Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome

The article this week started out really dense. It was not boring, there was just a lot of information that needed to be processed in order to be able to understand the rest of the article. Once I got past the density, I absolutely loved the article! It was so interesting and I loved all the stories that were told. The struggle that those with Down Syndrome, as well as many other disabilities face, is absolutely unfair. What makes me sad is that those who deal with children who are disabled have all of the tools to help them, and some just do not know how to use those tools. It is so frustrating knowing that these children could be helped and those in power just don’t recognize that.  One quote that I really liked from the article was

 “It’s not like they come here to be labeled, or believe the label. We’re all here, kids, parents teachers, whoever,- it’s all about us working together, playing together, being together, and that’s what learning is. Don’t tell me any of these kids are being set up to fail”


This quote speaks volumes to me. These kids are out here trying their best and being so happy with the life that they have that sometimes they don’t even realize that they are being oppressed. They do not realize that what is happening to them is not fair in any way, shape, or form. Teachers and youth workers are given the tools to help all children succeed, there should not be any exceptions. Maybe I am biased, because I am a PASS worker with a young boy who has Down Syndrome. He is the happiest person I have ever met in my life, he tries so hard in school and it is so frustrating to see that some of his teachers are not using the tools that they have.

Social Justice Event

For my social justice event I attended a guest speaker at the college. His name was Chris Herren, and he was a former college basketball prodigy and NBA player. He struggled with addiction since his first year of college at BC, and continued to struggle for many years afterward. He was born and raised in Fall River, Massachusetts.  He travels around to high schools and college campuses around the United States to tell his story. He became addicted to cocaine at age 18, and that only spiraled into other drugs and substances in the years to come. Before college, he considered himself as a regular kid, who went out on the weekends and drank and smoked, but he would never get into anything else. When he reached college he felt a tremendous amount of pressure because he received a full basketball scholarship. In short, all of the things that he worked so hard to achieve went down the drain after he failed multiple drugged tests and lost his scholarship and was kicked out of school.

 By a miracle of a chance, he was given a second shot by Fresno State in California. He flew out there, but by then his addiction was full blown. He entered a rehab facility, but asked to leave early to witness the birth of his second child. He never went back to rehab and continued on struggling with his addiction. He played professional basketball both in the NBA and overseas, all the while maintaining his drug addiction. After some time and some help, he began to find his way and got sober. He has been sober ever since.

                I really think that this can be related to McIntosh’s idea of invisible privilege and power. Being a talented, white  basketball player from New England, no one thought that this kind of thing could happen to Chris, he didn’t even believe it himself. Throughout the whole presentation he was telling us how he always thought that he could stop, and he never viewed himself as an addict and that is what took him so long to get help and get sober. But since he was not actively paying attention to his problem, and neither was anyone else, it went unnoticed for a very long time, which is exactly what McIntosh said will happen.

The link above is to Chris Herren's website that will provide you with more insight into his life and his story.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Literacy With an Attitude- Extended Comments

This week I decided to do an extended comments blog and I really liked the connections that Madison made in her post. Madison uses this quote from Finn to explain the first connection she made.
“Over time, political, social, and economic forces have brought us to a place where the working class gets domesticating education and functional literacy, and the rich gets empowering education and powerful literacy. We don’t worry about a literate working class because the kind of literacy they get doesn’t make them dangerous”
Madison was able to relate this to the Brown vs. Board of Education case, and the interview with Tim Wise. Madison compares the racial issue in Brown vs. Board of Ed to the social class issue discussed in the Finn article. I found this interesting because I did not make that connection until I read Madison's blog, and I saw her insight into the readings. She really interpreted the readings in a way that I did not.
For Madison's second connection she said she found herself constantly thinking of Delpit. She used this quote from the Finn article to relate the content to Lisa Delpit.
“I was from the working class and I knew how working-class and poor kids related to authority. They expected people in authority to be authoritarian, and I gave them what they expected
Madison explains that this is basically the main idea that Delpit presents. You must teach explicity the rules and codes of power . I firmly agree with this statement as well. If you as a teacher do not tell the children what is expected of them, how are they supposed to know what they can and cannot do inside of your classroom? Madison also makes another connection to Delpit. Finn states that he is direct with the students instead of talking to them in a questioning manner. Delpit explains that you always have to be direct with the students because then the students will definitely know whether or not they are right or wrong. I found this connection as well when I read the article so I felt intelligent when I read it on someone else's blog.
The last thing that Madison talks about in her blog post was an article that she found that related to the Finn article. The article is about grouping, which I personally think can both help and hinder a student depending on their outlook on learning. I know that in my service learning placement, all of my students are grouped together because they are the most behind and they need the most help. I think that grouping the students together like this when there is a worker specifically helping them is not a bad idea. The only thing that turns me off to the grouping idea is the fear that the students may start to feel stupid, and that is the last thing that you want as a teacher. If a student were to catch on to the group being all the students who are most behind in the classroom, it could be possible that they would begin to feel like they are less intelligent than their peers, which will turn them off to learning.
Madison, great job on your post and thank you for helping me with mine.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Brown v. Board of Education

This weeks reading and videos really struck a chord with me. I was already very familiar with the case, but by navigating through the website that was provided to us I really gained some more insight and knowledge about the history.

I do find it almost disturbing that there was a time when schools  were segregated and that it was almost forbidden for races to intermingle. That being said, we still are making strides as a society. As a country we have come a long way in terms of racism, but that doesn't mean that it is no longer an issue. Tim Wise states clearly in the video that it would be wrong for him to say that there is no longer a race issue to worry about. I like that he doesn't sugarcoat things. I know that we have come far as a society but we still have a long winding road in front of us. I think that this is true for all grouos of people that have been discriminated against for whatever reason. We have made leaps and bounds of progress as a society in many ways, but that just isn't enough. 

I think that it is evident now that we have made many changes, we have intergrated schools and we have a preisdent of color. I'd like to think that this all started thanks to the very public case of Brown vs. Board of Education. I think that a lot of times it takes public bravery and courage to kickstart what could be a revolution. I think that of course there were probably hundreds of things that happened prior to this that just weren't as public. But as we know, publicity is something that can really help spread the news of something. It can really help people start to rally behind each other and fight for what is right.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

My name is Katelyn McCaughey, but I go by Kate and in a few weeks, I will no longer be a teenager, which is both exciting and and horrifying at the same time. Over the summer, I played my last year on my competitive travel softball team. It was a bittersweet ending. I am taking this class because I am a Youth Development major. I am a student-athlete, so when I am not in class, I am usually at the gym or at practice. I live on campus because that makes being available for practices and games much easier, though it is hard for me to be away from my family, especially my favorite little nephew who lives at my house (those who say that you cannot have a favorite family member are lying). With a full year now under my belt, I am excited to see how I will grow, not only as a student but as a person and member of society, and I am excited to see how this class affects that growth. :)

"You just cover up... and hope you wake up the next morning" Quotes from Jonathan Kozol's Amazing Grace


This article although it is heartbreaking, can really teach a lot of people something. After reading Amazing Grace by Jonathan Kozol, I found myself thinking about my own life experiences and even my own thoughts about homelessness and living in unprivileged areas. I know that many people in the world stereotype these people upon first glance, and that is why I really enjoyed this article. Kozol goes into this neighborhood and takes the time to talk to these people, just as they are. He treats them as equals and talks to them as human beings, which is what should happen anyway, but we all know that it does not, and I'm afraid it never will.At the end of this post I have attached some photos of Mott Haven today, to bring the picture that the story paints to life.

"I try to get him to speak about "important" persons as the schools tend to define them. 'Have you read about George Washington?' 'I don't even know the man' he says" (Kozol 9).

The fact that this little boy - who is growing up in New York- does not know who George Washington is, would definitely shock some people. I think this is because many people refuse to see what is going on in the world around them. Why would this boy Cliffie, who is growing up in Mott Haven, New York know about George Washington? He is growing up in a world where it isn't even safe for him to go outside at night, where he can walk down the street and find dirty needles on just about every single corner, and where the majority of the people that he knows and loves have either died of or are suffering and dying of AIDS. Children who grow up in places like this do not focus on people like George Washington, or any of the Founding Fathers for that matter, and although Cliffie does not know who George Washington is, he still proves to be a very bright little boy. He is a product of his environment, and when he is showing Kozol around the neighborhood, it shows. He knows which streets to walk on and which streets to steer clear of, he knows the ins and outs of the neighborhood, and he has seen things that many of us will never see in our lifetime. He may not know who some people are, people that we have spent years and years learning about and admiring, but he knows how to survive every single day, and that is a skill that many of us will never have to acquire.
"Since the time that I met Mrs. Washington,
I have spent hundreds of hours talking with her in her
kitchen. I have yet to figure out what she has done that was
irrational" (Kozol 22).

This quote really speaks to me because Kozol is challenging the beliefs of so many people. As he previously mentioned, many people believe that if "poor people behaved rationally, they would seldom be poor for long in the first place" (Kozol 21). He then describes what he has learned about Mrs. Alice Washington, and he comes to the conclusion that he does not believe that she has made any irrational decisions. This just proves how the world stereotypes people. No one ever thinks that a poor person just fell on hard times, that they somehow lost their job and lost their income. The first thing that so many people, my former self included, would say when they saw a homeless person or someone living in a bad neighborhood, is that they must be a drunk or a drug addict. That they are living this way due to the fact that they spend their money on drugs and alcohol. No one really stops to think that maybe, something happened to them. Many people believe that those who experience hard times, do so because that is what they choose to do. Mrs. Alice Washington, who, before she came to live in Mott Haven, went to college, had a job, and was married. Did she choose to contract the AIDS virus from her husband who was unfaithful? Did she choose to be in an abusive relationship? We all know the answer to these questions, so why do we treat all of these people who are living in these types of neighborhoods the same way. It makes me think back to the old saying "never judge a book by its cover". Meaning that before you know the whole story behind something or someone, you really should not make a rash judgement on them. I really think that is the message that Kozol is trying to send.

"I believe that we were put here for a purpose, but
these people in the streets can't see a purpose. There's a
whole world out there if you know it's there, if you can see it. But they're in a cage. They cannot see." (Kozol 24).

This just solidifies my previous point. People don't see clearly into the lives of the people who live on the streets. People think that all of these people are the same, but here David Washington makes it clear that he sees life beyond his in the South Bronx. He knows that he was put on Earth for a purpose, and can see the whole world at his hands. He knows that many of the people that he lives with cannot see past the hand that they have been dealt, whether it be their own fault or not. These people feel trapped, and because they are not given equal opportunity, their entrapment becomes real. Not everybody who lives on the streets is a drug user, alcoholic, gang member, or prostitute. But isn't that the picture that society paints? David has said that he knows many of the people in his neighborhood do not like him because he refuses to buy drugs and take part in those types of activities. They feel this hatred toward him because they feel trapped inside of this lifestyle, because society has made it so they feel that they can never get out. They are stereotyped by everyone around them, even people like us, who have never met them or seen the way they live. We all have a picture painted in our minds of them, and yet we have never exchanged a single word with them. I think that is the saddest thing of all.

The link above is a little page with some brief history about Mott Haven.