Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Upon starting to research this topic, the first thing that I typed into Google was “special education teaching solutions.” Something that I came across that I wasn’t really expecting was a company called “Simple Solutions.” They sell software programs supposedly designed to be able to accommodate students at all levels of learning with their “universal design strategy.” Basically, it “supplements the curriculum by providing daily distributed practice.” They claim that if teachers use this product in their classrooms with special education students, these students will be better prepared to understand the general curriculum and keep up in the classroom with other students because of the practice they get from this program. I didn’t quite understand the specifics of this product, and chose to move on to different research because this was not what I was looking for. I wanted actual teaching methods, not a product that you can buy. Especially after having read the “Heart to Heart” segment, this website seemed like an easy way out for special education teachers that may not even work that well.
I then came across the "National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER)", which was established in 2004 with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). I was glad to see that there is research being devoted to this issue: “Since 2006, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) has funded more than 150 research grants through the National Center for Special Education Research.” The site listed several research initiatives that are currently being done and have already been done, and though I wasn’t able to really obtain as much information on the results of these initiatives as I would have liked, I was pleased with the array of different things going on in this area of education. With these grants and this research happening, I believe that one day children with disabilities will truly be able to get the education that they deserve.
-Efficient Implementation of ideas without any politics
-Teachers teach the same cohort of students, essentially "growing" with the students
-Country perceive development of education as "nation-building"
-Decisions are made by teachers and educators and never by business professionals-turned educators.
-Have standardized exams frequently only for confidential evaluation and never released to the public
-Have a nationalized curriculum but with no government intervention on pedagogy
-Marry the belief that education is about cooperation and sharing, not competition (US)
Here is an interesting comment that should give us more perspective on a US education:
"The Hechinger Report: How did Finland do it? Sahlberg: Most educational ideas that we are employing are initially from the United States. They're American innovations done in a Finnish way. You know, in the United States, there are more than enough ideas, there's superior knowledge about educational change and you speak a language that has global reach. "
There are many problems in American Education that we face everyday. One problem that has always been on my mind had much to do with the attrition rate of teachers. Having gone to inner-city schools where fights almost always broke out, bullying took place, and a place where students can care less about getting an education, I have seen teachers break down, lose their cool, and leave their post within the next semester. I have witnessed teachers get pushed around by not only their students, but their colleagues for being "weak". The fact that they weren't tough enough to handle their students properly and deal with overwhelming issues that teachers usually deal with, definitely made it easy for others to poke fun at them. It is this issue of education that needs to be addressed and dealt with properly.
In the Article "Problems Facing American Education" by Ashley Boyer, Boyer addresses the fact that one major problem that American Education faces is the high attrition rate of first-time teachers. In the article, Boyer describes that many first-time teachers see teaching as a fun, laid back job, where in reality, it is a very demanding profession. Besides coming up with a lesson plan and teaching students material to help them pass standardized tests, first-time teachers do not take into consideration other responsibilities that almost always get dumped on them. Some of these responsibilities include being involved in Prom, the yearbook, Sports, etc. The fact that teachers have more responsibilities than expected, it is easy for one to understand why first-time teachers have such a difficult time coping with this demanding profession. According to Boyer, there is no "cure all" medicine that teachers can take to rid themselves of all of their problems. Although there is no one simple solution, there are steps that schools, teachers, and districts can take in order to solve this problem-- create a strong and successful support system and offer introductory foundations classes.
Because first-time teachers are new, they do not have the support of their colleagues to help them overcome the issues that they continue to face. Because of this, many first-time teachers leave their post after a couple of years. Teachers need the support of not only their colleagues, but of their students and parents to help them carry on with their profession.
Introductory foundations classes may also serve as a step to a solution for it prepares first-time teachers for issues that they may face in and outside of the classroom. Since the course is based on case-studies, first-time teachers are given situations and are walked through how to solve these problems properly and efficiently. I personally think that by creating a support system for teachers and by providing these intro foundations course, we can solve these problems that American education faces by solving it one step at a time.
As the article reveals, Prevention Institute focuses on ending violence through a more comprehensive approach rather than the simple act of strengthening law enforcement. Prevention Institute works at multiple levels – from community organizers to legislators – to ensure that the city is working together to end violence. They also work on different levels of intervention – violence “upfront”, “in the thick”, and the “aftermath”. Thus, there work doesn’t end at one point but continues until violence can be successfully reduced.
The CeaseFire Chicago model is one of the models that really follows the ideas outlined by the Prevention Institute. Statistics have shown that CeaseFire was able to reduce shootings and killings in CeaseFire zones by 41-73%. They have also been able to end retaliation murders in 5 out of neighborhoods. They do so by bringing in community members to become gang interrupters that actively seek out folks and try to appease any conflicts. They also collaborate with the city to ensure that violence is understood and actively being fought against at many different levels.
Thus, these two programs makes me think about how ending violence is possible with the right framework in mind. Rather than believing that we are all meant to compete with another in this world, these two programs show that issues in education, such as violence, can be addressed if we all work together on multiple levels to end these problems. I truly admire the violence interrupters in CeaseFire because they struggle everyday to try and make sure violence does not occur. Many of them are people who come from those communities and are trying to actively end the problems they’ve dealt with in their own lives so that others do not have to go through the same thing. To me, they truly come from a place of love for their communities – a love similar to what bell hooks was thinking of.
A hot topic discussed in the education arena is charter schools. I have definitely been drawn to this as it's been discussed in the previous team facilitations. It's also something that highly interests me because I attended Oakland Military Institute, a charter school in Oakland, that I personally think was unsuccessful. That's why I have mixed feelings about this push for charter schools, and the New York Times article discusses some of these mixed feelings. However, because of this push for charter schools, the topic has definitely come to my attention, and I've been wanting to learn more about it. Recently, Waiting for Superman came out. Although I have not watched the movie, I know it's very controversial and discusses Harlem charter schools that have been successful such as KIPP.
This past weekend, I got to have a very deep conversation with a friend who's in the Teach for America program. He's currently working with students with Aspergers, and he's have a wonderful time in TFA. As a graduate from UC Berkeley, I got to ask about his experience in Education 190 and talked about the social change account where I got to ask him how he was using education as a vehicle for social change. We talked a lot about charter schools, and he brought up how he wants to work at KIPP for a few years to gain experience before working for school administrations. The topic of KIPP intrigued me because I heard about it in high school and how successful it was. I really liked the model of the schol, and I can see why many charter schools use it as a model. My friend said he advocates for charter schools but only if they are like KIPP. KIPP definitely has an amazing track record and it's amazing how it's keeping low-income students of color off the streets and into higher education. I had my doubts about charter schools, but I have to agree that if charter schools can be on the same level as KIPP all over the nation, then charter schools will be the way to go. However, right now, there's no standardization in these charter schools and they are free to do whatever they want. Moreover, I have noticed that many of the charter schools in Oakland are unsuccessful because they replace public schools that failed. Some even move into the old public school property and just change the name to a charter school to get different types of funding. I don't think charter schools like that work and just increase the problems education already has. Not only does KIPP have great teachers who definitely care about the students, but KIPP also has uniforms. Although I went to a school with uniform, I hated it, but I can definitely see the benefits of uniform. It takes away something that differentiates students and decreases bullying due to one's lack of money to purchase the best clothes. When it comes down to it, KIPP emphasizes high achievement, so if all the students care about this the most, then there's potential for success as seen in these schools. Moreover, KIPP schools are from K-12, which definitely incubates students for success in life and higher education. In conclusion, I have mixed feelings about this huge push for charter schools based on my own experiences, but if all charter schools can model that of KIPP's and if there's standardization across the board for all charter schools to be successful and meet standards, then I support charter schools.
Monday, April 18, 2011
A solution that has been catching my eye for the past year or so has been the Harlem Children's Zone Project, led by Geoffrey Canada (who was featured in 'Waiting for Superman'). The Project began in the 1990's, starting with just one block in poverty-ravaged Harlem. It provided a slew of support and resources to address the area's biggest concerns, and has now grown to serve almost 100 blocks of the city. What I really admire about the approach - and perhaps this is biased by my interest in health/medicine and the holistic approach learned in public health courses I've taken - is that the project serves not only the children and students, but also the adults in the area. It surpasses serving the pure academic needs, and reaches further to address issues such as obesity and how to best manage asthma. It also provides parenting workshops, and targets parents with children as young as ages 0-3. I think it's great that the program targets so many different components of the community it serves - especially as early on as it does - in its mission to surround developing children with a positive environment that supports higher education and increased opportunity. Another aspect of the program that makes it stand out to me is that they offer all of their services free - a quality that realistically speaking, is challenging to achieve but so necessary when the demographic to serve does not have the extra resources to spend on participating in these programs, beneficial as they may be in the long run.
In the end, what HCZ is doing seems like one of the most sustainable solutions because it is involved past the age group of students it originally had planned to serve and includes the entire community, which is an amazing first step towards building support in multiple sectors of the population that will enhance the development of the social change it hopes to achieve.
Research a present solution to an issue in Education that is on your mind from this class. Attach the research and discuss what you learned using the readings from class.
An issue that has been on my mind while being within this class is the inequality that exists within the education system. The article I came across touched more upon the inequalities between the white and black population within the U.S. I thought it was a generally informing article, but I don’t really like that it so specific about the ethnicities. I felt like it ignored many of the other minorities that struggle with a lot of the same issues. It doesn’t really bother me that much, but I was just a bit surprised that it did not mention any other races except the differences between the black and white communities. But anyways, this article talked about many of the socioeconomic issues that come along with certain types of people succeeding and not succeeding. Within this reading it mentioned that “whites tend to have parents who have high levels of education, occupational status, and income than do blacks.” With referring back to history, the Jim Crow Laws attempted to lay out the notion of “separate but equal,” but of course this did not live up the a true standard of equality. African Americans still experienced a great amount of discrimination pertaining to various educational and socioeconomic disadvantages. A large portion of the white population has always experienced this sense of privilege, so they have not had to deal with being oppressed in this manner. This in turn made a big difference in the educational outcomes between the two communities. And when people are set in a mold of most likely not to succeed, sometimes they are bound to this idea and they stay there. I think that is one of our major problems here. If someone comes from a poorer socioeconomic status and they are aware that their race is “not supposed” to become successful, it is not likely that they will step out of this mold that they have been placed into without their consent.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
I really like that there are a lot of people in the United States who are asking questions about race and ethnicity. In many countries, including my own, we like to pretend we are not racist because we never talk about it. This only makes us more racist, nobody is asking me to check the “colored” mark in Uruguay, yet most poor people are colored just like here. I appreciate the straightforwardness of this country and wish to explore that a bit more. Students in schools are learning about these issues not only by special race and ethnicity workshops, but also by personal experience. I used to complain about these special classes and claim they are not necessary, and they would not be if racial disparities in school were not so obvious.
I was tutoring a girl from Berkeley High the other day and she told me that she skipped class. Astonished (because I went to a school with high fences that made it really hard to skip class) I asked her how she was able to do this without anyone seeing her. Then I remembered Berkeley High is a come and go type of school and, as I began to wonder where the supervisors were as she just walked out, she blurted out “I can leave when I want because I am a white girl, nobody stops me.” I continued to ask her “who gets stopped?” She said “Young black men and sometimes women too.” We digressed from our Math discussion to talk about race a little bit; she made all the connections we have made in this class right in front of me. She talked about how she knew the institutions were set up to keep colored people at the bottom of the financial scale and this could be part of the reason why her family has money. Since her family has enough money to pay for Classroom Matters Tutoring, she will make sure she does well in school and so on.
It was then I became really interested in what the students have to say about race. So far I found a couple of articles and books narrating some of the student’s own experiences with race and ethnicity in school. The one I would like to share first is Making and molding identity in schools: student narratives on race, gender, and academic engagement by Ann Locke Davidson. Part of the book is on google books <http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=6VcXL0cHJvMC&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=race+in+schools&ots=EikG0KJaR4&sig=jN7ImWYrDHB6gVmcTmxu0eOtLa8#v=onepage&q&f=false> I have not yet read it all so I cannot recommend as a great book but I can say it is real, and I really cannot critique people’s experience.
It just stresses how important it is to realize that, as teachers, we have an impact on shaping students’ ideals of themselves and the world, and we need to take that responsibility seriously.
Research a present solution to an issue in Education that is on
your mind from this class. Attach the research and discuss what you learned
using the readings from class.
In education, it is seen often enough that many children find themselves disillusioned by school and, therefore, become disengaged from learning. One of the most depressing scenes depicted in Waiting for Superman, a documentary about the failure of public schools and the need for charter schools, is of these children who have huge academic dream and are inspired to learn but who are not able to access a quality education. How long does it take for a student who has always wanted to be a doctor to abandon those dreams and school itself when he or she attends a school that doesn’t even offer the A-G requirements to get into college? These students do not need a teacher to inspire them to learn, they need a teacher who will allow them to learn.
Throughout this class, we have been challenged to expand our own understanding of education through a form of democratic education. Most of us have never experienced democratic education outside of this class; however, as we have discussed in earlier classes, there are some schools that are designed to let students learn in such a way. These students are able to study what they wish at their own pace, such as at the Montessori Schools. These schools are designed under the idea that students desire to learn and will be more motivated to learn when they are given the resources and support to educated themselves at their own pace.
“Kid Politics”, a podcast that is part of This American Life goes through different stories of children learning on their own. The first story is from Please Vote for Me, a documentary film that takes place in a class in China. The third graders in this class have elected positions and throughout this story these students begin using negotiating tactics without the guidance of adults to convince fellow classmates to vote for them. The interesting thing is, even though these students were not aided by parents, they formulated many of the same tactics as politicians use in their campaigns. Another story examines the Brooklyn Free School in New York. At this school, students decide their own “system of accountability” for the entire school. At this school the students choose all of their own classes, design the structure of the school, and still nearly all continue on to college. Students make all of the decisions. The only requirement of this school is that students attend the weekly meetings to make decisions. The vote is based off of majority. If something is occurring that the students dislike, they would call a school meeting, which sometimes resulted in the same lack in a solution. In one case, the students’ ability to make decisions was called into question regarding the use of screens in the school such as computers and cell phones. Adults thought that the use of screens would be distracting; however, the school agreed to continue to allow screens because the students votes greatly outnumber those of the parents. As it turned out, the students were very responsible and conscious of their use of those “distracting” technologies because they knew that they were accountable for their own decisions.
The first example demonstrates that students are capable of learning on their own. Through this method of education where students are allowed to make their own decisions and work together to address issues that come up during school, these students are more motivated to to continue learning. One student brought up that she is grateful for being able to attend a school where she has a voice. This level of empowerment leads to increased engagement and excitement to learn. Without teachers and administration setting a structure for the school and requiring students to conform to that structure, the school becomes a freer environment that is more conducive to learning. Additionally, because students are creating their own rules, they are holding themselves and each other more directly accountable for obeying those rules because they know it is something either they decided on or that the majority of the school decided on.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
What characteristics do you think make up the "mythical norm" in American society (or in the world)? Relate these to the topics we have covered in class. Where do you feel like you fit in society with respect to this "norm"?
I really want to apply this idea of the “mythical norm” with the ideologies that come along with race and ethnicity. I think that there is an abundance of stereotypes when it comes to thinking about various cultures around the world. As a society, not only do we judge and stereotype ideas of “otherness” when it comes to other parts of the world, but we also apply this to people who live in this U.S. We take ideas that have been thrown at us whether it is in the classroom or by the media, and we begin to adopt them as a universal truth because that is all we have been exposed to. I also think that when people hear and see a consistent idea of race and/or ethnicity they reflect upon society and they begin to generalize as a whole. And if someone becomes aware of this mold that they are supposedly suppose to be a part of, they can make the decision to either sit back and accept it, or they can change it and progress from that. To be honest, I am finding it really difficult to place myself into a particular “norm” of society. One thing I can think of is that since I look white, I’m sure many people assume I’m privileged. I have been told that I look like a snob and a “princess.” I have always had to work for my own money; I come from a low-income family, and my parents aren’t able to contribute a dime to my education and it’s ok. I have learned a lot about responsibility because of it. I don’t come from a college bound family; I’m the first one in my family to go to college. Both of my parents are immigrants from Mexico and they are not familiar at all with the university system, so I have had to navigate myself through school. It’s a person’s choice whether they want to branch out and learn about different cultures, and I know that I want to continue to be a part of such a diverse community.
The "mythical norm" is all around us. It is what we see
everyday. It is how we judge people before getting to
know them. It is because of the mythical norm is life
and interactions with others the way that it usually is.
In American society, there are several characteristics
that make up the mythical norm. Certain characteristics
include: gender,race, sexual orientation, age, religion,
ethnicity, etc. Although it isn't proper for one to judge
a person based on a particular aspect of their identity
whether it be because they are Jewish or because they are
a woman,the mythical norm enables us to do this. Since the
United States is a melting pot filled with various cultures,
identities, etc. we don't always know how to interact with
one another, especially if they are of a different identity.
To know more about a different identity, many of us do not
go up to a person and learn about him or herself, for that is
too time consuming and involves a lot of effort. Instead we
judge them based on what we hear about them, and not about
what we know. This relates to everything that we have
discussed in class, especially when it comes to education.
For example, since the mythical norm of asian students is that
they are very intelligent and excel especially in Math, it is
normal for one to attribute an Asian's success in one's math
class to the fact that he or she is Asian, without even
attributing one's success to the fact that the student has
studied hard. Although Asians are seen to be great students and
great at math, I feel as though I fit into the "mythical norm",
but at the same time I don't. Even though I would like to deem
myself as an intelligent student, I can't say that i fit into the
norm for I am not good at math. In fact, math is one of my
weakest subjects. The fact that i do not fully fulfill this
mythical norm, it is one step in breaking this assumption for it
enables people to realize that this norm is false and that one
should not assume that one is a certain way because of how
society generalizes and makes them out to be.
I think that someone who didn't know me would say that I fit into the "typical white girl" stereotype pretty well. I come from an upper middle class family and have lived a comfortable life in terms of always having the essentials and being able to do extracurricular activities and things like that. I live in a suburb, have an older sister and two younger step sisters, and 2 dogs. If someone who didn't know me had to categorize me and say whether or not I fit your average white girl stereotype, I think they would definitely say yes. I'm not going to lie, this still bothers me. I wish it didn't, and I think in time it won't anymore, but it does. Yes, I was born into a family with the means to provide me with everything that I needed and most things that I wanted. I did not choose this. It was what I was born into. It doesn't mean I'm some spoiled brat who doesn't appreciate what I have though, and recognize that I am extremely fortunate. I have felt attacked at times, whether directly or indirectly through passive aggressiveness and what have you, by people who fit into different stereotypes than me. And honestly, I think that everyone in the world can fit into a stereotype, because there are SO MANY it's ridiculous. And that's exactly what stereotypes are- ridiculous. I think we should all make it a point to make a conscious effort to abolish the stereotypes we encounter each day in our lives. And that's what it must be- a CONSCIOUS effort- because I think that stereotypes are so engraved into our minds without us even realizing it (for a lot us, that is).
Something else that bothers me is being put into the stereotype of the typical "sorority girl." I know a lot of you will probably read this and laugh. But I hope that one day you will be able to get over this stereotype. People laugh at sororities because of many different reason: "you're paying for friends," "you're all a bunch of idiots who just want to do each other's makeup and have pillow fights," the things I've heard on this list go onnnn and on. But while you judge me for being in a sorority, just remember that you don't know what it's like to be in a sorority. I don't pay for friends- I pay dues for the upkeep of the house and the chapter. I have literally met my best friends in my sorority, people who have changed me for the better and have affected my life permanently. While you may judge me for being in a sorority and spending money on things you may think are stupid (but you really just don't understand), just remember that I find it silly that someone would spend thousands of dollars "pimping out their car"- but then I check myself and realize "hey, it's their money, and it's how they want to spend it. It doesn't affect me at all- why am I even thinking about this person?" You really can't judge anyone until you've taken a walk in their shoes and truly know them, and while people look at me and see all of the privileges that I have (and that I am aware of!), just take a step back before being bitter towards me and give me the chance that I am giving you. I try my best to give everyone a fair chance in life without judgement, and I only ask for the same from everyone else.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
I feel that mythical norms are what people accept as reality without questioning them. For example, I have been brought up in my family to believe in the model minority myth, which was also reinforced in school. Listening to conversations between my mom and other Asian women, I came to believe that Asians are better academically and have good work ethic because for some reason it’s within our blood. At school, both teachers and students made stereotypical comments that generalized Asians as smart, talented, etc. etc. Since I was a beneficiary of it at first, I welcomed the categorization and accepted these characteristics as the norm. That is, until I became a victim of it. As I began to discover my shortage in math and science I began to question my abilities in a negative way. I began to internalize my inability to meet the “norms” and also became sensitive to negative comments made by my other classmates. Constantly being compared to other Asians, I felt like I was not normal—all Asians are good at math, why wasn’t I?
Everyday we forget that normal can mean a million different things. Nobody can define what normal means. Normal can mean eating dessert before dinner, or wearing your shirt inside out, or eating ice cream with a fork. Normal is never definitive and I a lot of times I personally forget that. Many times I feel like I need to be conforming to society because if I don't, then I feel like the odd man out. I realize that I do this though and I try to make an active change in the way I see myself in society. I am not sure where I fit into society because even though I fit into the "norms" in some respects, I also challenge them. I challenge my parent's traditional beliefs all the time by asking them to volunteer abroad, or go to school away from home, or even pursue high school 17 hours away from them. I feel like I am in two different societies. One is the American society and the other is the Indian American society. I am trying to find a way to fit into both of them and sometime it requires that I settle for the norm in one society to challenge the other.
In the United States, there are infinite norms that keep people constantly doubting their human emotions and actions and altering their behavior in a way that will be acceptable to everyone else. One broad example is the way we must speak to each other. I have never encountered so many euphemisms and fake speech as when I moved to this country. People are constantly checking what they say as to not to offend or hurt anyone. Of course this is not necessarily always bad, it is nice to take other’s feelings into account, but it would be nice to really free our speech a little more. Saying “that is interesting” when we mean “I dislike that” is a little too far, and this is something I have done to fit the norm.
I feel like I have been told I am weird more times than I can count, and I make it a mission to defy the norm. It can sometimes be hurtful, especially when I was in high school, for people to “ok…?” me and tell me I was not normal. I think my mission statement was titled defining my normality or something like that. In high school I became really interested in redefining norms for myself and allowing them to morph as needed. Now I have taken a step further and have not thought about it seriously in a couple of years. I am trying to get rid of definitions about myself altogether, because there is no such thing as “myself.” I have started to realize how different I can be in any given moment, and I embrace that wavering phenomenon.
Even if we were able to define normal one second, it would have to be re-defined completely the next. I am glad I can now stop thinking about what is normal for a little while because it is starting to feel absurd <3.
In my own life, I feel like I can sometimes fit the norm but many times, I do not as well. For instance, my queer low-income Asian female identity already sets me outside the norm. And this manifests through daily experiences in which I recognize that I am not the norm. It can range from watching television shows where Asian Americans are completely absent or to watching commercials about dating services only catered to heterosexual couples. At the same time, I contain many attributes that allow me to fit the “norm” in other ways. For example, I am an abled bodied person, a citizen, and I can articulate my thoughts clearly in English without a problem. As an Asian American, people can also see me as a person who fits the American Dream, despite my struggles as well. Thus, if I tried really hard to “blend in”, I think I can fit aspects of the “mythical norm”. Therefore, I believe that every single person can fit certain characteristics of the “mythical norm” and at the same time, not fit in as well.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
On the other end of the spectrum, my favorite math class I ever took was my junior year of high school with Mr. Darrow- Probability and Statistics. He did real life examples and projects that allowed us to apply what we were learning to our lives so that the material was solidified in our minds. I usually despise math because it doesn’t come very naturally to me, but Mr. Darrow actually took an interest in each of his students and wanted us to understand the material and succeed in his class and in everything we were doing in our lives.
So though I haven’t focused much on teaching methods, it’s because I think that the single most important thing is the quality of the person who is your teacher. If the teacher cares about her students and isn’t just teaching as a job and for a paycheck, then I think that the students will want to try harder in the classes. As for methods, I completely agree with Dewey’s philosophy. Education should be a balance of taking the student’s experiences into account as well as taking the quality of the curriculum into account.
teaching methods. How have the teaching strategies you have encountered been
effective or ineffective? How could they have been improved?
I realized, sitting in an American Lit class I was taking this time last year after getting our first essay back, how programmed I had been to take in what the professor tells you in lecture and say it right back to demonstrate your understanding of a particular concept.
Most of the teaching strategies I've encountered in the biology/chemistry/physics and sociology/American studies/ethnic studies classes I've taken have kind of centered on this idea, that there's a concept to understand and the goal is to learn and understand that concept. Not to say that I don't like this type of teaching strategy - I love when something finally clicks and you DO understand how (for instance) electromagnetic fields affect a sheet of metal. But in the American Lit course that I was taking, I realized that that idea was completely wrong and invalid in that class. The comments scribbled in red asked me for my own opinions and ideas/thoughts on the readings, not only what the professor lectured on. I felt really unsure putting forth my own ideas, since I wasn't sure if they would be "right", and it wasn't something I was used to. In many of the science courses I'm used to taking, there can be plenty of room for creativity - but only if you know very well what you're talking about and have solid and sufficient background knowledge. I didn't feel that I had this strong grasp on how to interpret American literature, which is why I felt so uncomfortable stating my own opinions and ideas. I think I realize now that as a whole, that class had relied on a different type of teaching strategy/pedagogy that was fundamentally different from the types I had become accustomed to, and the two clashed a little. Both are effective in their own ways, and I'm still trying to figure out to incorporate/improve both as I learn.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
I feel like my education has revolved around the classroom. Teachers giving the same standard test, over and over. I think this comic embodies how I feel about my education. I know teachers want students to be innovative and independent, but the way they educate is not conducive to accomplishing this. Students are confined to books and classrooms which does not provide them with the skills they need in the real world. I took a botany class in high school where I was able to grow my garden and conduct experiments with my own vegetables. I was able to get hands on experience which provided me with valuable skills that I can now use for the rest of my life. I think that teachers need to start shifting towards hands on learning and working in different environments because this actually allows students to be creative and innovative. It gives students a break from the repetitive routine in classrooms and allows them to gain experience and new perspectives on their education.
However, the few times that I really enjoyed learning was with teachers that had interesting teaching strategies. For instance, one of my teachers taught in a very Socratic way. He always asked us to analyze U.S. history and the way it has been written. He also made us question how history relates to us nowadays. These lessons definitely influenced me in so many ways. Its probably the reason why I started loving history and why I would love to teach it later in life.
Furthermore, currently I teach history and poetry to high school students at Berkeley Technology Academy. Throughout all of our lessons, we break it down into three parts: We broke it down into 3 parts: a historical event, a current issue, and an activity. For example, during our lesson on imperialism we decided to focus our topic on the theme of home. We decided to teach about one, how Native Americans are constantly being pushed out throughout history, second, gentrification nowadays in their own community, and lastly, a poem about home. By doing this, we were able to teach history lessons that made sense to the students. Furthermore, the activity was an outlet for them to connect to the material, to express how they feel about the topic, and a method of assessing the students’ maturity on the topic. Through this experience, I realized that there was a possibility of teaching students in more effective and practical ways.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Because of varied standards, you can be the king
Of one institution, and a naive child in another situation
And our teachers are so underpaid
For the work they contribute
To the Future of WORLD
Funny thing is how America downgrades
Its education and pay tribute
To prisons and war swirled
In party politics
We want a nationalized standard with a curriculum
that prepares us for life
Just like Finland and Singapore
But Education in America is a funny thing
When the solutions are there, and nothing happens.
excited to start my life with a good education
i have 2 classes left to complete my degree
but because of budget cuts, summer sessions is where i'll be.
The heads of the university are living care free
while the students are struggling to complete their degrees!
My school is a billboard without content
Flashing laptop guarantees
Collaboration unheard of
College style classrooms teaching me how to move about the rest
As if competition didn’t already fuck up our society
And hey! We got palm trees
Palm trees planted into our “new innovative school”
Portraying a learning paradise
Trying to catch the sunrays of our community
With their smooth green leaves reaching for a hopeful sky
But palm trees, shit
They are fuckin expensive
As we plant and plant images of richness
We forget that money needs to go to more important things
We rip out the roots of our schooling
Leaving it without the critical groundwork to sustain itself
We cramp classrooms
Making students hustle for help
And we slash all forms of creativity
Of an outlet
Saying art classes and sports are not valuable
But hey! We still got palm trees, right?
Coconut pleasures so sexy
But a reality untouched by many
Achievement gap growing as fast as my parents’ hustle for money
Teachers laid off as much as my brother drops out
Laptops stolen by young teens believing that
this is the American Dream
but hey, we still got palm trees…
we got no problems..
we got palm trees
Monday, April 4, 2011
From the issues brought up in the readings draw a comic (with at least 5
slides) or write a poem (on the class's blog) that addresses a problem you
could relate to your educational experience caused by lack of funding and
offer a solution (you can use one from the readings or be creative).
"Freedom Writers", a film based on a true story from an LA classroom
Best summarizes, for me, the impact of funding on educational experience
Before her, the students used old books: marked up, decrepit, low quality, second-rate
Exactly what the school administration had seen in those students: unworthy
Her attempts at change were hindered by a lack of funds
Driven by the apathy at the top
Her passion drove her to take on side jobs to fund new books, enhancement trips to museums, et cetera
Showing exactly what funding, with the correct intents and usage, could achieve
***** I apologize for my sub-par and somewhat corny poetry, everyone!
Solution: From what I understand, the current money in education is given to high-performing schools in a "race to the top". However, I believe a clause is needed in this policy that provides underserved schools with the resources necessary to pursue goals for their students that may help them improve school performance as a whole.
F airness is necessary for equality
U nequal quality of education
N o soccer team
D rop out rates were high
I n one school year had 5 Spanish teachers
N o prom for my sister
G angs were uncontrollable
Solution: fair funding, funding based on need rather than have a revenue cap, eliminate proposition 13