bunch. I walked down the hall and the teacher seemed really surprised to see me. She explained to me that no one had told her she would be getting a tutor in class so she really hadn't set up a specific group for me to work with to start off with. It was fine to me because I had gotten to really get a good look at my surroundings and try to learn names as quickly as possible. When she had decided who I was going to work with I went to their table and began to work with the children on some art project they were working on.
      I was actually really surprised with how friendly the children in the class were. I suppose I really didn't know what to expect because after all this was my first time being in a school in this capacity. They asked questions on which school I went to and if I was a student like them. It truly surprised me how quickly they grasped the idea that even though I was much bigger than them and an adult, was a student like them.
      To be able to connect with these kids on the first day was important for me because I wanted them to understand that I was going to be there a while and that I was there to help them. Sure enough they all knew me as Mr. Wentworth immediately and I was actually somewhat embarrassed when I didn't know some of their names. But if I am to take anything away from this first day it would be that the feeling of how gracious and kind these students were, even at such a young age, is the reason why I am doing all this. I want to get into this profession to help students at a young age and to see their gratitude even at this stage validates those feeling and ambitions.