Sunday, September 28, 2014

This Is Water

I included this link in my first think piece, but I am including it in this blog post as well because it is one of my favorites.  The video contains audio from an excerpt of a commencement speech given by David Foster Wallace at Kenyon College in 2009.  Take nine minutes and check it out if you can…it will open your eyes to how you view the world:

Lisa Delpit's piece, "The Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People's Children" made me think of of Wallace's "This Is Water".  In his speech, Wallace challenges individuals graduating from a well-known university to broaden the perspective and not be as quick to pass judgements on others.  This idea reminded me of Delpit's piece.  The fifth aspect of power, according to Delpit, is, "Those with power are frequently least aware of -- or least willing to acknowledge -- its existence.  Those with less power are often most aware of its existence" (Delpit 24).  When people fail to recognize others'  perspectives and possible struggles, they will fail to exist in harmony with one another.  Delpit also said, "Children from middle-class homes tend to do better in school than those from non-middle-class homes because the culture of the school is based on the culture of the upper and middle classes --of those in power" (Delpit).  I think that if more teachers in schools today applied Wallace's perspective into their outlook on students and teaching that the success difference between classes would be greatly reduced.

On an unrelated topic, I saw this this week and really liked it.  It would be great to post in a classroom or a home, but even we as adults could definitely apply it in our lives.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

"Amazing Grace" Jonathan Kozol Reflection

Jonathan Kozol's "Amazing Grace" really opened my eyes to a world entirely different to the world in which I grew up.  Although Kozol references to 1991, over 20 years ago, the numbers and statistics presented are shocking.  The piece states "At the elementary school that serves the neighborhood across the avenue, only seven of the 800 children do not qualify for free school lunches.  'Five of those seven,' says the principal, 'get reduced-price lunches, because they are classified only 'poor,' not 'destitute.''"  The town that I grew up in was almost entirely middle to upper class Caucasian families.  I doubt that there were even seven kids that did receive free or reduced lunch.  It really makes me sad to think that the free lunch that many children receive at school is the only full, balanced meal they get all day.  Looking back, myself and all the kids I went to school with, were so sheltered from any lifestyle different than ours.  

I teach dance at a YMCA in  the greater Providence area.  I remember two events in particular that opened my eyes for the first time, when I was just sixteen, volunteering.  The first was when a three year old girl began crying when her tap shoe broke.  She was extremely upset because her "mommy paid a lot of money for the shoes and would be mad".  I definitely was not thinking about money when I was three.  Another was when a single mother of three approached us after class to ask if she could pay for her three daughters costumes (a total of $45) late because she didn't have the money right then.  She told us that we didn't need to give her older two daughters (ages six and eight) their costumes until she paid because they knew she couldn't afford them, but asked if we could give her three year old her costume because she didn't understand that yet.  It took her three months to save up that money.  When I was little and in dance, my mom was always writing checks for costumes, tuition etc.  I never thought twice about asking for a check for something school or dance related.

Although reading and hearing about things like this upsets me, they also make my urge to help those less fortunate, particularly children, even greater.  I don't think any child should have to worry about whether or not they will have dinner or a warm place to sleep at night.   I hope to help children that have very little to give them a chance to achieve their greatest success. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

First Post!

Happy Sunday everyone!  

Hi, I'm Valerie.  I am a sophomore, and I just transferred to RIC this year.  Last year I attended Boston College, but I am SO much happier here at RIC.  I really like all of my classes and my professors.  I especially love the dynamic of the class and how openly we can all talk.  When I am not in class, I work as a nanny for this sweet little guy. 

I also teach dance and barre fitness classes.  I live in Providence with Erin (who's in this class) and our crazy kitten Lola.  She was an impulsive decision that we only regret when she decides the middle of the night is an appropriate play time.  I'm looking forward to this class and figuring out this whole blogging thing…it will get more creative with time :)