Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Unlearning the Myths That Bind us by Linda Christensen

 Media plays a substantial role in the attitudes,behavior and physical aspects of youth today,particularly in young women. We are constantly being bombarded with advertising images and stories which appear to be forcing us to conform to a specific image of how we are supposed to be. Media is an important means to reach out to the masses and to influence thinking and decision making.
I chose to write about this article because I loved how Christensen opened her student's eyes to the hidden agenda in  the media. She got her students to ask the hard questions instead of being "blissfully unaware" of the subliminal messages that are delivered through all forms of media.
I think that or society is obsessed with image...to be thin and beautiful is going to make you happy. If you wear the right clothes and drive the right car you will be happy. We have become very superficial and what's worse we are encouraging our youth to be superficial also. This TED talk by model Cameron Russell is about being more than just a pretty face.
Christensen and her students analyze both cartoons and stories and exposed the hidden messages. It reminded me of a conversation that I had a few years ago with one of my classes. The Twilight series were very popular and the first movie was just coming out. I read (more like suffered ) through all of the books. One of my students asked me who my favorite character was and I told her that I really didn't have one and that I was not a fan of the books...there was a gasp in the room. Then I told them that Bella was my least favorite..louder gasps and they questioned why? I told them that Bella was so boring. She went to school all day with her boyfriend,spent all afternoon with him and then all night. She had no hobbies or interests. Her life was all about her boyfriend. She has no identity of her own. To my surprise there were many students who actually agreed with me after I had pointed these things out.
I have had many conversations with my students about stereotypes in literature and inaccuracies in history books. However, I have never thought to make an assignment from it. I love the two assignments that Christensen gives her students. Having conversations to raise awareness is one thing but to get kids to collect and analyze data is even better. Christensen is providing her students the opportunity to make a difference

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Both "Aria and Teaching Multilingual Children are about ELL learners. Although there are some similarities in both articles, I found the the differences to be glaring. Virginia Collier's approach to teaching ELL learners was much more respectful than the approach that Richard Rodriguez teachers used. I felt so sorry for his parents,especially the father. The school took away his voice as a father. He seemed to loose respect for himself and was in many ways no longer the head of the family.
I see this quite often in my school. Parents who speak no or very little English are afraid to come in to school. They do not feel welcome. Undocumented parents are afraid to seek or accept help. I have one ELL class but at the beginning of every school year, I take a survey on to see how many of my students speak another language at home. This year over 50% of my students speak another language instead of English. The percentage is even higher of parents that can not read or write in English. This makes it difficult for students who need help with their school work. This year my principal wants to try and help solve this problem. We have implemented some after school programs to help kids with their homework and we are starting a before school program where students can come before school as well. We have found that many children would like the before school program because the have to go home right after school to take care of younger siblings.
When the Rodriguez family was encouraged to speak more English and less Spanish at home,they lost some of their identity. Rodriguez's parents were ashamed to be caught speaking Spanish to each other. This is a tragedy. My husband is second generation Italian. This same scenario occurred in his family. His great grandparents were teachers in Italy but spoke very little English when they arrived in America. The children were discouraged to speak Italian at home but they were embarrassed to speak in school. My husband's grandmother  was about 12 years old when they came the US and she shared with me on many occasions how lonely she was and how much she hated school. I think that because of this experience, she never taught her children Italian, something that my husband and my children regret. My oldest son lived in Spain. His wife is Spanish and I know that they fully intend to have bilingual children.
As a teacher I try very hard not to be like the teachers in "Aria" and to be the supportive and respectful teacher like Virginia Collier. It is one of the reasons that I am getting my masters degree. 

Teaching Multilinguual Children by Virginia Collier and Aria by Richard Rodriguez