Wednesday, February 25, 2015

"Safe Spaces" by Annemarie Vaccaro, Gerri August, and Megan S. KennedySa

CONNECTION...and a little reflection:

1) Although LGBT issues have necessarily affected my life on a personal level, they are part of everybody's lives. Nobody can deny that problems have arisen from the LGBT movement and, therefore, nobody is free from the burden of solving those problems. It is in this sense that Safe Spaces directly relates to the issues discussed in Johnson's work, Privilege, Power, and Difference. Johnson stated that we as individuals are connected to the problems that arise from our society's structures and that the comfort of the privileged groups comes at the expense of the comfort of more marginalized persons. Johnson also said that the realization that every individual is involved in these types of issues "is the only thing that gives us the potential to make a difference." The suicides of the people mentioned at the beginning of the Safe Spaces piece let us know that solving LGBT issues is a task that requires the attention of every member of the human race. I believe that any judgment regarding unalterable characteristics (race, sexual orientation, gender, etc.) stems from the insecurity of the one judging -- whether its conscious or not. We're all insecure and enjoy remaining within our comfort zones, but I think Safe Spaces and the Johnson piece help us understand that if we can all try to expand our comfort zones and become more secure individuals, then many of our society's problems might not exist...or may not be as prevalent.

2) Safe Spaces was also very much so related to the Rodriguez piece. Both pieces acknowledge the fact that teachers must be more aware of how to properly deal with the issues discussed in the respective articles. In Rodriguez's piece, the nuns did not fully understand how to properly incorporate his first and second languages through practices like code-switching. In the same sense, teachers must also understand how to properly consider the impact of school on the social and psychological development of youth. As Safe Spaces says, teachers must create environments that do not have exclusionary attitudes and beliefs toward LGBT members. The curriculum of our schools must also incorporate LGBT topics within its classrooms. Teachers should strive to create a classroom environment where members of the LGBT community do not feel different from those who are heterosexual. Just as shying away from a student's first language may be detrimental to his or her ability to learn English, shying away from LGBT issues in the classroom also has negative consequences to the members of that community.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

"Aria" by Richard Rodriguez


I chose to do a reflection about Rodriguez's work because it caused me to do a great deal of thinking for a couple of reasons. It was interesting to compare and (mostly) contrast his experiences in school to my own. Not only weren't there any ESL students in any of my classes preceding college, there weren't even any in entire elementary, middle, or high schools that I attended. Growing up, I don't think I even realized that there were students the same age as me struggling to communicate with their peers and teachers. I was unaware that being in a classroom where linguistic problems do not arise was a privilege. I had no idea the struggle that many teachers and students were going through due to these types language barriers. What really stuck with me was what Rodriguez said at the end of his piece. He talked about the relationship between the two types of individualism: private and public. Rodriguez stated that one gains public individualism at the cost of private individualism. He discussed how his assimilation into his school reduced the amount of communication done at home. That assimilation process must have been painful for him. In order to become a successful part of society in the U.S., Rodriguez was forced to sever certain cherished aspects of his family life. He described how he missed speaking Spanish at home with his family because it provided them with a type of private communication that everyone was comfortable with. He also noted negative changes in the behavior of his parents. I never had to distinguish between public and private communication. Looking back on my days at Catholic school, it seems as if the two were merged together. Everything that was expected of me at home was also expected of me in the classroom. I never had to make too many distinctions between private and public interaction. My parents never had to do without certain cultural traditions to ensure that I was successful in the public sphere. I had it much easier than Rodriguez did, although I was unaware of it back in the day. To paraphrase Johnson, the comfort that I felt being taught in English-only classrooms my entire life came at the expense of someone else's comfort. Rodriguez's piece further opened my eyes to the fact that my experiences growing up were vastly different than those of many others. I am grateful to be taking this class because I already feel that it is turning me into a more empathetic person, and I truly believe empathy is something that is greatly lacking in the world today.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

"Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation" by Jonathan Kozol

QUOTATIONS: The three quotes that I used are in red

This excerpt from Jonathan Kozol's book was powerful. As Kozol retold a conversation he had with a seven-year-old boy named Cliffie from the South Bronx, I felt a strong sense of compassion, as well as guilt. I couldn't help but feel as though the level comfort that I had growing up in a middle-class, suburban neighborhood was undeserved. Kozol's and Cliffie's vivid descriptions of the conditions in the South Bronx were eye-opening to say the least. Because of those descriptions, I chose to use three quotations from Kozol's work as the basis of this blog post.

Quote #1:
The first quotation from Kozol that I picked conveys a strong sense of the fact that many people from higher social classes often hold poverty-stricken communities to a certain level of disdain. This quotation came from a conversation Jonathan Kozol had with Cliffie's mother regarding a waste incinerator that had recently been placed in the South Bronx. Cliffie's mother explained how the burner was originally planned to be built in Manhattan, "but the siting of a burner there had been successfully resisted by the parents of the area because of fear of cancer risks to children." Does that mean the parents of the South Bronx were not equally concerned and did not resist equally as hard? Of course not. It simply means that the powers-at-be do not see the residents of the impoverished areas of their city as important. The opinions and health of the South Bronx residents did not matter as much because the residents of Manhattan made more money (Kozol stated that in 1991, the median household income in the South Bronx was only $7,600). It is saddening to know that children are born into surroundings that constantly remind them that they are regarded as unimportant. As teachers, we are expected to be unbiased and demonstrate how each individual is equal. In an environment such as the one Kozol describes, that is a tall order to fulfill because every other aspect of these children's lives suggests otherwise. The organization of our society makes it clear that everyone is, in fact, unequal. We are surrounded by elements that are designed to created insecurity and as a result of that insecurity, humans have forever done wildly unjust things to other humans.

Quote #2:
The second quotation that I chose came from the same conversation Kozol had with Cliffie's mother. She explained how people from different areas come to the South Bronx to dump their unwanted goods. She stated, "People who don't live here come and dump things they don't want: broken televisions, boxes of bottles, old refrigerators, beat-up cars, old pieces of metal, other lovely things." Once again, this quote exemplifies how, often times, people from higher classes disregard the wants, needs, and feelings of   those citizens residing in poverty. Just like Quote #1, this quote represents how higher-class citizens often possess the notion that people of the lower-class care less (or should care less) about the sanitation of their respective neighborhoods. It also reemphasizes the neglect our government has for certain groups of people and the notion that people are judged most heavily on their income.

Quote #3:
The third quote I chose also exemplifies how the many of the powers-at-be often show disregard for the well-being of our current poverty-stricken population. The quote also comes from Cliffie's mother while she is explaining to Kozol how 3,000 homeless families had been relocated to her neighborhood within the span of a few years. She doesn't understand the rationale behind the relocation, saying, "This is the last place in New York that they should put poor children. Clumping so many people, all with the same symptoms and same problems, in one crowded place with nothin' they can grow on? Our children start to mourn themselves before their time." By including this quote in his book, Kozol once again stresses the fact that poverty-stricken communities are treated with total disregard. The quote shows how those in positions of power have not made an effort to solve the problems within many neighborhoods within cities across the country. Instead, as seen in the South Bronx, the problems have only been perpetuated.

The three quotations that I picked, while only a small segment of the Kozol piece, encompass the main idea that children who grow up in environments like the South Bronx have to overcome much more than children born into higher classes. Kozol's conversation with Cliffie and his mother showed how poverty-stricken communities within the United States are often an afterthought in society. Like Jonhson stated in the first article, "The trouble we're in privileges some groups at the expense of others." Overall, this excerpt from Kozol made me realize how important money is, especially Quote #1.
A good documentary about social injustice and a
lot of what we've been discussing in class.

Money never ends.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Intro, yo.

What's up? My name is Pat Brindamour and I grew up in East Providence. I am 21 years old. I am a junior and majoring in secondary education and history. I am the youngest of three and so far I have enjoyed life. I went to Bishop Hendricken and I played baseball there. I do not play anymore but I would definitely enjoy being a coach. I don't have too much free time between school and work. I am employed as a part-time maintenance man at Providence Country Day School, which is in East Providence. I enjoy many different types of movies and music. I am also a fan of stand-up comedy. Sometimes I run pick-up basketball games with my squad. I used  to play basketball in elementary and middle school. This is the first education class I have taken but there seems to be a great group of folks up in here so I am looking forward to the rest of the semester and getting to know everyone.