Monday, March 23, 2015

Brown Vs. Board of Education; Wise, "Between Barack and a Hard Place"; Herbert, "Separate and Unequal"


First off, I thought that this week's assignment was really great. It's a nice change of pace from everything we've been doing in class. Instead of reading long articles about theories, we are reading articles and studies where those theories we have spent all semester learning about are being used in practice.  We get to see how things work in the real world when we apply all the knowledge and teachings we have learned over the course of the semester from Ullucci, Delpit, Johnson, Kozol, etc. Also it was incredibly hard to focus on this weeks assignment for some reason. I don't know if it was because it was a video versus articles or what, but I felt like I had some serious ADHD while doing this weeks post. 

Reading into the history of the Supreme Court case Brown vs. Board of Education was really intriguing. We all learn the basics of this historical case in elementary, middle, and high school.  The fight against segregation in schools was raging, and there were cracks in the glass being made all over the country. That final crack, however, was made on May 17, 1954 when the Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools were unconstitutional and made equal opportunity for everyone to get an education. There are definite tones of Johnson in this article, because the people who fought for this case "said the words". They stood up for their rights and didn't stop until they were heard. They without a doubt did see their house on fire and did not stop for a second to think about yelling fire. This case "set in motion sweeping changes in American Society and redefined the nations' ideals". There is a great line from a Langston Hughes poem that I think captures the exact feeling of most African Americans during this time: 
"O, yes, 
I say it plain, 
America never was America to me, 
And yet I swear this oath -
America will be!"

Image result for tim wiseIn the video done by Tim Wise, his main argument was that racism is still going on today, and that even though we like to pretend that we are past the age of racism, that it is as prevalent as ever. Again, this reminded me of Johnson's article because he argues that we need to talk about things but we do not use the actual words "racism" and "privilege". He argues that the original form of racism that we all know (racism 1.0) is relatively nonexistent, but there is a new form (racism 2.0) that is equally if not more dangerous in our society.  Wise argues that while racism 1.0 is often noticed all the time, but racism 2.0 goes unnoticed on a daily basis, and that is what's so dangerous. Racism is also something that has only (for the most part) been experience by people of color. (As stated by McIntosh in the White Privilege Knapsack. Wise states that the proper thing to teach minorities is that they should do their best to reach where racial divides to not exist or thought about. That is exactly something that Delpit would say about the culture of power. 

Bob Herbert of the New York Times argues in his article is about the education of underprivileged black and hispanic students. Throughout the whole article I couldn't help but think of Ullucci. "educators know that it is very difficult to get consistently good results in schools characterized by high concentrations of poverty. The best teachers tend to avoid such schools". This goes back to ullucci when she mentioned that educators right out of college will try their best to avoid working in low class school systems. However, I disagree with the author about the fact that only the best teachers avoid schools like that. I don't think at all that where someone is a teacher has any impact at all on whether they are a good teacher or not. that is the last thing that comes to mind. One thing that Herbert mentions is that "schools are no longer legally segregated, but because of residential patterns, housing discrimination, economic disparities and long-held custom, they most emphatically are". I wholeheartedly agree with this. If you try to separate students based on their income level like a lot of schools due (With some schools being just low income students) it is essentially just another form of segregation. 

Talking Point: I took some extra time and read a few other posts from Tim Wise on his website and they are really interesting, and they all focus on relevant topics not only to our class, but also to current events and what is going on in this country. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Kahne & Westheimer, "In the Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning"


Reading "In the Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning" by Kahne and Westheimer was interesting and eye opening for various reasons. One one hand, it was great to be able to see other kinds of service learning, not just through the eyes of other students in our class, bu
t hearing real world experiences from people all over the country. Not only that, but reading this article made it apparent the real world connections our other articles can make. We talk about the inter-connectivity in class when we are given examples, but it was good to see how all of the articles we have read in class come together in this article, and how all of their ideas and messages come together as well.

The first article that I made a connection to was to Jonathan Kozol's Article, Amazing Grace. In the beginning of this article, Kahne and Westheimer introduced the idea of what service learning is by giving a couple of examples form actual classrooms. The second example was of Ms. Adams class. In her class project, entitled "Homelessness Here and Elsewhere" "examined the social, economic, legal, and political determinants of homelessness around the world and in the local school community" (Page 3). This made me think of Kozol's article because the entire purpose of his article, was, in my opinion, one big service learning project. He did not necessarily help anybody outright, but by going into really poor neighborhoods, he learned about them, and learned about the social, economic, legal, and political determinants of homelessness in that area. He learned through his conversations with Mrs. Washington and her son, that the local government, and by extension, the national government, don't really care about the poor people there. 

The second connection I made was to Kerri Ullucci's "Pathologizing the Poor: Implications for Preparing Teachers to Work in High Poverty Schools". The whole point of Ullucci's article was to explain the myths of poverty, and to show that you can't teach students differently just because of their socioeconomic background. `In Kahne and Westheimer, they show an example where a teacher in a middle class school wants her students to perform at an elementary school in a poor neighborhood. Some of the parents of the upper - middle class students had objections, saying they were concerned for the children's safety.  When they got there, however, they found that there was nothing to be afraid of, and in fact, the students were great to be around and they enjoyed every minute of being there. This example goes to the very heart of Ullucci's article. Ullucci says on Page 4 that "it is imperative for teacher educators to pay close attention to the manner in which teachers are prepared to educate students from impoverished backgrounds". She goes on to say that teachers may "adopt and maintain deficit and pathological thinking about the academic potential of students who come from impoverished backgrounds". A student is a student, no matter their background. 

The last connection I made was to Allan Johnson's Privilege, Power, and Difference. The main message of Johnson's article was to "say the words". You can't hope to address or change any problems if you can't sit down and talk about the issues. Allan Johnson has a great quote in his article "Its like our collective house is burning down and we are all tip toeing around afraid to say 'fire'". My interpretation of this article was that these service learning projects, were in fact, doing just that. They were "saying the words". Through these projects, students and educators are allowed to talk about tough issues like poverty and healthcare. 

Talking Point: What did you all think of this article? did you make the same connections? 

Joel Westheimer: link to his blog. his last post was an interesting post where he connected modern education to the Dead Poets Society, and in particular, Robin Williams character. It's definitely an interesting read.

All Children Left Thinking: a very interesting video done by Joel Westheimer at a conference called the Big Ideas Fest in 2009. His focus in this video was about school reform, testing, and the importance of critical thinking. It was very eye opening to me.