Saturday, April 23, 2016

Social Justice Event

Speech Given By: Barbara Jensen
Date: March 16th, 2016
Time: 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
Location: Alger 110

A few weeks back , I attending a public speaker at Rhode Island College for my social justice event. Her name is Barbara Jensen. Barbara has been teaching and talking about classism for many many years now. She taught this topic in universities and is very passionate about it. The overall topic of her studies is the working class studies in the United States. She travels all around and speaks to groups of people to help everyone get more informed. She is also a licensed community and counseling psychologist. She's had practice for over 25 years and even has her own private counseling office. There, she works with individuals, couples, families and takes on some community projects. Her therapies include psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, humanistic, as well as art, music and drama. After hearing her speak in person, she is very moving and that material she brings up is very true. It made the whole presentation a good and interesting to listen to.
Within the first couple minutes of her presentation, she asks for ten volunteers. Once she had all the volunteers up at the front of the room, they each had a seat in one of the seats that were lined up against the wall. In this visual approach to help us understand better, each chair represented 10% of the United States population. After statistical facts, she asked 9 of the volunteers(starting from the left) to all go and fit on the first 3 chairs starting from the left. Interesting to watch because here there was, 9 grown college students sitting on each other to all fit on 3 chairs. For the student on the furthest right chair , so the 10th chair, he was asked to spread out to cover 7 chairs. He could lay, sit, put pieces over the chair to claim that it was it. He just had to someway or another cover the chairs. This activity was to show how the top 10% of the United States population own more than 70% of the entire wealth in the US. Having that cover 70% of the wealth, that means there is only 30% of wealth in the US left and that is to be spread among the 90% of the population. That means, "Moreover, of the top 10 percent, one percent own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined."(Barbara Jensen) That's absolutely crazy to me. That numbers are so off. I was shocked by these numbers even though I already knew that there is obviously people who are extremely wealthy out there. I guess I just didn't think 10% really own that much wealth.

Handouts That Were Given at the Entrance:
All written by Barbara Jensen.

(1)Forms of Classism 
* Solipsism ("blinders")
* Judgements of "taste"("good taste" or "bad")
* Cruelty (intentionally insulting or hurting others)
*Systemic advantages and disadvantages 
(constraint and submission vs blossoming and "becoming")

(2)Distance, Resistance, and Creation 
Responses of working class students to the cultural conflicts schools may create.
Distancing (from family)
Resisting (in school/work)
Creating ( bridging them)
*Identify with “others”
*Keep your people
*Scrambling between worlds
*Internalized classism
*Leave talents undeveloped
*Getting “walked on” by both sides- belonging nowhere
*Separation from friends and family (emotionally)
*Get respect for defiance
*Conscious of process, of different worlds
*Hard and tedious work life ahead
*Able to take aspects from both cultures(more whole)
*Compartmentalization & dissociation – problems in psyche, marriage, other?
*Personal shame covered with anger and defiance(because society’s judging you)
*Help others bridge between worlds also
No "best" option without fundamental changes in social and economic organization of society. 

(3) Divisions in the Working Class:
"Settled Living " & "Hard Living" Differences 

Settled Living
Hard Living
More likely called "middle class"(and not think of self that way), but considered not ambitious or smart enough to really "make it”.
More likely called “poor”, “underclass”, “welfare queens”, “riff-raff”, or “gangsters”. (though statistics show they are likely to work when they can)
Middle class sees them as: boring, uncultured, and unenlightened.
Middle class sees them as: alternately frightening and alien or pathetic, even comically so.
Either try to fit in or be defiant.
Can’t fit in: be defiant or shameful.
Stereotype is that they are white skinned (reality is both).
Stereotype is that they are people of color (reality is both).
More likely to be against welfare (more so than middle class): it’s too close to home)
More likely to have received welfare-currently losing that safety net.
More likely, in hard times, to be able to borrow money, cars from family and friends.
More likely to have friends and family also in hard times, still share generously.

* Value belonging/connection over individuality.
*Value connection and interdependence over competition.
*Looked down upon by the middle class.
*Regarded by "higher" classes as lazy, stupid, crappy parents, "low" life, "nobodies".
*Get blamed personally for their "lower" status.
*Invisible (to other classes, sometimes themselves as well) as they really are.
*Get seen as stereotypes -- become psychological "projections" of "higher" classes.
*Use non-standard English, learn this as children is "normal".
*In speech tend toward personal narrative rather than producing abstract answers, conceptualizations, questions.
*Likely (esp. adolescents) to get admiration form peers for defiance against middle class teachers and other authorities.
*Likely to embarrass parents with same.
*Values: generosity (as opposed to brilliance), being "kind-hearted" (as opposed to ambitious), being "good"(as opposed to "successful").

(4) Gifts to Human Ability from Either Side of the Class Border
It is important to remember that all people of any class can have any of these abilities. They tend to be emphasized in one class more than the other. They are all human qualities to which we are all entitled. All these qualities are parts of the human spirit.

Middle Class
* Uniqueness
*Development of inner life
* Voice, language "the words to say it"
*Achievement, ambition and progress
*Science, Architecture
*Development of certain abilities: intellectual detail and meta-thought; differentiated language.

Working Class
*Connectedness and sense of belonging to personal and human family
*Depth of acceptance
*Connectedness to all of life, seasons, earth
*Ability to see and hear beyond words
*Stability and tradition
*Development of certain indispensable abilities: cooperation , mechanical skills, basic life support skills (shelter,food)

(end of handout information)

This presentation I went to really made me think if I am able to notice the different levels of class in my day to day life. I wouldn't say that it stands right out to me but I understand the concept a little more so I notice more. Jensen spent time talking about what different classes looked like and she used a personal story to explain it. She told the story about how she went to two different, I can't remember if it was communion or confirmation party, but she went to one that was for a child in a higher income home and then went to one for a family member which was a working class one. She talked about the differences but was also able to talk about even though she knew she fit to one class more then the other, she knew how to act like she belonged to both. The party environment was different when it came down to the kind of conversation, what everyone was wearing, what kind of food was being offered, the way everyone talked, the kind of activities that were going on for the guest and how differently the party meant to each child. I enjoyed hearing these stories because I was able to say, oh yea I can see that and relate. I can really relate to this with my family vs my boyfriend's family. Obviously there's nothing wrong with each family, there are just significant differences. With my family, we had parties and get togethers just for the fun of it. At the parties, we have the big thing of juice, a cooler of soda, a cooler of beer, the kind of food you make on the grill like cheeseburgers, hotdogs and things like that. We dress however we want to and no one is really expected to look nice nice. We are so loud and we play the most random music and we just kind of yell , dance and get get along really nice. I see the difference when I go to a get together at my boyfriends house because right off the back, I know if I show up in yoga pants and a sweatshirt I would feel out of the loop. I'll usually put on jeans and a nice shirt but most of the time I still feel underdressed. I wouldn't say I see a huge difference with the kind of food and drinks that they would have but I see difference when I think about how the noise level is different. At his house, everyone will be kind of in little groups, at their own tables and just conversing with a couple people at a time. I guess it's almost like everything is organized and I'm not really use to that. Both types of parties are fun, just are different types of parties/ get togethers that better fit with people.

Things Barbara Jensen talked about related right back to our class and I found it interesting. Jensen talked about how in our society it really does matter where you come from/who you are surrounded by. We're judged by stereotypes and because maybe your parents didn't do anything extra important, there's no hope for you because it's all a cycle. That's the big problem cause theses classism groups. When we read Kozol, we talk about the cycle and the likely hood of one getting breaking out from the cycle. Yes it's possible but the chances are slim. Working class parents who work working class jobs will have working class kids who will have working class kind of jobs and then have kids who do the same thing. Same thing goes for other social classes. It's like a never ending them and this relates to what Jensen says because that is the restriction that is put on people. The get stereotyped by their past and family, but that doesn't need to label them for what they will accomplish in the future. This can also relate to a quote from Nicholas Kristof's U.S.A., A Land of Limitations, " The chance of a person who was born to a family in the bottom 10 percent of the income distribution rising to the top 10 percent as an adult is about the same as the chance that a dad who is 5 feet 6 inches tall having a son who grows up to be over 6 feet 1 inch tall, It happens, but not often." These restrictions are put on everyone in society everyday and that helps from the division between classes. From on of Jensen's handouts that she gave at the entrance of this presentation, she gives one out that explains the differences from settled living and hard living. (In Above, Green Text) One of the bullet points says the it is a stereotype that people of color always have to fall into the hard living category. I though SCWAAMP at this because the W means whiteness and stands for how much we value it. If people of color were valued more in the U.S., they wouldn't always fit into the hard living category. It's the stereotypes and restrictions put on by society. This can also relate to McIntosh because McIntosh says that there's privilege that white people have and I think this relates because they have to power to speak up and change classism but don't because they either don't want to or don't realize the power/ privilege they have.

Lastly, I want to bring attention to Barbara Jensen's book.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Empowering Education

Empowering Education 
Critical Teaching for Social Change 
By: Ira Shor 
(Connection & Refection)

For me, this reading wasn't what I would call hard, it kind of wrapped everything together for me. During this semester, we've learned so much about how our society is and throughout this time, we've really had to think about our experiences and if they fit what we're now seeing as the issues within the school system. During this piece, Shor continues to talk about how education is politics. I was able to connect this piece and things Shor was addressing to Delpit. Delpit talks about how when you know the rules and codes of power, you are more likely to succeed because you were told explicitly the rules. More towards the begining of Shor's piece, he mentions a lot about how teachers in the classroom need to work on having that kind of good relationship with their students and also be able to be there and tell them things that they might not being talking about at home. The students need to learn the rules and codes of power where the teachers need to learn how to follow them. In order to succeed, you're better off knowing a head of time what is expected from you. It will help you get farther and help you succeed. By knowing these rules and codes, you then know what to do. A Delpit lightbulb also went off in my head when I read these sentences. "The syllabus deployed by the teacher gives students a prolonged encounter with structural knowledge and social authority. However, it is the students who decide to what extent they will take part in the syllabus and allow it to form them." (Page 14) I'm not sure if I understood it wrong or not but this made me think of those first couple of days of school where teachers are giving our their syllabus. Some people choose to go by, and some people ignore it and hope to get by. Knowing the rules and codes of power I guess helps you in this situation. It's an option to follow it but you know you will do it because that's what we've been taught and we know it's the rules and the way to succeed.
I was also about to connect this piece to August and safe spaces. School shouldn't be a place where students go and feel uncomfortable. They should want to go and learn and be excited about it. On page 17 Shor says, "Participation is the most important place to begin because student involvement is low in traditional classrooms and because action is essential to gain knowledge and develop intelligence." Basically, he is saying that students get more in the classrooms and they are interacting with the other students and not just sitting and listening. I disagree with this because I went all through my school years also sitting and listening. I rarely talked and if I did it was because I was forced to by the teachers. If the teacher used it against my grade of course I started talking but if not, I would sit and do my work a lone and just listen to my other classmates if I got stuck. When I knew I had to speak up, it always made me nervous and made my experience at school in that classroom terrible. I guess it wasn't that safe space that it should have been in terms of not feeling comfortable.

Reflection to Service Learning
"School funding is another political dimension of education, because more money has always been invested in the education of upper-class children and elite collegians than has been spent on students from lower-income homes and in community colleges." (Page 15)
Volunteering at the school I do now, I can see where they run into issues with funding. They don't get enough and the students really do suffer from it. When I was in Elementary School, our desks were set up in groups of 4 and at each group there was a bin that was in the middle that had pencils, crayons, rulers and just little things that we might need. We never had the problem as simple as coming to school without anything to write with. When I work with this group of kids, every time I am there at least one of them tells me that they don't have a pencil or anything to write with. Now we have to waste more time trying to find one and that children and the rest of the other have to miss out on learning. The funding is that little in schools like that they can't supply any extra but they simply don't have it to spend. The money has to go somewhere else because it's the smarter way to use it. The lack of school funding just really messes with children's education. 

Comments/Questions/Points to Share:
Comparing my school and the one I go to for my service learning, it amazes me the differences. From things like funding all the way to being able to voice your opinion. At my service learning, I don't notice children really talking out and being a part of a bigger discussion as a class. In all my classes growing up, everyone was able to speak out if they wanted to and that's how a lot of the classes ran. Being use to that all my life even though I never participated in the discussion and then going to see things were students just don't speak out like that makes me think how they are learning anything. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Ana Malaniuk is a 6 years old girl who has down syndrome. A few years back, she had a dance studio turn her away because they said she couldn't keep up and wasn't up to their "standards". Her mom then got her into a dance studio that welcomed her and enjoyed working with her. 
Video & Information from CBC News.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome

Citizenship in Schools:
Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome 
Christopher Kliewer 

This reading was a little bit of a harder read for me and I had to go to other blogs to try and get a better understanding. Until I hit the parts of the writing that were more telling stories, I was lost. The stories did help but I still feel that I don't have a really good understanding. I also didn't get the chance to print this article out so I think having to read this one from this computer screen didn't help. What I did get from reading is that children with down syndrome and also other disabilities, are getting looked down on because people think they are not capable compared to any other child.  

"It's not like they come here to be labeled, or to believe the label. We're all here- kids, teachers, parents, whoever- it's about all of us working together, playing together, being together, and that's what learning is. " (Page 75)
I thought to include this quote because I think it is important to realize the labels. Labels are put are kids with down syndrome and there is no need to put labels on them. We are all the same. Within the school system, it's not that some are just not able to learn, it's the fact that all students can learn and succeed but not on the same day or by the same way. 

"He didn't get credit for it because he didn't do it right, but he clearly knew which was the block, which was the spoon. And he followed directions in an organizing sense." (Page 84)
The quote comes from the section in which Isaac Johnson was basically being tested on his skills and ability to sort the spoons and the blocks. In this situation, he wasn't given credit because he did it differently. I think it is important to realize and understand that everyone learns and shows how they learn differently. No one should be treated differently because no matter what, no one should tell them there are not capable of doing anything. 

"As such, the label "communication-disordered" attached to any individual makes no sense. It is not the individual who owns the problem; rather, the dilemma exists in the interconnected relationships that both form and hinder community." (Page 94)
Labels, Labels, Labels. That's just the big problem. People think that these labels entitle them to certain things and abilities and they don't. When a person has any kind of disorder, the problem isn't with them themselves. It's how the community thinks and how they put restrictions on what they can do. 

Connection to Other Text:
This piece connects right to August's piece about safe spaces. Children in the school system are not getting the right education because teachers either don't know how to teach them or just don't understand how they learn. School should be a safe place for anyone to go to especially children with disabilities so they feel comfortable to be there. 

Points to Share:
In order to create these safe places, I think it's important to then have educators go to talks, or just trainings so they better understand. Instead of turning on a child because you don't know how to work with them, they will be more comfortable and help.