Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hyperlinks In the Service of What?

In The Service Of What? The Politics of Service Learning
By Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer

Hyperlinks In the Service of What?

Until this class I had never heard of the term “service learning” before.  The closest thing I did to service learning in school was singing holiday songs at the local nursing home. I know many schools now require students to have a certain number of volunteering hours in to graduate. I think that this is an excellent idea.  I liked that the one educator, Mr. Johnston allowed his students to individually pick their service learning project. I think by allowing students to choose their own they are more likely to pick something that means a lot to them and will put more care into it. However I do also think the students should have to do some research into that area so they can learn more about how to best use their time and resources.

One of the programs that several of the kids I coached are involved in is Best Buddies. This is a program that creates “one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  This program builds a relationship where as in our reading Noddings explains, a relationship develops in which "the other's reality becomes a real possibility for me." Many of the students involved in Best Buddies stay friends with their buddies even after high school. Several of the students who participated in high school also do so in collage and help out with special Olympics. 
One of my favorite service learning projects is the Florida Special Needs Color Guard. Students in a color guard work with special needs students to put together a show. They get to share something they love with someone else and learn that people with disabilities are no different then they are. The guard performs in front of thousands at the world championships. It is a very moving performance and the participants become resources to one another. Several other guards now have their own Special Needs Color Guard and it is something I would like to put together one day as well.

Empty Bowls is a great service learning project I learned about from one of my former students. According to the website: "Potters and other craftspeople, educators and others work with the community to create handcrafted bowls. Guests are invited to a simple meal of soup and bread. In exchange for a cash donation, guests are asked to keep a bowl as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world. The money raised is donated to an organization working to end hunger and food insecurity".

Another program is RebuildingTogether. Rebuilding Together provides “an extensive home rehabilitation and modification services to homeowners in-need.” This is a great program as well although as pointed out in our reading “in many service activities, students view those they serve as clients rather than as a resource.” This seems to be what happens in the Rebuilding Together program because it is more focused on a material item (house) then it is the person. This brings me to my question to my fellow classmates: How can programs such as Rebuilding Together and Empty Bowls that focus more on work and less on people make sure that those who volunteer see these people in need as a resource and not a client?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein

Extended Comments: Mikaela's blog

Like Mikaela I was to old to be interested in the Disney Princesses when they came out (I was 22) but even as a child I was never into the princesses in the Disney movies. I was just not a fan of the movies. I never played princess as a child. I never wanted to be one of those girls who waited for her prince. I pretended to be Wonderwomen fighting crime and saving the world or an Indian hunting and sending smoke signals to other members of my tribe.

My Indian birthday party. I am in the middle.
The Super Grover toy my cousin is holding was one of my all time favorite toys.

I like Mikaela, also disagree that “girls are born just loving pink” as pink was also never my favorite color. My mom also painted my room pink and it had pink bows and this beautiful pink doll lamp. My friends loved it but I was not a fan. My mom tried very hard to get me to love pink an all things girly. She always put me in dresses. I used to love going to my cousins house because my aunt would let me wear pants and go out and get dirty in the yard.

My pink bedroom. Everything was pink and white.

I agree with Mikeala that girls loving pink goes back to that secret education. However unlike the Orenstein who wants to blame Disney and other toy companies I think it is more about the parents buying into the pink and princess craze then it is the children. Moms get all excited and people dote on girls who are all dressed up and playing the part of princess. They give the girls positive attention and often push what they think is cute on their children (I know not all parents do this but a majority do). M Orenstein talks about how being a princess used to be a bad thing. The word princess brought to mind spoiled brats.  Yes, Disney changed that image but I feel like parents bought into it just as much if not more then the children. 

Points to share: Do you feel it is the toy company or the parents job to let little girls know there is more out there than princesses and pink to chose from? Do you think that the parents are the ones encouraging the toy companies or is it really the little girls who are just born wanting this stuff?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

New Transgender Student Guidelines Raise Questions At Mass. Schools

Until this class I never really thought about the struggles and challenges transgender students face. I honestly had no idea that there were many transgender students (or people) out there. Not long after our section on Safe Spaces I saw the following headline: NewTransgender Student Guidelines Raise Questions At Mass. Schools. One of the comment I read was from someone who said, “Wait... transgender students??? This is news to me!”  That comment could have been mine before this class. The fact that is article was linked on CNN is a great thing for the transgender students as it helps to spread awareness and let people know that they are apart of their community.

In the article transgender Logan Ferarro spoke about his experience as a transgender student. He says, “It ended up being harder than it was because they had no idea what to prepare for they had no idea what was coming. They had no idea what even transgender was.” This goes back to awareness. The more schools are aware the more they can prepare to help these students feel safe and succeed. Massachusetts changed their laws to add nondiscrimination on gender identity. However many school are still trying to deal with this issue. How do they make all students feel safe and comfortable while allowing transgender students use facilities for the gender they identify with? It sounds as though the schools are working to do this with unisex bathrooms and locker rooms. I was glad to read this in the article, that they are actually working to achieve this and not just say, “Nope we can’t do it because it may make other students uncomfortable.”

At the end of the article Ferarro says he hopes the school will reach out to his organization if they need guidance. This made me sad. Ferarro went through this experience and instead of hoping they will reach out to him he should reach out to them. Without the help and input from those in the transgender community even the most well intentioned school will not be able to full understand and make sure all their BTGL students fell safe.