Thursday, February 28, 2013

"Unlearning the Myths that Bind Us." Christensen -Reflection-

In the text "Unlearning the Myths that Bind Us," Linda Christensen explains how different forms of media start to instill myths about gender roles, race roles and even size roles in children's minds from a young age.  She mentioned that several children's shows portray everyone who isn't a physically-fit, white male as inferior.  The women traditionally cooked and cleaned the house while the men went to work.  African Americans and overweight people were seen as complete idiots.  Native Americans were shown to only communicate in short, simple sentences and smoke signals.  Females in cartoons as well as other forms of media are portrayed with a slim waist and large breasts.  They usually have blond hair but from time to time a redheaded woman would be shown.  Christensen goes on to explain that media that children are exposed to often teaches them what sort of role that they can play in society depending on their gender, race, and body type. 

I feel as though, while cartoons have gotten better with portraying people of different sizes and races in a better light, cartoons today have started in ingrain slightly worse ideas into children's minds.  I have a sister who is ten years younger than me and she is often watching the Disney Channel.  Many of the shows that my sister watches place a high importance on romantic relationships.  One of the shows, "Good Luck Charlie," features a sixteen year old girl who is always pining over her boyfriend and how she needs a boyfriend to be happy.  There was one episode of "Good Luck Charlie," where Teddy finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her and in the end she gets back with him.  That particular episode shows to young children that it is okay to go back to a person who has hurt you in the past because they apologized.  Not a good lesson to teach a child. 

Another show, "Austin and Ally" the main female, Ally, gave up her dream to go to a prestigious music school for the lead male in the show.  In the show, Ally is shown doing whatever the boy in the show wants her to do.  She will put her own life on hold for the sake of the male character and it's really not a good thing to be displaying for young children.  It almost goes back to what Christensen said about the passive Popeye character Olive, who, from what I gathered in the text, is willing to do whatever Popeye wants her to. 

-Things to Consider-
Most cartoons today are seem to be teaching young girls that as they enter high school, they need a boyfriend to be happy.  Take the some of the Disney Princesses for example.  Most of them end up with a prince at the end of the story.  One of the few exceptions was Merida from "Brave."  She was one of the few  who wanted nothing to do with the suitors her parents arranged for her to meet and is the only Disney Princess who doesn't end up in a relationship.  I think there needs to be more shows geared towards young girls that do not focus on romantic relationships.  


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"Safe Spaces Continuation"

I was going to check my email when I found an interesting article on The Huffington Post about a transgender six year old girl named Coy.  Coy was born male but refers to herself as female.  When she first started in the school she was transitioned in as a female and used the girl's bathroom but soon after her parents received a note from the school.  The note stated that Coy was no longer able to use the girl's bathroom because she was born male.  The note went on to state that parents may start to grow uncomfortable with a girl with male genitals using the girl's bathroom as Coy grew older.  Coy's parents pulled her from the school and are now home schooling their daughter.  Her parents stated that the school wasn't a safe environment for their child and it set Coy up for bullying and harassment later on.  The link provides a video, several other links to LGBT articles and a slide show titled "15 Things to Know About Being Transgender."

Coy Mathis, 6-year-Old Transgender Girl, Barred from Using Girl's Restroom in Colorado School

I feel as though this article relates to what the reading "Safe Spaces" talked about.   

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Safe Spaces-Vaccaro, August, Kennedy -Hyperlinks-

In the reading "Safe Spaces: Inside the Classroom Walls," the Authors talk about how to create a safe-space for all students but in particular, students in the LGBT community.  As the link states, LGBT stands for "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender."   It is mentioned in the article that teachers often make the assumption that everyone is heterosexual and display the appropriate gender roles in society.  

The authors of the text state that teachers will almost never address the issues that the LGBT community faces.  And if it is addressed it is usually negative in tone.  Recently, a teacher in an Indiana School started petitioning for a straight-only prom that would exclude student in the LGBT community.  The teacher in question who has recently been suspended from her job stated that being gay is a choice that the person in question has made and claimed that the only time that a gay person should be defended is "when they were going to admit that they were wrong and accept god."  Basically in her opinion a gay person "would only have a purpose in life if they chose to become straight."

Another point that was mentioned in the reading was that the State of Alabama treats LGBT issues as a "public health risk."  Recently a Tennessee Senator tried to pass the "Don't Say Gay" Bill which would forbid educators from teaching about and discussing LGBT issues.  This is exactly what the authors of "Safe Spaces" said NOT to do.  They mentioned that an absence of meaningful discussions on LGBT issues will lead to the continuation of homophobic and transphobic tendencies in society. The Tennessee Senator has also mentioned that: "The act of homosexuality is dangerous to a person's health and safety." 

In recent years, the number of LGBT teens that commit suicide has been on the rise in recent years.  The authors of "Safe Spaces" argue that is because of harsh stereotypes about the LGBT community.  This study claims that LGTB teens are "five times as likely to commit suicide than their straight peers."

Short Video of President Obama demonstrating his support for the LGBT community.

Most of this goes back to what Delpit says about the "Culture of Power" as well as the "S" in S.C.W.A.A.M.P.  Sadly, in this country, heterosexuality is the "norm" and homosexuality is considered "different" and often times "wrong" in our society. 

Things to consider/Question:  Throughout the course of American History there has been a recurring theme of groups labeled as "different" and "inferior" fighting for their rights in society.  As well as the overturning of many laws and legislation to oppress these groups, such as Brown v. Board of Education which overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of "separate but equal" facilities for African Americans.   Do you think that legislation oppressing the LGBT such as DOMA (The Defense of Marriage Act) and bills such as the "Don't Say Gay" Bill will ever become obsolete in this country?  And like how African Americans and women are discussed in length in schools today, do you think that someday, the LGBT community will have their place in everyday school discussions?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Quotes from Collier: "Teaching Multilingual Children"

Quote Number 1

 "People  untrained  in  linguistics.  particularly  politicians,  tend  to believe that if limited English proficient students can converse with  their mon­olingual  English-speaking  peers,  then  these  English-language  learners  can compete with  them on an equal footing.  If it were only so easy! English-lan­guage  learners  who  can  chat  comfortably  in English do  not  automatically develop the academic language skills needed to compete." (225)

What Collier is saying here is that learning to speak a second language is only part of the battle.  It is possible to learn the oral practices of a language but be completely clueless when it comes to how to write and read the language.  It's similar to how an American preschool student is able to chat in English however they may not be able to write their own names or read a picture book.  In other words, just because a person is able to speak another language at the conversational level does not mean that they are completely fluent in said language.    

Quote Number 2
"Students will produce utterances in the classroom in  their native dialect. To affirm the  home language means that they will not be mid that they are wrong, or that what they say is vulgar or bad. Instead, the  teacher analyzes with the  students  the differences  between  their dialect and the stan­dard  variety:  grammatical  patterns,  pronunciation  differences,  vocabulary items, varying social contexts, and so on." (227)

I think what Collier is trying to say here is that each language has many different dialects depending on the region it is spoken in.  Just because a child may speak a different dialect than the "standard" dialect it doesn't mean that the child is speaking an incorrect or vulgar form of the language.  It's like how English spoken in America is different than the English spoken in England.  It might be the same language and an English speaker from America will be able to understand an English speaker from England but there are distinct differences between the two forms of English.  

Quote Number 3:

"When  bilingual  people  use  both  languages in speech,  alternating  between the two, they  code-switch. Code-switching occurs at the word, phrase. clause, or sentence level. Linguists consider code-switching to be a creative use of lan­guage by bilinguals who know both languages well." (229)

When Collier talks about "code-switching" I believe that she is talking about how when a person speaks two languages they might switch back and forth between each language.  The person may start a sentence in one language then end it in another or vice-versa.  She also goes on to say that code-switching should be encouraged rather than condemned to help encourage the student to learn the second language.  Code-switching is something that I am very familiar with.  I live in a somewhat bilingual family.  My mother's native language is French and while she doesn't code-switch very much but my grandmother will.  She'll start a sentence in English then halfway through switch to her native language, French, to end the sentence.  

Things to consider:
I was able to relate quite a bit to this reading. And I have been exposed to many of the things that Collier talked about in regards to learning a second language. I was brought up in an English and Canadian French (Quebecois) household.  So when I took French in high school I already had some understanding of the language.  However I was told by my teacher that the French I grew up exposed to was "bad French" and that I needed to learn "proper" French.  I would like to know if anyone has had a similar experience, it could be with any language.
A short video on language "code switching."

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Kozol: Amazing Grace -Reflection-

I was originally going to respond on the shorter McIntosh reading (I ended up getting called into work and ended up working most of the day to make up for the wages I lost because of the blizzard) but after I read the Kozol text I ended up changing my mind.  The subject matter really stuck out to me because I had read something similar in a history class about poverty in New York during the first two decades of the 1900s. And I realized that, sadly, not much has changed for the destitute living in New York City.  

Some of the living arrangements that Kozol mentioned in the article have changed very little in the past almost  one hundred years.  The fact that families would have to sleep huddled up in the warmest clothes they owned to perhaps survive the brutal cold of the winters hasn't changed.  The small living spaces being completely infested with rodents and insects during the warmer seasons hasn't changed.  While the diseases plaguing the destitute of New York City may have changed, the large number of poor people of all ages succumbing to disease has not changed.  While drugs like heroin and crack-cocaine were not a problem that the poor had to deal with in the early 1900s, alcohol posed as big a problem in the 1910s as drugs did in the 1990s.  

Granted today there are programs put in place to help the destitute living the country such as SSI and welfare  however they are not always easy for some people to obtain.  Kozol mentioned that one of the women he visited had lost her welfare benefits.  In order for the ailing woman to get her benefits back she would have to get a letter from her doctor, a social worker and a hospital. When she got these letters and presented them she was then told that she would need to apply for a new ID.   I guess the point that Kozol is trying to make here is that even though there are programs in place, very few of the people he encountered had the means to apply.   

There was one paragraph in this that really struck a negative chord with me.  The paragraph started with a quote from a political science professor from New York University which stated: "If poor people behaved rationally they would seldom be poor for long in the first place."  It stood out because I have heard countless rich white men (and women) make very similar claims today.  Sadly, I do not believe that poverty can be changed just by the will of the people in poverty themselves.  And unfortunately this trend hasn't changed and is bound to keep repeating in an endless and vicious cycle.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


My name is Mikaela.  I am twenty-two years old and I'm a "super senior."  I started at RIC as a music major, then I switched to math education (but I couldn't for the life of me pass Calc 1), and as of now I'm a Secondary History Education major.  I started training in Tae Kwon Do four years ago with my entire family.  My mother and sister don't train anymore but my father, younger brother and I all hold black belts. 

My family has five guinea pigs:






(An older picture of me)

I hope everyone made it out of the blizzard okay!