Monday, April 22, 2013

Shor: "Education is Politics"

Shor argues that communication and participation are the most important things for getting an empowering education. Shor also says that the teacher should be the person that motivates the students to communicate and participate. Shor also argues that we have to not only educationally empower students, but socially as well. Almost all education methods try to influence or shape the curriculum in some way. Because of this, students are not taught to think critically or to solve problems in a pratical way. Shor discusses how it is the teacher's job to not only educate the students from his or her own knowledge, but also to motivate the student to seek out education on their own. Teachers who don't do this, in my opinion, are not really doing their job at all.
Shor also talks about, to some extent, not being  so narrow minded. When teachers are narrow minded, the scope of what they can or will teach becomes diminished. When I thought of this, the reading from Rodriguez came to mind. I thought that a narrow minded teacher could potentially jepordize the cultures and identities of some students. Shor says that teachers need to know how to deal with their students' varying strengths and weaknesses, and know how to properly respond to them. I thought of the "Safe Spaces" article when I came across this point. Shor says that if teachers create a comfortable environment, then students will feel good enough about themselves to speak in class, which obviously leads to communication and participation skills. Through this, students learn that speaking up in life is the only way to get their point across. If students do this enough in a comfortable environment at school, they will eventually get over their fears of doing it in other situations.



Kahne and Westheimer: "In Service of What?"

Before taking FNED, I had never heard of "service learning" before. Kahne and Westheimer put forth this idea that service learning is so much more than just traditional leanring. In "traditional" learning, students sit at a desk, and the teacher stands in front of them. In my first year seminar class, we read an article that actually refers to this method of learning as the "banking method". This means that the teacher basically treats the students as a "bank" where he or she just deposits information and knowledge into the students. This method is the most widely used, but it definitely has its downsides. Traditional, or "banking" education, for the most part, elimates the chance for debate or discussion in the classroom. Because of this, skills like critcal thinking and problem- solving aren't taught to students in pratical ways; they never learn to solve problems for themselves.

In the article I read in FYS, the opposite of the "bank" method is called "liberating education". This "liberating education" is what Kahne and Westheimer refer to as "service learning". In this kind of education, there is more of a relationship that is established between teacher and student. The student is no longer a "container" in which the teacher puts all of his or her information. Instead, the teacher creates more of a community feel in the classroom, which helps to promote critical thinking and problem solving. This website defines service learning as "a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and stregthen communities." In this way, teachers are in service of making students be able to know what it means to be part of a community and to help others.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Literacy with an Attitude: Empowering through Education

After reading, I came to the conclusion that Finn's main point was this: that working- class children need to be given the same educational opportunity as middle and upper- class children. I think that this is an excellent point for Finn to make. Society is always talking about how our children need to succeed because our children are our future. But if not all children are being given the same opportunities in school, then how can we as a society expect our children to be successful? The fact is that we can't. If children are not being given the proper tools to succeed, especially lower class children, then the cycle of "being lower- class" will continue to perpetuate itself.

This is where empowering education comes in. The children of the middle and upper- classes have no problem being able to attain an empowering education; their parents more than likely have the money to give it to their children. Children of the lower working- class, however, do not have to same financial abilitiy in most cases to attain this empowering education. Thus, the cycle of not being able to get that education just continues to go in circles.

I think that the educational system could be reformed so that all students have equal opportunity. I also think that taking the time for these reforms now can slow, or even stop the perpetual cycle of being under- priveleged when it comes to education. If we take the time to do this now, future generations will be much better off, having better and equal opportunities when it comes to education.

In conclusion, this is an interesting video that I came across as I was looking for one to put into my post. It talks about ways that relevant education can be empowering, and how identifying the needs of a particular group of students can help those students to learn more efficiently, thus giving them more opportunity.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Brown v. Board of Education and Wise

While the website on Brown v. Board of Education said that the case was a landmark one in overturning segregation in America, I have to agree with Wise when he says that Americans today still remain oblivious. Wise basically says that Americans only pretend that racial inequality does not exist anymore, when in fact it does.

I think that the problem with racial inequality in America, which may only get worse, is the fact that so many people ignore the subject, or are at least not knowledgeable about it. The fact the nobody ever talks about racial inequality is one of the biggest reasons why it still exists.

Brown v. Board of Education may not be as liberating as some people may think. The decision of the case only declared de jure segregation unconstitutional, that is, only segregation that was enforced by law became illegal. The decision did not, however, make de facto or "by custom", segregation illegal. So even thoguh segregation wasn't happening by law anymore, that didn't mean, and still does not mean, that segregation does not happen by "tradition" or "custom", for a lack of better words. Moreoever,the decision of the case said that the new decision was to be enforced "with all deliberate speed". This is a very vague time span. The court, by saying this, basically was saying to predominately white lawmakers: "it's okay, you can get around to de-segregating whenever you feel like it". The question that's raised by this is: have lawmakers even today reached "all deliberate speed"?

Tim Wise made a good point in his interview. The majority of Americans still remain oblivious to racial inequality, and that is the biggest cause of the problem.