Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Promising you will be up early to practice what you have learned!

The Promising Practice Conference was different than I thought it was going to be. I had envisioned a more "hands on" approach rather than just lectures.I thought that it would be an opportunity to practice all that we have learned this far.I will say that it was difficult to get up late early considering I worked until 2 am the night before and live an hour away from RIC. With that being said I was quite sleepy during the two hour "debate" that we had to sit through. I found that the 7:30 start time was unnecessary simply because the organizers were not even set up when I got there. There was no one checking tickets to validate who you were or if you had paid. I did however find the table that had my name card which also indicated what conferences I had signed up for; which I found to be incredibly helpful. I did meet up with Cathy and she was very nice to go and get me a muffin ( thank you!), we took our seats and soon discovered our class was making there way in, we relocated so that we could all sit together. I enjoyed being able to attend the conference as a class and we had some great conversations throughout the day!! The morning "debate" was a panel of university presidents and the Mayor of Providence.
        Although, the questions that the moderator asked seemed they they were already prepared and the panel had been informed. I felt the the topics that they were debating were relevant to education, yet it seemed more of a "political tone". I say this because I felt that they were all tip toeing around the issues and giving a politically correct answer and not offering up a solid solution for the  problems that are occurring within education. They was a chance for the audience to ask questions, and those that did ask very important questions. One students question stands out in my mind and I thought that it was a legitimate one. She was asking about the NECAP exams and how non- English speaking students were expected to achieve the passing scores when the questions were all in English. I thought that it was a legitimate question and I found the panels response to be completely vague and dismissive. The Mayor kept referring to himself and his background and that if "he could do it, then everyone could", such a politician.I found that the answer always referred back to " well, they should know how to read and write in English", This reminded me of Rodriguez and Collier. We as a country, society, and school systems demand that if you live here that you must learn English. I find this to be completely ignorant. Given that our country is diverse and that the demographics have shifted over last few decades, the English language is becoming secondary to that of Spanish and we have tried to maintain that English is the only acceptable language.
Instead of forcing everyone to speak English, has anyone actually thought to themselves, that perhaps they should learn Spanish? Probably not, because the majority of people that speak English are in the position of power and privilege and more specifically white privilege.This is exactly what happened to another student who asked a question. This students question was thoughtful, well researched and immediately shot down the moderator, who was white.This student was not from the culture of power and was dismissed. It is amazing to see the world for what it really is and how your ethnicity plays a very important role in how you are perceived. Although, this class has opened my eyes and forces me to view the world in a different way, I feel that it has also made me a bit cynical. Once you are able to see how the position of power really works, you notice who is not in that same position and how differently they are treated whether intentionally or unintentionally.I digress.

After the two hour debate was over we finally broke up into our individual conferences. I attended the '"Rethinking the Limits of Social Justice" orated by RIC professor of Africana Studies, Dr. Saucier. This conference was amazing. However, some of the concepts were hard to comprehended in the allotted twenty minutes and I find myself constantly trying to make sense of all of it. The major talking point was Social Justice or Morality within Pedagogy...WHAT?!? Apparently, you are either judicious or moral in your teaching, you can not be both. This bothered because I always have viewed myself as both and this left me perplexed as to why and I am still trying to work it out, I think that it is much deeper than it seems to be.

I also went to the " Anti- bullying" conference.This is the one that I was disappointed with. I say this because I was expecting to have a conversation of what bullying is, warning signs of a bully and those that are being bullied, and what to do to help that individual. I want to clarify that what the presenters did in their particular school is AMAZING, and I am grateful for the teachers and students who created this anti-bullying environment within the walls of their school. However, the entire seminar was about what they did, how they did it, their school pride which is fantastic. I think I was just just looking for  answers to my " what if" questions. Although, they gave some examples like " a student talks about committing suicide", what do you do ??? Tell a teacher... Okay, lets say I'm the teacher, what do I do? Call the police, call a parent, tell the principal, all of the above??? I felt like there was no direction of how to handle a situation like that. I was expecting, okay step one, step two, step three, etc. Again, I thought it was going to be more hands on, informative and not just a slide show of their school and students.

Finally, it was lunch! I think that we were all starving and excited until we learned  that lunch  was just soup and salad... During lunch there was a keynote speaking who spoke about doing service learning in Chicago. I  tried to pay attention but by this point of the day I was exhausting from listening and just needed silence. I think we all did. Unfortunately,I had to leave after lunch because I had to go to work. I wish that I was able to stay for my last conference, so I feel like I did miss out.
Overall, I thought that it was okay, I just had a different vision of what it was going to be like. Now I know for next year, I would make one suggestion, instead of having a panel of people answering a series of questions, immediately go into individual conferences where you can spend a decent amount of time really exploring your topic. And maybe not having start so early!! :)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Peggy McIntosh- What's in your backpack?

Peggy McIntosh

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible                                               Knapsack


" I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing                                in each day, but about which I was "meant" to remain oblivious"

Peggy McIntosh is talking about all of the advantages that white people have and they don't even recognize them as advantages. She compares the advantages as " special provisions, maps,passports,code books, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks". There are many which in which white people have more advantages than those that are not white, simply because of the connotations of white privilege. In referring back to SCWAAMP, white, straight men are the at the top of privilege, most likely because it was this type of person who created the dominant ideologies within our society. Although, I myself am white, I can be considered to me less privileged than a man of my own race because I am a woman.

"I have often noticed men's unwillingness to grant that they are overprivileged, even though they may grant                                                      that women are disadvantaged"

Although, men recognize that they are in a position of power and openly admit that women are still viewed as inferior to them, yet they have done nothing to promote the fairness of women in the workplace and within society. To this current day, women still are making seventy cents less than men for the same work and having the same educational background. Naturally, men still hold the power within society but yet they are unwilling to modify it because it would bring them down to a scale where everyone is equal. This would cause a shift within the patriarchal society in which we live.

"I began to understand why we are justly seen as oppressive, even when we don't see ourselves that way. I began to the count the ways in which I enjoyed unearned skin privilege and have been conditioned into oblivion about its existence"

I found this quote to  be eye opening with regards to the blindness that I think all white people have, when it comes to our consumer life. I was amazing at how many different things are designed and made for white people that I am having a hard time coming up with a time in which I noticed something that was created for a person of color in comparison to "mainstream" society. Most likely because that is not how our society functions. I think when you start to actually look around and really pay attention then you will noticed how are consumer life is designed.

                                       So what's in your backpack?

1. I can walk into any C.V.S and have an entire aisle of shampoo and conditioners to choose from.
2. When I go shopping  I look for outfit ideas on the mannequin because it is similar to my body type.
3.I too, have no problem with finding band aids  for my skin tone
4. Society represents me

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Safe Spaces: Everyone deserves to feel safe at school, home, and within their community!

Gerri August
Rhode Island College

                                Safe Spaces:                               Making  Schools and Communities                                  Welcoming to LGBT Youth
 By Annemarie Vaccaro, Gerri August,and 
                 Megan S. Kennedy 


" Safe Spaces show how the marginalization often comes in the                                              form of messaging"

  • Safe Spaces focuses on creating a safe and understanding environment in schools and within the community
  • Discusses how many LGBT students face "physical and psychological harm inflicted by peers and adults"
  • How verbal and non-verbal discrimination are at the core of our society and schools
  • Heterosexuality is assumed in our culture


The Role of the Classroom....
  • " Classrooms lay the foundations for an inclusive and safe society: a just community where common interests and individual differences coexist"
  • Provide an enriching experience for every student
  • A place where a teachable moment can happen from every member within the four walls
  • To educate children not only the curriculum but also discuss other ideas and concepts that are relevant to the world we live in.
  • Create an environment that is comfortable and practical and where students feel safe to talk freely
  • Incorporate a multi-representational environment so everyone feels included
  • Respect all opinions
  • Listen to what students have to say    
Personal Experience

When I was in Freshman in  high school there was a boy in my class who was accused of being " Gay", he was harassed at every moment because people thought he was gay. He was involved in theater, played in the band, and was an excellent student. This is why he was perceived as gay. At the time, I don't think there was any student in my school that was openly gay and it became quite the topic of conversation. It wasn't until our Senior year that he came out publicly and announced he was gay. The response he receive was very negative, and the harassment and bullying got much worse. From name calling, having things thrown at him in the hallways, and generally just horrible things that nobody should ever have to experience. I admired his courage, he stood tall and with the help of faculty and non-judgmental students he organized the first LGBT Club in our school. It was an amazing experience, he started making other students aware that Homosexuality was nothing to condone, he was not a terrible person, he just loved differently than the societal norm.


"Our Classrooms need to be mirrors and windows for all students-mirrors in which youth see themselves in the curriculum and recognize their place in the group; windows through which youth see beyond themselves to experiences connected with, but not identical to, their own"

As future educators it is important that we are able to value and appreciate every student's diverse background. Because if we begin to strip away identify factors such as race, language, sexuality, and cultural identity, then we will have a generation of children who can't see themselves within those mirrors and windows. I think the metaphor that Dr. Bogad used about society being a large piece of glass and how every time there is a moment or situation that challenges the stereotypical "norm", the glass begins to crack works beautifully for the discussion of LGBT recognition and appreciation. This also reinforces Richard Rodriguez's personal narrative, Aria .He discusses how not being able to speak in one's native language can be detrimental to maintaining one's own cultural identity.This is the same concept, a loss of identity  not having open discussion about how every family is different, and how some relationships are comprised of the same gender and that is okay. I feel like sexuality is a taboo subject in schools, particularly with elementary children. Although, I think that there should be discussion about the different relationships that exist,one can leave out the explicit details of what that means sexually, nonetheless it should be discussed. Because if we educate children that there is nothing wrong with having two moms or two dads, we will create a generation of children who don't view a person's sexuality as a discriminatory thing, but view them as people. the world will surely become a better place. 


 Our society is changing, and so our the "norms" within our culture. We are making progress towards equality for all members within society, although it is not one- hundred percent, we are certainly moving in the right direction, and that  was achieved with passing  marriage equality. The fight still continues though, although same sex couples can legally marry, some states are fighting for their loved ones to remain in United States. for more information about the Doma Project.

                      The moral of the story is this.....
" Words can hurt or heal; discuss possible alternatives to offensive terms.Providing more inclusive alternatives to inappropriate or derogatory terms is always educational. Be candid. share how derogatory terms offend you- as a heterosexual or LGBT person. Knowing we have hurt or offended someone we care about can be a positive motivator to change behavior". We need to realize the power that our words have on others and to think before we speak,because even though it takes a minute to say, the effects can last a lifetime. In order to change society, we first have to start with ourselves, our idiosyncrasies shape us but they do not define us. We have the power to change the world, we just have to be willing to look within our selves and know that we are apart of the problem, but we are also part of the solution.

                      Like Allan Johnson says " We have to talk about it, in order to change it"


                               Be incredible, make a difference, share your talents with the world, be kind and                                                                   considerate, but most importantly.....   


Deciphering the Hidden Messages in Cartoons with Christensen

You were tricked into believing that everyone could have a happy ending....

Linda Christensen author of  Unlearning the Myths that Bind Us, discusses how cartoons and children's literature unknowingly create stereotypes within children from a very early age. We have all grown up watching Saturday morning cartoons, and Disney stories and we probable enjoyed them, and some of us still enjoy them. So how do these cartoons, fairy tales, and animations create stereotypes?

"Our society's culture industry colonizes their minds and teaches them how to act, live, and dream".

The culture of our society relishes" feel good stories" and happy endings because the world in which we live can be  a challenging and scary place, and this is a way to escape our everyday lives and enter a world of magic. However, what we are unaware of is that the "magic" is designed to only depict one certain way of happiness. For fairy tales, it is always a beautiful young, white princess who meets her prince charming and they live happily ever after. you might be asking your self " What's wrong with that"? Well, what about the young girls who are not White, are viewed as " pretty" by the standards that society has set; where are they represented? How can a young African American girls or Latina girls relate to the story of Cinderella for example. We[ society], have created a world in which only "whiteness" is represented in the mainstream media. The media and the entertainment industry think they are doing a good thing by promoting stories of "happily ever" after scenarios, which  is a great image, yet they marginalized the rest of our diverse society. 

~The "Secret Education" is a concept by Chilean writer Ariel    Dorfman depicts " the domination of one sex, one race, one class,               or one country over a weaker counterpart"~

When I was reading this article I  kept thinking about Peggy McIntosh and her article, and SCWAAMP, and how our  culture is defined by the people of "privilege".  I think  this is absolutely true, unfortunately. We have segregated ourselves into categories and unrealistic ideals regarding our culture. As another source within Linda Christensen's article is Beverly Tatum who writes about race and children. She says " the impact of race begins early. Even in our preschool years, we are exposed to misinformation about people different from ourselves.... 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 first hand experience" We are TAUGHT our prejudices and beliefs from society, parents, and our friends. We are molded into thinking, believing, and acting the way that we have been taught. So how do cartoons and the media promote this theory? Well, first they exploit the marginalized by placing them in a "less important" or a having a mainstream stereotypical role within the cartoon or story. For example:
Tom Lu King, South Park

Clancy Wiggum, The Simpsons

Apu, The Simpsons

Consula, Family Guy

                      Peter stereotyping that all Asians are good at math
Family Guy

As we can see our modern day culture reinforces the stereotypical roles in which certain characters play, of course there are many more of these types of examples, and we can see them everywhere as long as we are willing to look for them. Using these examples how can these stereotypes mold the minds of young impressionable children?

                         ~Fairy Tales Fail Women ~

Disney movies are made for young children. There are animated, clever, and amazing to watch. However, Disney movies promote and underlying theme of alienating  those that do not fit a certain mold within society.  As illustrated in  Linda Christensen's article, " Women who aren't white begin to feel left out and  ugly because they never get to play the princess". For many years Disney only has white princesses, therefore showing little girls of color that being a princess is something that they were unable to achieve. Not only do the princesses lack diversity but they are also depicted as objects for men. I found this image that shows precisely what I am talking about.....

Beauty and sexuality are defining characteristics of the Disney Princesses, as you can see the timeline shows decades of princesses that fit a certain mold. In 1992, Princess Jasmine was introduced, at this time she is the only one represented women of color. It took years for Disney to finally create a princesses that every little girl could identify with....

Hooray!! All women are represented equally, or are they? Look at the positioning of the princesses, notice anything? The original princesses are in the forefront while the princesses of color are in the background... Interesting, don't you think??

To learn more about how our culture influences are ideas, opinions and values check out this website about Pop culture.... The more that we become aware of the negative effects that it can have on our youth, the faster we are able to move forward in equal representation for everyone in our society.