Sunday, March 20, 2016

Literacy. Are today's youth digital natives?

This week’s reading was much different from our previous course work. Boyd’s chapter Literacy was an informative piece on the difference between a digital native and a digital immigrant. Today’s youths are categorized as natives of technology, meaning that they have grown up with technology and it is assumed that all youths have access and are not only knowledgeable but masters of technology. Boyd wrote that “those of u who were not born into the digital world but have, at some later point in our lives, become fascinated by and adopted many or most aspects of the new technology are, and always will be compared to them, digital immigrants” (179).

I believe that Boyd had a validity in his point that “we assume that youth will just absorb all things digital through exposure, we absolve ourselves the responsibility to help teenagers develop necessary skills” (180).  When I started reading this chapter, I too found myself feeling that today’s youth should already have all the technological skills that they need to succeed in schooling as well as their futures. However, many points were made that I hadn’t contemplated before. Knowledge of technology has become an essential part of every day life, so much so that without it, you may miss out on job opportunities (or even the ability to properly fill out an application or resume), college application processes, and many other forms that are now only available online. 

Unfortunately, not every youth has the same access to technology, which makes it nearly impossible for those students to be as successful as those with unlimited technology.  I thought it was an important note that Boyd had when discussing smart phones.  Previous to ready this chapter, I hadn’t thought about how difficult it must be to base your sole technology use on a cell phone, which is the case for many students in lower income brackets.

“Hargittai found that teens’ technological skills are strongly correlated with the quality of their access.  Quality of access is, also unsurprisingly, correlated with the socioeconomic status” (195).  Johnson would probably say that those that have limited access are afraid of technology because it is unfamiliar to them. Which, I found interesting when Boyd discusses Wikipedia. In Boyd’s chapter Literacy, he mentions that students avoid using Wikipedia because they have been told it is not a valid source, instead of utilizing it properly by checking citations.

I found a really interesting video (it’s pretty long and I was not able to watch the entire thing). But I thought, what an awesome connection to Boyd and Delpit! As you all know, I’m not a teacher but I believe that this could be an issue for many teachers.  The New Media Classroom explained how teachers may feel nervous using technology in front of their students because the teachers believe their students know more about technology. Just because we are afraid that the younger generations may know more about technology doesn’t make it okay not to try and use it with them.  

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sex Talk on the Carpet

I decided to do this week’s blog on transgender education because I have always been interested in LGBT studies.  I think the article Sex Talk on the Carpet was a fascinating read and as someone that is not a teacher I wondered how a teacher would respond to these types of inquisitions. The article I chose was short and to the point but I thought that it made a large impact and could be extremely useful information for teachers, parents, and for the general public. 

I found myself thinking of many of the authors we have read thus far in class. They are all over this short article. Valdine Ciwko is a fifth grade teacher in Vancouver that took on a pilot teaching program to teach her students sexual education.  Most schools (my elementary school included), have nurses that break the students up by gender and teach the basic knowledge of Sex Ed.  This separation and once a year class, applies a stigma on Sex Ed.  Ciwko had a question box in her classroom and sat her students on the floor and answered the questions together. Ciwko used Lisa Delpit ideas on opening up a dialect in her article by stating “We need to open up the doors to talk about gender, sexuality, sexual identity, and acceptance of people for who they are” (Sex Talk on the Carpet).  In the classroom, they all sat together on the floor, which is Delpit! Instead of the teacher standing over them, she joins them and opens up a discussion with her students.  “The teacher cannot be the only expert in the classroom. To deny students their own expert knowledge is to disempower them” (Delpit, 32-33).

Sex Talk on the Carpet, reminded me of Armstrong and Wildman’s theory of colorblindness vs. color insight.  Though this article is not about race, I believe we can apply the same theory to teaching about the LGBT community. Transgender has become a talked about topic over the past year because a famous Olympian in our country came out as Transgender. But it is still new for many people; people that are simply uneducated on the subject or turn a blind eye.  Ciwko is doing exactly what Armstrong and Wildman are fighting for with color insight.  Stop ignoring a person’s, race, gender, sexual orientations (among other categories) and talk about it. 

Wildman and Armstrong used the following four steps to promote racial equality.
             1.    Considering context for any discussion about race
             2.   Examining systems of privilege
             3.  Unmasking perspectivelessness and white normativeness
             4.   Combating stereotyping and looking for the “me” in each individual

So, let’s apply these steps to LGBT
     1.  Considering context for any discussion about LGBT
      2.   Examining systems of privilege
      3.  Unmasking perspectivelessness and straight normativeness
      4.   Combating stereotyping and looking for the “me” in each individual

I think back to Alan Johnson’s article and the quote “if we dispense with the words we make it impossible to talk about what’s really going on and what it has to do with us. And if we can’t do that, then we can’t see what the problems are or how we might make ourselves part of the solution to them” (Johnson , 2). Opening a dialogue with children about LGBT will allow students to knowledge on the subject, which I hope brings awareness on the subject and will eventually allow for equality for this community. As Johnson said “these groups can’t do it on their own, because they don’t have the power to change entrenched systems of privilege themselves” (10).

I would be interested to know more about Ciwko’s classroom… is this a mostly white privilege classroom? Does she teach affluent or poor students? I wish she had mentioned some of these things in her article because it had me asking these questions when I read that one of her student’s parents was not able to directly ask her about the Sex Ed classes but she was able to ask about her sons math/ reading classes.  Was this because she was an oppressed person? Or was Ciwko able to teach her students this way because they are from the executive elite or maybe affluent professional groups that Anyon studied.