Monday, November 30, 2015

Promising Practices Blog

For promising practices, I attended Transgender Wellness at All Ages and a lecture on a study done on the World View Lecture Series.

I arrived at the dining hall around 8:00. I grabbed my name tag and found a table a few of us from FNED 346 were sitting at it. I threw my stuff down and immediately rushed to get a tea in order to get some sort of caffeine in my system. Fed and slightly energised, I was ready to tackle the day.

The day began with the keynote speech by Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott. A woman with a long list of credentials, (A specialist in treating infectious diseases and teaches at Brown University) she is not one to be trifled with. Her keynote address definitely lacked lustre, that's for sure. It focused on integrating healthcare services with social workers. I'm not completely unfamiliar with this topic. The nurses in the show "Call the Midwife" often make home calls and care for the sick and work to provide government funded services to them besides healthcare when their patients need it, however; I can't say I was overly thrilled at the idea of this being an hour long speech. It felt like it dragged on for at least three hours. Her PowerPoint was too dull to be seen from the back and it was cluttered with paragraphs on each slide. She broke two cardinal rules of PowerPoint: Don't use clashing text and background colours and don't read off the slides.

The question and answer period of the keynote definitely livened things up. The first girl implied to Dr. Alexander-Scott that the state government wasn't doing their jobs correctly and that all the changes she talked about would be pointless until the government changed. Perhaps the young lady had forgotten that the speaker also sits on the governor's board of advisors on medicine. Another woman came up, talked about her resume, asked Dr. Alexander-Scott if the state was looking for a certain position, and when told no, she sat back down. The final question came with an added political plug for a man's organisation. He told everyone that they could find him in the back with more information on dying with dignity legislation.   

The keynote addressed reminded me of the Kristof piece we read from the beginning of class. Kristof talked about how his friend was doomed from the start because he was unable to advance in society due to his birth in a lower social class. Dr. Alexander-Scott talked about how often times disease rates were higher in poorer neighbourhoods and certain communities, like the LGBTQ community, because outreach to them is often more difficult or not done at all.

I was extremely happy to get of the dining hall and go to the lecture on transgender wellness. The first session was definitely the most interesting one of the day. Professor Rowell was a small, spritely woman with enough energy to power a city. She moved about the room with amazing speed and was very passionate about her topic. Rowell discussed the importance of recognising transgender youth and allowing them to live as they are. Most importantly, she said they just want to be treated like everyone else. At the end of the lecture, she passed out a bunch of resources on LGBTQ issues for people to take home with them.

Just a few of the handouts from Prof. Rowell
Prof. Rowell's lecture reminded me a lot of August's "Safe Spaces". Rowell talked a lot about creating safe spaces for students where they could just be themselves. If they want to change genders, let them. If they don't want to have a gender at all, let them. She advocated, like August, that we should be allies for our students. It also reminded me of Johnson in that Rowell said we needed to say the words in order to get over the issue. We can't avoid transgender issues because ultimately, they become our issues as a society.

The second session was not as interesting as the first. It was about the impact of the Worldviews Lecture Series on students' diversity awareness. The Worldviews Lecture Series was a series of lecturers from around the world presenting topics about education. The goal was to get underrepresented minorities in the teaching field in to lecture about different topics. Lectures included an education specialist from Japan who talked via Skype and a group of educators from Israel. The presenters weren't expecting the audience they got. I believe they were hoping for a room of professionals or graduate students but instead they got thirty undergrads. They did their presentation. Before the lecture, they gave the audience a brief survey asking them if they agreed with a statement and rate it 1 (completely agree) to 5 (completely disagree). At the end, they gave the audience the same survey. The results showed that people were more aware of diversity and culture at the end than before. Interestingly, students who identified as homosexual saw higher spikes in cultural awareness.

My first Promising Practices was definitely an interesting day. I think I would go back if the focus was not on healthcare and instead was looking at education or a topic more closely related to my interest.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Kliewer: Reflection

Most schools have some sort of special education program in them. Out of the three high schools in Warwick, my high school (Pilgrim) had the largest population of students in special education program in the city. The students had three or four classrooms in the math wing of the building they used for their classes. They were always part of the school yet at the same time, they were segregated. At lunch, they always sat at one table near the entrance of the cafeteria. It wasn't that there was a rule designating them to sit there. Nor was there a rule barring other students from sitting with them but it never happened.

Reading Kliewer's article reminded me of integration. The broadcasts from This American Life, (Part One and Part Two) demonstrated that racial integration allowed students from different backgrounds to learn from each other which helped in creating a better learning environment for everyone. Kliewer demonstrated with Isaac that a student with different learning capabilities is able to be in a classroom with non-disabled students and hold his own. Isaac was able to learn from others and showed a deep interest in reading. He was understanding the story, enough to act out portions of it for his classmates which shows comprehension.

Integration began to happen at my high school in the last two years with a unified basketball and volleyball team. Non-disabled students are learning just as many lessons from those with disabilities as those with disabilities are learning from non-disabled students. At the MET, I noticed one student Friday morning who was disabled in the common room. Every time someone came in the building, he held the door open for them. The students thanked him and then went on their way. After reading this article, I'm curious to know if he is in an advisory with other students like him or if he's in a class like Shayne's from the article.

Pilgrim High School's Unified Volleyball Team

Monday, November 9, 2015

Finn: Extended Commments

You'll have to excuse the late post. Because of Promising Practices on Saturday, I had this weird idea in my head that Saturday was really Friday and so here I was, on Monday, thinking it was Sunday only to realise I had forgotten to do a blog post!

Anyways, for this post, I decided to use Erica's post as the base for extended comments. I really liked her usage of quotes, connections, and hyperlinks to bring this reading to life. 

Looking at the first quote she pulled from Finn, "The status quo is the status quo because people who have the power to make changes are comfortable with the way things are." (Finn XI). I had the same thought that he took this straight out of Johnson's mouth. Those who have power intend on keeping it that way. Nobody wants to lose out on the privileges they have so to keep that way, those in charge create a "culture of power"  that allows only people from that culture to remain in charge. 

37% of those surveyed thought the key to being in the culture of power was a college education. In order to get to that education, one has to already know how to behave in the culture of power.

Erica's next point about the language used by Finn to a lower level reading class also stuck out to me as a Delpit moment. One of these happened to me this past Friday while at my service learning. Before breaking into advisories, the students of the building were all gathered in the lunch room. The vice principal was about to speak but the students were all talking. She grabbed the microphone and said, "Why is everyone talking?" and I cringed very visibly and thought to myself, "What would Delpit say?" Sure, these kids are in high school and probably had some idea of what she meant, especially since they all quieted down but it still made me cringe.