Sunday, October 27, 2013

Talking points #6


"Educators and legislators alike  maintain that service learning can improve the community and invigorate the classroom"

Service learning is a treat in  several ways. In some form, the idea of invigorating the classroom. School systems often have a common issue, that they lack anything dynamic or inclusive. By adding another element to the classroom you are forcing a certain milestone, often building a sense of community and establishing a sense of authenticity, making each class much more than that. It can improve the community both inside and outside of school by allowing the students to develop a sense of altruism.

"Many who currently advocate service learning consider its potential as a mean of promoting moral development"

Altruism is such an important trait to develop because it counters the concept of narcissism. One's mind cannot remain closed when exposure is forced to it. For example, the article mentions that upper-middle class students were assigned to visit a lower class elementary school. They imagined a whole different world, reminiscent of Kozol's impressions. They imagined violent children running around a dirty campus, expecting them to be rude, rough and noisy. What they found were attentive and responsive students. This reminded me of Johnson's privelege, power and difference in the way that such thoughts are often the result of society rather than the victims. The students that visited had only feared what they might find because those are the seeds that their parents and society had planted within them.

"Almost all discussions of service learning practices emphasize the importance of reflection"

It is scarcely argued that reflection is a bad thing because it gives already prejudice students the chance to find support for their  deep seeded hatreds and make stronger arguments. However, the concept of reflection is best paired with growth. Every example given in the article lists positive learning experiences, mentioning almost outright that they think higher of whichever group they spent time with.

Talking Points:

Despite the argument that reflection may have a negative outcome, does that mean that the service learning was a negative experience in that situation? No matter the position, it's worth considering that all examples of real life experience hold far more weight than whatever speculation based on media or negative emotions.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Talking points: Christensen

Christensen argues that at the ages of youth, cartoons deliver unto us a "secret education" which molds and sculpts our perceptions to manipulate the way we look at certain sexes, classes, races, and body types.

On the rare occasion that you catch a glance of someone of a different color or separated from society in some other manner, they're painted with several marks that deem them in some form as lesser. While this is easily overlooked, that is the very issue. Messages are strongest when you don't get the chance to interpret them.  Children receive this "secret" education  at an age where they know only to accept what is in front of them. These simple cartoons are powerfully manipulating one of our greatest abilities as human beings and turning it into a detriment: the ability to absorb information and passively learn from it. This ability is at its most potent when the brain is new. Give child a multiplication problem when the only experience that child has with mathematics is addition and that brain will resort to addition. Put a white student in the same class as a black student when the only account of color that the white student has is one of offensive and obnoxious behavior induced by whatever morning TV was put in front of him while eating his breakfast and his brain will work the same way.
Points to share:
While Christensen makes several great points, I can't help but wonder about just one.

In the instance of social pressure, the perfect hourglass figure being shoved into the faces of women leading to insecurity down the road. All main characters in Disney films and models in media have perfect body types, if every instance of this was wiped clean, and we let generations pass, would physical insecurity stop? Would it even be less prevalent? I firmly believe that nothing would change. Instead of people blaming Disney for their lack of confidence they would blame figures from their personal life. After all, beauty isn't some man-made concept, we're hardwired to perceive certain body types as attractive, as well as to compete for health and genetics. The animators drew these characters this way for a reason, because it's what people take pleasure in looking at. As long as we have eyesight, sex will sell, as long as sex sells, we will be surrounded by sexual icons.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Good Job Talking Points


This article is something I feel I owe immediate gratification to. Partly because I feel I was raised on this system of thoughtless convenience. It's been simply enlightening, in terms of my own life and the behavior of a few of my service learning students.  "Good Job!" was probably the phrase my mother uttered to me more than any other. Since moving out, my direction, my goals and my motivation just seem so depressingly distant and foggy. I can't help but believe that never being pushed to find satisfaction within my own accomplishments has lead to this.

Within the art class I teach for service learning, there is one student I've been curious about. His ability to absorb a 10 minute set of instructions, and efficiently complete his class objective seems to surpass any other student in the class. When he is done, he helps those around him. Yet, the last two times I've met with the class he's asked for help on his assignment. I'll repeat the teachers instructions and about halfway through he'll begin his assigned work. He'll finish the first step, place his freshly cut paper down on the table, and just look at me with this confused look that reeks of insecurity. It's just now become apparent that his mood and self esteem at that point hinges on the same two words as so many other kids. He doesn't need my help at all, only my approval.

Points to share:

There is a reason so many respond with these monotonous phrases, because it's simple. It has become first nature after anyone mentions an accomplishment to hit the go-to phrase or some other sort of praise. Ditching it won't be easy but it remains obvious that it can't continue. Forms of praise turn children into drones, the alternatives boost self confidence and drive, all things that are directly related to success. When a child is taught to live his leave to please others, what happens when no one is left to please, what does it say about how much you value yourself?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Talking points #3


August argues that the existence of a LBGT lifestyle needs to be further exposed rather than ignored within primary eduction in order to remove the negative stigmas attached to it.

The biggest enabler for bullying, emotional harassment, and social discomfort to those that possess differences is a lack of information surrounding those differences. Lack of knowledge leads to assumptions, and assumptions, when left unchallenged or ignored eventually devolve into bigotry. When students aren't told that a certain unfamiliar quality is the norm, or is okay, they quite often grow up to assume it isn't. By schools keeping mouths shut about those enjoying a LBGT lifestyle, they're keeping it a taboo. Bullying at a young age is often a catalyst for a life of discomfort, emotional scars and the crumbling of an ego. Yet when bullies harass someone practicing what many only know as a taboo, they look like heroes, encouraging the behavior. The theme of bullying remains one of the biggest dangers to individuals of all, with the blow up social media, bullying is becoming more pervasive by the day.
Points to Share:

Exposure to different races and lifestyles seems like a piece of the common core. Even the Art class I'm taking part in for my service learning project is, at the center, more of a cultural education class. We teach students of tribal Native American beliefs, the pride to be taken in African art, or the elegant and emotional display of Japanese theater. If the theme of appreciating every different culture is so prevalent, then why is the culture of LBGT being omitted? When we're taught to avoid something, we have the natural behavior to assume that the reason is because that topic is wrong, or in some manner, offensive. Teachers avoid cuss words because we believe they're bad, so what does that say about our omission of gays?