Friday, April 29, 2011

Extra Post on the Media

So ever since enrolling in this class I feel as though my eyes have been opened. I see the world way differently now than I ever did before, and notice things I would not have noticed before. One this I noticed was the common pedestrian crossing sign found everywhere. Here we see two figures crossing. I say figures because at first glance we automatically know there are two women here. How? Because both are wearing skirts and have purses. There are many versions of this sign, the one below is of a man and woman, both distinguishable by their attire, the man in pants and the woman in a dress, and either a purse or briefcase/book looking item. Sometimes for children crossing the girl’s are in skirts with pig tails, etc. These signs, though common and pretty much blend in with society enforce the secret education Christensen talks about. Gender roles are established through clothing, and these signs say that men don’t wear skirts and women don’t wear pants, same goes for restroom door signs where the woman has a skirt. It is perfectly ok for women to wear pants and men to wear skirts.

Another thing I noticed is a new billboard for Coca Cola in my hometown. The ad below shows a cool bottle of Coke on it’s side sitting in ice. This image always struck me whenever I saw it, like I had seen it before. And then one day while driving by it I realized it resembles a generic picture of some half naked woman laying seductively in a magazine, in this case Megan Fox. The curves of the bottle parallel the curves of the woman especially the legs, so in a way, Coke is marketing their beverage through sex, or at least through some sort of visual device which can subconsciously lead the mind to sexual images. This again ties into Christensen due to how the media is all about making the sale to everyone and establishing the status quo.

I’ll leave you with this to ponder about and this media/ Christensen rant with a song by No Doubt called “Just a Girl.” The song is about gender inequality and is really powerful. Enjoy! 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

S.W.A.M.P and Twilight Social Justice Event

            For my social justice event, I attended a seminar about how the Twilight movies enforce all the things we “value” in society. The piece was hosted by Leslie Grinner, who developed the acronym S.C.W.A.M.P to help summarize all those said things valued. She connected all these things to the context of Twilight.
            Some examples given are as follows.
Straightness: There are no homosexual relationships or encounters in the film series, even though the film is about vampires, which in folklore are lusty, usually bi-sexual creatures.
Christian: Edward agrees to take Bella’s soul only if they are married. He also refuses to have sex with him until they are married. Its apparent Edward cares more about keeping her pure than “alive.”
White: In the movies. All the characters are white; Bella the main character is the whitest in the movies. Boys across all races desire her, showing that whiteness is valued. She also chooses the white Edward over the Native American Jacob.
Able bodied: Only one character is in a wheelchair this whole movie. Bella also chooses the stronger Edward, who does not fail in a fight, unlike Jacob.
Male: This is ultimately a story of two boys who are fighting over Bella’s heart. The movie takes so much away from her that she becomes a prop rather than a character. She is controlled by the wishes of all the men around her and sacrifices’ everything to be with Edward.
Property Owner: Again, Bella chooses the wealthy Edward, over the physical laborer Jacob who lives on a reservation quite different from the Cullen mansion.

            A few authors’ came to mind after hearing all this. One was Johnson, who says that when people of other races succeed we see them as “the African American who did what a white man could.” This is shown in the movie with Bella’s disbelief in Jacob’s ability to fight off the vampire army, even though werewolves are made to kill off vampires. She has no doubt in the white Edward and his family that she will be protected by him. 

            Another author is McIntosh, who writes about how whites are privileged. As stated before, there are barely any main characters besides Jacob, and the minor character of Laurent, who are not white. Even the Volturi, who are supposed to be foreign vampires centered in Italy, are white. All of the boys who meet Bella in forks want her, those boys being of white, black, Asian, and Native American decent, giving off the example that her whiteness is valued. She also ultimately chooses the white Edward. Below is a picture of all the couples of Twilight, all of which are white, straight, and privileged.

            And finally, Christensen, who has the biggest influence in this discussion. Twilight has become a mass media icon, reaching across the country. Girls everywhere have posters and t-shirts with Edward and Jacob looking handsome and sexy on them. This is the new image of what a man should be, ripped, romantic, and dangerous. The modern day boy and man’s image has been changed and because of so, men are being forced to change because of the desire of these “Twi-hards.” Christensen would say that the secret education of these movies is that strong, dangerous men are sexy and overly desirable and that women should give up everything to be with them. Also there is no such thing as a valued homosexual relationship, and one must either be in or pursuing such a relationship in their lives are else they are “not normal.” Below we see the "sexy" Edward and Jacob.

            Overall I found the seminar to be very insightful and empowering. I myself have read all the books and enjoy the story; however I have always been against seeing the movies because ether leaves stuff in the books out. I really found this all eye opening and have noticed I look for S.C.W.A.M.P in other mass media icons.  

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Extended Comments off Mary's off Nick's

       Nick’s, and then Mary’s extension off Nick’s blog got me really thinking in the bigger sense. They both address how the teacher’s road is not an easy one. As teacher’s we must ensure the education of every kid who steps into our classroom and must do so in a variety of ways. We also must fight against the dysfunctional model of the American school and find a way that works. Both speak of teachers uniting together and forming unions to help do such a task. Mary brings up an excellent point of how easy it is for teachers to unite for each other. 
     But what I want to know is why is schools the way they are. Sure we all have moments throughout the various readings we’ve encountered this semester and say to ourselves, “Wow this totally makes sense!” If Shor, and all the other writers we’ve read, make such valid, enlightening points, why is there still little to no change?
     I believe it’s the government and all those responsible for the wellfare of this country. Society as a whole seems so narrow minded, so afraid of change. We live so much for the moment and not enough for the future, we see this in education as well as economics. If the government looked more at the future, and the output of the individual student they’d realize that the system in place is not working. However, one could say that they indeed are thinking about the future because even though we are in the Land of the Free we are taught through the secret education of schools that our opinions only go so far. Sure there are classes like the ones mentioned in the article, where students define the lesson and aren’t just lectured at, but how much is this happening? And when this is happening, how often are students realizing they really can change the world.
       The government keeps the radical down, and in most cases the radical isn’t so radical. If a student or a person doesn’t follow that same narrow-mindedness they are outcasted or portrayed as “crazy.” What we need is a reformation of government, that will, in theory, then trickle and ripple down into a reformation of everything else.
               How do we start this? Its sort of world crushing to even attempt to try to deconstruct the very society we live in all at once. I see this as a circle. We have to start small, we have to start with the individual, that’s us. We are the beginning flickers of change. We have to take our knowledge, our new found enlightenment and run with it. We have to stay strong and break away from the tyranny of normality, away from the “easy route” set in stone, and do what we’ve learn. Implement the lessons into our teaching styles. Banding together as Mary and Nick call for will help us grow in numbers. We then become the “enlighteners,” who truly make a difference in our students lives. The numbered of enlightened students grows, and spans, reaching across different fields and interests. With every year, every generation, our numbers will multiply. Of course, its impossible to touch and change everyone’s lives, but as long as one person sees it, a difference has been made. And eventually, someone who has been enlightened will gain a position of power, maybe even president, and thus a flood gate of reformation will be opened. And at that point change will be easier, because so many more people’s mindsets will be altered, and hopefully, people will be less ignorant. Finally, we come back full circle, back to the individual who is finally heard, finally represented, and whoses needs are finally met. It is here, that our society is reformed.
               Now this will take years, many, many years, decades, maybe even a century, but it is possible. Our society is continuous changing, we just need to be aware of ourselves and see what we are bringing our world. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Down Syndrome Quotes

Quote 1: “ ‘Dialogue cannot occur… between those who deny others the right to speak their word and those whose right to speak has been denied them.’” page 72

What Kliewer is saying here is that there can be no progress without listening. The image depicted in this sentence is one of someone screaming with their fingers in their ears at someone with their mouth sewed shut. This is what is happening when it comes to the segregation of children with down syndrome. People automatically see these children as defected and unable to learn so they throw them into different classrooms that do not satisfy their needs and neglect them. They are never given a chance or voice to fight for their equal educational rights.

Quote 2: “ ‘Its your stereotype, your mindset…. But if that’s how you chose to see him, I don’t think that anything I could do, we could do, I don’t think there’s anything Lee could do to change your mind.’” page 84

What Colleen is saying here is there a schema placed on anyone who fits into a stereotype, in this case down syndrome, where the person automatically assumes how this person is before they really know them. And once that happens there no changing your mind. Ironically, its like you’re the supposed handicap. Many people have this and this is what really fuels the separation of kids with down syndrome to everyone else. 

Quote 3: “ ‘ We are the same! Eat together, drink together, laugh contagious together…We been learning about life together.’” page 88

When it comes down to it, people need to realize that we are all the same species. We take ourselves and instantly divide into categories of sub categories and it just makes up a false hierarchy of superiority. Very few gain from this and many get hurt. If people with down syndrome were given the same opportunities in education as well as beyond we would see that. 

One thing I would like to debate in class is ways of undoing all the physiological damage we all have when it comes to matters of stereotypes on the topics of down syndrome. Are there ways of shutting off the ignorance? 

Day of Silence

So as some of you hopefully know Friday was the Day of Silence, a day when students/ participants remain silent throughout the day to bring awareness to LBGT harassment in school. Their silence reflects the silence of those who are/ have been harassed without aid or prevention. So sadly, I have my service learning Fridays so I couldn't do it but I thought it’d be a great idea to talk to my kids about it and do what we learned, make the “gay stuff” visible. My class is a first grade ESL class, and I asked my teacher while they had breakfast if I could quickly just talk about the importance of the day and if she did a family unit of some kind to see if possibly LBGT stuff was possibly ever brought up. She explained that the school mandates they stay on track with the scheduled lesson plans and that if the principal came in and she wasn’t teaching she could get in trouble. She then followed up say with a sort of confused look on her face, “Besides this is first grade, they’re all so young.”
I find multiple things wrong with this. First off, its great to stick to the lesson plan, however, from my experience they stick more to the time slots than the actual plans. There seems to be little to no time for certain things and if the kids are stuck on something, say in math, if the bell rings they automatically have to switch to the next subject. There is organization, just lots seems to get lost. 
Secondarily, I know most these children are five through seven, but if they aren’t exposed to LBGT stuff early, they aren’t going to be able to see it as natural as easy. This exactly reflect everything we talked about in class where the teachers think gay means sex. Its so saddening to me that I didn’t get a chance to say anything, and personally I was disappointed in myself for not asking what my teacher meant when she said they were too young for these matters. Just really upsetting that this is how it is. Any thoughts? 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tracking and Equity in my SL Project (Reflection)

As I read through Tracking: Why Schools Need to Take Another Route Jeannie Oakes I was highly engaged. Just my last visit to my classroom I had the thought that my classroom might function better if all the lower level kids were separated from the upper level kids because then the distraction level would be a minimum. I felt bad for the upper level kids because I feel like they were being hindered. However now I understand this folly. Doing this prevents children from really advancing because the teacher styles and “day to day learning experience” differs. However, I feel that sometimes it ok if the learning style is different because some kids just learn. There are actually many different ways, seven to nine, see them in detail here. Teachers need to teach equity and establish learning plans that fit all kids needs right. That must be difficult, so I can see why some schools would want to separate kids from different levels of education in order to make it easier on the teacher.
Continuing on through the article, I noticed there are a lot of good things my teacher does with her kids that Oakes says teachers should do. She allows group work, however copying is an issue from time to time. There is a lot of time where the students feel rushed. Its kind of like they are already being prepared for today’s quick paced needed it yesterday life style, its sickening. There could be a lot more duel thinking going on, with reading and thinking, however they do do a lot of that when they have reading comprehension work. And not a lot of the material is based off the “real world” because these kids are still very young and just learning the basics of academics. Overall this article is really eye opening and shows me there is no easy way out, just reformation

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better

Hyperlinks/ Connections with some Reflection 

Its no surprise that girls are treated with less interest than boys when it comes to education. Doing the research, I came up with a few reasons on why this is. We can’t forget the past. In the “olden” days pretty much everywhere women were of a lesser breed then men. Us women have been seen as beautiful trophies, domesticated housewives, and unintelligent vessels whose only worth was to take care of her hardworking husband and pop out babies. And that’s how the world spun for a very long time. Sure there would be tiny things that made women feel important, like taking sewing classes, or having magazines all about her needs and how she should take care of her husband, but nothing truly revolutionary really. 
So its no surprise why women are regarded with less enthusiasm in schools than men. Through studies, it has been proven that boys are more likely to be asked to thoroughly explain their logic and analysis when answering questions than girls who receive acknowledgement for their work, even though girls get higher grades than boys. Girls are also praised on how “neat, quiet, and calm,” they are rather than their actual work. If a girl speaks her mind or is empowering she is seen as a bitch or a tomboy. Girls also focus on conformity, which means following the leader, who usually isn’t really self-empowering or ground breaking. 
Girls are also discouraged from masculine things like sports and careers based in math and science. And when  a girl actually does succeed in a “man’s world” her success is greeted in ways Allen Johnson describes, like “She did that and she’s a girl!” or “Did it better than a man.” rather than, “She did an excellent good.” This sexist discrimination is hazardous to everyone, separating the human race into alpha and beta sexes. Also, insults such as “You hit like a girl” or “Only girls cry” are used to embarrass boys alluding that girls are inferior to boys. 
But where does this all stem from. As I stated earlier, history does play a big role in gender issues because of women’s roles in the past. Also the parents have a hand in establishing gender roles with their children. I know personally when I was five and wanted to be a fire fighter my grandmother told me I should be a nurse instead cause that was a woman’s job. We’ve all heard something like this. 
Going back to Christensen, another reason for this is the secret education being enforced by the media. From the media children learn that girls where the dresses, they clean the house, and if a girl is playing a sport, its something like tennis or softball. Girls don’t get down and dirty and play football or rugby, but they do knit and cook. There’s is a pink world of butterflies, unicorns, and flowers. Going on the example of what we value in society, all the girl’s Halloween costumes at Wal-Mart are princess, gypsies, or other cute things. The boys are the fire fighters, police men, adventurers, etc. So with all this reinforcement on making girls submissive, its hard for reformation.