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Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People's Children

I had a very hard time getting into Lisa Delpit's The Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People's Children.  I understand that providing quotes from educators of color and their feelings towards white colleagues and experiences, she is arguing that white people do not listen or take into consideration what those of color try to say to help educate children.  She explains this when mentioning the statements she collected since completing 'Skills and Other Dilemmas of a Progressive Black Educator' on page 23, stating, "I described the estrangement that I and many teachers of color feel from the progressive movement when writing process advocates dismiss us as too 'skills oriented'.  I ended the article suggesting that it was incumbent upon writing process advocates, or indeed, advocates of any progressive movement, to enter into dialogue with teachers of color, who may not share their enthusiasm about so-called new, liberal, or progressive ideas" (23).  While I can see why she is frustrated, I then felt confused and somewhat naive when it came to the five aspects of power that she proposed on page 24.  When we spoke in class of why it is difficult for some of us to see these different perspectives, Dr. Bogad made sense of it saying "fish may not see water".  I found myself questioning if this was the case for me while reading Delpit's discussions on these five aspects of power.  I found myself only agreeing and understanding the fifth one, "those with power are frequently less aware of- or at least willing to acknowledge- its existence.  Those with less power are often most aware of its existence" (24).  I can think of examples that help me understand this aspect in many scenarios, not just the situation of race (i.e., various levels of positions in the corporate world).  As far as the rest of these aspects, I had a very hard time understand what she was describing.  While I certainly do not consider myself someone of power, it left me wondering if I am blind to them for certain reasons, or if I just have not experienced such yet.
I did however, understand and agree more with Delpit when she was arguing that everyone cannot simply want the same thing for everyone's children as they do their own (28).  Delpit makes a great point when she brings up that "this is a very reasonable goal for people whose children are already participants in the culture of power and who have already internalized its codes.  But parents who don't function within that culture often want something else" (28-29).   However, it is almost as if she is making assumptions of what liberals and others want for their children, and her entire argument was examining the underlying assumptions of both camps in the first place.  This is why I found myself confused multiple times throughout this reading.
I was much more engaged in the remainder of the reading, when Delpit began to explain the reading programs and why they worked for some children and not for others.  I agree with her talking about the differences in children's home lives and how that effects children's learning, as well as how children from different cultures are spoken to differently at home and may have troubles understanding different cultures ways of instructing or displaying authority (paragraph 2 and 3 on page 34 on speech). "Both white and black working-class children in the communities Heath studied 'had difficulty interpreting these indirect requests for adherence to an unstated set of rules'" (34).   As a follow up to this idea, I really enjoyed the conversation between the teacher and 'Joey' on pages 42 and 43 on language diversity.
While it was hard for me to get into Delpit's reading at first, I actually very much liked it by the end of the reading.  There were many points and discussions that I was actively engaged and found myself agreeing with, while there were also others that I felt confused by or that I wished were described in different ways.  I would be interested in reading some of Delpit's other articles published as well.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Privilege, Power, & Difference (Allan G. Johnson)

While reading Privilege, Power, and Difference by Allan G. Johnson, I was truthfully surprised by the abundance of thoughts I found myself thinking.  From the start of the reading, my eyes were opened to a new perspective of a variety of struggles.  While I am aware these issues are still happening everyday, it is not something I find myself thinking about too often because to me, these are not issues.  I still can not understand how or why people feel discriminated or uncomfortable with different races, genders, sexualities, social classes, etc.  Therefore, I felt very connected to Johnson in that I can relate to his feelings and have a similar background or "status" (i.e., straight, white, middle class).
Throughout chapter 1, Rodney King's Question, it made me feel hopeless in terms of deceasing discrimination in the world.  When Johnson says "the problem of 'getting along' doesn't stop there. It is also an issue across differences of gender, sexual orientation, and numerous lesser divides"(3), I couldn't help but think that there will unfortunately never be an end to this.  Once segregation and the major racism issues began to decease, people began to "come out" more in terms of homosexuality, and then that became more of a discrimination issue.  Now that homosexuality is starting to become more accepted (for the record, I am not saying either racism or discrimination against any of these things is completely abolished, I am well aware there are still many issues), people are having problems now accepting those who experiment with their genders, etc.  The strong and current controversy on Caitlyn Jenner is the most recent example of this (I apologize for the vulgarity of that article, but that exactly proves my point).  No matter what, I feel like people are going to continually find something to hate on.  And when that dies down, they'll move on to the next new thing and make that an issue.  I really loved when Johnson said "people can't help fearing the unfamiliar" (3).  That quote very much stuck with me after reading this; it hits the nail on the head of why we continually have all these issues today, and why we unfortunately will for years to come.
Before reading this, I was actually thinking of a conversation that I had with my best friend while she was home on winter break this month.  She is now living in Spain, and speaks fluent Spanish.  However, she is considered "white".  I really enjoyed chapter 3, The Trouble We're In, because his writing is almost exactly what we were talking about.  While she was in the airport traveling home, she was on the phone speaking in Spanish.  The man sitting next to her, for whatever reason, asked her when she was off the phone if she was white.  Like I previously said, this is not a subject I find myself thinking of too often, and neither does she.  She explained to me how that question made her really stop and think about it, and that she did not know how to answer that question herself.  She has always been considered "white", but then found herself wondering what "white" even is.  It is simply the color of your skin? Because there are certainly Spanish or Hispanic people that are even lighter than some "white" people.  Is it where your ancestors come from? We were talking about this for quite a while that day, and this is exactly what Johnson is saying in this chapter.  He explains that it is all made up.  He also brings up the point that many people consider people white if they look white. I found it interesting to see so many of our own points brought up in his book.
The bulleted list of privileges also makes me think a lot harder about such situations and perspectives from different peoples points of views, especially those in regards to heterosexuals.
In conclusion, I was very emotionally involved in this reading, and like I said in the beginning, I was pleasantly surprised by that.  I would be interested in how the author currently feels about this, because while these issues are still existent, I also feel like there has been a lot of improvement since this book was written in 2001.  Johnson wrote about the issues with women and the issues of their presence in the corporate world, explaining that they are not able to hold higher positions than men.  I feel like this example is one that has come a long way, because there are many powerful and higher women in the corporate world today.   The reading made a variety of strong points and caused me to think about things in a much different perspective.  I would definitely be interested in reading books by this author!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Hi! My name is Amanda, and I'm currently working as a lead Pre-Kindergarten educator and training for a director's role at The Children's Workshop in Lincoln, Rhode Island (testing out that hyperlink add in!) I began working there three years ago when I was employed by Northern Rhode Island Community Services as a Therapeutic Integration Specialist, working with children with behavioral issues and special needs to maintain their placement in the classroom.  I was then offered to continue working in this position in addition to taking on my own classroom, which is when I took on the lead Pre-K position as well!  Once I realized how passionate I am about making such a positive difference in children's lives at this age when their development is crucial, I decided to go back to school for my master's in Early Childhood Education.  I hope to continue on to become certified in Special Education as well.  I am looking forward to getting to know all of you (and how to blog) this semester!