On the water, Newport bridge

On the water, Newport bridge
My happy place

Friday, September 30, 2016

Unlearning The Myths That Bind Us

Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us
Linda Christensen

Where to begin... In Christensen's Unlearning the Myths that Bind Us, she explains the influence that cartoons, movies and children's books have on us at an early age. "The impact of racism begins early." We let our children watch programs without realizing the outcome it could possibly have. The characters portrayed in cartoons, with violence, or even in the typical fairy tale type stories have a heavy influence on the young child. They can perceive it as reality. Christensen describes this influence as a "secret education".  Our children are accepting cultures, rolls, and stereotypes without us possibly even realizing it. "Industry produced fiction has become one of the primary shapers of our emotions and our intellect... Although these stories are supposed to merely entertain us, they constantly give us a secret education." As a parent, I look back and realize, ok... yes, I no longer allowed Sponge Bob to be watched in the house when I realized just how stupid it was, and yes, my son watched the typical preschool programs like Sesame Street and Blues Clues. However, did I always make the right choice? After reading Christensen, I think WOW.
 Disney movies we have all watched. The typical princess and her prince with the fairy tale ending. Not reality at all . One of Christensen's students questioned how come there's never been a black Cinderella? Do we think of these things while watching Disney movies? Probably not. Obviously my son was never interested in the typical princess movie, and cartoons were starting to fade away for him as well... around the age of three, or four it was Thomas the Tank Engine. He could name all the trains and started to identify the numbers on each one. The show had a story, with usually some type of lesson learned. Were there races? Cultures? No, just trains. All with personalities, so yes, there were conflicts. Always resolved by the end of the story. 
So, now I will continue on with another way to reflect about this reading. What did I watch when I was a child? Growing up in the seventies, the programs were far different than what my son had to choose from. I remember one of my favorite shows. A cartoon called "Wait Til Your Father Gets Home." Oh boy. Just in the title it implies something! The mother stayed home with the kids, while being a homemaker. The father was off to work all day. The show had comedic value, but did not  I realize then, that in the very title alone, it meant the mother had no authority in the home. That she couldn't make a decision on her own? If the kids did something they shouldn't have she couldn't set the guidelines for punishment? Yes. Welcome to the seventies. I'm sure this cartoon was aired before then, but that's when I watched it. Then, there's Tom and Jerry. I believe my son watched this as well, but newer versions. I recall many episodes with one adult in particular that would make an appearance. She was dressed as a maid, heavy set, black woman's voice with black skin. ALWAYS dressed as a maid. As a child, I most likely never questioned this. 

Points to discuss in class.... Do you agree with the idea that children receive a 'secret education" in the media? What did you watch as a child? Do you think it influenced your learning or emotions? 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Richard Rodriguez's Aria

Richard Rodriguez's Aria

What a compelling story about a "socially disadvantaged" child told by Rodriguez. This was a fairly short and easy read, but stacked with interesting experiences about  him. How would any of us know the affects it has on a child in a classroom if they don't speak the language? Some are obvious and quite clear, but he goes on to describe in detail exactly how he feels in the classroom, and the affects it starts to have at home.
As a student, he was shy, didn't like being called on by the teacher, and didn't even feel that the English language was "his to use". The English language was a "public" language to him. He'd rather be spoken to in Spanish while in the classroom. This is totally understandable as this was his Native language and  he was comfortable with it. He was scared to use English! The teachers started to notice Richard's behavior as well as his siblings. "Timid and shy" were how they described Richard. Well yes, of course! I would be too! At such a young age, I'd feel learning something new like another language would make me timid and shy as well.
To help Richard's progress along, the teachers visited his home and asked his parents to start using the English language at home. Here is a great article speaking of the type of support a bilingual student needs. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/05/13/bilingual-students-need-support-in-their-native.html.
After the teachers visit in his home, the dynamic of the whole family started to change. The parents and all family members started using English more, but were interacting with each other differently because of it. Richard wasn't even sure what to call his parents any more. He didn't like the English words used to say mama' or papa', but didn't want to continue using what he always called them. It reminded him of how much things have changed.  As he grew more and more familiar with English sounds and how to use them, he realized he was truly an American citizen. He became more and more confident and spent less time at home. He made more friends and so did his siblings. He even mentioned that his parents were spending less time at home due to the confidence they had as well. His mother however, was uncomfortable with how the families interactions had changed. His father on the other hand, didn't seem to mind much at all  about the new quietness of the household. His father still used Spanish and spoke with emotions while doing so when he needed to.
Richard started to care less and less about the sounds at home, he grew inattentive,  but would still remember how things used to be. "Today I hear bilingual educators say that children lose a degree of 'individuality' by becoming assimilated into public society." "They do not seem to realize that there are two ways a person is individualized. So they do not realize that while one suffers a diminished sense of private individuality by becoming assimilated into public society, such assimilation makes possible the achievement of public individuality." Normally two quotes together like this isn't something of the norm, but I found them to be significant.
In closing, I found another article on how to recognize an ELL student, and the affects a second language has. http://www.education.com/reference/article/who-ell-english-language-learner/

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Jonathan Kozol's Amazing Grace

Where do I begin? After reading Amazing Grace, I'm still in shock. Poverty, poor living conditions, sickness. You know its out there, in yes, our country, but to what extent? How many of us have actually seen it first hand? On the news maybe, or how its portrayed in a TV show, but not like this.
The story of Amazing Grace and the city of Bronx, New York, telling of personal stories of people living there is truly the opposite of the American dream. I found myself saying "oh my god" out loud as I'm reading each page. The statistics are overwhelming. The story starts out explaining the population, the annual household income, comparing it to Manhattan just an eighteen minute train ride away.
The personal stories of the every day life and what has become somewhat normal for them is more than disturbing. The author covers the amount of people living with HIV in the area, the amount of children suffering from Asthma, drug usage in the area, and prostitution. Its all out there for everyone to see. The question was brought up as to why so many of them are living in the same city? How will the children have a chance? This is the same discussion mentioned in Land of Limitations. The class in which people are born, they tend to be stuck in. How would a child with such poor living conditions, like Cliffie in the story, have a chance at life? Sickness and poverty all around him.
Also, a large  percentage of people living in the Bronx, are of color. So would this be an example of the lack of privilege the people of Bronx have? In Privilege, Power, and Difference, Johnson states that  "Privilege is always at someones else's expense and always exacts a cost." The people of Bronx seem to be living that cost. They have no privileges, their health care is even frightening. Yet, clean needles, and condoms are supplied to them. Welfare can be easily cut. What is wrong with this system?  In today's society? In the United States? Unfortunately, yes. I'd like to see Trump, and Clinton do a tour of the Bronx  live and maybe see how well the population would respond to them.Here is a recent video showing just how bad living in the Bronx is .https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tavGqhjOaO0
Points to share in class... the impact of these conditions on our children. Does it affect their learning?
Do they even have the opportunity to learn? The schools are over crowded. What opportunities do these children have compared to rural areas?

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Kristof's U.S.A. Land of Limitations.

 Kristof's U.S.A. Land of Limitations, a short, but profound article stating that we, as humans, end up where we begin. America has always been portrayed as the "land of opportunity", the American dream which is becoming further and further out of reach depending out where you start out.
"That's a lovely aspiration, the vision that brought Rubio's father to the United States- and my father, too. Yet, I fear that by 2015 we've become the socially rigid society our forebears fled, replicating the barriers and class gaps that drove them away. " Kristoff. Where you start, and what class you are in, determines where you end up. Many have climbed out of it, but that's simply not always the case.
The statistics in this article are very disturbing. There is a direct correlation between how well your parents are off, or even your grand parents; as to how well you will do. "The chance of a person who was born to a family in the bottom 10 percent of the income distribution rising to the top 10 percent as an adult is about the same as the chance that a dad who is 5 feet 6 inches tall having a son who grows up to be over 6 feet 1 inch tall."Discouraging at best, but there's still always the chance that it could happen.
The article goes on further describing a particular  person "Rick". Unsuccessful through all his years of schooling, without proper support, he ultimately quit school and went into the work force. His father was a drunk and left him and his siblings. How did this give Rick and his siblings a chance at life to be successful? It truly didn't. Sickening actually. This created a pattern for the rest of Rick's life. Two unsuccessful marriages, a single Dad while collecting disability, he didn't seem to climb out of the class in which he was born into, now did he?
There's a flip side to this in which you are born into a much higher class, with a sense of entitlement.
Do you continue to stay in that class with little to no effort? This is where income plays a much higher role than the environment of a lower class. My opinion, this is such a double standard. There are less consequences to your actions when you have the income to support your decisions. A teen like "Rick" drops out of school. Does that child still have more opportunities because of the higher income class in which they are in? Yes. Obviously, yes.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

An introduction... a little about me.

My son Brenden and I zip lining in                                                      Connecticut. 
Must have at least two cups of coffee every morning!

My son just graduated high school 2016. 

He's my only one! 

Went to Disney with the MHS Band! 

My 9 year old Golden, Amstel.