Sunday, October 27, 2013

In The Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning

In The Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning

For my blog this week I chose to reflect on three quotes from Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer's, In The Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning that impacted me the most. This being a difficult reading as well as a very political one, I had much trouble grasping the full concept however, was still able to manage three quotes that I believe reflect and explain the entire article.



Quote Number One:

"Educators and legislators alike maintain that service learning can improve the community and invigorate the classroom, providing rich educational experiences for students at all levels of schooling. Service learning makes students active participants in service projects that aim to respond to the needs of the community while furthering the academic goals of students. Students in a service learning project might analyze and monitor the composition of nearby swamplands or produce an oral history of their community (Pg. 2)."
This quote was a quote that was found early in the reading and impacted me the most out of all of the material. Within this quote it is explained that service learning is a positive aspect within society and is very beneficial for students. I like how the authors explain the academic outcomes that service learning provides for students as well as ways that they can apply it in their real lives as well as in their community. This quote stuck out to me the most because in such a short paragraph it sums up exactly what service learning is and how well it benefits those who participate in it.
Quote Number Two: 
"Educators who emphasize change would clearly also value the educational benefits of this approach. To tap into the full power of service activities, however, these practitioners would want to combine critical inquiry with action. This process can transform students' understandings of both disciplinary knowledge and the particular social issues with which they are engaged (Pg. 6)."
I chose this quote for the sole reason that I greatly agree with it. When talking about educators who support change within their curriculum, the technique used would be disciplinary knowledge as well as engaging students in topics and issues that they are interested in. By doing this students greatly benefit from this within their education because they understand the importance of learning the material as well as have a sense of interest in the issue.
Quote Number Three:
"Similarly, many contemporary scholars focus on change over charity and argue that the lack of connection between individual rights and communal obligations within our culture has left us with a bankrupt sense of citizenship (Pg. 9).
When reading this particular quote I was a little confused at first and had to read it multiple times. Upon understanding it I was able to conclude there is a debate that service learning should be done with the mindset to change or for the conditional good of others, (charity). Within this quote it states that this confusion takes away our sense of citizenship depending on which way you feel, (Change vs. charity). In my opinion I do not see wrong in either way of service learning. In both change and charity students are benefiting in their education. It is hard to say which one is right because I see the good in both of them. This quote really made me think into the deeper meaning which made me remember Christensen's views about hidden meanings and hidden learning.
Points to discuss in class....
When doing service learning which point should we emphasize, charity or change? Are we wrong if we believe one more than the other?



Sunday, October 20, 2013

Unlearning the MythsThat Bind Us

Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us

By Linda Christensen

When reading this article I had a tough time deciphering on how I felt about it. Growing up as a child I always wanted to be a Disney Princess or look like Barbie. To this day my dad still refers to me as "his Princess" and I have a tattoo for my dad that has the word "Princess" in it. So for someone who grew up wanting to be a Princess how can I sit here and argue that teaching children to grow up to be their favorite characters is wrong?

However after reading Dorothy's blog, I had a slightly different viewpoint on the whole "all girls want to be Princesses" stereotype. In Dorothy's blog she chose to reflect on Jocelyn's blog which really helped me in writing my blog because I was able to see two different viewpoints from my own that in a way opened my mind. Between the two blogs it was discussed about "the idea of secret education." Not knowing what this was I furthered my research and found out that by creating movies that have a beautiful Princess that falls in love with a handsome prince we are putting too much pressure on children to follow this path.

I liked what Jocelyn said in her blog when she stated, "The pressures have been in place all my life to be beautiful, thin and submissive. I am often told by relatives that I should check my brain at the door if I ever want to get a man. But why would I want someone who doesn't love me for who I am, brain and all?" This statement not only broke my heart but made me realize that by creating children's movies that portray thin an gorgeous woman that marry a man that will take care of them allows children to think that this is how things should be done in the real world. In a way it degrades women, telling them that they must look and act a certain way in order to find a guy.

While reading Dorothy's blog I was amazed about how open she was when she discussed seeing herself as a "geek." While reading her story about people telling her she had to act and look a certain way in order to find a guy absolutely blew my mind. How can people be so cruel?! True love isn't found by the way you look. TRUE love is find when you TRULY love someone regardless of their flaws.

By analyzing this reading I began to connect it to Alfie Kohn's, Five Reasons To Stop Saying Good Job! In Kohn's article he talks about the effect that "good job" has on children and even though I do not complegtely agree with him I believe his way of thinking can be applied here. By telling young girls that they SHOULD grow up to be Princesses we are depriving them of developing their own choices of who they want to be when they grow up. Maybe they don't want to be a pretty princess, maybe they want to be a successful doctor or a lawyer. Also, when reading this I began to think about LGBT. These movies portray a princess falling in love with a prince but what if the princess fell in love with another princess or a prince with another prince? This is a subject that greatly frustrates me because our world is so diverse and filled with so many different kinds of people it is hard to accommodate everyone and make things that apply to everyone.

Questions to ask in class....

What are appropriate movies and messages to show to children? Should we be making movies where the princess falls in love with another princess? Prince falls in love with another prince? What do we do?! AHHH!

Also, am I wrong in my view that I still like Princesses and still want to be one? Does this make me a bad person and a follower of society's stereotypes?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Five Reasons to Stop Saying "Good Job!"

Five Reasons to Stop Saying "Good Job!"

By: Alfie Kohn

While reading Alfie Kohn's, Five Reasons to Stop Saying "Good Job!" I greatly disagreed with the author's views and opinions about using the phrase "good job." At such a young age, children need the constant support and praise of their actions because they are not mature enough to understand that their actions are ones they are supposed to be doing. Children lack self esteem and confidence and need the appraisal to know that they are doing a "good job" and to continue doing it. If a child doesn't think their actions are good then why would they continue to do them unless you give them that praise? 

While working on my Service Learning Project and gaining classroom experience, I have began to think about "what kind of teacher do I want to be?" I have tested out different phrases and have already had many "Delpitt" moments, however, the phrase "good job" has had a positive effect within the classroom so far. I work with kindergarteners who believe that what they have to say is the most important thing in the world at that time so naturally I hear countless stories about, "my brother lost his tooth," and "I just got a new puppy," as well as the occasional, "can you tie my shoe?!"

However, while hearing these stories and trying my hardest to keep these kids on topic I have noticed that by acknowledging their work and telling them "good job," they develop the need to in a way "please" me by continuing their work. I find that once I tell one student "good job" then the others hurry to do what they are supposed to in order to receive a "good job" as well. In my eyes there is nothing wrong with this and students should strive to receive a "good job" and I often notice their faces light up when you praise them. By praising them you are giving them a motive to keep up the good work!

One statement that Kohn stated that bothered me the most was his third reason stating, "Every time we say, "Good job!", though, we’re telling a child how to feel." I disagree with this statement because children are too young to develop the maturity level to continue doing what they are supposed to for their own personal benefit. They need a motive and a reason to be doing something in order to stay engaged. In a way they need a purpose for doing what they are doing. At five or six years old a child already think that their drawing is the best drawing ever so by telling them "good job" we are not telling them how to feel, but encouraging them to keep drawing and not give up on themselves!

Questions to ask in class....

If Kohn doesn't want us to say "good job" then what should we say? If anything at all?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Safe Spaces: Making Schools and Communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth

For my Talking Points this week I chose three quotes from Annemarie Vaccaro, Geri August, and Megan S. Kennedy's, Safe Spaces: Making Schools and Communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth. Seeing this was a fairly long article, it was difficult finding only three quotes to reflect upon within my blog. However, I chose the three quotes that I felt the most strongly about and those that raised a concern to me while reading them.

Quote Number One:

"The walls are permeable, students (and teachers) bring their personal experiences into the classroom and carry their classroom experiences with them when they leave. Parents, coaches and religious leaders are present in our classrooms in the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs that students have learned from them. In return, classroom experiences spill over into family, extra curricular, and religious life. In this way, classroom walls though they mark off a space distinctive in purpose and language patterns, are something of a fiction." (Chapter 5, Inside the Classroom Walls, Pg. 83).

This quote can be found within the second page of this reading and impacted me the most while reading this article. I would like to start by making the comment that this quote is a very impacting as well as a wonderful way to start a chapter. When reading this quote I paused for a moment and read it again for the simple fact that I realized something and greatly agreed with it. Knowledge and learning can not be contained within the small areas of a classroom. Learning is a continuous process and can occur no matter where we are. As teachers we must remember that we strongly impact the young minds of those we teach. Within our small areas of the classroom our lessons and teaching can be carried out and applied within the big world.  We as teachers may be the reasons children come to school instead of dropping out, say no to drugs instead of being on the streets, and make positive choices instead of negative decisions. We do not realize the impact that not only our teaching style effects students but our attitudes as well. Students learn to apply what they learn in the classroom and use it within their everyday lives.

Quote Number Two:

"Students understand that classrooms are not neutral spaces---they are charged with emotion" (Chapter 5, Inside the Classroom Walls, Pg. 83).

This quote took me several times of re-reading to fully understand. I wasn't sure if the author was referring to the classroom not being a neutral space in the sense that students are scared to speak their own opinion in fear for whatever reason, or not neutral space in the meaning that emotions and opinions shape one's mind. After reading this quote over and over I formulated the opinion that this indeed was fear of being judged do to one's opinions and ideas. Unfortunately this is a problem that many students face which cause them to not participate in school. The classroom is a room that is filled with multiple people that all have different opinions ad view points. Many times students will not participate in class discussions for the fear of someone not accepting their opinion. This causes students to lose out on their chance to use their voice as well as speak their mind because they do not feel comfortable within the walls of the classroom.

Quote Number Three:

"One reason educators take the path of least resistance is their fear of negative repercussions from parents  or administrators." (Chapter 5, Inside the Classroom Walls, Pg. 91).

This quote is one that as a "teacher in training" I am fearful of also. We often shelter children from real world and disturbing content within lesson plans do to the fact that it will cause concerns and uproars among parents and administrators. Therefore we create a more "sheltered" curriculum which deprived students from the knowledge they need to understand the world around us. By doing so I believe we are in a sense "cheating" students out of the knowledge that is rightfully theirs to gain by censoring the content.