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


  1. Great visual comparing the dominant themes in the classrooms Anyon visited. I really enjoyed reading Anyon's study and how she used three ideas (theme, knowledge and relationship to economy) to compare the schools. It was intriguingto see the differences among the schools . Each theme has such a strong word that carries a lot of meaning. When people hear the word resistance they think negative and when they hear the word excellence they think positive. Without even reading the details about the schools many people will make assumptions based solely on the words. People are going to thing negatively about working class schools and students and positively about the executive school and students.

    I enjoyed taking the quiz as my colleagues at work always tease me for my RI accent :)

  2. Great post Bethany! I also agree with Alicia, the "dominant themes" that Anyon discusses for each school have very specific connotations, whether they be positive or negative. I would have been interested in reading more about the demographics of the teachers who work at each school. We were told a little about their experience and where they live, but it would certainly be interesting to compare their mindsets.

  3. Bethany Great post this week. I also dont think of class as 5 social classes. I usually only think of affluent, middle class, and the low income categories. Your visuals really helped me reflect on the text as i found it really difficult to focus on the reading, with it being so long and a little redundant. My favorite part of your blog was when you related The Nikole Hannah Jones piece and the Finn reading I agree with you 100% that it should be a combination of both social class and race. I wonder if anyon purposely eliminated race out of the equation and what was her purpose. Was her purpose to say look its not a race thing its a social class thing or was her purpose to eliminate race out of the equation so that people couldnt say it isnt a race thing

  4. Oops! I used the same image as you without seeing yours first - sorry! I appreciated the breakdown of Anyon's findings. I wanted to go more into that in my blog but didn't want to make the text too long - but this breakdown you show as a graphic is perfect!

    The quiz was... interesting. My brother sent it to me awhile back but I never got around to doing it, so this time I did. Not so surprised, I'm a Texan!

    1. I forgot to mention that I really enjoyed reading the HuffPost link about America's Classist Education. I tried to represent that in my blog this week (with a small amount of research with what I was able to find) but this article does a much better job of identifying the issues. Thanks for the read!

  5. Your blog had so much going on this week, I love it! I love the images and the links you've provided at the end. I also found myself thinking of Lisa Delpit when I read Finns reading as well. Totally relatable