Friday, February 25, 2011

Jonathan Kozol in Providence

I just found out that Kozol will be speaking in Providence on Wednesday, March 2. THIS WEDNESDAY! The event is free but requires a reservation so if you are interested in seeing him, check out this link. He is one of the most important voices of this generation; if you can make it, I highly recommend seeing him. This is truly an opportunity that shouldn't be missed!!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

English Language Learners

I was teaching a class for high school students at a local Providence school last week and was reminded of the issues that Virginia Collier raises in the chapter you are reading this week.

I had students working on college application essays, brainstorming descriptive words about themselves to use as an anchor for their writing. "Dedicated," "creative," "driven," "curious..." I gave them five minutes to draft a list. I watched two students on my right struggle with pen to paper. They are both native Spanish speakers, and they often talk to each other in Spanish when not addressing the group so I guessed that Spanish was a more comfortable place for them if given the choice.

They each had one or two words on their papers, while most others in the room were jotting down lists of 7, 8, 9... so I thought of Virginia Collier and had an idea.

"When you are brainstorming words for this essay," I said to the whole group, "you can write those words in any language. This is just to get your brain warmed up, and to get your initial thoughts on paper. When you write, you will write the essay in English, but as you are jotting down the best words to describe yourself, write freely in any language that feels most comfortable to you."

I made eye contact with the young women to my right and they smiled at me. Suddenly their lists or words flowed freely, filling up the page. And I knew that allowing them to start in Spanish would make this writing exercise much more successful for them.

Monday, February 14, 2011

If Kozol, McIntosh and Delpit hung out....

Delpit Culture of Power #5:
People with power are often least aware of, or least willing to acknowledge, its existence. People without power are often most aware of its existence.

What does this have to do with Kozol's narrative about Mott Haven?

How might McIntosh provide evidence of this very same argument?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Culture of Power

As you read Lisa Delpit's piece, are you hearing echoes of SCWAAMP in her "culture of power?" Do you hear Allan Johnson's discussion of privilege, power and difference as she talks about how some kids come to school already knowing the "rules and codes of power" while others do not? I know her voice is very different from Johnson's, but she is also talking about how some people have more privilege than others and how that impacts their lives in important ways.

As you move through your college experience, do you think that you were taught the rules and codes of college life before you got here? Are there some rules about how to be successful in college that you had to learn along the way? Are there elements of the 'secret rule book' that someone taught you at home or in high school?