Monday, June 15, 2009

Week 6: Be Careful With What You Say

I’ve noticed that when I’m in a college class I tend to focus on using bigger words to express my ideas. Mostly it’s due to the fact that in some classes you need to use specific terms to express you idea but then that leads me to using them in other classes. I never thought that I would use “discourse community” to say “a group of people” but I’ve had at least two classes where I’ve seen and used the vocabulary in.

I work in a high school so I’m constantly surrounded by teenage idioms and it does affect the way I approach the students. I wouldn’t go to a student and try to have a big discussion about something that they’ve never heard of because they would be confused. When I do get a chance to do critical analysis with the students I feed of from the terms that they know and I try to broaden their ideas slowly by making sure they understand what I’m talking about. When I interact with the students, we make jokes but since they are younger than me I have to make sure I don’t make any jokes that aren’t appropriate. Once in a while I have to remind myself that they’re high school students because I might go off in some monologue that the students would get lost in.

With my friends I seem to mix the college style with the working style because we all do the same thing. As a group we’re all have gone or are still in college and we all work at the high school. With them we joke around making references to things that only we would know about. When I’m around them I don’t hesitate and think about what I’m going to say because we already have the comfort to say anything to each other.

Week 3: Books that affected my life

The book that really affected me in some way was The Great Kapok Tree, and I’ve mentioned before how it was very beneficial to my literacy. The book was a main focus in my second grade class so a lot of activities were based around it and it helped out if you enjoyed the book. When I first read the book I loved it because of all the animals that are seen and the message the story was trying to give to kids. It was so interesting to see animals asking a human to save nature and that’s one thing that I never forget about that book. The book brought all the students together because of all the projects that were created based on the book. As a class we worked on making the book into a play that we performed to our parents and some other classes. Then we all worked on letters that were mailed to the President about saving the rainforest and everyone was happy to share with each other what they made. I remember making a letter that when you open it, a jaguar’s face is in the middle and the mouth was popping out. This book helped me with reading and writing in English so it’s tough to forget this book on the list of things that helped me become a better student. I remember trying to read this huge collection book of the Calvin and Hobbes comic strips. I remember that I would have so much trouble understanding the jokes but I loved looking at the things the characters would do. It did help me in trying to read English because I would struggle a lot but once in awhile I would figure out the joke.

When I was younger I remember that in my house we didn’t have that many books when I was only speaking Spanish. But when I started to read in English as well as my brother, my mother would take us to the library very often and we would check out almost three books each. When our school would have book fairs my mother would always buy me as many books as she could. I started to collect Goosebumps novels all throughout elementary (I still have all the books in toy briefcases in the garage). It was mostly the children who would do a lot of reading in the house but I think we started to read so much more because my parents understood how important education was and they wanted to see us have success. I did notice that my family would get the newspaper but the only things that I would read were the comic strips.

There are two books that I’ve read and they’re very opposite of each other. During Spring Break I read The Watchmen and Where The Wild Things Are. I read The Watchmen because I took a course on adolescent literature and this was so much hype build around this graphic novel with the movie coming out. In the class I didn’t get a chance to read it but watching the group report on the graphic novel it sucked me in. To me, The Watchmen is just an amazing novel that’s filled with so many philosophical ideas and the story is frightening to me. It reminds me of a dystopia and I love reading those kinds of books. Judging it as a comic would not be sufficient because it gives so much more than what a comic gives a reader. I read Where The Wild Things Are because I heard that they made it into a movie and I wanted to read what it was about. I remember very little about the book so when I read it was like I was having a childhood moment as an adult. It’s such a short story but I thought I was so amazing and I loved overanalyzing the small book. I loved the concept of imagination in that book.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Nineteenth- Century Origins of Our Times by Harvey J. Graff

In this critical essay Graff gives a historical context on how literacy and the formal teachings of literacy came about in the 19th century. Graff depicted literacy as having non liberating influences. Those few who were literate in early America in the 19th century were limited in their use literacy and the majority of the country was illiterate. He states that “Literacy was used for order, cultural, hegemony, work preparation, assimilation and adaptation, and instillation of a pan-Protestant morality; in addition it contributed to work and wealth.” Early on education was used for moral and religious development and the most important thing taught in school were moral and civic duty. Mass education was seen as salvation to maintain social stability and progress. There were two schools of thoughts when it came to providing education for the poor. There were the “Optimists” who believed in educating the poor so that they can have a chance to rise up from their situation and enhance their opportunities to participate politically in society. Then we have the “Pessimists” who also wanted to educate the poor, but not in the way the “optimist” would. They wanted to keep the poor in their present status and educate them in accepting their inferiority. In the mid 19th century literacy was viewed as a skill it “was and advantage but not a requirement for life and for learning the ways of society.
Education as a whole was seen as a way to teach mortality. Moral bases of literacy were a way for young people to assimilate “to the hegemony of the dominant culture.” The ideology of public education was driven toward order, discipline, rationality, and specialization. Although people were becoming literate reading was not done often and what little that people did read was not “approved” literature mainly consisting of fiction, cheap books, and street literature. Graff touches base on how reading was a social exercise, even when people did solitary reading they were expected to share what they read. There were some problems in the acquisition of literacy in the school institution for children. These included “problems of physical conditions, attendance, teacher ability, and instructional method often militated against effective early learning and the development of proficiency in literacy. The problem in teaching was that in basic reading some teachers were all for teaching the alphabet first and some were for teaching words first. This in turn confused the students they were reading but not understanding what it was that they were reading so reading comprehension was thrown out the window.
Graff points out that there was a mass amount of illiteracy in African Americans in the 19th century. This is a result of slavery, oppression and discrimination. It was illegal to teach African American slaves how to read and write. A handful out of the plantation will know some form of reading or writing and these were usually the slaves that worked in the house and were close to their owners. These literate slaves were highly regarded in their community and were sought after to teach what little they knew to others secretly. To African Americans literacy was a form of freedom and freed slaves sought to gain education. Blacks struggled the most in their quest to acquire literacy; whites opposed them getting an education. There were many impediments that included white resistance, shortage of teachers, of funds and facilities and some could not afford the loss of a child’s labor. Many African Americans continued to fight on and “continue to maintain their faith in education… [and] their commitment to the ideology of improvement and advancement in American society.” The “new immigration” of the late 19th and early 20th century brought about a whole new wave of European immigrants to the United States. Europe had gone through education reform and the majority of immigrants that immigrated to the Stated were literate. Literacy was viewed instrumentally as a way of economic gain. Education for immigrants was targeted so that the newcomers would be part of the melting pot. Some resisted and educated themselves in their own ways and traditions. “In their educational strategies, immigrant groups responded differently, and in the process they shaped their own accommodations to the dominant culture.

Out with the Old in with the New

Sponsors of Literacy: Claudia

How is literacy successful on its own? Can we separate evaluate literacy as an individual rather than seeing it as an economical development? How does literacy differ from individual to individual? Does socio economic standing affect the way we attain literacy? There are many factors as to how we individually develop literacy. Due to, the variety of our backgrounds no one person learns literacy in the same way. We all acquire it differently and when we all come together into society, we are in different levels and have different attributes to offer.

In order, to individualize literacy we need to explore what factors play a fact into it. One is the influence of sponsors. Sponsors “are a tangible reminder that literacy learning throughout history has always required permission, sanction, assistance, and coercion, at minimum, contact with existing trade routes. Sponsors are delivery systems for the economies of literacy, the means, by which these forces present themselves to and though individual learners” (556). Hence, through sponsorship we can witness how the equilibrium of literacy is unbalanced.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Protean Shapes in Literacy Events: Ever-Shifting Oral and Literate Traditions by Shirley Brice Heath

As people turn to literacy, oral tradition habits are lost. Oral tradition is said to tell meaning without starting it. On the other end of the spectrum language in the literate tradition tells the meaning explicitly. The expository essay is a great example of the literate tradition. Formal education, scholarship, is what has driven us in the countinuous direction of oral tradition to literate tradition. To examine where a particular community lies in the oral or literate traditions one must look at the literacy event. “A literacy event is any occasion in which a piece of writing is integral to the nature of participants’ interactions and their interpretive processes ”. Heath observes how literacy events are very different in context, from filling job applications to handing out handouts as a girl scouts do. She goes on to say that “There are more literacy events which call for appropriate knowledge of forms and uses of speech events than there are actual occasions for extended reading or writing.”
The community of Trackton was observed in their language use. In this community all adults can read and write and hold respectability for literacy. Literacy events in the written language uses were observed here. The adults did not explicitly read to the children but answered questions that the children asked about messages in writing. The children told stories modeled on the oral tradition of the adults. Storytelling is an integral part of the children’s lives and are triggered by the stimuli in their environment. Heath gives the example of a two year old boy who tells about a day at church. He was inspired to tell his story by a distant bell sound. The sound of the bell works as the stimulus to his spontaneous storytelling.
Adults in this community read and write socially. These literary events took place in many purposes; they were instrumental, interactional, news-related, confirmation based, for provision of permanent records, memory supportive and as substitutes for oral messages. Literacy events were also observed in church at the community and showed how messages are said differently orally and written out. A prayer delivered by a school teacher was observed, the written out one was very simple in writing and formal. The oral delivered speech was very informal and more elaborate. Heath notes the differences in both events in their use of formulaic vocatives, in the expression of Personal Involvement. She notes the difference in the expression of sentence structuring and the informality of the oral delivery. Heath points out that the “… meaning of words people carry with them depends on the integration of those words into personal experience.” At the workplace adults in the community are not required to practice their literary skills as well as in formal institutions such as a bank. In the end Trackton community members show their understanding of written materials through oral means. They do not solely fall within the literate or oral traditions, but in both.
Posted by Isabel

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

From Outside In

What constitutes “correct” language from “improper” language?

As we have learned through personal experience or through classroom exposure written and oral language differs in a multitude of contexts. According to Barbara Mellix, “a complicated relationship between language and power may require a new awareness of what is proper in each community”. Hence, the type of social surrounding us at any specific moment constitutes and shapes the language for that specific time. For instance, if I am at school I will use adequate language however, when I am in my comfort zone with my peers, I can relax and use a less scholarly type of language. Many people face this specific type of predicament. The difference in proper and improper language makes it hard for many to communicate thus, creating a gap between communitites. It almost seems that ebonics and such types of communication is dominating up to the point of Mellix, "teachers teaching standard English but used black English to do it." It seems almost amazing what teachers have to do to teach proper English, but this is the only way to get the students to understand what the teacher is trying to explain.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Richard Rodriguez Reading

The reading is an excerpt from Richard Rodriguez book and he starts talking about his education. When people would ask him how he was able to get so far in life, Richard would say it was because of the school he went to and the support he had at his house. But at home Richard would have trouble getting help from his parents because of the language barrier. When he would just focus on reading everyone would make jokes about how he doesn’t play outside. Richard says that the reason he was so successful in school was because he couldn’t forget how school was separating him from the life he use to love. Leaving the life that he enjoyed for a successful education was “the loss” for Richard.

Richard goes on to reference Hoggart’s writing and how similar it was to his own life. In Hoggart’s writing there’s an explanation to how the school and home life are culturally opposites. For the child to understand the school culture they have to be more alone and let go of some of the family’s ethos, and the students who do this are called “scholarship boys.” It would be easier for a child doing this at a young age but when the child is a “working class child” it would be difficult because the classroom would make the child discourage their parents. To the working-class children everything their parents do will be perceived differently than how the scholarship boys see their parents. Scholarship children will feel embarrassed about their parents and try to make a teacher a father figure.

In the reading, Richard Rodriguez understands that he’s a scholarship boy and talks about how he didn’t like how his relationship with his family was disappearing because of his education. He started to get embarrassed by the lack of education that his parents had and never noticed their “enormous native intelligence.” He felt that everything he was reading was only for the ability to say that he’s read that book. Rodriguez says that the scholarship boy only looks at life as “unromantic and plain” and all his ideas are “clearly borrowed.” He says that the scholarship student is a bad student, a mimic, and that they only reach nostalgia at the end of their schooling.