Thursday, November 17, 2016

Literacy with an Attitude

"The status quo is the status quo because people who have the power to make change are comfortable with the way things are. It takes energy to make changes, and the energy must come from the people who will benefit from the change. But the working class does not get powerful literacy and powerful literacy is necessary for the struggle. How can the cycle be broken?"
- Patrick J. Finn.

             I chose this quote because it is a very powerful quote that can be interpreted as a thesis question. The title of the book is called "Literacy with an Attitude: Educating Working-Class Children In Thier Own Self Interests" and Finn attacks the issue head on in the form of a question. He explains to us how the people who have the power to make change are comfortable with their way of life now. These people, based on my opinion after reading the text, are the middle and upper classes. Generally speaking the middle and upper classes of society are educated, wealthy families. Finn addresses how the working class has to be the "energy of change" but without powerful literacy the working classes chance of creating change is minimal.
               After reading this quote,  "No taxation without representation" popped into my head. Finn explains to us that the people who need the change most and would benefit from the change, cannot express their needs. It reminds me of the colonial slogan, because the colonists were not represented in British Parliament, and when their voices were finally heard it started a revolution. I believe Finn is calling for the same thing. A revolution of literacy and the power it holds. By giving these working class people the opportunity to learn and grasp the ideas of literacy you now allow for them to voice the need for change. This ultimately would spark the "revolution" because these people can now express what needs to be done in order to create change.

"Aronowitz and Giroux suggest that we must view teachers not primarily as technicians equipped to accomplish goals set for the by curriculum experts and administrators but as intellectuals, free women and men with special dedication to the values of the the intellect and the enhancement of the critical powers of the young....discuss three kinds of intellects...Critical Intellects imagine themselves to be critics of society and the existing order who stand outside society. They believe themselves to be apolitical, to take no sides, to have no agenda, to be free of bias, and to be free floating."

              I chose this quote because I feel I can connect on this personally. After reading the description of the critical intellect, I found that I tend to act in the some of the same ways (well maybe except for the intellectual part). The part that stuck out to me was the apolitical stance. I feel I can connect to this strongly, especially after the recent election. During this election I tried to stay extremely neutral when talking to my peers. Politics can turned any discussion into a fight, and I was not for that. When I would ask people their ideas and views on the election and what was going on, I would make it clear that I didn't want to just listen to their opinions because I neither agreed or disagreed with what they thought. I truly just wanted to hear the reasons behind their political views. Some people were taken aback, others found it inviting. I always make sure I am always apolitical on social media, not because I am a critical intellect, but mostly because I do not want to hear the stupid things people say, and I also want to stay out of drama. I also feel I fit the free floating nature of it as well. During the summer I work as a summer camp counselor, this year I found myself doing a lot more work than normal, taking on much more responsibility as I now worked with less staff, more kids, and an older age group. When ever an issue would come up my coordinator loved bouncing ideas off of me because I had a very open mindset. If something went wrong I would not shut out the world, I would instead help brainstorm to find a way to make the day go smoothly and make sure the kids were entertained and that we got what we needed to done. And not to sound cliche, but my favorite philosophy is the "flow like water" ideology. Summed up in a sentence; when water flows down a mountain it does not stop because a rock gets in it's path. Instead it continues on, moving around the rock, not letting it stop it. It's pretty deep if you look it up, and Bruce Lee loved it too. I find this is relevant to the text because as someone who wants to be a future educator after seeing Finn say all teacher can be broken into three categories it made really think and open my perspective on the different issues he addresses.

"It connected the curriculum ( the Cherokee removal) to the students' lives. It helped them see that they can create knowledge from their own lives. It helped them reflect not only on their individual lives, but on their society and how society "makes and limits who they are" It helped the students shift their focus from themselves as individuals with individual problems to themselves as members of groups who had problems in common that demanded collective solutions." 

                 I chose this quote for my final quote because it is an example of how powerful literacy can be and its impact. Prior to this quote Finn explains how a classroom was assigned a reading on the Cherokee Indian Migration. After reading the class was asked to write responses on how they personally have had rights violated, and then shared them as a group to each other. By using literacy the students were exposed to the idea that the Cherokee Indians had there rights taken away. But by making the class reflect on personal experience, and how it ties into the lesson allows for greater lessons to be learned. By having students wright down times there rights were violated they are now forming a personal connection with the curriculum, and by sharing them with the class they are creating a collective group  discussion again focused purely around the curriculum. By doing this the students are subliminally grasping the concept, taking a historical event, and creating a personal connection (to a degree) of the individuals focused on during the lesson. Because of powerful literature skill (at a high school level in this example) students not only read to gain knowledge, they used literacy skills to connect the curriculum to themselves personally, then by sharing their responses with the group they were able to connect and associate the curriculum with a community. By doing this, you eventually will get the demand for collective solutions, because 10 voices is more powerful than one. Which is why Finn believes in the power of literacy and pushes for it in working class environments. Because he wants everyone to have a voice, and he wants to see the collective demand for change that this world needs.

The example above I found to be similar to the psychological concept of "Cognitive Structure", I found a website that explains very basically how forming personal connections helps students learn new concepts. I found it informational, but as a warning there is a lot of behavioral studies in this brief page as well.
Cognitive Structure

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