Sunday, April 3, 2016

Literacy with an Attitude: Educating Working-Class Children In Their Own Self-Interest by: Patrick J. Finn

     Patrick Finn centers his argument around the concept of illiterate and literate Americans based on their education and how it limits their ability to become powerful leaders in society or low-men on the totem pole in an assembling factory job line. Finn states that we have created two types of education: the kind that empowers individuals to hold positions of power and authority and the kind that domesticates individuals making them productive and functional enough to depend on and not worry about. For my post, I decided to choose three quotes from Finn's piece and relate them to previous authors we have discussed in class.

1. "There were about four hundred eighth graders who were sorted by reading scores from highest to lowest and divided into fifteen classes , 8-1s being the highest, 8-15s being the lowest. But they didn't divide them exactly equally."

     This quote describes Finn's first job as a language arts and social studies teacher on the South side of Chicago at Carol Jason Banks Upper Grade Center. Finn states that children divided into these classes were "handled," and if they acted out they were sent into the lowest classes since most of these rooms could accommodate the students due to specifically lower numbers to give these lower-performing students more attention. After reading this quote, I immediately thought of Jeannie Oakes piece and the concept of tracking. Even though Oakes mentions the pros and cons of tracking, in Finns case this type of tracking is not benefitting any of the students, since class sizes are too large in advanced levels, teachers are tough to handle students instead of encourage learning, and disobedient students are moved into lower level classrooms distracting students who need more support to learn the material.

2. "I didn't say to an errant student, "what are you doing?" I said, "Stop that and get to work." No discussion. No openings for an argument."

"All of us -teachers and students-were locked into a system of rules and roles that none of us understood and that did not allow for much in the way of education."

    These two quotes screamed Lisa Delpit's argument to me after completely reading them. Delpit stresses that we have to be explicit and direct with students in order to get our message across or be understood. Delpit also stresses that if someone does not know the rules and codes of power, then it makes acquiring power harder to do.

3.  "When students begin school in such different systems, the odds are set for them. 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."

   This quote concludes Finn's chapter, and reminded me of Kristof argument. Kristof stated that even though American's describe America as a "land of opportunity" this is only true for small percent of people and not universally. Kristof further supports this argument by quoting that poor or working-class children "grow up in the kind of socially rigid hierarchies that our ancestors fled, the kind of society in which your outcome is largely determined by your beginning." What Finn is trying to say is that a child's opportunity in the future should not be determined by what model of schooling they are accustomed to.

-Questions/Comments/Points to Share:

   Upon concluding Finn's piece, I realized that there really are different "models" of schooling in society when looking back on my elementary, middle, and high school career. Just as This American Life spoke about the injustice of poorly performing school districts to highly performing school districts could be reformed through the process of integration, I personally think this whole "model" based method of schooling based on economic class, illiteracy, or ethnic background needs to be changed as well. Its not fair, but then again what really is?

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