Friday, December 5, 2008

Ethnography Paper 1 Pager

I. My research question is how far the role of teachers should play into a student’s home life and just how far the role of a parent should play into a student’s school life when it comes to deciding what books students should or should not read and deciding which books should and should not be allowed?
II. The primary sources I got for this paper are interviews with three high school students, interviews with three high school teachers, and interviews with three parents of high school students.
III. As a result of my research, I have found that there is a general agreeance that the teacher’s role can play into the home only so far as the parent will allow it, while the parent’s role, regarding their own kid(s), can play all the way into the school in deciding which texts to allow. A teacher can only go so far as to where there is no disagreement among parents. Once a parent disagrees, that is here that a teacher’s role stops playing into a student’s home life. If a parent disagrees however, that parent’s role plays right into the heart of the school. The teacher must then assign a different reading or different assignment for at least that student, which could affect the entire class. A parent can also go beyond just not letting their kid(s) read a book to trying to get the book removed altogether, which could result in none of the students reading the book. This would greatly affect the school and particularly the teacher’s classroom. While that is the extent of it, it seems that the real answer to my question lies in morals.
Amongst the students, teachers, and parents that I interviewed, there seems to, for the most part, be a generally accepted answer that depends on certain morals. It seems that everyone agrees that the extent to which the role of the teacher can play into a student’s home as far as selecting what books to read is simply as far as the parents will allow. If a parent does not want their child to read a book, the teacher shall not make them and will provide a different reading or assignment at no expense to the student. The extent to which the role of the parent should extend into the school as far as which texts should be read is a bit more complicated and vague of an answer, but the overall answer that seems to be what the majority agrees upon seems to be based on morals. The most commonly agreed upon answer is that the role of a parent can extend all the way into the school so long as that role only affects their own kid(s). If a parent disagrees with a text, they have every right not to have their kid(s) read it, however, it seems to generally be agreed upon that it is wrong for the parent’s role to go beyond this. While there are of course exceptions to this, it seems that a majority agree that the role of the parent is going too far when it tries to affect what other kids are reading. If a parent disagrees with a text, and as a result tries to remove the book altogether in an attempt to keep all students from reading it, they are over stepping what a majority of my interviewees would agree are their moral boundaries.
IV. What can a teacher do to refute the removal of a book? What can be done against organizations, such as certain Christian organizations, that fight to get books that are often great for teaching banned for having some profanity, sexuality, drug use, or other such reasons? Should laws be passed to protect the freedom of speech as far as censoring books or should laws be passed granting teachers the final decision in what books they select?
V. Kathie Dubrin’s “Books Under Fire,” Julie Gorlewski’s “Christ and Cleavage: Multiculturalism and Censorship in a Working- Class, Suburban High School,” Suzanne M. Kauer’s “A Battle Reconsidered: Second Thoughts on Book Censorship and Conservative Parents,” Margo L. Roberts’s “Parents Censor High School Literature and are Allowed to Burn Books They Find Offensive,” and The American Library Association’s “Intellectual Freedom and Censorship Q & A.”

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Having Your Say

In the question of censorship and how far the role of the teacher should follow into the home and the role of the parent into the school when it comes to what to read, there is no clear answer. In some of my research, I have seen a couple set standards that seem to be established. The most prevalent being that a parent may choose whether or not to allow their child to read a certain text, but when that parent tries to force their beliefs on the rest of the class, beyond just their own child, that is wrong. It seems that the set standarad is that morally, a parent's decision to censor their own child froma certain text is as far as they should go. A gap that still exists in this questioning is that to what expense is such censorship causing to the student? Should the teacher have all say and should it be assumed that what they are teaching is important and may portray real life examples that will better prepare the student for life and teach them valuable lessons, or should the parent have all say and to censor their child because they feel things are against their personal beliefs or simply are not things their child should know or be aware of? In my research, I hope to fill this gap by looking at essays and real life examples of such incidents, as well as interview both parents and teachers to what they think.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Censorship Question

How do you establish when a student is mature enough to deal with certain text? This is a good quesion and a very difficult question to answer, as it can be different for every single person. I believe the readiness of a person depends on theri own life experienes. Some students have been exposed to and learned about many of the controversial topics today, such as drugs, sex, violence, abuse, rape, etc. and therefore are more than likely ready to deal with such issues within a text. However, this is vague as well as many students, unfortunately, may have been exposed to these things too soon, and perhaps a book would bring back bad memories or would simply be innapropriate for the age level. Also, there are many students who have had little or no exposure to such things, and to introduce texts that deal with such things to such students could lead to confusion or perhaps even a more traumatic reading of the text than other students may get. It is very hard to tell who can handle what and who is ready to read certain texts. There are obvious markers, such as making sure the books are overall age appropriate, like not having third graders read The Perks of Being a Wall Flower or other such texts, but there are many other aspects to think about that are unique to each individual, so it is an extremely difficult question to answer.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Responding to Gee and Delpit

In reading Gee’s and Delpit’s essays, there is a certain chain of utterance that is required to understand Delpit from Gee and to understand how both relate and relate to you. To read the Delpit essay, Delpit assumes that her readers have read or at least familiar with the key concepts of Gee’s essay. Gee has to say that one is bound to their primary discourse and have a lot of trouble entering into another discourse and that one learns and becomes who they are through unconscious learning in one’s discourse. They become one way naturally, without awareness. Delpit argues these points by saying that one can be taught to enter into another discourse and can even learn to manipulate or transform a secondary discourse for their own personal empowerment or gain. She also claims that the learning that goes on inside a discourse is something that we are aware of. Where Gee says it is difficult for a student in a separate language discourse to enter into an academic discourse, Delpit argues that it is crucial for teachers to teach their students correct grammar and other superficial things that are crucial for entering into a primary academic discourse. It is important for us as English teacher’s to understand this and that it is our goal to teach proper language skills within our discourse, regardless of whatever outside discourses students come from. How can you make students from all sorts of other discourses learn to conform and transform into the academic discourse that you need to teach, and to what point can one punish the students for retaining what they have been taught all their lives through their dominant discourse however?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Language Investigation 3

Throughout high school, the classes I took and the ones I enjoyed (particularly English) ultimately led to where I am today as an English major at CSU. I remember my very first class in high school was English. As we walked in, the teacher said that we were going to open up the semester to a quiz and told us all to get out a sheet of paper. As everyone was moaning and getting out a piece of paper, the teacher was writing something on the board. When we all looked up, we were shocked to see that the teacher had written the word “SHIT” in very large letters on the board. Our quiz, he explained, was to simply write down the past tense of the word. My attention was instantly received and I could tell that this was going to be different English class than anything I had done in middle or elementary school. I wrote down “shitted,” because I really did not know the past tense of the word. It turns out it is “shat,” and so I failed the first quiz, but my interest was gotten and my eyes were open to new things. It was in this class that I was truly opened up to English and saw the different applications and found an appreciation that I had never had before. We studied things like Shakespeare, poetry, sonnets, novels, and epics, like the Odyssey. There was such a variety in everything that we learned throughout that class, and where I once saw English as only breaking down sentences and reading books, I now saw it in a new light. We had to break stories down, dissect them, and look into them. I gained an appreciation for figurative language such as metaphors, similes, etc. We also had to look at poetry, and where I once saw meaningless lines, I now began to understand and appreciate poetry, as we were weekly forced to write some ourselves and I saw how hard it actually was. We also had to write many essays, and although I occasionally struggled here and there on the long ones, I found that I never really had to try too hard and I typically got good grades and my writing became more and more effortless. Throughout the class, we were expected to use proper English, in both our papers and responses, and I found this particularly helpful in my writing because my writing became more professional and I had to put extra effort in to make sure the papers read well and sounded good, which gave me a greater appreciation for my work. It also taught me to write the way I would be expected to throughout the rest of high school and into college. I believe the teacher taught this way to open our eyes to everything English had to offer and to get us thinking in new ways and to gain an appreciation, or at least an understanding, or it all.
As I progressed through high school, I took many more English classes and I learned new things throughout. I learned all about Shakespeare and gained a whole new appreciation for his works. I also read a lot of novels and learned to look deeper into them and found new meanings throughout and really liked everything I was learning. I saw poetry in a whole new light as well, and my liking and understanding of it grew and grew. I was learning all about English, and I found that I really enjoyed it. I even liked the essays that inevitably went hand in hand with English classes, and found that for the most part, it all came naturally to me. I had various classes, from creative writing and basic English classes, to AP English classes and specific classes, such as Shakespeare. A few things remained constant throughout. We learned to take new approaches into literature of all kinds and our investigation into such literature became more demanding, but as I learned, it became clearer and somewhat easier. Also, I learned to improve my writing from year to year, and even explored other forms of writing through various projects, such as fiction and story telling and poetry. While every English class was different and each teacher taught me something new and different, the overall outcome was a deeper understanding of and a great appreciation for English. There were sets of rules and regulations throughout, such as learning how to use and apply figurative language, using proper grammar and punctuation, and applying the other basics we learned that were unique to each class. It was apparent that each teacher set such rules and regulations to make sure that students were learning what they needed to learn and becoming better writers, but each teacher brought something more. They added their own styles of teaching and went deeper into the subjects than just the requirements, and in doing so, sparked interest and enthusiasm into anyone who was remotely interested in the subject. They taught us to use and apply the English language and all of the various applications of it. All of this was extremely useful to me and helped me to really find a passion for English.
As I came to the last semester of my senior year, I took my favorite English class to date. It was called American Literature, but it was nothing like what I expected. We studied things such as 2 Pac and Bob Marley, and their poetry and lyrics. We also studied hippies and Native Americans, and how the Native Americans disliked the hippies for claiming to support the Native’s cultures and love for earth, yet were free-loaders. It was an extremely interesting class and the teacher taught it in a way that really got people thinking. We saw many new forms of the language and it was the first time I had seen a more modernistic approach to English. We saw more than just written or published works, and the teacher got everyone involved and interested, which I had not really seen before. I believe he taught such uncharacteristic things to show us that all of the various aspects of the English language that we learned throughout high school applied to everything, not just the cliché typical English works. This was very useful, because while I could identify and apply the things I had learned about English, I never really thought about them outside of the classroom. I now saw how all of those things applied all over the place.
All of these conventions have affected me in many ways as a college writer. Through all of those classes, I learned how to write properly and in a structured manner. I also learned how to make a paper sound good and read well. I learned all about figurative language and how and where to use it. Everything that I learned has really helped me in college. While college takes all of these things, and furthers how we apply them or look at them, my basis stands in what I learned how to do in high school, and with that strong foundation, I am able to face college writing confidently and interepidly.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Warmup Ch. 5-6

What did you notice about the language schools used to refer to the students Rose featured in this chapter? How did this language mark students as “insiders” or “outsiders” to school? How do you think these labels might have influenced students’ literacy development later on?

It seemed that these students who were referred to Rose came from typically lower economic status and were somewhat English impaired. It discussed how when one can only barely speak the language, it makes one not be able to see the braking down of the language to form writing as well. In this the students become “outsiders” at school, as they cannot perform the same writing tasks as the other students and are then labeled as remedial or other such titles. Rose described that giving these labels at an early age can have serious effects on the students throughout their lives. In describing the broad, non-specific testing used to make a general assumptions as to ones abilities and needs, Rose states, “…the very means we use to determine those needs- the various remedial procedures that derive from them-can wreak profound harm on our children, usually, but by no means only, those who are already behind the economic and political eight ball” (pg. 127). He is describing how such labels can stick with kids, particularly those who are labeled as such simply because of the lack of advantages they have in lower economic situations, and set the path for them throughout their entire schooling career. A child may see they are labeled as remedial, and feel that is all they can amount to, and not be challenged otherwise from the outside and simply accept it within themselves, eventually being stuck in such a label.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Language Investigation 2

Among friends, there is certain language that one becomes accustomed to within that group. When you are with these people, the words and phrases you use with them sound natural and everyone knows what you are talking about. However, if you were to use that same language around someone not involved within your circle of friends, it may not make sense and the words that may come so naturally and make perfect sense to you become a barrier between you and your other audience. I will tell you about some of the words and phrases that I use amongst my group of friends, however, even some of these become further exclusive based on the hobbies or skills of certain friends.
For example, amongst my snowboarding friends, words such as chill, switch, sketch, and kicker come up. Not the most exclusive words, but for people who never snowboard or ski, they might to sound familiar at all. Chill simply means relaxed, and can be used anytime to describe a relaxed situation. Switch simply means that you are riding with the opposite foot forward as you are used to and can be used anytime to describe when this is happening. Sketch is short for sketchy and can mean when something is dangerous or risky. Kicker typically just means a jump, and can be used to describe really any jump that sends you into the air.
Amongst my gaming friends, there is another set of words and phrases exclusive to the group. Some such words are pwn and newb. Pwn is a word that means to destroy or dominate an opponent in a game and can be used anytime such an act occurs. Newb means someone who is new to a game or is not very good at the game, and can be used to describe any such person.
As far as my athletic friends who lift weights often go, words such as set and bulking up are popular. Set simply means a session doing a certain lift in a row. It can be used to describe any straight session of lifting weights. Bulking up means gaining muscle tone. It can be used anytime you are working out specifically to gain muscle.
Another set of friends where terminology is somewhat exclusive is amongst my drinking friends. Words such as wasted, shotgun, and pong come up often. Wasted refers to when one has had too much to drink and is acting foolish or passes out. Anyone who is intoxicated and doing something they wouldn’t normally do could be considered wasted. Shotgun is an act in which one punctures a hole into the bottom of beer can and then places that to their mouth as they pop the top and quickly drink a beer with the added help of gravity. Shotgun is a verb and can be used to describe such an activity. Pong is simply short for beer pong, a popular drinking game that is more formally called Beirut. The word can be used to describe the game, for example, “Let’s play pong,” or, “I have next game of pong.”
Another set of friends I have in which language can seem exclusive is amongst my friends who are very music involved. Some of them may even be described as emo, just one of the words that could be considered exclusive. Other words you might hear with them are mainstream or mosh. Emo refers to a certain kind of music popular for emotional lyrics, but has come to known as a stereotypical group consisting of tight jeans and hair covering their faces. Mainstream just means music that is popular amongst most people and therefore typically disliked by my music obsessed friends. Mosh just means to charge and run into a lot of people at a concert.
All of these words and phrases are perhaps not the most exclusive and probably sound like common language to many of us who are involved in many different social circles, but to someone who is distant from a certain group or has no experience within the world of another group, these words may just sound like jibberish. For example, grandparents might not know what many of these terms mean, so while they may not be exclusive to everyone, particularly youth, they still remain exclusive enough to use caution when using them, because sooner or later, someone will not know what you are talking about.