Sunday, February 28, 2016

Safe Spaces: Making Schools and Communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth by: Gerri August

         After reading Kamryn's response to August's Safe Spaces, I decided to center my blog response around hers. I agree with Kamryn's comment that you can connect this piece to Leslie Grinner's SWAAMP. August suggests that adults in our society "unconsciously promote heterosexism whether it be at the bus stop, on the soccer field, dinner table, or local grocery store." It is also promoted within our classrooms, especially during the early ages of childhood when the unit on families and relationships is taught by teachers. Grinner starts her acronym SWAAMP with the letter "S" to represent our societies value of straightness. The "American Dream" is centered around the idea that a picture perfect house with a white picket fence is occupied by a family consisting of a mom and dad and their two or more children. Kamryn also included Augusts point about classroom walls being described as permeable. According to August, the classroom gives an impression of being dichotomy, but in reality is permeable to students and teachers- allowing them to carry in their personal experiences and carry out their classroom experiences upon leaving. August and Kamryn express the consequences of the permeable classroom as sometimes less accommodating to students being able to express themselves and feeling safe when one feels different. August continues his argument by explaining that classrooms should "lay the foundation for an inclusive and safe society
where common interests and individual differences coexist." In order to achieve this, August suggests that teachers need to usher children from the relative protection of their family life, the "incubator", to the classroom that fosters new ways of thinking and behaving, the "outcubator." Lastly, Kamryn includes the names of the children documented in Augusts piece who have since died because of the injustice around the understanding of LGBT. Kamryn, I completely agree with you.... No person should have go through the pain of feeling invisible in this world to the point where they believe the only way to be happy again or feel accepted is to die. It is uncalled for and needs to be changed.   


-Questions/Comments/Points to Share:

         If we were to discuss the topic of LGBT about ten years ago, it would be drastically different from our conversation about it in the present. Even though LGBT is still a controversial topic for many people to discuss, their have been some major gains in our society to promote its acceptance over the past year (i.e. media portrayal, Caitlyn Jenner, and Supreme Court decision on legal same-sex marriage). It is nice to acknowledge these gains surrounding the LGBT topic, but August argues that we are still a long way from acknowledging and supporting the LGBT population especially in the classroom. I believe that people are afraid to face this topic because they do not really know about it. If we educate the public with more positive images and information about LGBT, I think it will help to promote an acceptance especially within our younger generations.

Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us by: Linda Christensen

           By scrolling through the channels on the television, reading a novel at the coffee shop or to children before bedtime, roaming through the movie isles at Target, and spending time on social media sites, Linda Christensen warns us in her piece, Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us, that our society's media teaches humans a secret education. From movies, television series, cartoons, books, magazines, newspapers, music, to websites each category of media is responsible for what Christensen claims of "colonizing [our] minds [to] teach us how to act, live, and dream." In Nicholas Kristof's piece, he states that Americans like to gloat about America being a "land of opportunity" where there are people and companies who make it in society and others who do not. The media industry is dominated by many known companies today, ranging from news stations (FOX, NBC, MSNBC, CNN) to authors (John Green, Nicholas Sparks, J.K Rowling, Susan Collins) to websites (Facebook, Twitter, Buzz feed) to movie producing industries (Universal, Disney, Sony). Many of these companies' employees sought out the "land of opportunity" to get to where they are today, though Christensen believes they are responsible for manipulating our population's morals. Many of these media companies portray hidden messages against race, social class, persuade their one-sided-opinion, violence, and more. Christensen believes it is important for Americans to identify this secret education now, so change can begin with generations to come. Below are some examples of what Christensen warns about a secret education:

1. The Political Message of The Hunger Games by: Rachel Bitoun

  Today's media is filled with hidden messages waiting to be uncovered by the reader or viewer. When the first book of the Hunger Games series was released September 14, 2008 many Americans quickly became immersed in the new series similar to Harry Potter. According to Rachel Bitoun, within the story of the Hunger Games there are references to political turmoil, traumatic violence, social class inequality, and environmental issues. As Christensen states, a "secret education" making its way into the minds of many American teenagers.

2. A Cinderella Story Movie Trailer (2004)

    In 2004, A Cinderella Story was released in the movie theaters and latter made into a DVD. This movie is a modern retelling of the classic Disney fairy tale. Within the movie, even within the trailer, one is subject to the stereotypes of "cruel stepmothers and stepsisters," the "fairy godmother character" that grants wishes or in this case fixes the main problem, the "handsome guy" that everyone wants to be their prince, the "popular clique" that gets in the way, the geeky side-kick/best friend, and the "hard-working, proper, ignored girl" who dreams of a "happily ever after" in the end.

-Questions/Comments/ Points to Share:

           I agree with Linda Christensen: there is a hidden education portrayed in media these days that is responsible for brainwashing or determining one's thoughts, actions, and feelings. Many stereotypes are depicted in different types of media, while gender, race, beauty, economic status, and violence are depicted and targeted. Even though I am aware of some of these issues in the media now, I still think the analysis of some movies, t.v shows, books, and more are a little exaggerated. If we want to change to occur, I believe it is worth having a conversation about these issues and monitoring media exposure with younger children or using it as a learning experience by explaining the content being consumed.      


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Aria by: Richard Rodriguez

          When we think about the use of language in our country, we automatically refer to the language of English; what a majority of our country's population speaks. Even though a majority of our nation communicates through the use of English language, this has not always been the case throughout our country. During the 19th century, the population of America boomed due to an influx of legal immigrants allowed in through Ellis Island from several different countries. Many of these immigrants brought a mixture of their ethnic cultures to America, creating the notion to develop a "melting pot." In Richard Rodriguez "Aria,"  he (just as many other immigrants apart of the 19th century) explains how he had to undergo a process of "American Assimilation" mostly by adopting the English language. The comfort of speaking Spanish diminished over time in Rodriguez's life as English was introduced and forced upon himself and the members of his family so they would not feel like outsiders in America's society.    

            In a personally similar experience to Rodriguez fifteen years ago, I experienced the language barrier Rodriguez describes and the process to "assimilate" or "fit in" culturally depending on your geographical location. In mid September of 2001, my father and I prepared ourselves for a trip to Ireland to visit family. My cousin was getting married to her fiancĂ© and asked me to be one of the three flower girls in her wedding ceremony. When we arrived in Dublin, Ireland after a long, delayed trip, my cousin picked us up from the airport and drove us to her childhood home (more like a cottage). Upon arrival, we entered inside and were greeted by many members of the family. Most of my relatives in Ireland speak English with a thick Irish brough, that is usually easily understood. The native tongue of Ireland is Gaelic, but is rarely spoken throughout the country of Ireland; although it is still taught to school children. Even though it was somewhat easy for me (at the age of five) to comprehend the questions asked by my Irish cousins, the part of this experience that correlates to Rodriguez revolves around the language barrier and abrupt assimilation between myself and my two cousins, Pierre and Patrick, who are of Irish (father's side) and French (mother's side) descent. My cousins Pierre and Patrick were visiting from Paris, France (their home) to attend the wedding as well and are fluent speakers in English and French. Throughout the entire beginning of my stay, never once did I hear Pierre or Patrick speak French. Then, one day while the three of us were playing with toys together, my cousins got mad at each other and started yelling at each other in French. Confused and stunned, I looked at them puzzled trying to figure out what on earth they were saying and amazed at the different words spoken from their mouths. Immediately following the quarrel between the two boys, their grandmother Nano appeared in the frame of the door way scolding them. She told them that it was not appropriate to speak to one another in French in front of me, since I was a stranger to languages other than English and language in general to my age. My cousins then apologized and continued to speak to me in English. I never hear a word in French again after that day.          

          Rodriguez points out in the beginning of his memoir that he felt like an outsider in the classroom when he was unable to interpret questions and commands spoken to him in English by his teachers. He welcomed the idea of acclimating himself to learn the English to improve his performance in the classroom, but as English crept into his knowledge and his families and made them feel more "welcome" in American society the Spanish dialect disappeared eventually for good. The underlying message Rodriguez is trying to convey to his readers is the question of: Why can't multilingual people put their ability to greater use in education or other industries, rather than abandoning it to feel apart of society? Lisa Delpit stresses that we should be direct and explicit when speaking to children, due to community and culture contexts. Similar to Rodriguez, she believes that "Children have the right to their own language, their own culture. We must fight cultural hegemony and fight the system by instituting 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."

-Questions/Comments/Points to Share:

         In our society today, if you can not speak English your considered an outsider that has a harder time surviving in society. Almost everywhere you go today, everything reads and speaks primarily in English. What about our Spanish speaking population, Portuguese, and Italian? What about people who communicate through technology, sign language, or even braille? What are we doing to make it easier for them? In my opinion, very little. If you only speak Spanish, you usually have to ask for a Spanish speaking translator/representative at hospitals, colleges, schools, restaurants, stores, etc. making it impossible and sometimes embarrassing to get things done. Media pokes fun at sign language interpreters showed on the news to translate important messages administered by governor's or the President, but what if you are deaf and rely on these people to be able to partake in government actions or find out what to prepare in an emergency situation? How many places have braille on their walls or specific menus in restaurants for these customers? How much money does it cost to be able to purchase a tablet that can download a communication system for children who are bound to survive on a trachea or recently suffered from a stroke and are learning to communicate all over again? Just because these people do not/do have access to English doesn't mean they should be treated different or have to abandon their native tongue. These different languages should be used to benefit society in many different ways.    

Sunday, February 7, 2016

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by: Peggy McIntosh

           The author, Peggy McIntosh, argues that Caucasian individuals are taught not to recognize white privilege in comparison to males being educated to disregard male privilege. McIntosh states that white privilege is characterized by an "invisible, weightless knapsack of unearned assets varying from special provisions, to visas, to clothes, to blank checks, and more that can count on being cashed in." McIntosh supports this view of unrecognizable white privilege by taking the time herself to list daily effects of white privilege somewhat more attached to skin-color rather than class, religion, ethnic status, or geographic location- even though all of these factors can be intertwined in her opinion. Some of the points that stood out to me included:

  • being able to be in the company of people of my race most of the time
  • I can easily buy posters, post-cards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys, and children's magazines featuring people of my race
  • I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider    

  • I can be pretty sure that an argument with a college of another race is more likely to jeopardize her/his chances for advancement than to jeopardize mine.
McIntosh then continues her argument by stating that if her skin-color is an asset for any educated move she wanted to make, then America is not such a free country after all. She shapes the word privilege as seeming to be a favored state earned by birth or luck, but simply it confers dominance over one's race or sex to empower certain groups (i.e. white people and men). McIntosh concludes by leaving us questioning whether or not individuals will become truly distressed or outraged about unearned race advantage and conferred dominance and what we will do to lessen them or if we will just ignore the question similar to men and the unearned male advantage.     

-Questions/Comments/Points to Share:
    I found it interesting how McIntosh compared white privilege to male privilege. White people in the United States are definitely prioritized compared to other ethnicities, but McIntosh also raises the issue of the masculine sex also being prioritized over females. In our society today, issues around equal pay between men and women have become a problem, the controversial issue around companies offering payed maternity leave (also the question of extended leave for dad's as well), women are put down in the eyes of some people if they return to work instead of being stay-at-home mothers (this can also be flipped when dads choose to be the stay-at-home parent), many leaders or CEOs are men instead of women, men pay less for living necessities over women, and more. Which issue is worse, white privilege or male privilege..... or both?

U.S.A., Land of Limitations? by: Nicholas Kristof

       In this New York Times article, Nicholas Kristof expresses his fear of the world becoming an increasingly "socially rigid society our forebears [once] fled." He supports this fear by quoting examples of class gaps and summarizing his best friend, Rick Goff, life struggles. After concluding the article, there were three quotes that stood out as interesting to me:

1. Kristof quotes Senator Marco Rubio in the beginning of the article, stating that America has "never been a nation of haves and have-nots" but rather "a nation of haves and soon-to-haves, of people who have made it and of people who will make it." Ever since America was created our nation has pressured its self to be at the top. This quote states that America offers multiple opportunities to obtain the top rank and promote change, such as the race into space to land a man on the moon and return him safely back to earth during Kennedy's presidency or Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech and efforts to one day have black children and white children play together. Kristof stresses within this quote that not all people are "privileged" enough to have access to achieve these opportunities.
2. Kristof includes a quote from Alan Krueger, a Princeton economist, who concludes that "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; It happens, but not often." Even though an American individual possesses the capability to be creative, intelligent, and prosperous in his/her lifetime, it is very rare for an individual to carry out a successful life. The individuals success is instead dependent upon their ethnicity, parents financial income, and access to quality education and living materials.
3. Towards the middle of Kristof's article, he includes statistical information stating that "77 percent of adults in the top 25 percent of incomes earn a B.A. by age 24. Only 9 percent of those in the bottom 25 percent do so." Kristof also quotes Tim Wise's comment about American's opinions on this statistical information by saying that Americans display an "increasingly vituperative narrative of cruelty to those at the bottom." Americans with Bachelor's degrees at the top of financial status are quick to judge lower class people with only an Associates degree or no degree at all as being lazy. What about the cost of college across America these day? The cost to maintain a stable living environment for a family? The time and stressful schedules to manage with multiple paying jobs to support oneself, family, and education? Before people are quick to judge the lower classes of people as "lazy" maybe they should take into consideration these factors first.      

-Questions/Comments/Points to Share:

      America is recognized as the "land of the free" or "the home of the brave" or, according to Kristof, "the land of opportunity." For some people these titles are true, as for others its viewed as a lie. During my lifetime I never had to worry about not having someone at my house to take care of me, wonder if I would have food for dinner, have a short supply of clothing or shoes to wear, question whether or not I would be given a quality education, or even wonder If I would be able to afford college. I am apart of the 77% of adults in the top 25% of incomes who will go onto graduate with a Bachelors degree, not because I worked hard to achieve good grades but ultimately because I am white and have the necessities (food, clothing, shelter, technology, learning materials, financial stability, etc.) needed to. Meanwhile if you are other nationality other than Caucasian, not able to afford quality education, have trouble providing for yourself and family because you could not land a job due to not having access to quality education, live in areas of high poverty and crime, and more then you are viewed as the poor class of America who is considered "lazy" and sometimes dangerous to the "privileged" upper class, who wants no obligation in helping you since they think they have worked hard to get to where they are today...... but did they really?      

Monday, February 1, 2016

All About Me!

Welcome to my FNED 346 Blog!

Let me share a few things about myself:

I am the oldest child in my family out of four girls. My sisters are triplets and are five years younger than me. Two are identical, while the third is fraternal. This is a picture of each of my sisters footprints taken after they were born.

I enjoy hanging out with my best friend Heather during my free time. This picture shows the two of us enjoying ourselves at a concert.
During the summer, I like spending time at the beach. This is a photo of the sun setting over the beach I vacation on in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  

I love my job at Dr. Day Care Smithfield! I have been working at my center for a little over a year now as a substitute teacher's assistant. I am grateful for having the opportunity to work with children in many different age groups, such as infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and sometimes school age children.