Classroom Ecology Plan

Why Study Language Arts?

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“‘The truth against the world!’ – Yes. Certainly. Fiction writers, at least in their braver moments, do desire the truth: to know it, speak it, serve it. But they go about it in a peculiar and devious way, which consists in inventing persons, places, and events which never did and never will exist or occur, and telling about these fictions in detail and at length and with a great deal of emotion, and then when they are done writing down this pack of lies, they say, There! That’s the truth!”

–Ursula K. LeGuin

    gmork.jpg

  “Foolish boy. Don’t you know anything about Fantasia? It’s the world of human fantasy. Every part, every creature of it, is a piece of the dreams and hopes of mankind. Therefore, it has no boundariesI am the servant of the power behind the Nothing. It’s the emptiness that’s left. It’s like a despair, destroying this world. And I have been trying to help it…Because people who have no hopes are easy to control. And whoever has control has the power. I was sent to kill the only one who could have stopped the Nothing. I lost him in the Swamps of Sadness.”

G’mork, The Neverending Story


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People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive.so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. That’s what it’s all finally about.”

-Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

 

In this class we will study English / Language Arts / Humanities / Writing in a way that answers the following questions:

  • How is Language Art?
    Words as a form of creative expression.
  • How can Language Arts shape my view of the world?
    Words as a path to wisdom.
  • What is linguistics and the study of language?
    Words as a distinctive human characteristic.
  • What is the power of writing and rhetoric? and How can I become a better writer?
    Words as a communication tool.
  • Why are stories a (REALLY) big deal?
    Words as windows to the human experience.
  • How can I truly appreciate words and writing?
    Words coming to life through critical analysis.

  

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“The world is a comedy to those that think; a tragedy to those that feel.”

-Horatio Walpole

 

What primary projects/activities will you use to position students as active agents of their own learning? How will students interact with and relate to one another and why do you value this for their learning or for the world today? What role will students’ personal experiences play in the functioning of your classroom?

  • Listen to James Baldwin “artist” speech
  • Dramatic presentations of literary texts (skits, videos)
  • Aesthetic visual presentations of readings (paint, draw, photograph, etc)
  • In-class debates
  • Daily writing journal warmups analyzing a quote
  • Analyze music videos
  • Majorly epic poetry unit (common core challenge)

 

How, specifically, will you create an authoritative (rather than authoritarian) presence as a teacher? How do you see your role as a teacher?

I will be authoritative by really knowing my material. I will show my own very best writing as a mentor text (modeling the writing process – by tearing apart my best writing in front of them as if it was the worst writing ever). I will choose really awesome mentor texts. I will create rigorous assignments with high expectations. I’ll give consistent and helpful feedback. Asking questions that challenge students’ assumptions and get them making connections with the texts and with writing.

I’ll reward students with recognition for working hard. I’ll provide extra incentives (like extra credit but some kind of reward besides grade points). Students can nominate fellow students to receive “Carpe diem” awards for hard work and creative exceptionality (and we’ll watch the Dead Poets Society “Carpe Diem” scene to learn what this means).

I’ll make it clear from the beginning that I’m expecting them to work hard and think hard and put forth their best effort so they can get the most out of what Language Arts has to offer them (feeling “the rapture of being alive”).

 

CLASSROOM EXPECTATIONS & POSSIBLE RESPONSES TO CHALLENGES

In order to generate norms and expectations in my classroom, I will spend a good amount of time on the first day of class explaining what our class traditions and routines will be. They will know exactly how the first 5 minutes of class will be spent – journaling. They’ll have a chance to sign up to bring snacks (if that’s allowed in my school…I’ll figure it out). I might possibly introduce a very cheesy song that I got from a teacher with instructions for good writing. It sounds almost like a beat poem mixed with a cheerleading cheer (sing-songy) and goes, “Tell me what you think! Tell me why you’re thinking it – details! Details!” It even has little hand motions. You can’t do it without looking and feeling like a really big dork. But after fifteen years I still remember it, and remember the advice it delivers. I can sing this whenever we do any writing (which will be almost every day, so by God they’ll learn to bond with each other around their hatred of it).

I want the students to be heavily involved in helping to create classroom norms. I would like to ask the students on the first day about their idea of what respectful classroom behavior looks like, both towards their peers and to their teacher. I’ll write down their responses on the board or a poster board – if I write it on the board I’ll take a picture of it and print it out to be displayed in the classroom all year. I’ll give them time to talk with their neighbors in small groups to discuss their ideas, then ask them to share what their groups came up with and for any other thoughts about how they should behave and how to respectfully communicate with classmates during discussions and work time.

After discussing what the behavior and communication norms should be, I’ll also ask them how they think they should be held accountable for adhering to the norms. I’ll ask, “If you’re having a crappy day and find yourself violating this set of norms (or code of ethics, or whatever sounds like a good name for us to call it), how should your teacher or classmates hold you accountable? (Like, what is a way to gently remind each other to raise our hands to talk? etc.) What should the consequences be if you continue to violate the norms after you’ve been reminded of them by your teacher / classmates?” Then they will understand the steps for disciplinary action and will, ideally, resent it less if they’re caught up in it, because they helped to invent it themselves – they own it.

I will also ask the students what their expectations of me as a teacher are and to tell me how I should be held accountable to them. We will write these expectations and consequences in a succinct and aesthetically pleasing piece of writing to be displayed where it can be seen daily.

If expectations are not met, my first course of action will be to remind the students of the standards and norms, perhaps also reiterating the intentions and philosophy behind them. If a student continues to violate norms, I will remind them again, making it a point to mention that I am frustrated with their behavior and also to point out how surprised I am that they would be behaving this way, since they normally do follow the norms and meet the expectations by working hard and producing quality work. I may do this in class or one-on-one, depending on the circumstances and seriousness of the situation. If this doesn’t turn them around, I will follow my school’s disciplinary procedures.

 

ROUTINES, POLICIES, & PROCEDURES EXPLANATIONS

Consider the nuts and bolts of how daily life in your classroom will operate, and describe it. Include explanations of the following key elements (and others that you would like to add):

  • Classroom Assessment System
    • What types of formative assessment will you use (minute by minute as well as day by day & week by week)?
      • All writing assignments will be formative – major papers / book reports / film reports. All will follow a writing rubric with a specific focus on some writing skill for that unit, such as organization, word choice, sentence fluency, voice, etc.
    • What system/tools will you use to manage your formative assessment system so you and students can see growth over time?
      • They will have a writing portfolio and after every assignment they will have an opportunity to re-write for changes, up till the end of the semester. They’ll have a sheet in their portfolio that lists every assignment and the score they received for the rough draft, final draft and optional re-written draft, which they will fill in for every paper I hand back to them and I will “stamp” it or sign it or something, and they’ll turn it in at the end of the semester for final grades (completion is the final summative grade).
    • What role will self-assessment on the part of students play in your assessment plan? How will you use student voice as part of your assessment plan/learning environment?
      • I will have the students edit their own rough drafts during writing workshop times. They’ll write up a short self-reflection explaining what rubric scores they gave themselves on their rough drafts and turn this in as an exit slip on workshop day. They will spend an additional day workshopping by editing their peers’ papers and doing the same thing, sharing the feedback they gave to their partners and then handing in an exit slip with a written description of that feedback.
    • How will you give clear, timely, descriptive feedback aligned with the learning targets in ways that move student learning forward?
      • I will get their longer writing assignments back to them within 2 weeks. Short writing assignments within the week.
    • What are the criteria for success that you will build into your course?
      • Students will be able to:
        • Critically analyze a piece of literature.
        • Write a convincing argument for their analysis.
        • Connect literature and language to artistic expression by practicing it themselves through creative writing assignments (writing their own stories, poems, songs, etc) as well as creative interpretations of literature (such as art projects or skits for book reports).
      • Convey a sense of teacher and student role in the assessment process
        • In addition to having writing workshop days, I plan on having at least 2 one-on-one conferences with each student to talk about their writing assignments and how they are improving as writers. We’ll have the rubric out and the feedback they’ve given themselves on exit slips and just sit and talk about any specific paper that I think demonstrates what they are doing well and what they need to be working on.
      • What types of summative assessment will you use?
        • I will have regular vocabulary quizzes that are scored as small test grades, summative. It will just be a list of words and the definitions that they’ve copied down from the board every day. Sheer memorization.
        • I will also give a summative grade based on their participation and completion of assignments. They will receive full credit for turning in everything and completing the requirements for the writing workshop process (drafting, re-writing, evaluation of their drafts on exit slips) and turning everything in by the end of the semester or unit.
        • I will give opportunities to raise their summative grade by giving them the chance to re-write papers all the way until the end of the semester (or a week or two before the end so I have time to read and evaluate whether they really improved their drafts or not).
        • We will do some comprehension tests on texts that we read in class and they will be summatively assessed on their ability to answer questions about the books or stories we read. I will grade on a curve in case there are any ambiguous questions that students got confused about. I’m not sure whether I want to give them a chance to go over the tests and turn them back in for points after making corrections, because that doesn’t indicate that they really understood the book or made connections with it. I may just make this a plain old fashioned summative test, but give them a chance to re-read the text and complete a creative project demonstrating their understanding of it, if they bomb the test but want to make up for it by really trying.
      • How will you regularly & consistently seek feedback about what students are needing and how they are responding to the learning environment you are helping to create?
        • I will give them an anonymous online survey every two months (or paper version if they prefer) asking them: (1) What do you need from me? (2) Tell me what you are learning in this class. (3) Do you think there’s a way the learning environment in this class could improve?
      • Role of grading in classroom; relationship between grades & learning. What will be included in grades in your class & why?
    • Time routines (beginning/ending class, weekly, etc.)
      • Every day we’ll start out by writing for 5 minutes in a journal. Their writing prompt will be to just respond to a quote from a song or movie or great quotation. I’ll stamp for completion but won’t read it.
      • We’ll have announcement time where I will direct the focus of the class and point to the learning target and answer questions for 5-7 minutes.
      • Mini-Lesson – if it’s a mini-lesson day (maybe twice a week – once to learn and once to review and hear it again) we’ll spend 10-15 minutes on a mini-lesson or lecture, or I may have them deliver a mini-lesson in groups and we’ll use that time.
      • Discussion Time – most of our class time will be in writing or discussion as a class. For Discussion Days we’ll sit in a circle and talk about what we’re reading and make connections with it as a whole class. I want the whole class involved in this because I think it makes it harder for people to hide and check out if they are all looking at each other. Some folks may be more quiet and shy and I’ll give them an opportunity to write their thoughts to me on paper or email me their thoughts and that will be their form of participation for the day. But my goal is for the norms and classroom culture to make them feel safe enough to share with the whole class once they start to feel comfortable.
      • Workshop Time – On days when we do writing workshop, they’ll spend the bulk of the day drafting, revising, or critiquing other students’ papers. I will be walking around workshopping or conferencing.
      • Test and quiz time – this will happen on designated test and quiz days. Times will vary according to the amount of content I’m testing. We probably will never need an entire period for a test that I’m delivering.
      • Presentation and rehearsal time – we’ll be doing creative and dramatic presentations and I want to allot some time for them to rehearse and present. This will vary depending on the nature and length of the presentation.
      • Exit slips – I’ll do exit slips sometimes and may need to give them a couple of minutes at the end to finish up and turn them in. I’ll have an envelope on the door they can slip it into.
    • Materials routineshow will you collect, store, and redistribute student work?
      • I’ll have an inbox for turning in work and I will check it after every class period. I’ll have files for each period to store work that hasn’t been graded yet and a file for work that needs to be turned in. I’ll record their scores and hand back their papers and they’ll be responsible for keeping their work for rewriting and in case I make a mistake recording something. I’ll communicate this to them and provide tips for how to keep track of their assignments at home. If they need folders or binders to organize stuff and they don’t have the resources they need, I plan on having a Community Supplies Bin for students to bring extra stuff they don’t want or need or just want to donate, and anyone can just grab from it at any time.
    • What requirements will you have for work that is submitted?
      • Every assignment will have its own requirements, but I will take any work that is incomplete and their rubric scores or summative scores will reflect it. If they start turning in stuff that’s half-assed and not complete on purpose, I will have a chat with them individually.
    • Late/make-up work policies & procedures – how will you manage the classroom so that when students are absent you have materials in place that support their ability to catch up when they return
      • I will have a website and my email available. If they don’t have access to internet at home I will give them more time as long as they have a reasonable excuse (sick, etc).
    • Seating assignments – will you assign seats? How often? Why or why not?
      • I will assign seats most of the time. I’ll assign their writing workshop groups and they will be seated according to those. I also plan on having the desks in a circle in the room (somehow, or as close to an actual circle as possible if there are too many desks) for days when we have discussions as a whole class. I probably won’t assign seats for that. I am toying with the idea of having my grandpa’s easy chair at the front of the room with a black and white picture of Grandpa Lamont the Humanities teacher looking like a super studly writer. The “Carpe Diem” student for the week or fortnight or month will be honored with the privilege of sitting there.
    • Hall pass procedures – how do you want students to communicate with you if they need to leave?
      • They will need to talk to me and grab a hall pass. If it’s an emergency they can just grab it and go, but talk to me later to acknowledge.
      • How will desks be arranged?
        • In a circle for class discussions, in table group type pods for writing workshop days.
      • In which direction will students be facing?
        • They will all be facing each other in a circle.
      • How will students be encouraged to move around the room? Can they get up whenever they want?
        • During workshop days, yes. Workshop days will hopefully include food so they can come grab food whenever, or come talk to me about their work. I will also be walking around giving feedback.
      • How will you physically position yourself during your time with these students & why?
        • I will not be on my computer during class unless absolutely necessary. I will always either be walking around or standing to deliver instructions, or sitting with them in the circle for discussion. I want my proximity to keep them focused, and also there’s no way for me to really know what’s going on with them unless I’m walking around and hearing their conversations and talking with them.
      • Will the physical environment be modified at different times? When & why?
        • Yes! Always. There will always be new works of art to display, so we’ll have places on the walls dedicated to those. We’ll rearrange the desks regularly every week for discussion times (a big circle) or writing workshop times (pods). I’ll delegate the rearrangement of desks to whoever is in the classroom early just hanging out (there are always students just around hanging out).
        • I plan on not using computers or tablets or electronic devices in the classroom because I just don’t see a need for it (unless we have a special game day where we play Jeopardy or that trivia game where you buzz in with your smart phones – those will be special exceptions). I want them to learn to appreciate the antiquated art of ink and paper. They’re already overwhelmed by technology and I think this will be good for their brains to have a 50-90 minute break from it. Of course they will need some computer time for typing papers, and I will make special appointments for use of the library computers for class time or individuals.

 

FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL

  1. What sort of interest inventory/icebreaker will you use on the first day?

I play on creating my own interest inventory with questions that ask the students:

  • Books they Enjoy
  • Favorite Movies
  • What they did last summer
  • Whether they have a computer / device / internet at home
  • Description of the family they live with
  • Pets
  • What they want to be when they grow up
  • What do they want to be buried with when they die?
  • Languages they speak at home

I also plan on using the Color Personality test that places you into one of four personality types (orange – the adventurer, blue – the dreamer, green – the scientist, and gold – ?). These tests aren’t purely scientific but they are a fun way to discover character traits about yourself and learn why others who are different from you behave the way they do. Once they’ve figured out their color, I will split them into their corresponding groups and each of them will be tasked with building a structure using construction paper of that color. We did this once in my high school drama club, and my drama teacher went around and wrote down quotes from things she heard students saying that seemed to reflect what their personality type was. We had a ton of fun and really learned about each other from the exercise.

Knowing a little more about their home situation from my interest inventory (their language, family structure, computer access) will help me know if there are assignments that could be difficult for some students to complete (like a research project that requires lots of computer time). It will also be short answers and somewhat vaguely open ended for some questions so I can get a sense of if and how much they like writing. The color personality quiz is great because it gets people working together in something as a team right away and demonstrates their strengths and skills. It also shows the diversity of the community because you can see how different personality types function to produce the same thing with a different style of creativity.

I plan to continue the first few weeks of school with group activities like the color personality test. We’ll establish our norms and write them on a poster where they can be displayed and referred to. We’ll start the routine of daily journaling. I will give them journal prompts every day that they can use to journal with no sharing, so they can express themselves completely with no fear of exposing themselves, but during the first couple of weeks I will have them write some “sharing” journal prompts (perhaps highlighting the prompt in a different color or something) where before they start writing, they will know that they’re going to share what they’ve written with their table groups. All they need to do is share, there won’t be any analysis or feedback to the writing itself for the first couple of times, but the idea is to get them used to sharing their work with their peers so that they can be more comfortable with this during writing peer workshops later on.

WELCOME LETTER TO PARENTS 

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Dear Parents,

My name is Amanda MacLean and I’m looking forward to a year with your young people that is full of hard work, adventure, and fun. We are exploring the fantastic world of Language Arts together – the aesthetics, power and function of the written word. My goal is to create a community where your young person feels safe and empowered to be able to express him or herself without fear of being judged, where they will be challenged to become better writers, readers and thinkers.

A little about me: I have always been passionate about writing, good communication, and helping people learn. I graduated from the University of Texas in Austin with a degree in English and a minor in Linguistics. I spent my college years volunteering for a youth organization in East Texas where I counseled and mentored recent high school graduates, providing on-the-job communications training in a fast-paced promotions headquarters. I have experience giving one-on-one coaching and feedback, have managed small teams of students, and have taught training sessions for large groups in customer service, communications and work professionalism.

English was my best and favorite subject in high school, but it wasn’t until my last two years of college that I really began to fall crazy in love with the Language Arts. Words of dead authors came alive to me as they helped me discover the world around me in the beauty and tragedy of the human experience.

In my free time I enjoy writing, singing, playing guitar, compulsively cleaning and organizing things, arts and crafts, camping, yoga, gardening, wishing I was in a play, and daydreaming about foreign travels. I also take pictures and run my own small photography business.

Feel free to contact me anytime by email macleaney@gmail.com or send a message through the contact page on my website: www.amandamaclean.com

Have a great day.

Amanda MacLean

 

 

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My Philosophy of Education

 

What is the purpose of an education, and what is the role of an educator? According to Fishman and McCarthy, John Dewey believed that “life constitutes a generative gift…education should assist people in learning how to realize and extend this gift,” (Fishman, McCarthy 22). Like Dewey, I believe that human existence is a phenomenon which satisfies itself and requires no justification or meaning outside of itself. W.E.B. Dubois described education as a way of “searching out the hidden beauties of life, and learning the good of living,” (Anderson 52). Dewey also writes, “I believe that when science and art thus join hands the most commanding motive for human action will be reached; the most genuine springs of human conduct aroused and the best service that human nature is capable of guaranteed.” (Dewey 5). Society is a collection of individuals whose behavior is either collaborative or self-destructive. Thus, the best life for the individual is one which Dewey describes as being a “member of a unity” (Dewey 1). I agree with Dewey and Dubois and I believe that the ultimate purpose of education is to activate man’s creative intelligence, teaching him to set himself free with his own creative infiniteness. Once liberated in mind, the individual is able to emancipate others around him, creating a free society through mutual understanding and the reciprocity of respect.

The conditions which best support student learning are those in which the child’s basic needs are met. The needs of subsistence are the most obvious requirement – nutritious food, safe shelter, etc. Mental and emotional health needs must also be attended to if a student is to learn, and these include what Max-Neef recognizes in his Human Scale Development: affection, understanding, participation, leisure, creation, identity and freedom. An educator in a classroom may not have adequate resources to provide for all of a child’s needs in order to provide the most optimum learning environment, as he or she is unable to fully access the child outside of school hours and in the child’s home. However, a teacher can, with some effort, provide for several of them by offering a community in which students and adults provide affirmation and support for one another. A classroom where respect is a mandate and bullying is intolerable is essential. The teacher must not intimidate the students into performing, or belittle students as punishment for not succeeding – this only produces further stress and resentment.

Along with working towards meeting a student’s essential human needs, a teacher must create an environment where students are not only capable of learning, but motivated and driven to do so. This requires giving the students a voice in their own learning process and an environment where collaboration with other students is possible. Classroom activities such as “turn and talk” discussions with partners or small groups is a useful tool. One must also remember, however, that some students learn best when independently working in a quiet environment, and that even extraverted and outgoing students can benefit from reflective assignments as well. A teacher can make this possible with quiet reading and writing times, or times of contemplation, such as the Seton Walk exercise. Student choice can be offered by giving options for reading and writing topics, pieces for performance, preferred athletic activities, or special projects in math and science. It is the teacher’s role to creatively design such activities and to recognize the needs of his or her students in directing or designing class curricula.

As I prepare to teach Language Arts, I find that it is important to provide students from the very beginning with the rationale for studying language arts (and liberal arts in general) and to inspire them to find a passion for writing and the humanities. The classroom ecology which I have planned begins with this question as the first step: Why study Language Arts?

The answer provides them with possibly their first conscious exposure to the reason they are looking for:

 

“‘The truth against the world!’ – Yes. Certainly. Fiction writers, at least in their braver moments, do desire the truth: to know it, speak it, serve it. But they go about it in a peculiar and devious way, which consists in inventing persons, places, and events which never did and never will exist or occur, and telling about these fictions in detail and at length and with a great deal of emotion, and then when they are done writing down this pack of lies, they say, There! That’s the truth!”
–Ursula K. LeGuin

“Foolish boy. Don’t you know anything about Fantasia? It’s the world of human fantasy. Every part, every creature of it, is a piece of the dreams and hopes of mankind. Therefore, it has no boundaries…I am the servant of the power behind the Nothing. It’s the emptiness that’s left. It’s like a despair, destroying this world. And I have been trying to help it..Because people who have no hopes are easy to control. And whoever has control has the power. I was sent to kill the only one who could have stopped the Nothing. I lost him in the Swamps of Sadness.”
-G’mork, The Neverending Story

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive….so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. That’s what it’s all finally about.
-Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth
 

 

 

In this class we will study English / Language Arts / Humanities / Writing in a way that answers the following questions:

How is Language also Art?

Words as a form of creative expression.
How can Language Arts shape my view of the world?

Words as a path to wisdom.
What is linguistics and the study of language?

Words as a distinctive human characteristic.
What is the power of writing and rhetoric? and How can I become a better writer?

Words as a communication tool.
Why are stories a (REALLY) big deal?

Words as windows to the human experience.
How can I better appreciate the writing of others?

Words coming to life through critical analysis.

“The world is a comedy to those that think; a tragedy to those that feel.”
-Horatio Walpole

 

Of course, these specific quotes and visuals are somewhat arbitrary as there is no shortage of deeply moving art that can be used to inspire students. More important are the six “how and why” questions I seek to answer with my class, from “How is Language also Art?” to “How can I better appreciate the writing of others?” I see these as six foundational reasons for studying Humanities in general and specifically Language Arts and English, and without communicating them as the core vision of our class, I see no reason to attempt to teach the students anything at all.

After we have begun to digest the class vision, I will introduce an opportunity for the students to help create classroom norms and defining characteristics of our class culture. I will ask the students on the first day about their idea of what respectful classroom behavior looks like, both towards their peers and to their teacher. I’ll write down their responses on the board or a poster board. I’ll give them time to talk with their neighbors in small groups to discuss their ideas, then ask them to share what their groups came up with and for any other thoughts about how they should behave and how to respectfully communicate with classmates during discussions and work time.

Several of the Guiding Principles of the Woodring College of Education resonate with me as foundational to my own educational practice and to my philosophy of education. In the We Believe section, it states that “all beings are interdependent.” Knowing this truth is something I find to be essential for a free, creative life that education is intended to foster and produce – if there is anything I want my students to learn about community, it is this. I also wish to promote social justice in our society by teaching students to perform “critical self-reflection” on “the beliefs and positions we hold, our world view, and where those perspectives come from.” By creating classroom norms and also through the study of literature from a wide array of cultures and home languages, I hope to broaden students’ perspectives by exposing them to new ways of reading, writing and thinking.

A quality education is also an education that not only avoids oppression, but actively seeks to remove it from its greater sphere of influence. In his article “Toward a Theory of Anti-Oppressive Education,” Kevin Kumashiro outlines several different strategies for minimizing or eliminating the “forms of oppression [which] play out in schools,” (Kumashiro 25) and presents their strengths and weaknesses. I agree with Kumashiro that none of the methods he writes about provides one, completely perfect picture of anti-oppressive education and that educators should “look to the margins to find students who are being missed and needs that have yet to be articulated,” (Kumashiro 31). One starting point which I find provocative, however, is the idea of integrating “Otherness” into curriculum. It seems to me that Language Arts has nearly endless possibilities with this, as the study of literature is itself the study of the unique minds of individual writers. Nearly anything can be an informative mentor text for teaching students both how to critique and analyze writing, and gain knowledge from a writer’s unique perspective. Integrating the writings of groups which are commonly marginalized is, in my view, a good point from which to begin. From there, students can carry the torch with their writing and by expressing their own unique views. With a safe classroom culture where all viewpoints are accepted and acknowledged without judgment, I expect my students to use their writing as a way to express their own unique individual voices. By resisting the urge to oppress or marginalize with greater cultural stereotypes and misguided personal judgments, students may be able to develop an anti-oppressive mindset which will shape their paradigms and inform their greater decisions in life.

 

 

Works Cited:

Anderson, Rodino F. “W.E.B. Dubois and an Education for Democracy and Creativity.” Foundational Perspectives on the Aims of Education. Teacher’s College, 2007, pp. 46-61.

Dewey, John. My Pedagogic Creed. School Journal vol. 54 (January 1897), pp. 77-80.

Hansen, David T. “Paulo Freire’s Politics and Pedagogy.” Foundational Perspectives on the Aims of Education. Teacher’s College, 2007, pp. 21-35.

Kumashiro, Kevin K. “Toward a Theory of Anti-Oppressive Education.” Review of Educational Research. Vol. 70, No. 1 (Spring, 2000), pp. 25-53.

Max-Neef, M. 1991. Human Scale Development. New York: The Apex Press.

 

Maybe It Will Rain Today

The sky lit up in a flash. “One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three – ”
BOOM, crack! “Whoa! That was a close one!”Every second you count after the lightning strikes indicates some unit of measurement for how far away it is.

Tonight the smell of wet caliche had been hinting at a storm for hours. As I drove through the west Texas desert I tried to remember exactly what distance each second is supposed to represent. One mile? Ten miles? I looked in my mirrors again to check the tarp covering my truck bed filled with everything I own.

We counted slowly, with precision, eager to see a record broken. We were packed like sardines between the sheets, tucked tightly under the roof of the mighty Mighty Mo – me, my little sister, and my dad – all intoxicated by the same caliche scent characteristic of the longed-for Arizona rainstorm. Lightning moved like a wiggling tree branch at the speed of a wink from ground to sky. The danger of its closeness captivated all of us.

I drove on and on, regretting not getting new wiper blades before leaving. Remembering the smell.

Caliche has its own completely unique smell. There’s nothing you can compare it to. The closest I could come to trying would be to say that you could sprinkle a little sugar over everything right before the rain….then imagine the faint, sweet taste of the sugar in your mind and pretend that it’s actually a smell, mixing with the familiar rain scent, making it sweeter. Just a little sugar on your corn flake cereal… a faint afterthought of a hint of sugar in your tea.

Rain in the desert is a wonder of creation. The usual grey-brown green of the desert plants turns almost turquoise under the dark sky. The clouds brood ominously and announce their presence unexpectedly – there is no in between or partly-cloudy, maybe-it-will-rain-today state of precipitation in the desert. During the 2 yrs my family lived in Phoenix I think it rained more than the rest of my time there, from when I was 13 after my dad died, till I left after high school. The sky poured down on us for a brief time. I drank it desperately after that, like a true desert dweller.

Or maybe I’m just letting my imagination exaggerate the distance with the remembrance of the storm.