Monday, May 12, 2014

Social Justice Event: The Vagina Monologues

Oh, Vagina Monologues. This play really helped me open up and become less sensitive to these types of topics. The whole time I was listening to the monologues, I was thinking of the author Allan Johnson. Allan Johnson argues that it is important to say the words explicitly. Whether this is in a classroom setting or an everyday experience, if we don't become comfortable with using the words, we will always be weary to speak our mind or get our point across effectively. I feel like educators and people, in general, speak of sex with a negative connotation which can lead to many problems with youth. However, this play was the COMPLETE opposite.

I did some research on Eve Ensler who is a playwright, feminist and activist. This play was definitely risque. It caused a lot of controversy between feminists, politics and social conservatives. After seeing the play, I had a feeling some people wouldn't enjoy it and would be offended. However, I thought it was a fantastic way to show women that they can talk about these things because it is their body. If you ever get a chance to see the Vagina Monologues (just don't bring your parents because that would be super awkward) brace yourself and enjoy the empowering monologues from different perspectives. And remember, love your vagina!

Youth in Action

Youth in Action was eye opening, confusing, exhilarating and informative all at the same time. I really admire all of the students and how they are able to put themselves and their thoughts out there by relating their life to the topics of education and personal success. It took me a while to grasp the understanding of the lesson. Some of you may have noticed I was completely silent during the whole discussion time. I wasn't quite sure why I was silent but later realized that I couldn't push myself to raise my hand and speak about how I agreed with them or what my opinion was because I felt extremely uncomfortable. The last thing I wanted to do was unintentionally say something wrong and hurt someone's feelings.

When I left that day, I was very angry and upset because I felt like I was being attacked or judged for who I am and how I was raised and grew up.I was also very upset with myself for not understanding. Then I tried putting myself in their shoes. I talked to my Dad who is a Providence Public School teacher in South Providence. He really explained to me how tough it is for students in his school system to have access to certain resources that are crucial to learning. I still do not fully understand the frustration these students have because I never lived the life that they have. However, I became more sensitive to understand that some people can have all of the ability in the world but have absolutely no access to anything they need. This is a huge flaw in the education system. I think as a class, we need to stop thinking about ourselves for a moment. Take off the blinders and take down that glass wall that blocks our views and perspectives on certain topics. Instead of seeing this as an attack on certain people because they grew up more privileged than others, use it as a tool to learn from. Even though most of the students are younger than us, when they are neglected of an education in their school system, it makes them mature and makes them stand up for themselves. Just like we use our service learning students as a tool to learn from, Youth in Action is a great way for us to get a glimpse into students lives who are frustrated with the lack of access they receive from their school department.

The link above is a post I came across and thought it was very interesting. It describes some of the ways our country is lacking in the education system. 


Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome

"Success in life requires an ability to form relationships with others who make up the web of community" (73).

This quote instantly sparked a learning experience I had in high school with the special needs students that went to my school. I was always confused as to why the special education department in all of the schools I attended were in a separate part of the school, isolated from the rest of the community. When I was a senior in high school, I had a History teacher who did all he could to include a few special education students into our classroom. One of the students wasn't able to fit his wheelchair in our school elevator, so he had to have every class downstairs. Our History class was in the upstairs portion of the building. This is where the trouble started. In order for this student to be a part of the class, we moved our class down to the cafeteria for two days a week. At the beginning of the year, all of the special education students were behind and couldn't keep up with the discussions and classwork the rest of the class was doing. The students had their aids help them keep up with the work and they pushed them to challenge themselves and never to give up on something that was difficult. I strongly believe that these students used their sense of community to push themselves to focus more and challenge their minds in ways they cannot when they are isolated from the student body.  

At the end of the year, we completed a project where we redesigned a whole room into a museum to teach people about the Vikings and how they impacted history. Each student in the class had a full understanding of the history and the exhibit we created. During our last class, the special education students were not there, so our teacher used that time to talk about why he needed to include them into our classroom. He explained that by building a sense of community around them, it makes them more comfortable around people since they are so isolated on a day to day basis. Social skills are a huge motivator and significantly help students with social and learning disabilities. They helped us become comfortable and taught us how to help and work with children that have special needs and we helped them by welcoming them into a classroom that they are not necessarily familiar with.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Final Project Links



Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Literacy with an Attitude: Extended Comments

I am using Doug's blog for my extended comments post. Doug brought up a many great points in his blog talking about the public school system and how many aspects are unfair advantages to students. Although I didn't agree with everything he talked about, he still did a great job conveying his thoughts through the article and his own words.

"I personally believe it's despicable. The fact that students are limited to what education they receive based upon where they are from and where they live.  Reading about the inequality students have is a cause for action in my opinion."

I moved out of Providence in the 5th grade because my parents were not satisfied with the education I was receiving in Catholic School. When they were looking for a new house to buy, their decision of the town was solely based on the public school system I would be receiving my education in.  Whether you are living on the East Side of Providence in a wealthy neighborhood or on the South Side of Providence in a poverty stricken environment, public schools SHOULD and NEED to be equal for every child. Some students are at more of an advantage than others due to the demographic segregation in school systems.
The easiest way to explain this concept:

$ = good education, privileged, advantaged

less $ = mediocre education, non-privileged, disadvantaged

 "In order to be successful in society today, you almost have to go to college."
I agreed with everything in Doug's blog except for this one point. College is definitely not for everyone. We spoke briefly in class talking about if everyone went to college, who would be the one to flip burgers at fast food restaurants? As bad as that sounds, if every person in our country was educated at a college level, we wouldn't have the diversity we have as a country now. Of course it is important to be educated, but to say no one can be successful without a college degree is inaccurate. Whatever career path people choose in life, if there is no passion and drive for perfection behind what you do, there probably is not any happiness either. If students keep choosing their profession based on the economy and the salary they will receive, I can guarantee it will become detrimental to education and jobs in our country.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Brown v Board of Education: Connections

"The current obsession with firing teachers, attacking unions and creating ever more charter schools has done very little to improve the academic outcomes of poor black and Latino students. Nothing has brought about gains on the scale that is needed."
   I always thought charter schools were a better alternative to public schooling in lower income neighborhoods. However, after doing some research it was clear why many education reformists can't stand them.  "The original purpose of charter schools were to recruit the weakest students, the dropouts, and identify techniques and methods to help public schools to do a better job with those who lost interest." This would work to end the cycle of educators not knowing how to help their students and to show them how they can improve and to make every student in their classroom successful. However, charter schools took a turn for the worst. They became private organizations and an opportunity for wealthy individuals to start an entrepreneurship. Not only would they use it as a way to make money, they would segregate against the students they would enroll. Since charter schools use state and public funding, their standardized test scores had to be high in order to receive the highest amount of funding. They would enroll only small numbers of English language learners and students with disabilities so their test scores can be the highest possible. In a way, charter schools are public when it comes to public funding, but they call themselves a private corporation.

"If you really want to improve the education of poor children, you have to get them away from learning environments that are smothered by poverty."
   This reminds me a lot of the reading we had in the beginning of the semester by Johnathan Kozol. Kozol gave us an inside look into one of the most poverty stricken areas in the United States. He showed us how when the government puts people in the same close quarters that are all impacted by the same issues of race, poverty and misfortune, their is no room for anyone to succeed. This relates directly with education.   "There is very little evidence that you can have success when you pack all the low-income students into one particular school." There is many factors to this point. Herbert discussees in the article how the best teachers tend to avoid applying for positions in these poverty stricken schools because it is a difficult environment and a tough task to make a change in a broken system. He also discusses the fact that the expectations are a lot lower in these types of schools and the lower levels of parental involvement.

   In the videos, Tim Wise discusses how "Old School" racism isn't as popular as it used to be. However, people of color, African Americans in particular, are being held at a certain standard to prove themselves to society. Time Wise calls this Racism 2.0 or "Enlightened Acceptionalism." "This allows folks to support Obama because they view him as being different than the black and brown norm and my fear there is that if the black and brown norm is considered any negative light the fact that we can carve out exceptions for certain people of color that make us comfortable is not going to get us anywhere to racial equity." Wise argues that we need a truly equal opportunity society which is just as important as a truly equal opportunity for education.



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Reflection: In the Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning

   It was difficult for me to grasp the main point of this article, however, I took a few main ideas away from the text. I like how Kahne and Westheimer talked about the difference between directly and indirectly using service learning. One student was indirectly helping the homeless by packing winter survival kits. The only negative portion of their service learning was that the kits included a bible. Instead of asking a homeless shelter or the people what they needed most or use mostly on a day to day basis, they assumed they needed certain things which can come off as offensive to the homeless community. The other students directly helped people in the community by running errands for doctors and helped patients find the location of their appointments in the hospital. Either way, all of the students meant to be doing some type of good for people that are less fortunate than themselves. Packing survival kits can help a few people, however, by packing those kits it's almost like supporting  or condoning the idea of homelessness. Dr. Bogad spoke with us at the beginning of the semester about how one person's actions can be interpreted in a completely negative way when the person thought they were doing something great to help another person. This is one of the purest examples behind that message.
   The students could have taken a much different approach, like the students of Ms. Adams class, by researching the issue of homelessness. By researching the issue of homelessness, the students will gain an understanding of the reasons why people become homeless. Another important aspect is to break the stereotypes people have about homeless people. Not every homeless person is lazy and not every homeless person is a drug addict who cannot fight their addiction. By having a great understanding of the topic, students can put preventative measures in place that can stop the issue of homelessness in the future. 
   Another aspect of service learning is the caring and personal relationships that are formed from this type of work. Without those relationships, it is hard to connect with a people on a personal level. I have experienced this ideology throughout my service learning experience. I have recently began to form a few caring relationships with a few of my students. And, yes, I like to think of them as my students. These children have brought nothing but joy to my experience and what makes me even happier is watching them learn about the art and subject that I live for: music. We connect through the passion we all share through music and how it brings joy to so many people. This is just one of the examples that prove the importance of having a positive and caring relationship with adults, teenagers and children while using them as a resource to learn from.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Unlearning the Myths That Blind Us: A Very Personal Argument

Last summer I enrolled in my First Year Writing course at RIC. The class was mainly focused on Pop Culture and one topic that particularly stood out to me was Advertising and America's Youth. I explored different ways the beauty and health industry targets teens and young adults into purchasing unecessary and rediculous products to alter their appearance. The power of propaganda and advertising is what made Health and Beauty a multi-billion dollar industry. Today, America's youth is engulfed in stereotypical patterns. Our society portrays different types of people through race, sex and physical appearance. Children's cartoons, movies and literature enter a child's life at a very young age.

Our fix is that Calvin Klein push-up bra, Guess Jeans, Chanel lipstick, and the latest in suede flats. We don't call it deception; we call it good taste. And soon it feels awkward going to the mailbox without makeup. 

I can relate to this quote extremely well. I call B.S. for many people who hashtag #nomakeup #nofilter on Instagram in their lovely daily selfies. "We all know the culprit: being force-fed a steady diet of fictional female bodies that are about as authentic as a newly discovered Vermeer painting." The only reason I argue against the whole "let's show ourselves without no makeup to make it seem like we love natural beauty" thing is because I am willing to admit that I feel extremely uncomfortable being out in public without makeup on. Because I have experience with this issue, this is one of the purest examples of how society has tampered not only with my self confidence but every women's self confidence in our world.

I can remember watching many Disney movies and playing with Barbie's as a little girl. I watched my two younger sisters grow up thinking that if you didn't look like Cinderella or the super model on every magazine cover then you weren't considered beautiful. Society is finally changing the way brands and companies reach out to children and teens through the media. Many retail brands are creating campaigns that show the real body types of women in their advertising. One is example is the #AerieReal campaign. American Eagle's spinoff lingerie brand, Aerie, is showcasing un-retouched photos of models featuring moles, stretch marks and tattoos, giving their appearance more of a "real"look. The models are still gorgeous and in my opinion are still pretty skinny to show a real women's body. However, props to them for creating a campaign that can help women become unblinded by the negative stereotypes forced upon them through our ever so judgmental society.

I still think music, movies and television are not doing anything for children and they still have that hidden message of racism and discrimination in their plots and story lines. Some children are able to see that the servants in cartoons are usually fat and poor and that not every fat and poor person is a servant, but some children are so blinded by the routine patters they see in movies and television that it becomes human nature to them. Whatever way we look at it, we have been blinded by these myths for so long that it is molded into our culture and society. Is there a turning point in the future where we could be withdrawn from these mindsets?


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Safe Spaces: Hyperlink

I grew up attending Catholic school throughout most of my child hood. At school when I was learning about religion, same-sex marriage was considered sinful. When I stepped outside of my church or school, my family and almost everyone I knew was in support of homosexual relationships. It wasn't until I was older that I understood the controversial topic of same-sex marriage. The unacceptance of the LGBT community by Catholics is one of the many reasons I was drawn away from the religion I grew up practicing and experiencing. 
Everyone should be accepted for who they want to be in life. This becomes very tricky to educators throughout our country. Children do not always realize the problems that are going on in the world. Many children are so blinded by their religion or home life from their parents that they grow up thinking being "different" is unacceptable. It is important to make students feel like that it isn't weird to be different from other people. "Safe spaces" is a program made to make the LGBT community feel safe and comfortable. "In this situation, the perception of safe gay space can allow the development of a sense of community and confidence, which in turn may contribute to the creation of rights-based movements." By surrounding LGBT communities with each other, it will form confidence which each individual person and allow them to progress on with their life and live their life the way they want to.

I came across an article online about a vice principal who was fired from his job because he married a man. The vice principal worked at a Catholic school in Washington state. A majority of the students protested and fought against the school departments decision. It will be interesting to see what the class thinks about this issue. 


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Quotes from "Aria" by Richard Rodriquez

"We remained a loving family but one completely changed. No longer so close; no longer bound tight by the pleasing and troubling knowledge of our public separateness. Neither my older brother nor sister rushed home after school anymore. Nor did I. When I arrived home there would often be neighborhood kids in the house. Or the house would be empty of sounds."

Rodriguez discusses how his family grew apart while they learned a completely new language that was very unnatural to them. They lost a sense of family and a sense of their culture at home. It is bad enough they had to adapt to becoming Americanized, their language was the last thing they had left. Language is not only a dialect that is spoken. Language itself can have a certain tone or quality to it that other ways of speaking do not have. By stripping diverse cultures of their native language, it limits the words and makes conversations less personal. There is little to no emotion behind anything they are saying because they are not used to speaking in English. 

"Following the dramatic Americanization of their children, even my parents grew more publicly confident."
Children and families who move to the United States are slowly stripped of their culture by our government, schools and culture. His family didn't feel comfortable in public since they could only understand very little English and couldn't communicate well with other Americans. They gained a sense of pride and confidence learning English. We discussed the "melting pot" theory in one of our first classes and said how the "melting pot" ideology is not the accurate term since it does not show everyones identity but rather melts it all together. The salad bowl term is a better term to use since it is more clearly visible of different peoples race, culture and identity. The ideology of SCWAAMP (Straightness Christianity Whiteness American-ness Able-bodied Maleness and Property-Ownership) is very clear in the text. By moving to America, citizens have to automatically adapt to the laws, regulations, customs, traditions and culture of this country. If not, they are perceived as trouble. This mindset teaches children that their is no importance of culture which goes against many mindsets of educators in our country. Colleges, universities and schools all want diversity to be a part of their school's culture, yet children and students who are diverse do not have the right to be taught in the language they have communicated in their whole life. That's America for ya!

"Her voice, like so many of the Spanish voices I'd hear in public, recalled the golden age of my youth."
This quote stood out to me more than anything in the text. Rodriguez refers to his youth as the golden age. It shows how he misses the connection he had with his parents and siblings through the language they spoke as a family. "Golden Age" is a metaphor that is used to describe when something great ocurred or was accomplished. Rodriguez had a sense of family and culture when he was in his golden age of youth, however, as an adult, he feels he will never have that same feeling again.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Other People's Children: The Silenced Dialogue Reflection

I have to be honest, this was definitely a tough read for me. Although, I did extract a few great points and messages from the text. Lisa Delpit discusses how race and social class affect the communication in schools with teachers, students and parents. Communication is definitely the most valuable tool in education and is vital to a child's learning. I tied the text together with the reading Privilege by Peggy McIntosh. White privileged America (middle and upper class) benefit from the "culture of power" and with the type of communication within classrooms. I realized in the school I visited today that more than 50% of the students were a different race other than white. However, every single teacher in the school was white. Could black, Hispanic and Latino students listen and learn more effectively from a teacher of their own race? I definitely think they could.

"Children have the right to their own language, their own culture. We must fight cultural hegemony and fight the system by insisting that children be allowed to express themselves in their own language style. It is not they, the children, who must change, but the schools. To push children to do anything else is repressive and reactionary."

This quote stood out to me the most in the reading. It made me feel like someone was taking a stand on what was right. (Hegemony was a great word to use also). Most of my life I have been expressing myself through my music. This is why I strongly agree with this quote. Children also need a good understanding of how they learn best. Classrooms have always been very regimented and lesson plans or curriculum are based off of a cookie cutter mold of a student that they expect every child to be. Now that many children are able to express themselves freely- for the most part- the education system needs to step up and act the same way. Just like the word repressive says; we are "restraining the freedom of a group of people" by holding them back from being themselves and learning the way they need to learn.

I know that most of this readings sole purpose was to discuss the element of race and education. However, we need to start looking past the difference of race and joining as a group of human beings that we are. I came across a quote from Benjamin Carson that would definitely tie up the discussion of this article pretty well.

"You know, I was asked once by an NPR reporter why I don't talk about race that often. And I said it's because I'm a neurosurgeon. And she looked at me quite quizzically. And I said, 'You see, when I take someone to the operating room and I peel down the scalp and take off the bone flap and open the dura, I'm operating on the thing that makes the person who they are.' The cover doesn't make them who they are. When are we going to understand that?"
-Benjamin Carson


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Jonathan Kozol: Not So Amazing Grace

Jonathan Kovol's Amazing Grace opens readers eyes to the inhumane conditions of Mott Haven, New York. Home to 67,000 people, Mott Haven is part of the South Bronx where two thirds are Hispanic and one third black. It is an inhumane region that houses prostitutes, drug addicts, people suffering from AIDS and un-privileged families living life day by day. In the reading, Kozol speaks with a young boy named Cliffie. Cliffie is extremely mature for his age but still has the same characteristics of a seven year old boy. Children in these types of neighborhoods grow up fast. Becoming "street smart" is a way of survival. He tours Kozol around Mott Haven, telling him about certain landmarks that could seem normal to the average person. Kozol learns a lot from seven year old Cliffie and learns even more from personal stories of the various Mott Haven residents.

 "The point is that they put a lot of things into our neighborhood that no one wants. The waste incinerator is just one more lovely way of showing their affection."
The government treats Mott Haven residents as if they are not humans. They are handled like the trash that is thrown into their backyards. If garbage trucks dumped piles of  trash all along the upper East Side of Manhattan, the government or city officials would be getting sued from a local resident. This is a perfect example of the privilege vs. non privileged. If a resident of Mott Haven tried to stop the garbage dumping in neighborhoods, they would be judged by their race and would never be taken seriously.

"If poor people behaved rationally they would seldom be poor for long in the first place." -Lawrence Mead 
This quote made me want to rip this paper to shreds. I completely disagree with the New York University professor that made this statement. I understand that some social scientists can link poor behavior to poverty, drug abuse and prostitution, but for someone to make a general, cruel statement about un-privileged families living in poverty makes our human race look disgusting and completely blinded by our glass wall in front of our own eyes. Last time I checked, wealthy and privileged people weren't behaving that rationally either. "Many social scientists today appear to hold this point of view and argue that the largest portion of the suffering poor people undergo has to be blamed upon their own "'behaviors,'" a word they tend to pluralize" (Kozol 21).

"The waste products of some of these hospitals, she says, were initially going to be burned at an incinerator scheduled to be built along the East Side of Manhattan, but the siting of a burner there had been successfully resisted by the parents of the area because of fear of cancer risks to children" (Kozol 7).

This quote took my mind right to an episode of Gossip Girl. God forbid they put an incinerator on the East Side of Manhattan! The wealthy families cannot be seen in a place where there is an incinerator, yet alone have one in their own neighborhood. The privileged families were able to put a stop to having the pollutants in the air and they decided to send it to the South Bronx where none of their residents could even step up to the battle of removing it.

Discussion Questions:

Has anything in Mott Haven changed since Kozol's research was published? What is the government's reactions to the living conditions of Mott Haven? Why do they think it is okay for so many people with sicknesses live in such close quarters of each other? How do the teachers in the South Bronx public and charter schools feel about Mott haven? Does the "destitute" state of children and families have an extremely negative impact on the students learning? 


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

"The Arts are an essential part of public education. From dance and music to theater and the visual arts, the arts give children a unique means of expression, capturing their passions and emotions, and allowing them to explore new ideas, subject matter, and cultures. They bring us joy in every aspect of our lives.  
Arts education not only enhances students' understanding of the world around them, but it also broadens their perspective on traditional academics. The arts give us the creativity to express ourselves, while challenging our intellect. The arts integrate life and learning for all students and are integral in the development of the whole person. 
The Arts communicate and speak to us in ways that teach literacy and enhance our lives. We must continue to find a place for arts programs and partnerships not only for what it teaches students about art, but for what it teaches us all about the world we live in."
--Dr. Terry Bergeson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Washington State, November 2001


Hello fellow bloggers! My name is Shannon Leigh Turner and I am a Music Education major here at Rhode Island College. Over the summer I took a few classes at RIC to get a head start on my college career. I also took a trip to Florida with my family and spent countless days on the beach with friends. When I'm not in class, you can find me around campus with my two best friends Jill and Maureen or in a practice room in the Nazarian Center working on my Clarinet and Piano repertoire. You could also find me working in the RIC Box Office, Providence Place Old Navy or Luca Music in North Providence. It's safe to say I work 35+ hours a week, but after a long day I get to go home to my apartment in downtown Providence with my awesome roommate Brittany.
I'm taking this class as a part of my curriculum to be a Music Educator. The title of the class definitely appealed to me. I came from a high school in a white suburban neighborhood and diversity was definitely not a factor in our school. My dad is a School Nurse/RN/Health Teacher in South Providence which is completely different from the experience I have had with schooling. By being placed in an inner city school, I will be able to have the experience and practice with various groups of students and will be more prepared for anything that comes my way as an educator.

Here's to a great semester!