Friday, June 18, 2010


Connections to Johnson

In many ways the few chapters that we read from Gerri August’s Making Room for One Another reminded me of situations Johnson described in Privilege, Power, and Difference. I noticed that August referred to Johnson in terms of some of the codes and of power that he discussed. Like Johnson said on page 7, “it doesn’t seem unreasonable to imagine a school or workplace, for example, where all kinds of people feel comfortable showing up, secure in knowledge that they have a place they don’t have to defend every time they turn around...” This is similar to the case that Gerri was looking at with Cody. Cody would come to school, but would often be very careful in how he articulated his thoughts. This demonstrates that he was not comfortable in his setting and would hide his “private” (Rodriguez) world from his public one.

In an attempt to make the school an environment that would respect other people’s differences, Zeke would address moments that were spontaneous or dynamic dialogicality and also teach planned units or designed dialogicality. There were times where he could address issues that came up very openly with his students; in an interview with August he reflects the challenges of teaching students about gay and lesbian couples. They discussed a case that is taking place in what it seemed to be, a nearby community. The teacher and school board are being sued because of raising controversial issues in class. That is an attempt to stop people from talking about the issues at hand. Johnson would argue that if people are not allowed to talk about the problems, there is nothing that we can do as a society, to change them (p. 13).

Cody was a student who was also Cambodian. He was proud of his culture and came into school with a Cambodian mask. When he was asked to come into school with pictures of his family, he only chose to bring in one picture, which he was not even in. This reminded me of Johnson’s quote where, “people are tagged with other labels that point to the lowest-status group they belong to” (p. 34). In this case, Cody was tagging himself with labels. He was identifying that coming from a homosexual home made him part of the oppressed group, but this was not the same for his Cambodian heritage. I am unsure whether or not the fact that he was adopted also played a role as to why he identified himself as more Cambodian, than a son of two women, but I am sure it did.

Overall, I thought that these chapters were interesting. I loved the idea that we were focusing on the child that came from a different background and watched his behaviors with different subjects. Zeke tried to make his classroom a positive environment for all students. He took on teachable moments and planned time to teach his students about differences. I wonder if any of this really made a difference with Cody. It seemed as though he was still unsure where he fit in and was not ready to share his private life with others. I hope that this is something that will change for Cody in the future. I hate to imagine that he always has to sensor himself as he grows up, avoiding stories from home. His voice is already becoming silent, at the age of five or six. Finn would say that his life is somewhat predetermined by this time. Does this mean he will always be silent?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Extended Comments – Talia

I too believe that it is a shame that Richard Rodriguez’s primary language and culture was not accepted. This was the start to his family deteriorating in terms of communicating with one another. To take this point further, it also led to Rodriguez’s father not speaking to those around him while his mother became the public voice. I love the link where it discusses the International School and the benefits of bilingual education. The video shows that the students are exposed to the language of others as well as the different cultures. When our children are exposed to other cultures, they are more likely to accept differences for what they are without judgment.

Herman Badillo also seems like a fascinating man. He spoke up for what he believes in and included them in his political policies. I agree with his point of view that ESL programs are not the same as bilingual education or language emersion programs. We are trying to have our students learn the language that is currently predominant in our country. This is something that students do need to learn, but we are often neglecting their heritage, culture, and beliefs by asking them to leave their primary language at the door. We need to ensure the ESL does not just mean English only. I am sure that there are classrooms that implement more language immersion activities and other aspects of bilingual of education. But it should not be just a handful of classrooms; it should be all of our classrooms. Regardless of whether or not a child may speak a different language, educators should incorporate cultural opportunities into our classrooms for our students who come from a variety of backgrounds. As Rodriguez stated early on in our read, “Without question, it would have please me to hear my teachers address me in Spanish when I entered the classroom,” (p. 34). Something so simple as learning greetings in another language could change the entire classroom’s learning environment.

Saturday, June 12, 2010



- The GLSEN website includes a diversity statement. Below, the first paragraph of the statement is quoted.

“GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, in our mission to create safe schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, is dedicated to fostering a work environment and designing programs and resources that are inclusive and celebratory of diversity, and sensitive to the role of power and privilege in society.”

Why is it that an organization that believes in diversity and accepting people for their differences still has to put a clause in their statement saying that they are “sensitive to the role of power and privilege in society?”

- I love the idea of “No Name Calling Week”. I wonder how I can incorporate it in our school with such a busy schedule. How are we suppose to get teachers on board and invested in the cause?

- The research that GLSEN sights states that many times when kids are bullied or harassed, they do not inform teachers or principals because they do not believe anything will happen or change. With the new law in Massachusetts, where principals must be informed each time a child is bullied, will more students begin to speak out if they know that the problem will be addressed?

- I believe in creating a positive learning environment for all of our students. Educating students and talking about how we are all diverse at a young age will make our students more accepting of differences. Still there will always be those few students who will continue to bully and pick on others. How should bullying be addressed in our schools? How should we deal with students who are consistently bullying others? Should there be consequences in place and if so what should those be?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010



1. The United States has developed two kinds of education, “First, there is empowering education, which leads to powerful literacy, the kind of literacy that leads to positions of power and authority. Second, there is domesticating education, which leads to functional literacy, literacy that makes a person productive and dependable, but not troublesome (Finn, Preface IX & X).”

This quote is in the introduction to his book. It is a powerful statement saying that we educate our children one of two distinct ways. Our children will be educated to have jobs of an elite status or they will be trained to be the obedient works of those who have power. He is stating very clearly that the expectations and pedagogy that we use to teach our children is a large indicator in terms of how successful they will be later in life. Those who are taught to a higher caliber will earn more money and be looked up to as people of authority. The other children who are taught through more traditional methods of textbooks and lectures will be the average worker doing as they are told.

2. “We wanted our students to succeed and move ahead, just as many of us had. We believed they could do it if only they would try (Finn, 7).”

When looking at this quote, I think a variety of things. The first thing that made me notice this quote is that Finn is making an argument that if we do not change the way that we educate our children, they will most likely stay in the same social class for the rest of their lives. He says “just as many of us had” which makes me think back to how being a teacher is not an elite position. It is a position that is well respected, but is not in the top 10% of incomes in the United States. It is the middle class. I was raised in a school that is eerily similar to the one that he outlined in Anyon’s study. It would not be a surprise to Anyon or Finn to learn that I became a teacher when my educational experiences were indicators that I would find a middle class job. Secondly, this quote also makes me think about how many teachers are too willing to blame their students for their lack of effort or being lazy. Many educators are eager to point their finger at their students rather than taking responsibility and changing their pedagogy and classroom repertoire. This point of view relates to Finn’s argument that teaching needs to be meaningful and interactive. When students are challenged to be creative and think critically, there are far less issues concerning behavior and work completion.

3. “I’d like to hope that a child’s expectations are not determined on the day she or he enters kindergarten, but it would be foolish to entertain such a hope unless there are some drastic changes made (Finn, 25).”

This quote is extremely powerful. There is significant evidence that Finn sighted stating that the teaching practices in a given school are indicators of future success for children. He wants to hope that a child’s possibility for growth is not stunted before they enter kindergarten, depending on the school they attend, of course. He wants children to learn and grow while they are in school, which I believe every educator wants. There are research based teaching methods that work better for students. I wonder why we are not implementing these more often across our schools. He ends this quote with a harsh statement. He is stating that he is silly to believe that a decent education can change a child’s path unless our teaching styles, materials, and expectations of the children change.

People Like Us

I spent some time playing on the People Like Us website. I really enjoyed reading the stories. When thinking about social class, I think about family and how things are passed from one generation to another. I forgot about all the times when people grow older and change their own personal social class, whether it is higher or lower and the strain that it can have on a family relationship. I can see how some family or parents are too proud to take things that are given to them, as in Val’s case. I also recall students making light of their economic situation and putting down family members, parents, cousins, friends, etc. to make others perceive them as wealthier than what they really are. Social class is another taboo that people do not like to discuss. It is an uncomfortable conversation. I enjoyed playing the games, and it took me a little bit to figure some of them out and what they were exactly looking for. Many times none of the answers reflected my true thoughts. I often find surveys, quizzes, and hypothetical games difficult for me to complete because I am a very practical person and none of the options suit me. This is a good website which is user friendly and is not intimidating. It really makes you think about social class and question how and why it is decided the way it is in our society.

Sunday, June 6, 2010



I remember at some point in my undergraduate career reading some of Jonathan Kozol's work. I believe I read Savage Inequalities, also by Kozol where he has the same powerful message. I love how he goes to these segregated schools and asks the children how they feel. Students at such a young age are able to articulate the injustices that they have such as not being able to have music, art, a garden, a recess yard, and so much more. He has devoted his career to making these injustices known as well as the segregation that is now present. Although it is not law at this point to have segregated schools, people who have privilege and power choose to make them that way. They will not send their children to the public school system, especially in inner city schools. Another point that was striking to me was that many of these now segregated public schools are named after African American individuals. I found this to be another layer of injustice and disrespect towards people of color. Below is a list of a few videos of Kozol speaking and being interviewed as well as a few videos comparing suburban and inner city schools. I found these all very interesting and they all reiterate the points in the article that we read.

Kozol on Book TV

Kozol is being interviewed in this link discussing his book The Shame of the Nation on Book TV.

Oprah's Trading Schools

Oprah had two groups of students who switched schools for a day. She called it “trading schools”. One group of students comes from a suburban school and the other is an inner city school.

A Tale of Two Schools

This is a video of two schools being compared to one another. Once again, one is in a suburban area and the other one is an inner city school.

Kozol Interview on This is America

This is a twenty minute interview talking about Kozol’s book The Shame of the Nation. The article we read came out around the same time that his book was published. It is powerful to hear him speak about the situation, than just reading the article.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010



This author, Delpit, argues that there are many different ways to educate the children that we service in the classroom. Along with differentiated instruction, for the learning styles of students, we also need to consider their culture and background. Delpit believes that what we teach some of out middle-classed white students is not necessarily in the best interest of our students or color or of lower socio-economic status. She is connecting with Johnson, saying that we need to say the words and be honest and open about power in our society in order to help make our students prepared for the real word. Often people of color are hushed by the misunderstanding of the audiences that they speak to. This is a trend that needs to stop and the only people who can stop this are those who have a level of power and privilege. These privileged people need to start taking a stand while starting to really listen to what people of color are saying.

Delpit also believes that all parents should have a say in what their children are taught and how they are educated. I like how she brought up the point that the committee members who write our curriculum are usually of a middle class background and they judge what would be important for all students to learn based on their research. She states, “I am also suggesting that appropriate education for poor children and children of color can only be devised in consultation with adults who share their culture. Black parents, teachers of color, and members of poor communities must be allowed to participate fully in the discussion of what kind of instruction is in their children’s best interest (Delpit, 2006. p. 45).” People who have had similar experiences as to the children who are being raised in our school system can testify as to what was helpful to them, what they wish they learned, and how it all fits into the grand scheme of the “real world” that we are trying to prepare our students for. We need to make sure that we are listening to our colleagues, students, and parents of different races and social class in order to make sure that we are doing what is best for ALL students NOT MOST of them.