Sunday, September 28, 2014

Rich-Heard Rodrigues: Aria


Aria By; Richard Rodriguez

In his piece Aria, Richard Rodrigues essentially tells the audience what it was like to grow up as an English second learner. He doesn't seem to have an argument in the sense where he explains what's wrong with the bilingual teaching programs in place, and tells us how to fix them, but his purpose rather seems to be sharing HIS experiences, and how the system serviced, or disserviced him.

Rodriguez informs us that as a child, he assumed English and Spanish were separate, if you gained one, you lost the other and vice versa. The languages were exclusive, and couldn't both have value. So for awhile, he held on to Spanish, refusing to learn English in school, but reveling in the privacy and closeness that speaking Spanish provided his family. Some nuns from his school realized that unless he began to acquire English, he would never be able to funtion to his full potential in a country where English is the primary language. So they visited his house, and spoke with his parents, who then decided to work with their children to learn English. I think it is very commendable that his parents were willing to work with their kids, and the school to insure a better life for them, however it's sad that in doing this, they also alienated the beauty and bonding that Spanish provided them instead of utilizing both. When he gained English and all the opportunies provided in the language, he also lost what Spanish provided him. In learning English, Richard and his siblings grew apart from their parents who didn't pick it up so quickly. How hard must it be as parents to know you are providing your children the tools to make a better world for themselves, but at the same time alienating them from yourself. Were they happy they provided these opportunites? Or mournful of what they lost? Rodriguez closes the article by summarizing that "bilingual educators say that children lose a degree of 'individuality' by becoming assimilated into public society. But the bilinguists simplisticlaly scorn the value and necessity of assmilation. They do that seem to realize that there are two ways a person is individualized. So they do that 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." (Rodriguez, 39)

Perhaps Rodriguez is not a good example of the teaching strategies discussed in Teaching Multilingual Children. The goal of which is to provide children education in the standard language they need to succeed in this country, but also cherish and cultivate an appreciation for the language and dialects they already possess. Instead of alienating the original language like Richard did, learning what opportunities and benefits both languages provide. Teaching this way is obviously very difficult, but like any other method of teaching, with proper and complete education and training, it is possible, and will provide the children being educated the best education possible, which is the ultimate goal.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

McIntosh, Muwakkil, & Parker Connections

Examining connections between White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack (Peggy McIntosh), Data Show Racial Bias Persists in America (Salim Muwakkil), and For the White Person Who Wants to Know How to Be My Friend (Pat Parker)

 Peggy McIntosh

 Pat Parker

 Salim Muwakkil

These three pieces discuss the same issue (Racism) -McIntosh's paper also discusses sexism, but I'm going to focus on racism- but approach the topic from different angles, and provide different views on how it should be handled. McIntosh believes that where one group has an advantage, another is being put at a disadvantage-this is only logical, if everyone had an advantage, then it wouldn't be an advantage in the first place. She believes, like Delpit that those with an advantage are less aware of that advantage, and how they use it in their everyday life. These racial advantages impact every aspect of being, but until you're on the disadvantage side of the scale, you scarcely know you have an advantage. Her goal is to eliminate this advantage. She is following Johnson's track on this; in order to change find a solution, we need to see the problem, so she looks at how whiteness is an advantage in her own life. Muwakkil approaches it from the angle of finding solid, indisputable evidence that racism still exists. He opens with a quote : "'The great lie of today's black protest is that racism still holds blacks back. It does not.' Simply stated ... Racism is over, let's move on" intending to demonstrate that we aren't as far advanced from the Jim Crowe laws as we'd like to believe we are. Muwakkil provides evidence in the field of employment that proves whites have the advantage in the work force. He presents the statistic that "Applicants with white sounding names were 50 percent more likely to get called in for an initial interview that applicants with black-sounding ones" (Muwakkil), this ties in nicely with Professor Bogad's story about Jose changing his name to Joe to get a job, and is most certainly a widely known problem. Muwakkil's point is simply corroborating what McIntosh previously presented- that whites have an advantage. While McIntosh aimed to prove racism existed, and then eliminate it, Parker outlines a different desired solution. Parker essentially wants the solution to be that skin color ceases to have a significant meaning, and instead of being treated by your skin color, you are treated by who you are as a person. Parker wants equality to not so hard, but to just be: instead of focusing on color, and whether to pretend ignore it, or intentionally cater to it to just see everyone as a person.

Parker is coming at this issue from the disadvantaged side, and McIntosh from the advantaged. I find it interesting that Parker is focusing on color, and how to cater to it, while Parker doesn't want it to be noticed or catered to, but rather wants to just be seen as a fellow human being. I really like Parkers view that sometimes by trying to solve a problem, we obsess over it, and make the problem larger than what it is, instead of just letting it go. When you consciously have to make an effort to achieve equality, sometimes that can be just as insulting as being unequal in the first place.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Amazing Grace- Kozol

Amazing Grace

By: Jonathan Kozol

I will be examining Amazing Grace through quotes.

"Some of these houses are freezing in the winter. In dangerously cold weather, the city sometimes distributes electric blankets and space heaters to its tenants. In emergency conditions, if space heaters can’t be used, because substandard wiring is overloaded, the city’s practice, according to Newsday is to pass out sleeping bags. ‘You just cover up… and hope you wake up the next morning’ says a father of four children" (Kozol, 4)

The houses spoken of are the tenant houses owned by the state in the South Bronx. As poor people work their way down the system, they eventually end up here, in the poorest of the poor neighborhoods.
 The state does what they can to keep these people sufficiently fed and housed, but can they really be blamed for not being able to adequately care for almost 50,000 people? Aside from the extreme dangers of the community itself (disease, drugs, and homicides) the apartments they live in are also treacherous. Full of roaches and otherwise unclean, unsafe and unhealthy, these families also have to contend with plummeting temperatures in the winter, and dangerous heat in the summer. How can anyone- man, woman or child have the drive to thrive and move out of their current situation when they can’t even be sure they aren’t going to freeze in their beds at night?

"What is it like for children to grow up here? What do they think the world has done to them? Do they believe that they are being shunned or hidden by society? If so, do they think that they deserve this?" (Kozol, 5)

We know without a doubt that it is unhealthy for children to grow up in such environments, and that statistically they will never reach their full potential. Due to malnutrition alone, these children will be stunted, and their brains may never fully develop. The school isn’t even teaching the children basic history (when asked about his hero, the boy Cliffie names Oprah, and has never heard of George Washington). If these children aren’t receiving a decent education that meets the state or national standards, how will they ever elevate themselves out of these situations? They have enough working against them, not receiving a decent education is just one more thing working against them, and holding them in their prison. But school for these children is primarily a place they go for a guaranteed free meal. The church has after school programs for the children as another way to try to keep the children off the streets as much as possible. But this is the world these children grew up in, what they see on television or in magazines is miles away from what they live in, do you think they even realize they live in complete squalor when it is all they know?

"’I believe we were put here for a purpose, but these people in the streets can’t see a purpose. There’s a whole world out there if you know it’s there, if you can see it. But they’re in a cage. They cannot see.’" (Kozol, 24)

It’s important to never underestimate how much children see and understand. This little 7 year old boy does understand that he lives in destitution, and that there may be a way out if you look for it, and work towards that. He also understands that the people around him are so sunk into their drugs and self-pity that they can’t look for the way out. This is a child that spends every day of his life dodging drug dealers and prostitutes, who walks by tables set up to hand out clean needles and condoms, and jokes about an incinerator burning body parts down the block. But he understands that there is more than just this. He has a vivid discussion about what constitutes evil, he believes that it is "Somebody who has power. Pretending that they don’t so they don’t need to use it to help people- that is my idea of evil" (Kozol, 23). This such advanced logic for a child so young. Cliffie also states that it is mostly blacks and Hispanics who are addicted to drugs and that he is scared for his race. In addition, he comes to the apt conclusion that the drug dealers hate him for his lack of addiction. Cliffie’s wisdom far exceeds that of the average seven year old, which is heartbreaking; this little boy never had a real childhood where he wasn’t afraid for his life every day.

I think that in their effort to help these people, the state is just perpetuating their struggle. When the state just provides welfare and housing, they aren’t helping anyone out of the situation, they are just making them dependent on state aid. In the depression, it wasn’t welfare programs that enabled the country to prosper again. It was the public works projects that provided employment. By giving people jobs, they gave people the means to support themselves, and didn’t just give them food. This method also didn’t hinder the working people by taxing them to provide for those who weren’t providing for themselves. While the Great Depression is on a much larger scale, the concept is the same. This goes off the old saying of "give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime". There are so many things that need to be done in the country, whether its highway trash cleanup, landscaping, or housekeeping, there are jobs that need to be done and no one wants to do, and the perfect rehabilitation opportunity.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Summertime Strollin'

My name is Lindsey (Dickinson) this class is the first time I've ever had to differentiate which Lindsey I am!
This summer I worked a lot (I work for my parents, they own a performance automotive shop) and went to see a few concerts-Luke Bryan, Josh Turner, and Bruno Mars. I went to Mystic Seaport for my birthday -I'm a total history geek- and Old Sturbridge Village just for fun. Me and a couple of my friends made a road trip to New Hampshire and spent a weekend adventuring, we visited the Polar Ice Caves- really cool, if you've never been I recommend it.
I registered for this class because it was required to get into the Ed program, but now that I'm in it, I'm very happy that it was required. I'm fascinated by the topics we're discussing and really enjoying the course so far.
Happy Weekend!