Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How about this one ?

This makes me think a lot about the so called " poor" how about you ?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Bell Hooks quotes and connections

So this article reminded me of a lot of things, first it reminded me of the discussion we were having in class about the apprehension in applying to certain graduate programs, the feelings of not belonging and   being consistently out of our element.  I feel this now when I'm looking at schools myself, if I can go it alone, outside of my comfort zone of my fellow working class friends and away from all that I have ever believed about myself.

Hooks shares her experiences with us and justifies them for us as well.  Feeling out of place outside of your class is the normative; at least in certain institutions that value class distinctions.  At the end Hooks spoke about her schooling experience and made a comment that made me very much think about the Anyon article we read.  She says:

"My way out of being a maid, of doing the dirty work of cleaning someone else's house, was to become a schoolteacher. The thought terrified me. From grade school on I feared and hated the classroom. In my imagination it was still the ultimate place of inclu­sion and exclusion, discipline and punishment-worse than the fascist family because there was no connection of blood to keep in check impulses to search and destroy. "

Anyon would argue that Ms. Hooks was clearly educated in a working class classroom.  This conclusion would have been obvious to us even without her documentation of the fact because of her feelings towards the classroom.  Anyon talked about how crucial relationships were to children across different classes and those relationships were the basis of the rest of their lives.  The fact that Hooks went very far in the education system proves that she was an exception to this line of observation, or was she? One could argue that the experiences she had as a child in the working class classroom forever made her feel as though she did not belong.  Her feelings and doubts about her own worth were proven and challenged by those of higher class who believed themselves to be inclusive of some superior race.  I bet they went to one of the professional schools mentioned by Anyon; encouraged to think for themselves, solve problems by themselves, and believe in themselves, something working class children never have the luxury of doing.  Hook's teacher in grade school must have had an all powerful relationship with her during her years of schooling.  Hook's was probably given what we have entitled as busy work, meaningless information that requires no complex thought, and whose concerns were probably continuously ignored.

(I still have to say it makes me mad that the teacher we read about in the Anyon article did not care about the child's broken pencil)

Hooks also mentions jobs:

"When we were not devoting ourselves to books and to poetry we
confronted a real world where we were in need ofjobs. Even though' I taught an occasional class, [ worked in the world of the mundane. I worked at a bookstore, cooked at a club. worked for the telephone company. "

The schooling Hooks also received also more than likely allowed her to believe the type of job she would have would be just that, a job, not a career.  She was trained to follow orders, never thinking for herself, a place where the African American could remain at the bottom.  I'm sure Oliver and Shapiro would very much agree with this statement as well as Hook's observations, but one fact that would exclude them from agreeing would be the subject of race.  While acknowledging that the poor white girls had a different set of ideals than the rich white girls,  Hooks mentions her white friends within the same class as her.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Anyon and Gorski

First I really liked the Anyon article, I thought many of my own learning experiences were reflected in it. I thought the break down of schools and their teaching methods as they relate to capital was pretty interesting.  I don't know about you, but I hated when we did what I remember always calling "busy work." Work that required no thought whatsoever, reading and spitting out what the book said in ten year old lingo. Never thought it actually related to how I would grow up, what kinds of jobs my mind was prepared/programmed for.

"The first two schools I will call WorkJng-class Schools. Most of the parents have blue-collar lobs. Less than a third of the fathers are skilledwhile the majority are in unskilled or semiskilled jobs. During the period of the study [I978-1979) approximately 15 percent of the fathers were ;unemployed. The large majority 85 percent of the families are white.The following occupations are typical: platform, storeroom, and stock­ 'room workers; foundry-men, pipe welders, and boilermakers; semiskilled :unskilled assembly-line operatives; "

I just want to point out that Oliver and Shapiro would be very disappointed by this because in this neighborhood at least, their findings are completely contradicted. 85% of the schools surveyed in which the students are profiled by their schooling to have blue collar jobs, are white. These children follow the steps to a procedure, being given no choice and no creative stimulation whatsoever. I think Oliver and Shapiro are correct on many counts, but they choose to ignore circumstances such as these where there are white people that are cemented to the bottom as well. Most of the men are unskilled and those who are actually employed are factory workers making minimum wage if their lucky. This article also gives no further mention of race in regards to the rest of the schools.  I wonder if this is significant in some way? I really wish I had read this article when I was working on my comparison between the Met and Wheeler.  I think how the students interacted with their teachers, as well as the sort of work they were being asked to complete, would have been very telling.  

"One's occupation and income level contribute significantly to one's soclal class, but they do not define it. Rather, social class is a series of relationships A person's social class is defined here by the way that person' relates to the process in society by which goods, services, and culture are produced.'' 

I know the Bourdieu talks about capital, but I wonder what he would say about this? So social class is not all about occupation and income; its about the relationships formed.  This quote stood out to me because it contradicted the article a little bit in my mind, something about it stopped me as I was reading and has continued to bother me even afterwords.  I don't know about social class being related to how culture is produced, theres an argument to be made from the Gorksi article.  Anyon implies that culture is reproduced through class which it is, but Gorski tells us this is the myth of the culture of poverty and it does not exist.  I do have to agree with Gorski again in that it begins a lot of the time with education.  Education was my way out of my life in a lot of ways, it distracted me when i needed it to and sometimes not all, i was encouraged which made me want to be better than what I knew.  Can only imagine the other teachers who ride children off because they think the parents are too lazy and stupid to care about their children's futures. 

If anybody has not seen it I think the film Waiting for Superman would be a good thing to watch if you have a free moment.  It highlights a lot of issues in the school systems in the united states as well as the problem of the less than enigmatic teachers Anyon mentions in the working class schools. I think Anyon would have like this movie and have seen a lot of what he was talking about featured within this film.  Its on Netflix if anyones interested.  Or here it is for free 

"Michael W. Apple (19791, focusing on school knowledge, have argued that knowledge and skills leading to SOcial power and reward (e.g., medical, legal, manageri­ al) are made available to the advantaged social groups but are withheld from the working classes, to whom a more "practical" curriculum is offered [e.g., manual skills, clerical knowledge].

This is a quote from Anyon, but it sounds like something Gorski would admire.  Gorski talks about children who may want to learn, but can never make anything from it, because of the circumstances for which they are brought up, as well as the obstacles that stand in their way.  Sort of like Tammy.  According to Gorski this is the "culture of poverty" many people have come to believe exists.  It is especially reflected in curriculum like Anyon implies, but it of course only exists with the minds of the privileged.  The ones who grew up not having to worry about safe living conditions or food, their fear has become making the teaching standards dummy friendly and by dummy they of course mean different.  

"Reluctant to engage from a lifetime of oppression." ~ Gorski 
I have to say if the system knocked me down my entire life I would have to say that I would be reluctant to trust anyone who put those systems in place and are too ignorant to care or even notice. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Waging a Living ~Connections

The movie was first of all very depressing.  It opened my eyes to the battle so many Americans are facing, but with no reprieve or solution in sight. It showed different families and the different paths they were taking trying to stand on their own two feet again.  Since I just mentioned it, the two articles that this movie made me think of were Kozol's "Amazing Grace" and Coontz's "We Always Stood on Our Own Two Feet. "

Kozol reminds us that so many Americans get knocked down by the systems we have in place and once down, the only way to go is further down.  I take for example Barbara Brooks, and her fight to keep her family with housing and food.  She had a rough life herself, but managed to find her path in life and went back to school.  However, when Barabara got a better job and position, along with a raise she got into more trouble.  Whenever someone we know gets a raise we immediately think of a job well done to deserve such a thing.  Barbara thought that initially too, until she realized it was no longer a prize, but a punishment.  The State offered her assistance with housing and food to help support her and her children, but once she received her raise, she lost daycare, food stamps and the aid section 8 provided. The way the system is designed is to keep her down. It's almost as if the government says,"hey you, good job, but now you don't need us at all, you made an extra 50 dollars a month but we are now going to take away any help you may have received and set you back ohh how about 1,000 a month? "I understand the idea behind the system, a raise signifies people standing on their own two feet again, but the way in which the system drops people is ridiculous.  I think of a ladder, you need 50 steps to raise the top, and every 5 you move up you have to go back 6.  You never reach the top no matter how long or hard you climb.  The roofer keeps making the ladder higher and the rungs further apart.  Barbara now had to  work harder and longer, even with her raise to make up for what she had before with the assistance of the State.  Its not Barbara's fault, she was dealt an unlucky hand from the beginning and fighting like hell to get on top got her nowhere.  This is another demonstration of how individualism, pure hard work and dedication,  is a load of crap.

The other article that I was reminded of was the Coontz article.  The video is a perfect demonstration of how American perception, according to Coontz is off.  If Barbara worked harder and longer she would be fine she could get herself out of poverty on her own.  She must be lazy, she takes government hand outs and doesn't work hard enough.  Barbara depends on the States help to survive, without it her family would probably be starving on the street. Barbara is also a direct contradiction to what the idealized American looks like.  How many people have grandfathers they can imagine saying, "I walked fifteen miles in the snow, I worked for everything I have, no one gave me a free bee when I needed it."  Well grandpa I'm sure you did, but your success was not entirely due to self reliance.  Coontz and Shapiro also both give evidence that any and all aid that was available, invisible to the memories of many Americans of course, was meant to help the white-middle class American only. We refuse to see whats right in front of us.  Which is why perceptions of the poor are so off and negative.

For example while we were watching the story of Barbara, someone said "she has a gold tooth and jewelry and has her nails done and can't afford food without help."This is true she was wearing Jewelry and this is a negative thought about her and her position. I remember growing up was hard for my mom she was a single mom, like the three in the film trying t make it with three girls who had no idea the complexity of the financial situation we were in.  What did the film say? After a divorce a mans quality of life rises 10 % and a woman's decreases by 27 %? Well that was us and I remember my mom always had her nails done every other Saturday for years.  When I was around 12 or 13 I got into an argument with her about the dumb nails.  I wanted to borrow 10 dollars so I could go to the movies or something and my mom said she didn't have it.  Being a hot headed preteen I yelled about her always having her nails done and she should spend that money on something else for a change.  I remember she cried and said it was the one thing she got to do for herself since the divorce, it made her feel prettier and better.  If I were a mom who's children demanded so much of me, like a roof over their heads, clothes, food, school supplies, electricity, appearances, I may sometimes want to give myself something too. (Now that we're grown she frequently reminds us of what she had to go without in order to make ends meet.  The mother guilt code of conduct? Maybe I'm biased about this situation)

Coontz says,

"As long as we pretend that only poor or abnormal families need outside assistance, we will
shortchange poor families, overcompensate rich ones, and fail to come up with effective policies for helping families in the middle. "

In other words what Kozol is talking about in these failed systems continuing to fail the poor and blame them for mistakes they cannot control or fix without the forbidden, limited, frowned upon, and invisible outside help.  

Also this movie made me think about Shapiro and Oliver.  Throughout their entire article they give evidence as to how the African American race has been held back and are now as a result forever concreted to the bottom of the economic ladder.  However, did anyone else notice the only African American family we met in the video was Barbara's.  The other three stories we saw were a white make and two white females.  This makes me wonder of Shapiro and Oliver are off about a few things, like race has not been the only factor to cement people.  Im not saying this video accurately represents populations, it just gave new face to the other struggling out there.  It makes me think we are all have more in common and face similar woes than just skin color.