Meeting your class, designing your instruction, and thinking about your students needs: DEFICIT THINKING

This week I was putting together resources on Deficit Thinking and developing a Culturally Responsive teaching ideology.

I created this YouTube playlist of useful short videos for instruction.

I thought I would post them here to share.

:)

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Seeing through the ideology

I have used this little film clip from “They Live” in many classes to talk about the power of ideology to filter and limit thought.

In the past this three minute clip has often been very helpful as we have explored and discuss the experience of missing and then discovering patriarchal practices or heteronormative practices or other normalized social practices that are steeped in violent ideologies.

This afternoon, quite by accident,  I came across this treasure on Netflix:

from The Perverts Guide to Ideology.

What a good day!

 

 

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REGISTRATION TIPS for the UOTeachOUT 2014 Annual Conference – this Friday, May 16th!

The time is nearly upon us for the UO TeachOUT annual conference to take place. 

http://blogs.uoregon.edu/nwnwsa/

Below are images of the conference schedule, a step by step “how-to” register as a k-12 teacher or UO student, and information on the Friday and Saturday night performances.   (CLICK ON any image to see it enlarged)
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1.  Check out the schedule for the conference and plan your day.

2.  Follow the directions below to register if you are a k-12 teacher or UO student attending for a class.

3.  AND with your registration you will be set to attend Ivan E. Coyote’s evening performance  (see event poster below)
AND the OUT/LOUD music and spoken word festival (more at : http://blogs.uoregon.edu/outloud/)

1.  CONFERENCE SCHEDULE

Image NWNWSA UOTeachOUT Conference Schedule-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 2. HOW TO REGISTER as a k-12 Teacher or UO Student attending for a class.

HOW teachers and students register for UOTeachOUT conference-2HOW teachers and students register for UOTeachOUT conference-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 3. Evening entertainment

Ivan night event poster 2014 11x17OUTLOUD

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2014 NWNWSA annual conference UOTeachOUT

NWNWSA conference poster 2014

NWNWSA UOTeachOUT Conference

 

 

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Ivan Coyote at UOTeachOUT

This morning I am prepping Ivan Coyote TeachOUT materials for schools and wanted to share this list of no less than five gems I am listening to at the moment:

Here is Ivan speaking at a teaching conference talking to teachers about bullying:
Busted Injustice:



Here is Ivan doing a reading for a young community:
“Dear Younger Self”

Here is a short story from “One in Every Crowd” made into a short film
“No Bikini”

Here is Ivan in a news video interview:
Ivan E. Coyote on Studio 4 with Fanny Kiefer

AND FINALLY: This is what the tears in my eyes are all about at the moment…stick with it to the last lines of part 2 please.

Here is Ivan performing “Hair Today” from the book “Missed Her”
Part 1:

Part 2:

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My thoughts on “trigger warnings” for academic course content

Today a friend posted a link to this New Republic article Trigger Happy.   Both the title (Trigger Happy) and the subtitle of the article (The Trigger Warning has spread from blogs to college classes.  Can it be stopped?) drew me in.

In my college classes I teach about social inequality in schools.   I teach about and shine a light on the deep dark violence inherent in social inequality.  I teach those taboo topics that we tell people to leave at home, in therapy, in the closet, behind closed doors etc.

In my curriculum the content is often the very topics that we as a culture silence in peoples experiences.  The sorts of  life experiences that my students have come to believe were personal and private, individual and shameful, even though we know statistically that the violence of gender inequality, racism, poverty etc. are pandemics in our society.

And I can tell you that when you shine a light on all that violence and silence in a classroom or elsewhere you are always in the company of survivors.  Always.  Do the math.  You or someone sitting beside you has had first hand experience with the dehumanizing violence of living on the down side of social inequality.

So when I saw this article seeming to suggest that Trigger Warnings ought to be dismissed wholesale, the gross oversimplification of the larger topic of triggering content in academic settings frustrated me.  I know through both research and personal experience that the content in many of the courses I teach can “trigger” very real p.t.s.d. trauma in students in my classes.

The first thought I had was in reading this then was, Does this author even know the rates of unchecked violence against women, children, people of color, marginalized men, people who are differently-able?  Can she estimate how many survivors of violent assault and relational abuse exist just in her work place?

And that is just a start on where this oversimplification went off the rails for me.  The false construction of an academic setting or really any learning space as necessarily void of personal experience or emotion seems to me to be explicitly sexist.  Presenting materials on interpersonal and intrapersonal violence as depersonalized knowledge buys into a silly binary of academic knowledge as objective and impersonal.

And the suggestion that academic settings are not always censoring what can be considered knowledge and what can be considered an “authentic curriculum” to cater to particular sensibilities and political ends (personal sensativities) also strikes me as woefully naive.

“Structuring public life around the most fragile personal sensitivities will only restrict all of our horizons. Engaging with ideas involves risk, and slapping warnings on them only undermines the principle of intellectual exploration.” 

The fundamental assumptions here are flawed.  Public life is structure around an array of fragile sensitives already.  These are simply dominant sensitivities that are triggered by ideas like the notion that white supremacy is genocidal, the idea that wide-scale rapes exist because there are a lot of men raping women.  These ideas exist in literature, but they are often not brought to light in academic settings I would argue because of who and what they might “trigger.”   I would argue that what can and can’t be said and taught are deeply informed by what might trigger “white guilt” or a mocking round of claims of political correctness and discrediting of a scholars academic authority.  We are all well groomed around who we should not “trigger” to take on profound intellectual and emotional risks.

Yet having an authentic academic conversation about how content may be personally triggering “the most fragile personal sensitives” somehow undermines intellectual exploration.   Rather the 1 in 4 or perhaps 1 in 3 (fragile personal sensitivity) survivors should keep that personal and just think about the principles of intellectual exploration.

So no, in my opinion a simple “trigger warning” is not adequate to address the conversations necessary if we expect all of our students to bring their personal lives to new ideas and new ways of thinking about social and interpersonal inequality.  Teaching and learning are to me are the most intensely personal engagements we can ask of ourselves and our students.  Yes! we should be talking to them about how they EXPERIENCE our materials and our classes.  Yes! we should be thinking about how they bring their own lives and experiences to the materials.  Not as censors or as instructors with  “an over-preoccupation with one’s own feelings—much to the detriment of society as a whole…” but rather as academics interested in the expansion of ideas in the lives of people.

I believe in our teaching we should be thinking about and developing a pedagogy which takes into account the diverse array of experiences, including the “triggering” experiences, of every student as a fundamental element of the learning and growing that can take place in our classrooms.

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Should Single-Sex Schools be banned for the Gender Divide?

Guest Post:
For years and years we have seen a gender divide in classrooms and outside of classrooms both indirect and direct. A solution to that was thought to create single sex education, meaning having all girl schools and all boys’ schools, separating gender stereotypes and creating a safe and comfortable environment for both sexes. However, in some cases single sex education heightened the gap between boys and girls creating an enhancement of stereotypes.

In an academic classroom setting boys were still often being taught in a more regimented and structural way while girls were taught in a more nurturing and passive way. This segregation of teaching methods only expanded the gap between the genders. If anything it pushed girls to act in a certain stereotypical feminine way and boys act in a stereotypical masculine way. There is little wiggle room for individuality.

In a three-year California study conducted from 1998 to 2000, 12 schools from northern California through to southern California where observed and interviewed. Over 300 parents, teachers, and students ranging from middle school to high school were interviewed about single sex education. Research found that, “Gender stereotyping, harassment, and other problems common in co-education do not necessarily disappear in single-sex schools”. Elizabeth Zwerling, WeNews Correspondent, discusses the findings behind this particular study, creating a lean away from single-sex education.

Gender roles were more prevalent in single- sex education and schools contrary to many beliefs. “Students received mixed messages about gender. While both were told women could be anything they want, girls were made aware of restrictions on their behavior reinforced through expectations about clothing and appearance. Boys were led to assume that men are primarily wage earner, that they should be strong and take care of their wives who were emotionally weak”. This strong statement signifies the ongoing assumptions of what girls and boys should be and most importantly is expressed mainly in schools. Shocking claims from this study hint at a downfall in single sex schooling that was not anticipated.

Many may think this type of education decreases stereotypes however it is the separation of boys and girls in the first place that increases these characteristics.  For example, in the show Glee, Kirk leaves the co-educational High school to then enter into an all boys’ school because of the harassment and constant disapproval and name calling from the anti gay bullies. Soon after joining the all boys’ prep school, he still was ridiculed by his peers at the other school calling him ‘fag’ and ‘preppy’ which was the exact reason he wanted to get away from that school to begin with. At that time in the show very few people there were accepted as homosexual. This is an example showing students in school now that single sex education should solve all harassment issues but in some cases that does not work through the constant abuse Kirk still deals with even at an all boys’ school.

Although evidence has proved that single sex schools and education create a larger gender gap, other evidence has proved the opposite.  Myra and David Sadker, authors of the book, Failing at Fairness, visited several private single-sex schools interviewing students and teachers, observing classes in action, and then reporting all of their findings captured in an all-boys and all-girls school. Before the study, Sadker questioned the importance of single sex education and if these schools would be around another decade. Contrary to their belief, David states, “for girls especially, they offered an academic refuge, a place to free voices too often silenced in coeducational schools” (253). Their evidence showed that girls were finding it rewarding based on self-esteem, academics, and stepping away from stereotypical feminine norms. Research even concluded that women’s colleges attain more degrees in nontraditional fields such as economic, life science, physical science, and mathematics than women who attended coed colleges.  This data is quite different than the findings above opposing it yet let’s readers create their own opinion and interpretation.

Regarding boys in single sex education showing fewer evidence of success, there were still advocates that argued that boys benefited from all boys schools. Sadker says, “Free of gender role expectations and less concerned with impressing girls, boys were more willing to enroll in nontraditional courses such as language and the arts without fear of ridicule. Many male alums recall that sexual stereotypes seem to fade into the background in these boys’ schools” (254). For many this is hard to believe being that when a group of boys gets together they tend to abuse other boys of lower self-esteem and power. However, in this case, these common stereotypes are dropped.

From these pros and cons the big question still stands, are single-sex schools and classrooms better than coeducation?  Looking back to when coeducational school first became part of the picture was in the last 1900s after Title IX came into play; a law prohibiting many forms of sex discrimination in public schools. This forever changed the fate of single- sex schools.

Girls started enrolling in more challenging courses that were often only sought out by males which led to the market forces eliminating single- sex schools. Because with girls and boys enrolled in the same class, single sex classrooms and education seemed outdated. Private Ivy League Universities started to open their doors to women such as Harvard, Yale, and Columbia ending three centuries of discrimination. If this was the end of sexism and the gender gap in school then why now are public schools striving to create single sex classes or schools?

Picture (Harvard then single sex)
Picture (Harvard now co-ed)

Starting in 1996, the number of public single sex schools jumped from 5 to 30. What is the cause of this? This is where gender segregation comes back into the picture fueled by political and social trends. Ultimately leading back to Sadker’s argument and evidence proving that single-sex education has come back in full force helping decrease sex discrimination. So where do we stand now?

The answer to this question eventually ends with us as future educators and parents and the ways in which we can do about the gender gap between boys and girls. Andre Boyd, a South Carolina middle school teacher explains, “ As educators, our efforts should not be driven by how we can separate students to minimize distractions but by how we can bring all students together to maximize learning. In my experiences, students tend to learn better when teachers learn to teach better-regardless of the gender of the students”.  In addition, Kristin Maschka, a best-selling author and a consultant in organization development and change leadership, says, “For every problem for which “single-sex” is given as an answer, there is an alternative. For example, “in a co-ed class boys are called on more often” can be addressed by teaching teachers how to use random selection strategies to call on students”

To sum it up, it is up to each individual student and parent to determine which schooling is best for their own personal benefit. Maschka also says, “Sometimes the reasons given to support single-sex environment sound more like ways to simplify things for teachers and to avoid addressing the reality of social interactions and existing gender stereotypes in adolescent children”. There are pros and cons to both ways of educating a student or group of students therefore the students and parents and even teachers should answer questions about the quality and equality of schools before choosing the best fit for themselves. Sadker suggests:

-Does the school honor each student’s learning style and experiences, or does it assume that all members of a group learn and behave in the same way?

-Observe classes. Whether single-sex or coed, are some student’s dominating and other silent? Are there different teaching and learning styles? Does the classroom feel like a safe space for all students?

-Look at the bulletin boards, the hallways, and classrooms. Are both genders represented and honored in a wide array of roles and accomplishments? Is there stereotyping?

-Ask current students what their thoughts on their school system are and if they have found it a comfortable and fun environment to learn in.

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