Sunday, February 21, 2016

Literacy with an Attitude

Patrick J. Finn, originally from south side Chicago, broke out of his family of plumbers and became a teacher.  Finn started his career working in black communities in south Chicago.  Being from the area gave Finn insight as to how to succeed with this the children in this demographic. Finn married another teacher and received his master’s degree in English before switching his career to teaching at the college level, and eventually being a faculty member of Graduate School of Education at the State University of New York at Buffalo.  In this position, Finn was afforded the time to begin questioning teaching models, as well as the educational differences between American Socioeconomic Status (SES).

Finn’s paper Literacy with an Attitude , refers to a study done by Jean Anyon, a professor of Social and Educational Policy.  Anyon studied fifth grade classes, in five different public schools, of four different economic statuses. I found it interesting that she used 5 different classes, as I had only ever thought of the 3 typical classes (lower class, middle class, and upper class). Anyon studied the “executive elite”, “affluent professional”, “middle class”, and “working class”.   The findings were incredible and truly show how an education differs between social classes.  Here’s a break down of Anyon’s findings of the dominant themes for each class.

These themes wildly show the drastic educational gaps across the classes of America.  Neither Anyon of Finn discuss race in this paper, however, I was really hearing Nikole Hannah-Jones, throughout this paper. Hannah-Jones talked about cutting the achievement gap between races and Finn wrote about cutting the achievement gaps between classes. I think we can combine their thoughts, bringing equal education to black, white, Latino, Asian, rich, and poor students, we could strive for equality.

I also thought of Johnson’s idea that “the most important difference is that while we all have the potential to change our class position, the other forms of differences are almost impossible to change” (Johnson, ix). Johnson believes more of what Hannah-Jones was saying, that race (among other differences) is the biggest factor in educational inequalities. However, Johnson’s theory of privilege would absolutely fit into Finn’s paper. Anyone above the power line (I personally, would divide the two, the working and middle class below the power line and the affluent and elite classes above the power line), holds the privilege. Once again, I’m going to use a quote from Johnson, “the trouble we’re in privileges some groups at the expense of others. It creates a yawning divide in levels of income, wealth, dignity, safety, health, and quality of life. It promotes fear, suspicion, discrimination, harassment, and violence. It sets people against one another” (Johnson, 9).

I would also like to mention Lisa Delpit because I personally think “The Silenced Dialogue” is 
wonderful and can see her all over Finn’s article. The two even use the same language.  In Literacy with an Attitude, Finn discusses opening up a dialogue, enriching those not in the culture of power and he talks about “dialogue-the soul of his program was its objective-consciousness raising what he referred to as conscientization” (170). Delpit wrote “I am certain that if we are truly to effect societal change, we cannot do so from the bottom up, but we must push and agitate from the top down. And in the meantime, we must take the responsibility to teach, to provide for students who do not already possess them, the additional codes of power” (The Silenced Dialogue, 40). It was about empowering the powerless as a class s so they can stand up for themselves “(172).

I found (and love) the image Dr. Bogad told us about!

Oh, something random but kind of fun... try this quiz!

Here's a little something else I found on Huffington Post

Saturday, February 13, 2016

This American Life: The Problem We All Live With

Nikole Hannah-Jones is an investigative reporter that wrote about segregation and desegregation in schools in the US. She argues that the answer to educational equality, or the closest way we’ll get to educational equality, is integration. The interview, The Problem We All Live With, gives thoughtful and passionate examples of students and parents who have gone through integration and their stories of success. She showed us, the listeners, the struggles that black students and parents dealt with in order to try to get the same education as white students. “What integration does is it gets black kids in the same facilities as white kids. And therefore, it gets them access to the same things that those kids get- quality teachers and quality instruction” (Nikole Hannah-Jones, The Problem We All Live With).

The Problem We All Live With gave supportive data, which Hannah-Jones used to explain how integration is the answer to breaking the achievement gap, and changing the lives of black students.  Hannah-Jones mentioned that for black students integration “…changed their whole lives. They were less likely to be poor, they were less likely to have health problems, they live longer. And the opposite is true for black kids who remained in segregated schools”.  Hannah-Jones, told a story about a girl named Mah’Ria, a young girl that was bussed into a white school. Mah’Ria and her mother went to an open forum meeting at the white school she was about to attend and had to listen to harsh and judgmental parents speak about how children from her school should not be allowed to attend their school. This reminded me of Johnson’s article and how the parents of the white schools felt they needed to keep separation between the schools because of their discriminations, and fears.  The quote that came to mind was, “the trouble we’re in privileges some groups at the expense of others. It creates a yawning divide in levels of income, wealth, dignity, safety, health, and quality of life. It promotes fear, suspicion, discrimination, harassment, and violence. It sets people against one another” (Johnson, 9). Mah’Ria had a positive first experience with integration but Rihanna; another student did not share the same positive experience. This reminded me again of Johnson and the umbrella example we used in class. Rihanna walked into her new school, soaking wet while all the dry, white students stared at her and called her racial slurs.

I think that it would be interesting if Lisa Delpit and Nikole Hannah-Jones got together for an interview. Delpit could discuss her four aspects of the culture of power and how it relates to integration in schools and Hannah-Jones could relate them to her investigations and her own experience as a product of integration. Delpit’s 3rd aspect, “the rules of the culture of power are a reflection of the rules of the culture of those who have power” (Delpit, 25), shows how integration would work best. I immediately thought of Delpit when Nikole Hannah-Jones said “if you’re surrounded by a bunch of kids who are all behind you, you stay behind. But if you’re in a classroom that has some kids behind and some kids advanced, the kids who are behind tend to catch up.” By bringing white and black students, advanced and non-advanced students together, by following Delpit’s ideas of integrated education methodologies, we could strive for educational equality.

It took me rereading Armstrong and Wildman’s article; Colorblindness is the Racism, to realize how desegregation is just promoting colorblindness.  “People seeking equality are not permitted to examine, or even acknowledge, that White students are generally afforded the best educational opportunities in the United States, while these benefits elude many students of color” (Armstrong & Wildman, 64). I agree with Wildman and Armstrong that “until educators teach about the importance of analyzing how privilege operates, students will graduate ill-equipped to work effectively in a diverse environment. If students to not grapple with issues of privelege while still in school, they may never acquire the insight or ability to recognize and combat racism and other subordination” (66).

I really enjoyed listening to Hannah-Jone’s interview and plan on finding more information from her. I felt as if this interview would be an eye opener for many people because the racial injustices she speaks of is all over the media, but many people (I certainly didn’t know much before this interview) don’t know how integration could help both groups above and below the power line (Armstrong and Wildman).

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Privilege, Power, and Difference

Colorblindness Is The New Racism

I recall reading a similar article during my undergrad and I’ve thought back to this concept of being colorblind ever since.  I truly agree with this article and found it a great and insightful read.  Margalynne Armstrong and Stephanie Wildman discuss living in a culture that believes we are post-racist because those of privilege now avoid discussing race.  Their argument is that being “colorblind” does not mean we live in a racist free world, instead, being colorblind is ignoring the less privileged. I felt a strong connection with this article and appreciated learning about color insight.
When I read this article, I was thinking about how categories define a person. Whether it is gender, race, physical abilities, or sexual orientation, for a few examples (among others), a person’s economic capital, social capital, and cultural capital are all affected by their standing in those categories. Armstrong and Wildman talk about how using color insight, by opening up the dialogue, talking about race and being aware of how race affects those outside of the privilege, will bring on racial equality.  “Color insight requires it practitioners to observe, discuss, and analyze the operation of race and privilege in contemporary society” (68).  Referring back to our reading of Privilege, Power, and Difference, by Johnson, two quotes came to mind. “When you name something, the word draws your attention to it, which makes you more likely to notice it as something significant (11, Johnson)… “The bottom line is that a trouble we can’t talk about is a trouble we can’t do anything about” (13, Johnson).  I believe that the authors we have read thus far in class all believe in opening up a dialogue. As Delpit mentioned, “it is those with the most power, those in the majority, who must take the greater responsibility for initiating the process” (46). Meaning that those of privilege need to step up, to use color insight in order to take steps towards racial equality.
I found the quote on page 68, “Do not be afraid; notice your race and the race of others around you; racism and privilege still do affect peoples’ lives; learn more about the racial dynamic” to be one that could really touch home to some people. If we just teach the four steps of color insight we could really strive for something greater.  
This was my first reading for our class where I felt so strongly in favor of the text. I am interested to hear what everyone else has to say about this reading and maybe bring me a perspective that I may have missed.