Thursday, April 29, 2010


"Success in life requires an ability to form relationships with others who make up the web of community."

Definitely true. People should know how to interact with all sorts of people. It doesn't matter their ethnicity, sexual orientation, if they have a developmental disability etc etc etc. You should know to form a relationship with them. I remember in high school, one of my teachers Mr. Hardiman was very passionate about making sure students with developmental disabilities were fairly treated. One of the remarks I remember him telling us one day when he lectured about these students was "And when I see them in the hall, I make sure I mess with them the same way I mess with all of you." He said this because he wanted us to know that he treats his students with equity. True, his pranks and such were never as elaborate as the ones he did with his "normal students" but he did have fun with them as well. From my observations, I remember Mr. Hardiman seemed to be very popular with the kids with developmental disabilities. You would never think it either, as Mr. Hardiman was an older, tough looking, and a little more conservative man. In all honesty, he looked like that stereotypical old, sit at the black board, take no shit, kind of teacher.

"If you came into the room and were told there was a retarded child
in the class, a child with special needs, I don't think you would pick
Lee out. The kids really agree that he's as capable as they are.
Intellectually the same."

Definitely. Although I'm sure kids recognize those with developmental disabilities as being "different", I'm sure they view this difference as only superficial. Kids play with everyone. I think one of the most interesting depictions of this in pop culture is in South Park. This is seen with the characters Jimmy and Timmy. Both of them have severe disabilities, yet both of them are fully accepted into the other kids circle of friends. Going even further, in the episode "Good Times with Weapons" which heavily involves the kid's fantasies imagining themselves as cliche shonen anime characters, the character Jimmy during these fantasies is shown to be on par with all of the other characters, his disability making no difference. I believe this is similar to how actual kids respond to those with differences.

"According to Shayne, the notion of Down syndrome often obscures our ability to recognize the child as a child."

Also true. Someone's handicap should not be their defining characteristic. Hence why I try to use "people first" language. There is a man with Down Syndrome that comes into where I work almost everyday. His name is Pete. I know that not only does he have Down Syndrome, but he also likes tuna sandwiches from D'Angelo's, black raspberry ice cream, basketball, and recently did the triathlon event in the Special Olympics. What I'm getting at is that having Down Syndrome is just one of the traits that makes up Pete...and he's a unique character.

Social Justice Event

On February 27th, I went to a gay rights protest with my cousin, in Smithfield. It was held outside of Ocean State Baptist Church on route seven. At that church that particular day was an organization called the Family Research Council. They were holding an event called New England Family, Life & Marriage Summit inside of the church. Although I did not attend their meeting, I can imagine that it was probably a group of men spewing lies to an ignorant audience. I say this not out of ignorance, but upon seeing their website which talks about such ludicrous topics such as "How did early Christians defeat pagan sexuality?", accusations that homosexuality is simply learned behavior, and one brochure they pass out says that using contraception leads to more unwanted pregnancies (I still can't figure out how that works out.) Also they like to put words such as "discrimination", "harassment" and the like in quotations like I just did...not because they are quoting, but to show their belief that homosexuals do not face any antagonists. Yet, these people are likely the same people who cry discrimination when their hate-laced speech is called bigotry (which it is.).

Sadly, I was only able to show up for about an hour since I had to go to work that afternoon. This issue had some personal merit to my cousin and I as our aunt is gay...not that we wouldn't be protesting for the rights of homosexuals if we didn't have a family member who was. She's actually getting married in July and I totally wish I could use her wedding as my diversity event but that's a few too many months late.

On their way into the church, the officials from the Family Research Council ignored us. This was expected. When confronted with actually facts, that is usually their defense. This draws some parallels to Carlson who speaks of the invisibility homosexuals feel. In this case, those who were advocating for the oppression of homosexuals were ignoring those who were presenting facts to them.

We had a sign that said "honk for gay rights" and seemed to have a lot of support for those driving by. Perhaps this is a sign of certain aspects of the culture of power diminishing...specifically the first two points of least in the north east. Not so much in the rest of the country.

Anyways, I still don't understand the logic behind this whole anti-homosexual movement. Their main point in doing this stems from the fact that in the Book of Leviticus there is mention of male-male sexual intercourse being an abomination. Leviticus also says shrimp are an abomination so why aren't there people protesting Red Lobster?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Random post #2

So, as one could probably guess from my giant Batman logo my blog is rocking, I'm a comic book nerd. I don't mean that like I just watch the movies. I mean, I actually go to the comic store to pick up my new releases every Wednesday and own a few hundred. Anyways, my cousin recently opened up a store in Putnam, CT called Glimpse of Gaia and right around the corner is a comic store. Naturally, when I went to check out her store and then went to the comic store near her place after. I ended up picking up a couple of old issues from a early 1990s mini-series starring the Question (the character Rorschach from the Watchmen is based off of. He's pretty rad.). In the back of one of the issues was a letter written (that's what comics did back then...people would right letters that would sometimes appear in the back of the issues.) in regards to an earlier issue where the Question dealt with a little girl with developmental disabilities.

The letter was written by a man who says he is the father of a girl with developmental disabilities, specifically, Down Syndrome. His letter is mostly about how he feels the way the girl in the comic was not portrayed accurately and he goes on to speak of the services his daughter received in her school. One issue he takes to is that he believes in comic books, people with disabilities are only portrayed in two ways, either as "ravening monsters" or "pure and innocent" who are usually victims. He says neither of these archetypes are realistic.

What I find interesting, however, is the language he uses in his letter. We talked about "people first" language in class. Except in a few instances, this man would use phrases such as "mentally handicapped people", "severely handicapped people", "Down Syndrome people", and at one point, even says "my retarded daughter". It's amazing to see how language has evolved in just my life time as this particularly issue came out in 1991, just a year after I was born. I imagine that if this letter was written in 2010, this girls father would more likely be using the people first language.

Much like was mentioned in class, this man did mention that it is important to not have a person's disability be their sole defining characteristic. He mentions that though his daughter may have Down Syndrome, she "likes the same things other 12 year old girls like ---- Boys for instance." and goes on to list her favorite tv show, movie, food, music and some of the chores she does around the house.

Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work

"The project is chosen and assigned by the teacher from a box of 3-by-5-inch cards. On the card the teacher has written the question to he answered, the books to use, and how much to write. Explaining the cards to the observer, the teacher said, "It tells them exactly what to do, or they couldn't do it."

Oh, this makes me rage. I am an advocate of self-directed learning. When I hear someone is telling a kid exactly what sources to use, that gets me very angry. I mean, granted providing a general question and some base guidelines isn't too bad...bad telling someone exactly what sources to use? Well, you pretty much know what you're going to grade then...

Right now I'm writing a paper on moral panic over Satanism in the 1980s and I am using a TON of unorthodox primary sources. For example, I am using 1st edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons books, Christian Bible Tracts, an episode of Unsolved Mysteries and old records of 1980s bulletin board posts. To me, that is what shows someones capacity to discover information.

When I teach, I plan on having a research paper assignment specifically meant to teach my kids how to discover information. Like, I want them to pick any historical topic...doesn't matter what, and do an in depth research paper and discover how to find sources. I think this would be super beneficial to those kids who choose to continue onto the college level.

"The following questions are typical of those that guide the children's independent research. "What mistakes did Pericles make after the war?" "What mistakes did the citizens of Athens make?" "What are the elements of a civilization?" "How did Greece build an economic empire?" "Compare the way Athens chose its leaders with the way we choose ours." Occasionally the children are asked to make up sample questions for their social studies tests."

I remember doing stuff like this in late elementary school. I would not, however, consider the North Smithfield school system to be an example of an executive elite school. I think since 1980 when this article was written, there has been a trickle down (Trickle down and the 80s. Get it? ) of the type of education students receive as I would rank North Smithfield somewhere between a middle class school and an affluent professional school.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Gender Issues in Education

I think it's time for another mass blog post. These last two weeks of school are going to be very, very long...Nothing I can't pull through though. I did this last year when I was still working for the evil Empire (Wal-Mart) who could care less that you were in school.

Anyways, onto gender issues in education. What I will be specifically focusing on is the idea of single-sex classrooms.

Single-sex classrooms have in recent years experienced a surge of interest. According to the National Association for Single Sex Public Education
(NASSPE), single-sex classrooms can help break down gender stereotypes. For example, the NASSPE claims that girls in an all female school will be more likely to pursue computer sciences. I can attest that at my high school, in classes such as computer maintenance and robotics, there was a clear male fact, in my robotics class I took there were no females. I don't know why this was.

In addition, the website for the NASSPE, links to numerous resources that spurn evidence towards the benefits students get from engaging in single-sex education. In addition, these links explain the subtle differences in the way males and females learn.

I know from my experience during my service learning, the boys in my classroom appeared to connect with me more than the girls did. I remember one kid, before he even knew who I was, said to me "I think you're going to be my favorite." I'm curious to know if he would have said the same thing if I was female.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tim Wise responce.

Tim Wise made some very good points. I agree with his opinion that the election of Barack Obama is not the end all be all. I liked the point he made about the major events during the Civil Rights movement such as Brown v. The Board of Education, the Civil Right's Act of 1964, and such as all being steps...because that is what they were. I also liked his ideas of "racism 1.0" and "racism 2.0". I like this because one might imagine racism is dead because events where someone is lynched or the Ku Klux Klan is viewed as being a beneficial organization are exceedingly rare. More common is the racism depicted by Wise, such as saying that people embraced Obama because he was "more white". This draws some parallels with Delpit and the culture of power.

Here are a few points I tend to disagree with.

When Wise talks about people not being able to run for president because they wear their hair differently or dressing differently. Here is the thing...I don't think that is necessarily a racial thing but rather what the culture dictates is appropriate for a person to maintain a professional image. For example, say if a white person was running for president...but had shoulder length hair and a beard then I think there would definitely be problems during their campaigns. This is true even though vikings had long hair and beards and they were about as white as a person can be. Hell, they were even about as aryan as one could get too, so there is no way that someone is going to be discriminating over race. Going even further into this topic of what culture dictates is professional, we could look to the fact that no president since Taft has worn facial hair. That is not to say facial hair is bad, I sport it myself, but it just isn't what mass culture wants for their president or other politicians. Interestingly though, in academia facial hair is quite common and considered to be "professional".

The other thing was when he started talking about Will Smith. He was saying his comments as if Will Smith, because he is black should have an idea of the problems what all african-americans are feeling. It sounded as if Wise was suggesting that they have hive-minds and all face the same exact problems. It reminded me of what President Obama once said in regards to affirmative action and his daughters. He said something along the lines of how he does not think that his daughter's should be taken into account for affirmative action because they have far more opportunity then the vast majority of people in the country, whether they're white or a minority.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Service Learning

"Mr. Johnson's curriculum included only minimal attention to any systematic analysis of the ills his students were helping to alleviate. Instead, his class focused on inculcating a sense of civic duty. His high school seniors were not asked to articulate an understanding of the conditions and contexts that might have contributed to the loss of a family's home or to a pregnant mother's decision to turn to crack cocaine."

While Mr. Johnson's effort is certainly admirable, it does leave out some key issues. While it may be beneficial to provide services to those less fortunate than yourself, this only placates the problem temporarily. The problem will briefly alleviate itself...but then return full force given time. It's like the needle situation described in one of our earlier readings. Sure, clean needles will cut down on HIV, but the underlying problem is still the rampant drug use. Now I'm pretty libertarian when it comes to drug use, but I would never encourage it and would rather have a world where far fewer people turn to powerful drugs. Anyways, this charitable action of the distribution of clean needles only solves one problem but does not tackle the main problem. Johnson's class should have focus on the WHY and not the WHAT. That way, they could take the WHY into consideration when designing programs to solve the WHAT.

"Ms. Adams' students, by contrast, began their work with a systematic and critical analysis of the causes of homelessness and of the strategies employed to prevent it. The class discussed the growing economic disparity between rich and poor, the impact of homeless ness on children, and the difficult balance between individual rights and collective responsibility. Students read stories by homeless children and wrote essays assessing the impact of homelessness on people like themselves."

This approach is far better. Only when you gain the most information possible can you successfully analyze a situation. Only when you have successfully analyzed a problem can you make a sound attempt at rectifying it. This is what Ms. Adams students. They looked at the WHY. Why are people homeless? Not just "what can we do to help them out". When you look at the why, you can make an attack on the root of the problem and not just on the problem itself.

As I have said in class, I find myself to be between the two models of of service learning. I am charitable, because I am only there because it is my responsibility to do so in class to get a good grade. On the other hand, I really do want to make some sort of impact in these kids lives. That is why I got into education in the first place...because I really do hope to make some sort of difference. I don't want education to be something foreign. I want it to be embraced.