Thursday, February 26, 2015

Christensen, "Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us"


Reading "Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us" by Linda Christensen was extremely interesting to me because I, like almost everybody else, grew up watching Disney movies religiously. To this day, The Lion King is one my all time favorite movies. I don't know what it is exactly that makes Disney movies so appealing to the younger children: maybe its the music, the stories, the animation or maybe all of these things. Whatever the case, Disney definitely knows what they're doing, and they know how to market themselves and target the perfect Audience.

Reading this article, I genuinely did not know how many stereotypes were in Disney movies. I didn't pay any attention to the fact that woman were always portrayed as weak, or the damsel in distress (until the more recent Disney movies came out), or that the buffoon was always portrayed as an overweight man, or that the older less attractive women were always the villains. Looking back, it seems impossible for me to not have noticed them.

Female Stereotypes in Disney Films In this video for example, it shows that in Cinderella, only woman of high class are capable of finding true love, or that women need to be domestic house wives and they should do them, not boys. In The Little Mermaid for example, the message is that all women need is a pretty face, and that intelligence or anything else does not matter and that women need to change who they are if they want to find a man to love them. In The Beauty and The Beast, Disney paints domestic abuse as if their is nothing wrong with it. It is important to note, though, that Disney has started to portray their female characters more appropriately. They are shown more recently as strong, independent, heroic, and determined.

"You Can't Be A Princess" What Would You Do?  is another video that has to do with the gender roles in not only Disney movies, but in real life is one from a TV show called What Would You Do?, and in the video, they show a little boy wanting to be a princess for Halloween, and then a little girl who wants to be Spider-man for Halloween and various peoples' reactions to these things. Personally I was shocked, and also realized that I might have reacted the same way and fell into the same stereotyping some of the people in the video did, because we are taught and brought up a certain way. "We are all raised to believe that princesses are girls, so why is this little boy trying to be one?" is what most people were thinking, and I would have thought the same thing at first. However, After everything we have learned in this class, and through this article to throw away the stereotypes we have, I think about it differently. So what if a boy wants to wear a princess costume, or a girl wants to wear a boys costume?

Disney Racial Stereotypes One other thing that Disney is notorious for is for racism in its movies (another thing that I did not know until after reading this article and then researching further and watching videos that showcase it). Take Aladdin, for example: in the very beginning of the movie, the merchant is portrayed with a very heavy Arabic accent, wearing a turban, and advertising stereotypical middle eastern merchandise. In Dumbo, for instance, the crows are supposed to portray the stereotypical characteristics of a southern African American, and I think the most obvious case of racism is in Peter Pan, during the song "What Makes the Red Man Red?".

Disney is most definitely using the SCWAAMP ideologies (whether they call it that or not). Every Disney character is always straight; up until the Princess and the Frog every Disney character has been for the most part white (excluding Mulan); Every character in a Disney movie has been fit and in great shape; and most Disney movies focus on the importance of the Male characters rather than the Female ones.  Also on the first page of the article there is a quote by a Brazilian educated Paulo Freire and he says "instead of wrestling with words and ideas, too often students 'walk on the words'", and I think that can be traced back to Johnson from the very beginning and the quote "Our collective house is burning down and we are afraid to say 'fire'". We can't expect to fix any of these problems in society or in the media simply by talking about them (or not talking about them); you have to be proactive.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

August, "Safe Spaces"

Extended Comments:

I found the "Safe Spaces" article by Dr. August, a Rhode Island College professor to be very interesting. I enjoyed the story telling aspect of the article, and how it shifted between different stories and each story entailed different lessons and things to learn, and also liked how there were "reflection" points that connected to what you would do as a teacher. I've chosen to do an extended comment for my blog and am connecting it to Kaileen ,who did an amazing job in her reflection of this article.
I loved Kaileen's personal connections including that some of her family members are drag queens and how open and accepting she is and it is sad that not everybody is this way. I have an aunt who is a lesbian, and growing up, I never knew; I was just used to her and her "friend" (what I knew her as at the time and how I always used to think of her). One day I heard from my dad that my aunt was getting married in Massachusetts (right after it became legal) and it was at that point that I realized that she was a lesbian. Another point Kaileen made was about people who are transgender. I also never knew anybody who was transgender, until I started my service learning. There is a student in one of the classes that i'm teaching/tutoring in who is transgender (male to female) and it is interesting to see how the other students in the class, and even the teachers and other faculty members interact (I apologize if that comes across in the wrong way).
The next part of Kaileen's post focused on LGBT issues as a teacher, and that you shouldn't tiptoe around the issue, but also you shouldn't dismiss it without talking about it. This point in particular can be referenced to the Johnson article, because the whole point of the Johnson article was to say the words, and not be afraid about them: "Our collective house is burning down and we're tiptoeing around afraid to say 'fire'".  A teacher's job is to educate their students, and to avoid this subject and to not discuss it, what exactly are we educating them about, besides ignorance?


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Rodriguez, "Aria"


"'Is it possible for you and your husband to encourage your children to practice their English when they are home?'" (Rodriquez 2)

      My first thought after reading this quote is "well, is it possible for you [the nuns] to encourage them to practice English in the classroom?" I can't help but feel sorry for Richard in this instance. At school, he gets in trouble for not speaking English well enough (when that is the exact place he should be learning it in the first place), then the nuns come into his house and tell his own parents that they need to encourage him to speak their own home where Spanish is the main language! Not only does he now feel uncomfortable speaking English, but now he feels uncomfortable speaking Spanish because he no longer has an environment for him to do so. 

"At last, seven years old, I came to believe  what had been technically true since my birth: I was an American citizen". 

      I didn't know how to react after first reading this line. I had to re-read it a few times before I finally understood the meaning behind it. This young boy, was so uncomfortable on a daily basis not being able to speak his native language, not only in school, but at home, where it is also his parents' native language, that he didn't even believe he belonged in this country, or that he was a part of it whatsoever. Not only does that make me upset, but I genuinely feel bad for him, because I can't even imagine what it feels like to always feel like you don't belong - especially in the country that you were born in. This reminds me of the SCWAAMP activity we did in class, because two of the main ideologies are White-ness and American-ness. 

"I no longer knew what words to use in addressing my parents. The old Spanish words I had used earlier, I couldn't use anymore. They would have been too painful reminders of how much has changed in my life.  On the other hand, the words I heard neighborhood kids call their parents seemed equally unsatisfactory. As a result, I never used them at home. Whenever I'd speak to my parents, I would try to get their attention with eye contact alone"

     I think that this quote is one of the most powerful in the article. He has become so distant from his parents, that he doesn't even know what to call them, and doesn't feel comfortable calling them anything at all, either in Spanish or English....all because he was forced to learn English in an awful way, and simultaneously forced him to not be able to speak Spanish either. Essentially, it is like he lost all form of communication entirely.

Talking Point: In an extremely interesting Ted Talk, Patricia Ryan talks about language, and our [the world, not just our country] focus on English, versus incorporating other languages as well. I think everyone should watch it, it is really eye opening, and ties in perfectly with the Rodriguez and Collier articles. Another Ted Talk, by Jay Walker talks about the world's "English Mania", and I can see connections to Delpit as well in this talk. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Kozol, "Amazing Grace"


Before i even started to read the article by Jonathan Kozol, I assumed it was going to be an overall happy article, because of the title "Amazing Grace". But by the time I finished reading the first few pages, I realized I was very wrong. More than anything else, I was merely shocked by the realism and "matter of fact" attitude and writing of the author.I never realized just how bad things are for some people. I guess, to some degree, I knew that things were  this bad for some people, in some places, but I could never imagine that it was this bad to this degree here in my own country. Maybe that's bias, or me not being realistic, but that's how I felt: how can things in this country be so bad in a place that's also considered on of the greatest cities in the entire world. I found myself asking alot, How can the city where Times Square is, where Broadway is, where Wall Street is, also be the same place where, in 1991, 84 people were murdered, more than 50% of whom were under 21, in the "deadliest block in the deadliest precinct of the city" (Kozol 5). To read about a city where children have to sleep in all of their winter clothes, and wear jackets, gloves, and hats, and sleep in a city provided sleeping bag in the winter and still have to pray they don't die in the middle of the night from hypothermia, while I sit at home, comfortably in pajama pants and a t shirt with the heat up as high as I want it...It not only makes me feel bad for them, but it sickens me that anybody should have to go through such hardship in the first place, especially when people come to this country for a better life. It's crazy to me that the things we have, like basic medical care, which I guess I do take for granted, is a luxury for the people in the Bronx and low income areas like that in New York. If i had a life threatening injury and went to the emergency room, I would be seen right away, but for Mrs. Washington, "I waited in the emergency room for two days, sitting in the chairs with  children vomiting up their food, and men with gunshot wounds; people with aids, and old people coughing up blood. On the third day I gave up and went back home" (16). I honestly don't know what I would do in that type of situation. It astounds me and even angers and sickens me a little bit that it even happens in the first place. This article reminds me of the Ullucci article, not so much in the teaching aspect, because this article didn't talk about that, but in how prevalent poverty really is. The entire Ullucci article talked about statistics regarding poverty and how it affected people of color significantly more than white people. The article also talked about how children being in poverty can affect their medical care, leaving them to deal with their health issues on their own. All of these issues and more were talked about in Kozol's article, at great length.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Delpit, "The Silenced Dialogue"


1. "Children from middle-class homes tend to do better in school than those from non-middle-class homes because the culture of the school is based on the culture of the upper and middle-classes - of those in power" (Page 25) 
     I think this quote is important, because to me it drives home. I went to a relatively low income school, where less than 45% of the student body was white and the 4-year graduation rate was 57%. I say this because my school failed to address the needs of the lower class students. They came in with skill gaps, and didn't address them, so they just grew and grew, falling behind, feeling inadequate; if they stopped and re-evaluated the way they did things, the lower class students might not have fallen through the cracks.

2.  "Those with power are frequently least aware of-or least willing to acknowledge- its existence. Those with less power are often most aware of its existence" (Page 26).

     This quote reminds me of the Johnson article, particularly about the argument of white privilege. Most of us don't know acknowledge it because most of us don't even know that white privilege exists because it has no effect on us, and don't know any other way than the way weve always been taught and brought up. 

3. "I suggest that schools must provide these children the content that other families from a different culture orientation provide at home.  This does not mean  separating  children according to family background, but instead, ensuring that each classroom incorporate strategies appropriate for all the children in its confines" (Page 30).

      I believe that this quote goes to the root of what it means to be a teacher. Not to judge a student by their background, but rather to teach for the sake of teaching, to better the students of tomorrow. 

For my sharing point, I would like to bring up the fact that throughout the article, Lisa Delpit constantly made a point to differentiate between black, white, latino, etc. I disagreed with that every time it was mentioned. A student is a student, and a teacher is a teacher. 

Link: an interview with Lisa Delpit about her article, The Silenced Dialogue