Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Talking Points #10

* I know this is late but I wanted to make sure I did do this last blog entry before the end of the semester ! *

Allan Johnson: "Privilege, Power, and Difference"


~ exclusion
~ rejection
~ privilege
~ harrassment
~ discrimination
~ violence
~ silence
~ invisible
~ oppression
~ language
~ barriers
~ change
~ power
~ difference
~ interaction


Johnson argues that change is definitely possible as long as people become aware of what is going on and aren't afraid to "learn to say the words." He believes that when you do learn to say the words, the first step towards change has been completed.


1. "Large numbers of people have sat on the sidelines and seen themselves as part of neither the problem nor the solution... Everyone is aware of people who intentionally act out in oppressive ways. But there is less attention given to the millions of people who know inequities exist and want to be part of the solution. Their silence and invisibility allow privilege and oppression to continue. Removing what silences them and stands in their way can tap an enormous potential of energy for change." (125)

2. "'s easy for members of privileged groups to lose sight of the reality of privilege and its consequences and the truth that the trouble surrounding privilege is their trouble as much as anyone else's." (128)

3. "Once we can see and talk about what's going on, we can analyze how it works as a system. We can identify points of leverage where change can begin." (126)

4. "Learn to listen... Listen to what's being said. Take it seriously. Assume for the time being that it's true, because given the power of paths of least resistance, it probably is. And then take responsibility to do something about it." (141)

5. "Sometimes stepping off the path of least resistance is a matter of directly calling attention to the system and how it's organized... Choosing to call attention to such patterns means changing your own behavior, but it does more than that because the focus of your choice is the system itself." (143)

6. "Small acts can have radical implications. As Edmund Burke said, if the main requirement for the perpetuation of evil is that good people do nothing, then the choice isn't between all or nothing, but between nothing and something." (152)

7. "In the end, taking responsibility doesn't have to involve guilt and blame, letting someone off the hook, or being on the hook yourself. It simply means acknowledging an obligation to make a contribution to finding a way out of the trouble we're all in and to finding constructive ways to act on that obligation... As powerful as systems of privilege are, they cannot stand the strain of lots of people doing something about it, beginning with the simplest act of naming the system out loud." (153)

Other Stuff:

I absolutely loved this article. To tell you the truth, I couldn't wait to read Johnson again because I liked him from the beginning. He puts everything out there for you to see and his argument is extremely clear. I thought that this article was an awesome way to end the semester because it wraps up everything we have learned. I also thought it was cool that we read Johnson as our first article and now as our last. I know that I understood him more the second time because we have been working with these issues all semester and it was much easier to get through because we have read many articles like this. It was cool to see how much i have grown from the beginning to the end of the semester and how many of my ideas on the issues we have discussed have changed.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


I think today's class went really well. I know my group and I got a lot of our work done. It was a big help.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Talking Points #9

Bernard Lefkowitz: "Our Guys"


~ privilege
~ school
~ education
~ mental retardation
~ Glen Ridge
~ Newark
~ acceptance
~ popular
~ perfection
~ anger
~ "Jocks"
~ segregation


Lefkowitz argues that because the town of Glen Ridge held "their guys" at such a high level of privilege, they were excused for the terrible acts they performed in the basement that March afternoon.


1. "In a bigger town or in a city, most of these guys would be considered average athletes at best. But in the insulated world of Glen Ridge, they were the princes of the playing field." (13)

2. "The growing number of actual participants, would-be participants, and observers made me wonder about the environment in which they grew up. I wanted to know more about how this privileged American community raised its children, especially its sons." (2)

3. "The silence of the students and adults. The inclination to blame the woman and exonerate the men." (2)

4. "I began to frame Glen Ridge as a story of power and powerlessness: the power of young males and the community that venerated them, and the powerlessness of one marginalized young woman..." (3)

5. "Although graduation was an emotional ritual, made more intense by the recent arrest of four seniors on rape charges, there were no outbursts of feeling, no overt expressions of anger, grief, or remorse. The adults and their progeny exercised near-perfect restraint." (3)

6. "Often, they identified the victims of the tragedy. It was a short list: the young men who had been arrested, their families, and the good name of Glen Ridge. The list, more often than not, omitted the young woman in the basement and her family." (5)

7. "Many of the parents didn't want to hear anything bad about their children." (27)

Other Stuff:

There was something about this article that made me both want to continue reading and stop reading. I wanted to continue because I found it very interesting how privileged these guys really were. Each time Lefkowitz would go into great detail about the school and the Jocks, etc... I wanted to continue reading. I wanted to stop because it was all so disturbing. I found the argument pretty easily and the evidence seemed to follow one after the other. I think that was these kids did was absolutly disgusting and should have received a larger punishment. It is so easy these days to get away with anything possible if you are a "jock". Many people think that that stereotype doesn't exist anymore, but it does. I witnessed it in my high school. Because of their social class, they thought they could get away with anything. In my opinion, the Glen Ridge community is highly disturbed. I find the parents disturbed because they let their sons get away with an awful rape with a slap on the wrist. They wanted to just dismiss it. I think that is awful. Reading this article makes me want to go watch the movie that Erica mentioned in class last Thursday. I want to put two and two together between the article and the movie.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Talking Points #8

Tim Wise: "Whites Swim in Racial Preference"


~ white
~ affirmative action
~ privilege
~ citizenship
~ race
~ racial preference
~ people of color
~ America
~ invisible
~ discrimination


Wise argues that because of "racial preference", white people are basically blind to privilege because they have received it every day of their lives. Because of this they are blind to the inequalities betweem them and people of color.


1. "Yet few whites have ever thought of our position as resulting from racial preferences. Indeed, we pride ourselves on our hard work and ambition, as if somehow we invented the concepts." (1)

2. "We ignore the fact that at almost every turn, our hard work has been met with access to an opportunity structure denied to millions of others." (2)

3. "Privilege, to us, is like water to the fish: invisible precisely because we cannot imagine life without it." (2)

4. "... but made clear the inability of yet another white person to grasp the magnitude of white privilege still in operation." (2)

5. "Once again, white preference remains hidden because it is more subtle, more ingrained, and isn't called white preference, even if that's the effect." (2)

6. "'If I had only been black I would have gotten into my first-choice college.' Such a statement not only ignores the fact that whites are more likely than members of any other group - even with affirmative action in place - to get into their first-choice school, but it also presumes ... 'that if these whites were black, everything else about their life would have remained the same.' In other words, that it would have made no negative difference as to where they went to school, what their family income was, or anything else." (3)

7. "So long as those privileges remain firmly in place and the preferential treatment that flows from those privileges continues to work to the benefit of whites, all talk of ending affirmative action is not only premature but a slap in the face to those who have fought, and died, for equal opportunity." (3)

Other Stuff:

Surprisingly enough, I really liked reading this article. Ever since the beginning of this class and how we first started to talk about "white privilege", I have realized how blind whites really are, especially myself. I never once realized about the effects of affirmative action on the mindset of the whites. I also never realized how big of a deal it really is. After first talking about affirmative action in class last Thursday, I started to realize how it kind of contradicts Muwakkil's arguement about how the white women and black women are up for the same job (or college in the case of our discussion last week) with the same exact credentials, and the white women gets the job. To me, as i could be completely wrong, the idea of affirmative action is the complete opposite of Muwakkil's statements in his article. I am also unsure if affirmative action is a good thing or a bad thing. I think that "racial preference" in the favor of the whites goes out the door when working with affirmative action. My ideas are kind of jumbled right now and I think I may be mixing some things up, but hopefully our class discussion will help me to clarify.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Talking Points #7

Charles Lawrence: "'One More River to Cross' - Recognizing the Real Injury in Brown: A Prerequisite to Shaping New Remedies"


~ Brown vs. Board of Education
~ children
~ America
~ struggle
~ equality
~ segregation
~ desegregation
~ race
~ Blacks
~ 14th amendment
~ school
~ labeling
~ Northern vs. Southern
~ rights
~ separation


Lawrence argues that the Brown vs. Board of Education was a failure in the way that segregation still exists in schools today. According to Lawrence, he believes that this trial was just a "band aide on a broken leg".


1. "Out enslaved forbears recognized that the white masters would not easily give up their preferred position, and that the struggle for freedom would not end quickly. There would be no final victory in their lifetimes. Each step forward was just that, a step. There would always be 'one more river to cross'." (53)

2. "If one views the Brown case narrowly, ... , history has proven it a clear failure." (53)

3. "The Court's failure to recognize and articulate the true nature of racial segregation was more the product of an intentional, knowledgable decision than the result of any inability to comprehend. This intentional misunderstanding had its roots in Brown, and has jusicial, political, and social attitudes which are crucial to Blacks today." (54)

4. "The Court's refusal to recognize and articulate the real nature of segregation in Brown and its progeny has fostered an attitude and approach to the elimination of segregation that necessarily be unsuccessful." (58)

5. "... unless we being by being clear about the direction of the far shore, the depth, speed of current, and the physical properties of the water, we will never reach the other side." (65)

Other Stuff:

I found this article extremely difficult to read. I had a lot of trouble staying focused. I feel as if maybe he could have worked it out in a more reader-friendly way. I know this is impossible because he is a lawyer. On the other hand, this reminds me of my political science class. We are talking about civil rights with Martin Luther King and making our way into segregation. One of the books we had to buy was "Brown vs. Board of Education". That is our next book. I am really hoping our class discussion will help me to understand a little bit more about this article and clarify whether or not I am on the right track with my argument.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Talking Points #6

Jeannie Oakes: "Tracking: Why Schools Need to Take Another Route"


~ schooling
~ teachers
~ students
~ tracking
~ difference
~ alternatives
~ consequence
~ ability
~ opportunity
~ class
~ low-ability
~ combination
~ curriculum
~ learning
~ capability
~ change


Oakes argues that children placed in low-ability or high-ability groups in elementary school tend to remain in those groups throughout high school. She believes that the students shouldn't be labelled so early on and that all students should be brought together at one point in time.


1. "Typically, low-track high school students have been in low-ability groups and remedial programs since elementary school. The gap between them and more successful students has grown wider - no only in achievement but in attitudes toward school and toward their own ability to succeed. By the time students reach secondary school, track-related achievement and attitude differences are often well established." (181)

2. "Students who are placed in high-ability groups have access to far richer schooling experiences than other students." (178)

3. "If students of all abilities are to benefit from being taught together, classrooms will probably need to be organized far differently, providing a diversity of tasks and interactions with few 'public' comparisons of students' ability." (181)

4. "Students who need more time to learn appear to get less; those who have the most difficulty learning seem to have fewer of the best teachers." (179)

Other Stuff:

I'm not too sure what I think of this article. I liked it because I never realized the idea of tracking before. If I got Oakes' argument correct, then I agree and disagree with it. I agree with the second part of the argument because i think that combining all students is the fair thing to do. I also agree with the first part of the argument but I don't think it is for the best. I agree with how the children are separated and diagnosed at a very young age, but I don't understand why they have to be kept like that throughout their 12-year school career. Children learn and will get better and being placed into a low- or high-ability group is not right because they are way too young to even know how they think or learn. I had a little bit of a hard time finding Oakes' argument but once i got a hold of it, getting the points of evidence wasn't that difficult at all. I'm curious as to what everyone in our class has to say about the idea of "tracking".

Monday, March 17, 2008

Talking Points #5

Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer: "In the Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning"


~ America's schools
~ service learning
~ education
~ educators
~ volunteer
~ policies
~ values
~ promotion
~ ideological goals
~ political goals
~ social goals
~ activities
~ privilege
~ issues
~ voice
~ experience
~ compassion
~ moral
~ political
~ intellectual
~ orientation
~ culture
~ effort


Kahne and Westheimer argue that service learning should be included in every child's life and every school's curriculum not only as a charity, but as a life-altering experience for them.


1. "This experience and others like it, quite common in the literature of service learning, emphasize charity, not change." (7)

2. "Similarly, many contemporary scholars focus on change over charity and argue that the lack of connection between individual rights and communal obligations within our culture has left us with a bankrupt sense of citizenship." (9)

3. "They stress the importance of compassion of those in need, and they encourage children and young adults to find ways to help." (3)

4. "...the underlying goals and the impact of a given service learning activity can embody commitments to both change and charity and can have relevance for any of the three domains." (6)

5. "The idea that educators should foster a volunteer ethic and encourage youths to give something back to their school or community currently receives widespread support." (7)

6. "However, there are numerous ways in which a curriculum focused on giving provides opportunities for students to develop caring relationships, especially when compared to a traditional academic curruculum." (7)

7. "In addition to helping those they serve, such service learning activities seek to promote students' self-esteem, to develop higher-order thinking skills, to make use of multiple abilities, and to provide authentic learning experiences - all goals of current curriculum reform efforts." (2)

Other Stuff:

I didn't like this article at all. I couldn't seem to stay focused while reading this. I think it was a very difficult read. I do agree, though, with the authors and their arguement. I think that everyone should experience service learning at least once in their lifetime. Personally, I absolutly love my service learning project. It is a great way for me to step out of my box, and to step into a new one that i never thought i would encounter. In my opinion, it is an awesome experience.