Saturday, March 26, 2016


Literacy with an Attitude
By: Patrick Finn


In these chapters of Finn’s book, he shares a study that was completed by Jean Anyon who observed five schools in New Jersey that were of different social classes. Anyon compared these schools based on how the teachers taught and how the students learned in the classroom. It was interesting to read these comparisons and to think about how they were similar or different from my school growing up, and the school I am doing my service learning at.

At the end of chapter 2, Finn said, “Anyon’s study supports the findings of earlier observers that in American schools children of managers and owners are rewarded for initiative and assertiveness, while children of the working-class are rewarded for docility and obedience and punished for initiative and assertiveness” (page 20). Why should the social class of students, and the jobs their parents hold, determine what kind of education they are getting? This article I found explains how social class affects children. As discussed in Finn’s book, children of working class families are typically behind those students who grow up in affluent families. Families of high-paying jobs can afford to send their children to expensive schools, and buy their children extra things that may help them succeed. They may even have more time to spend helping their children with homework. On the other hand, students who grow up in working class families may not be getting that same support from their families, sometimes just due to lack of resources. Finn argues that these students need to be taught in a way that will allow them to bring about change in the world.

Another point that Finn brings up is the way teachers and students communicate. In the more affluent schools, students are invited to find answers themselves, and do problems their way. The opposite is true in schools with working-class students. When one student made a suggestion for a different way of doing something, the teacher responded, “No you don’t. You don’t even know what I’m making yet. Do it this way or it’s wrong” (page 10). There are definitely differences in the ways in which teachers communicate with their students and vice versa. This article gives an explanation behind this. The author shared a study that found, “…middle-class parents were more likely to coach their children to assert themselves in class. They were also more likely to get involved in classroom problems. Working-class parents, on the other hand, were less likely to encourage their children to ask questions and more likely to emphasize obedience and deference to teachers”. This reminded me of when Delpit discussed the differences in how people of authority ask questions and talk to students. As Delpit explains, children from working class families are more often told rather than questioned, and they learn to obey right away, while children from middle-class or upper-class families share their opinions and are also asked their opinions.

I found more connections in this piece than just Delpit. In the beginning, Finn talked about the haves and the have-nots. This is something that Kristof touched upon. He talked about how the haves usually grow up to be haves and the have-nots similarly continue to be have-nots. Finn talks about how the have-nots struggle when the haves are getting the better opportunities. I also found connections to McIntosh. The students in the middle-class and upper class schools may or may not realize that they are privileged over those students in working-class schools. They have more resources available to them, and they are being taught a completely different way. However, this may not always make them privileged because maybe the way in which working-class students are taught is really the better way for them.

Point to Share:

I think it’s obvious that it’s inevitable that students will group up in different social classes, and that they will attend different schools. However, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be given the same opportunities at a quality education. How can teachers help students learn to their fullest potential in the environment they live in?

Sunday, March 20, 2016

This American Life, Herbert, website

This American Life, Herbert: Separate and Unequal, Brown v. Board of Education website


The reporters in “This American Life, The Problem We All Live With Part I and II” argue that integrating schools is the best way to close the achievement gap, and give black students the same access to quality education as white students. In Part I, they discussed the school district of Normandy in Missouri. Teachers in this district “didn’t care”, and the district was on probation for 15 years. The students who lived in this district would benefit from an integration program because they don’t deserve not to get a quality education just because of where they live. Everyone should have the same opportunity. The reporters placed emphasis on how obvious it is that integration works, but districts are avoiding it. In Part II, they discussed a district in Hartford, Connecticut where families could choose integrated schools, but it wasn’t forced. The students who went to the integrated schools did better than when they were at their public schools. However, since the integrated magnet schools were on a lottery, many people couldn’t get it so they were stuck at the public schools that they wanted to get away from in the first place. The reporters argued that we need people of credibility to be talking about the importance of integration so people will start taking it seriously. Instead, more work is being done to fix segregated schools instead of integrating schools because that is the more comfortable option.

Bob Herbert argues in his article, “Separate and Unequal”, that “Schools are no longer legally segregated, but because of residential patterns, housing discrimination, economic disparities and long-held custom, they most emphatically are in reality.” People will say that schools are no longer segregated by race, when in reality, many other factors are causing that to be true. Herbert points out that many people stay away from integration because it’s difficult and because they resist bringing about issues of race. However, it has been shown in the past that integration programs are what actually help students succeed and do better. Herbert said, “Everybody’s in favor of helping poor black kids do better in school, but the consensus is that those efforts are best confined to the kids’ own poor black neighborhoods.” As it was pointed out by the reporters in This American Life, if students are surrounded by other students who are all behind in school, then they are all going to stay behind in school. It is important to take steps to help all students do well, no matter their race, economic background, district they live in, etc.

Brown v. Board of Education was a 1954 Supreme Court decision that, “stripped away constitutional sanctions for segregation by race, and made equal opportunity in education the law of the land.” Since the decision education has been made “equal” for all students. This can only be done with integration. Every student, regardless of race, should be given the opportunity to have a quality education.

I saw many connections in these pieces to Kristof’s “U.S.A., Land of Limitations?” In districts where integration programs are not an option, these students are not being given an equal opportunity at quality education. Just because they live in a certain area, they have to go to a bad school. Kristof said, “Remember that disadvantage is less about income than environment.” Some kids are stuck in a place where they see no room for improvement. They haven’t been given the opportunity to try something new or see a different way a living. There could be much better possibilities for them if they were only given the chance to explore those possibilities.

Points to Share:

This was the most eye-opening week for me. The two listening episodes especially made me think. I think it’s important to teach all kids, but especially those living in poor districts, that there is more out there. But, in order to teach that to them, there has to be opportunities for them to explore those possibilities. Integration programs are a great example of this. I loved that the listening episodes were so recent because it just shows how relevant this issue is, and that there are actions being taken to help all students.

One quote from Part II that struck me was when one girl was talking about going from 1% white high school to a 75% white college. She talked about how people were so friendly and nice and she said, “You don’t know if it’s genuine because you’re not used to it.” It’s sad to think that people have to question the kindness of people because it’s something they’ve never seen before.  

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Kahne and Westheimer

In The Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning
By: Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer

Extended Comments

This week I chose to do an extended comments post using Ariana’s post.

Ariana started off by comparing our service learning project to the article. I agree that our experiences can have positive effects on the students we are working with, and also on ourselves. Every time that I go to my school, I am always doing something to help. Very rarely will I be standing there with nothing to do. This project helps the school and the classroom we are working with just as much as it provides us with a great experience.

I agree with Ariana’s point that “service learning should be done in order to help and give back to the students’ community or school. Students should use this as a learning experience to better understand what is going on around them.” I think service learning should be more than just getting a signature from a supervisor. That is why I like how we spend time in class discussing our experiences and writing journals about them. I think it’s important to reflect on service learning more in order to get the most out of the experience.

In Ariana’s post she talked about how she had to complete 30 hours over the span of 4 years (which I agree is not a lot at all). For my school it was a little different because I went to a Catholic high school and our community service was included in our senior year religion class. For half a semester of our senior year, we would do community service every Wednesday. Our teachers arranged our placements for us, and they included places like elementary schools, soup kitchens, and nursing homes. I was placed at an elementary school, and I got so much out of the experience. We would spend the other half of the semester learning about the people we would be serving. These topics would include things such as poverty and homelessness. Every week that we went we had to do a discussion board and write journals, similar to what we do for this class. Since we didn’t have to do it on our own time, students never really complained about having to do the service, and it seemed like everyone really got the most they could out of the experiences.

I found connections in this reading to Johnson. Johnson talked about those who are privileged, and what the privileged can do to help those who are not privileged. I think this clearly relates to service learning. If you have the resources and the time to help those around you, you should. We should share our knowledge and our experiences with others who might not get the chance to have that.

Point to Share:

I agree with Ariana that service learning benefits everyone. Personally, I love to volunteer, and it makes me happy to know I am having a positive effect on someone else’s life. I think service learning is important in order to understand what is going on around you, and it doesn’t hurt to give back to your community. As an early childhood teacher I obviously wouldn’t be able to send my students to do community service like you could high school students, but I liked the example in the reading of inviting speakers and researching information to learn about a particular issue in the community, and then coming up with plans to help that group. This could be done with any age.