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?

1 comment:

  1. I found your last paragraph compelling. As I walk in life I meet people who are very private. Their need for privacy could mean so many things... cultural, genetically influenced, fear based, shame based, perhaps they put a greater value on observing, it may mean very little. We must realize that it is the individual's right to share or not to share the details of his/her life. I was sad to think that your comment about Cody's life is predetermined at age 5 or 6. My hope it for Cody to accept himself, recognize the gift of the parents who chose to love and care for him and look outside himself.
    Sometimes not fitting in is preparative and character building.
    Not all quiet individuals are having difficulty. Some are solid, well adjusted folks that will talk when they have something of value to contribute..