Learning Experience 4: Wide-Awakeness and the Moral Life

Maxine Green, author of “Wide-Awakeness and the Moral Life,” discusses the necessity for all people to develop a critical consciousness and begin their journey to a moral life. Greene uses literary examples and detailed explanations to relay her thoughts and ideas to the audience. She underscores the importance for teachers to embark on the moral life in order to pass on their sense of wide-awakeness to the students. 

Greene begins by defining wide-awakeness as a plane of consciousness in which the person is in full moral awareness to life. Many people in society live in a mere habitual and mechanical like state, never questioning the world around them. The only means of escape is through asking why. This inquiry usually arises from a new found anxiety or understanding of an injustice in society. The people who lack a sense of wide-awakeness act almost as a puppet to the demands of life and its responsibilities. The current structure of the business world adds to the difficulty for people to break this trance and take initiative in their own lives. Individuals often do as they are told, inhibiting their consciousness. Many people are unfortunately caught in the system due to the ordinality of their lives  or the belief that the world is predefined. They lack the understanding that their reality is interpretative and can be changed by a simple question. By inquiring why certain conditions, like unnecessary domination, exist individuals can become wide-awake and begin their journey to the moral life. 

This is particularly important for teachers to take this initiative. They must bring wide-awakeness into schools for the benefit of their pupils. Educators must question what courses of action the school is taking and how it affects the moral academic track their students are on. This will allow members of the school community to embark on the moral life. Teachers must be able to make defensible choices and relay this ability to their students. Those that are half-asleep are more likely to follow a crowd which is especially dangerous for naive children. Teachers must truly become in touch with themselves and decide on the grounds in which they make decisions. This means that we can no longer use a system of rewards and punishments for moral behavior in schools. This will allow both educators and the educated to take responsibility for their own actions. Students must learn to make moral choices and take moral actions. Principles and norms can be used as a guide, but it must be understood that these are not final and decisions should be weighed on a personal level. Imagination, awareness, and attentiveness are required on this trek to the moral life. Teachers must identify alternatives for their students, teach principles and norms, as well as enable pupils to reflect and communicate about their decisions. A moral life is required in order for students to learn because learning is a choice that must be made. This is what makes a teacher’s job so difficult especially if they are inhibited by school demands. 

The author’s ideological perspective is evident by her support for the moral teaching of students to stray from traditional barriers. Greene embraces true ethical teaching that allows young adults to make decisions on their own and stand by said choices in wake of a variety of alternatives. She obviously believes in education creating a better tomorrow for children and finds that embarking on the moral life is the key to this. Her ideas mirror that of Paulo Freire in his piece, “The Banking Concept of Education.” Freire argues against the current education system. He claims that the deposits teachers are forced to make in their students’ minds are hindering the children’s ability to develop a critical consciousness. Both also speak on the unquestioned hierarchy of schools, with Freire detailing the damaging effects this system has in different capacities. Greene’s in depth discussion of the importance of wide-awakeness in the educational sector is inspiring and highlights her true passion for the betterment of academics. 

I agree with Greene’s thoughts and ideas. She allowed me to reflect back on my high school experience and realize the lack of consciousness in the classroom. I was able to question why in my social experiences outside of the school; however, I simply stuck to my predetermined schedule in the educational facility. I would accept each assignment, project, and test without question. Even when the exams seemed not to cover the material taught in class or detailed in the chapter, I still accepted any bad grade as a personal failure instead of simply inquiring. My wide-awakeness in the school was both provoked and stifled by anxiety. The anxiousness I felt for tests spurred a series of questions about why I had to sit for hours attempting to memorize information, only for me to be stumped by a widely complex question on the exam. However, this same anxiety would prevent me from embarking on the moral life and actually inquiring about why I must do these things because of my fear of the authority figures in the classroom. This piece opened my eyes to the idea that I should have questioned this hierarchy, as well. Why does the teacher get to hold such a dominant role in the classroom? And why does their position allow some educators to belittle students or stifle creativity? This is most likely due to a struggle for control that exists in many human beings, but unfortunately this instinct inhibits others from reaching their true potential.

When I am an educator, I plan to position myself as a true leader. This does not place me above my students, rather gains me their respect. With this trusting bond, my pupils will not fear me and be able to question the world around them. Since I plan to be an elementary school teacher, I will not just use rewards and punishments for behavior. I will ask my students why they did what they did, present them with alternatives, show them the path I would have taken, and ask if this changes their mind and to explain their reasoning. The question of “why” will be encouraged in my classroom, ensuring that this is a safe space for them to truly understand their choices and take responsibility for their actions. Young children may not come to class with a full understanding of right and wrong so it is my job to show them how to decipher between these two easily. Their lack of understanding does not give me the right to create a moral hierarchy, it simply means that I must take the time to provide my students with the guidance they need. Greene’s article was inspirational and eye-opening. I hope that my students will grow up strong, independent, and wide-awake which begins in the classroom. Being wide-awake is what leads to an improved education system, thus a better society.

For the learning experience this week, my group and I decided to discuss the aforementioned themes, specifically keying in on how and why wide-awakeness and the moral life should be incorporated into all classrooms. Our learning objectives were to understand wide-awakeness and the consequences of lacking it, as well as comprehend how and why this is implemented in the classroom to encourage students to embark on a moral life. We chose these topics to focus on because we thought they were most valuable to a class full of potential future teachers. These individuals should understand the responsibilities they have in the classroom and how their actions could affect students. In addition, comprehending the moral life in general will help everyone, even those not going into education, because it provides a different perspective that could push people to a more critically conscious life. My contributions to the planning of the lesson were to make slides 7 to 10 in our google slides presentation. These were needed to introduce the concept of wide-awakeness in education and the roles teachers and students play. Also, these slides allowed me to show how the concepts are relevant in our lives as current students and potentially future teachers.  In addition, I found both videos and the comic used in our discussion, as well as created all the questions found in our shared google doc. While teaching the lesson, I was in charge of presenting my slides to inform the class. Also, I asked the questions about our presentation and the other media used in the discussion in my breakout room. 

My breakout room consisted of Shaina and me. I began by inquiring about her past experiences with schooling and whether or not she felt she was wide-awake. Shaina explained that, similar to me, she was not embarking on a moral life in school. She sees that both in and out of the classroom, she did not question many things that involved her academics, simply played along like most children, as well as teachers, do. Following this we watched, Values Songs – The Respect Video. This song spoke of respect and how children must value those around them. I asked Shaina how this compares or differs from Greene’s ideas on morality. We spoke about how this video is extremely different because it merely tells children what to do, it does not allow them to make decisions for themselves. Shaina spoke about the fact that sometimes not everyone deserves your respect and it is the teacher’s job to guide a student on how to make those decisions, not just simply make them for the young adults or provide a blanket statement about a variety of moral issues. The next video, Kohlberg’s 6 Stages of Moral Development, underscores how children develop through different stages which Greene touched on in her article. I asked Shaina if this moral development could be sped up with Greene’s push for wide-awakeness. We agreed that this process could move more rapidlly; therefore, children would potentially skip multiple steps in their moral development. This could completely change how we understand this process since moral development is a direct result of societal actions. With a wide-awake society, children will be more apt to embark on a moral life early on. Finally, we discussed the comic entitled “First Time: University Homework” by Kaplan Comics.

This image showed a professor not providing a student with necessary guidance. He merely tells the young adult to figure it out. Shaina and I discussed how that many teachers employ this tactic because they believe it sparks creativity in students and allows them to problem solve on their own. However, we acknowledge that with no guidance, this actually has the opposite effect. Students are no longer questioning why, but are merely working to someone else’s standards. This would push against a moral life and is a very negative attitude to bring to the classroom. Shaina and I agreed that we would not practice this technique in our classrooms.

I enjoyed my last learning experience with the class. Shaina was enthusiastic and easy to talk to, both great qualities in a future educator. I feel as if my learning experiences have all provided me with valuable knowledge and different perspectives to take into consideration. I am excited to take the knowledge and energy I put into these assignments to my future classroom.

References

Greene, M. (2018/1978). Wide-awakeness and the moral life. In A. R. Sadovnik, P. W. 

Cookson Jr., S. F. Semel, & R. W. Coughlan (Eds.), Exploring education: An 

introduction to the foundations of education (5th ed., pp. 218-224). New York, NY: 

Routledge.

Freire, P. (2013/1972). The banking concept of education. In A. S. Canestrari & B. A. 

Marlowe (Eds.), Education foundations: An anthology of critical readings (3rd ed., 

pp. 103-115). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Kaplan Comics. (n.d.). First Time: University Homework

YouTube. (2018). Values songs – The Respect Song. YouTube

YouTube. (2019). Kohlberg’s 6 Stages of Moral Development. YouTube

Service – Questions and Answers 10

What is your greatest take away from this experience?  

My greatest take away is that I truly want to be an elementary school teacher. I loved spending time with the children and getting to know them. I have hopefully chosen the right field.

What struck you or stayed with you today?  I

was struck by how friendly the children have been to each other. They truly have formed some bonds which was shocking because I assumed that Zoom made this virtually impossible.

My Reflection

I am glad John Carroll is offering these types of programs for their students to get involved!

Service Questions and Answers – 9

What are the strengths and limitations of virtual engagement? What surprises you?  

The strengths are that we are able to use various technological resources easily and the children are learning more about these techniques which they will most likely use later in life. The weaknesses are that we do not get to form as good of a connection with the children because we are not in person.

What struck you or stayed with you today?  

I was struck by how outgoing the kids were today. I like how we are really getting to know the kids.

My Reflection

I am excited and sad for our final weeks.

Black Lives Matter and the School- to -Prison Pipeline – Current Connections 4

In his piece, The School- to – Prison Pipeline: A Critical Review of the Punitive Paradigm Shift,  Christopher Mallett goes into depth about the disciplinary measures used in schools. He implements a variety of real-life examples, and detailed descriptions to emphasize the ideas and concepts discussed in his work. Mallett underscores what these discipline tactics are, how they came about, and how they are affecting schools and students. 

Mallett begins by identifying that schools and courts were never meant to be interconnected, but a variety of factors have led to this relationship. He defines the school-to-prison pipeline as “a set of policies and practices in schools that make it more likely that students face criminal involvement with juvenile courts than attain a quality education” (Mallett, 2016). Schools have long focused on control and discipline of young adults , but as student population increased and the effect corporal punishment had decreased, these educational facilities began to buckle down on their punishments. In the 1980’s youth violence was disproportionately advertised, leading to more severe consequences for students. Children were being tried as adults and less rehabilitation alternatives were being used. This tough on crime movement relied on the idea that young people are becoming increasingly dangerous. School shootings made the push for safer schools because they provoked fear. These crimes typically happened in communities that are deemed “safe,” and despite their rare occurrences, this fact made people even more afraid for the safety of schools, thus leading to stricter disciplinary measures. 

The Gun-Free Schools Act gave each facility the okay to incorporate zero tolerance policies. This act led to other amendments that further broadened the focus of these policies to other weapons, not just guns, and even violent and non-violent acts, funneling mostly non-harmful students into the pipeline. Zero tolerance policies essentially mean that a child who goes against the schools rules must suffer severe predetermined punishments. These became nationally recognized during the war on drugs as a means to keep drugs out of schools. Zero tolerance policies often lead to suspension, expulsion, or worse disciplinary consequences that would remove a child from the school environment. They are reinforced by security guards, metal detectors, and police officers that are found in many school buildings. The No Child Left Behind Act attempted to juxtapose these zero tolerance policies by holding schools accountable for their actions. However, this only led to a focus on testing which as we learned from Kortez in chapter 7 of his book, The Testing Charade: Pretending to Make Schools Better, this type of educational experience is not beneficial for students. On top of these issues, the implementation of school resource officers has only been a main contributor to these problems. There has been less funding put towards the actual education of students and more towards the SROs. These individuals are not under the authority of the school or anyone who works there, which can make their reign even more difficult to control. They have done more harm than good by involving students in the pipeline for non-serious crimes. 

A variety of students are impacted by these factors, thus funneling them into the school-to-prison pipeline; however, those that are economically disinclined and others that are a part of minority groups seem to suffer the most. These have, in fact ,played a role in the resegregation of educational facilities. Most of the measures taken to make schools safer are implemented in schools that harbor lower-class and/or minority students. Mallet points out the large impact this is having on the African American pupils, compared to their caucasian peers. These disciplinary tactics can bring about a feeling of safety, but in the wrong environment and with too much force, students are less inclined to focus on academics, gain a sense of distrust of authority figures, and can restrict young adults socially and economically. These policies and tactics are not effective, making these punishments that are supposed to better society fall in vain. Mallett concludes his article on a positive note claiming that social workers may be the key to help fix this horrible structure of the school system. By advocating for a better educational system, Mallett shows his ideological perspective as for students’ academic and future success. He is trying to identify what is wrong to push for a better tomorrow for these children that must suffer from sometimes childish mistakes. In addition, his acknowledgement of the struggle for certain economic classes or minority groups shows that he carries a more liberal perspective, as well. 

I agree with Mallet’s frustration towards the school system. I feel that this article, as well as our class discussions have shown me how broken our educational facilities are. Students deserve the right to feel welcome at their schools and not as if they are prisoners that have not been locked up yet. I have not experienced these harsh disciplinary measures myself, nor have I known someone who has. At my high school, we had two SRO’s. They were relatively nice people who usually did not bother the students unless an act of violence was committed. However, I will recognize that I went to a school that is  primarily white and middle-class so my experience is different from others, especially those of minority groups. I believe we had zero tolerance policies for a variety of mistakes, wrong doings, and illegal actions; however, my school usually did not enforce these ideas. Most students merely received detentions and sometimes suspensions. Expulsion was almost unheard of. There needs to be a different way for students to be dealt with, rather than treating them like puppies that are in need of training. These disciplinary measures may have begun as a means to ensure safety; however, now they seem to be a push for control and military-like school systems which deeply saddens me. The idea that social workers will be the saving grace in this situation brings me hope; however, I recognize that this line of work also needs to be improved in order to better work with students, especially those that are mentally ill or wronged by society.

For my current connection this week I read the article, “Watch now: Decatur justice walk addresses school-to-prison pipeline,” by Analisa Trofimuk. This piece was published in the Herald Review and helped to connect the School-to-prison pipeline and the current black lives matter movement. Trofimuk detailed a justice walk that occurred in Decatur, Illinois. The people who took part in the protest were enraged BLM supporters. Their anger was generated because the Keil building, where school board members and administrator’s meetings are held, was shut down for a day. On this particular day, they were supposed to discuss the school-to-prison pipeline. With this pipeline having a large effect on the African American population, many took to the streets in support of a better educational system. Some supporters held signs that demanded the removal of the police from schools, and more funding funneled into actual academics, rather than a stronger police force. The article offers a variety of solutions to this issue which I discussed with my peers. The piece connects to Mallett’s work because both identify the strong negative impact these disciplinary efforts are having on people of color, thus furthering their societal struggle.

For my current connections presentation this week, I used Google slides and provided my classmates with a variety of quotes from Trofimuk’s article, as well as other visuals and asked them a series of questions. With the first quote, we delved into the idea that ‘“Black lives can’t matter until Black students matter”’ (Trofimuk, 2020) Through discussion, I found that my classmates could not decide if this statement was valid or not. Many identified that racial problems begin in the classroom, but this does not mean young African American students are the only ones who struggle. For the most part, we concluded that both students and adults hold equal parts in this fight for equality. After the discussion of this quote, I showed a short clip of a video entitled School to Prison Pipeline made by Ted Talks. In this section, a young African American boy spoke about his experience in school and the maltreatment and wrongful use of disciplinary actions against people of his race. While searching for this video, I found that not a lot of sources held information about how students felt about the school-to-prison-pipeline and how they thought it should be remedied. With this in mind, I questioned whether students should be more involved. Just like me, my classmates were appalled by the mistreatment of students described in the video and some reevaluated their answer to the last inquiry and decided that students should hold a higher importance in the BLM movement. This question was still up in the air for a solid solution, but it was agreed upon that students should have a more prevalent role in this fight. They should be asked how they interpret these issues because they are directly involved and deserve the right to be let in on this protest.

The next quote we discussed detailed how the school in Decatur claimed to have no comment on the march. I asked if this was the right move and I was met with a resounding “no.” I strongly agree with my classmates’ perspective on this topic. I believe the school should have said something about the march. I would even go as far to urge the district to show support for this peaceful protest. This would show that they will fight for their students and help to make improvements in their favor because they truly value their academic experience and are not just looking to control these young adults. Furthermore, the next series of quotes were made by the police officers in the town. They urged the public to not defund the police, rather provide them funding to get better resources to help with mental health. The police chief recognized that the officers should not take on the role of psychologists, counselors, or mental health workers, but should make improvements in order to better the situation that African Americans are forced to endure. I agree with my classmates’ decision to support the police officers’ opinions on this subject matter. Many spoke on the idea that these men and women do not have to undergo any long-term schooling like college and are usually simply taught to use violent tactics to subdue situations, rather than verbal consultations. This is not the type of training we need to bring into schools with children who are prone to making mistakes because they are young and human. Officers should not take on the aforementioned roles, but should make improvements in their tactics.

We concluded our discussion by analyzing this comic.

Mac identified that the book in this strip plays a key role to show the reality of this school-to-prison pipeline. The young African American boy depicted in the comic is not able to truly learn until he eventually is sent to jail. He is forced to find his own route for academics because the school system has failed him. This is unfortunately common in today’s society. The zero  tolerance policies and strict rules schools enforce work to actually create a barrier between students and their education. To wrap up my thoughts I sent my classmates an article by the National Education Association entitled, “Ending the School to Prison Pipeline.” This article summarized a lot of my ideas, as well as those found in Mallett’s piece and helped to encourage a change, as well as provide resources to push for this reform. 

I was very pleased with my current connection this week. I not only got to learn how the Black Lives Matter movement was directly linked to schools, but I also was able to engage in meaningful discussion with a variety of my classmates on these difficult subjects. I hope for a better future in education for all which will begin when these disciplinary efforts are put to rest and the educational experience is valued at a greater level. 

References

Ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline. NEA EdJustice. (2021, January 27). https://neaedjustice.org/ending-the-school-to-prison-pipeline/.

Koretz, D. (2017). The testing charade: pretending to make schools better. Chapter 7, Test Prep. pp. 93-118. Chicago; London: The University of Chicago Press.

Mallett, C. (2016). The School-to-Prison Pipeline: A Critical Review of the Punitive Paradigm Shift. Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal, 33(1), 15–24.

TEDxTalks. (2017, January 11). School to Prison Pipeline | Youth for RISE Advocacy Network | TEDxYouth@RVA. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6eFKtco4Jc.

Trofimuk, A. (2020, July 1). Watch Now: Decatur Justice Walk Addresses School-to-Prison Pipeline. Herald. https://herald-review.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/watch-now-decatur-justice-walk-addresses-school-to-prison-pipeline/article_d59ce8ee-0c4f-5ef4-a6a7-60ee4fa6c38b.html.

Service – Questions and Answers 8

How are your life experiences similar and different from others’ in the situation?  

No one showed up today, but since the students are children, I differ because they are growing up in a new generation, specifically with the Covid-19 virus. We are the same because I was once a child and can relate to the way their brains are developing and some thoughts, feelings, and experiences they have had.

What struck you or stayed with you today?  

No one showed up today.

My Reflection

No one showed up.

Learning Experience – Deculturalization of Native Americans

In Chapter two of Deculturalization and the Struggle for Equality, Joel Spring goes in depth about the deculturalization of Native Americans and the role education played. He highlights this cultural destruction as the result of the strongly held belief that one culture holds superiority over another. Native Americans were forced to suffer physically and mentally for decades in the United States as means to control and weaken their culture, with education being used as a tool in this process. The author portrays this struggle with his incorporation of references to the lived experiences of the Native Americans and their oppressors. 

The Naturalization Act of 1790 excluded Native Americans from gaining citizenship in order to uphold the homogeneous society of white individuals. They were classified as domestic foreigners, thus not true members of the republic. Deculturalization and the denial of citizenship went hand and hand. Native Americans did not gain the title of citizen until 1924 when Congress passed the Indian Citizenship Act. Before this, Thomas McKenney, the head of the Office of Indian Affairs, wanted to gain control of the Native Americans through the education of various groups called the Five Civilized Tribes. He pushed for the common-school movement. This educational system was used to gain authority over the Native American’s culture and eventually assimilate it into the accepted beliefs and traditions of the time in the United States.  His final solution was to move the southern tribes to lands west of the Mississippi in order to protect and civilize them. The goal of this movement was to “civilize” the Native American people in one generation. Mckenny never fathomed the Indians would resent or resist against this education in which they were thought of as children and taught ways that were foreign to them and their people. These academic experiences were run by Missionaries.  The Missionary Educators were mostly of the protestant religion because of the deeply rooted Christain belief system in society. They considered the Native Americans to be heathens and worked to deculturalize and convert them. Presbyterian missionaries wanted to spread the Anglo-Saxon beliefs primarily to the tribal leadership. The totality of missionaries desired to improve literacy and alter the culture of Native Americans. 

Furthermore, the missionaries wanted to develop a written language for the Native Americans as a means to eventually translate it to further develop their religious teachings. Sequoyah, a mixed-blood Cherokee, created an alphabet for the Native Americans in order to preserve their ways of life since language and culture are closely related. This led to the creation of the first Cherokee newspaper. However, the missionaries did not approve of this written language because they could not understand it and believed it inhibited the Native Americans’ ability to learn English. 

When Andrew Jackson was elected to presidency, he decided that civilization policies were giving Native Americans too much power. He feared that they would learn how to resist. Although this was wildly contradictory to McKenny’s ideology and extremely oppressive to the Native Americans, Jackson was correct, they did desire literacy in order to resist. He wanted to relocate the Indians which led to the Indian Removal Act. This worked to remove the Native Americans from their lands east of the Mississippi to lands west of the Mississippi. The president was required to provide assistance; however, this still resulted in a series of unfortunate events unfolding for these indigneous people. The 2,000 of 17,000 that decided to make the trek to the west had to face cholera, contaminated foods, and other dangers. This traumatized some, injured others, and killed many. The 15,000 that stayed had to face the wrath of General Winifield Scott and his troops. These men surrounded houses, forcibly removed the Cherokees, stole valuables, burned down homes, and forced adults and children into stockades. Furthemore, nn a Supreme Court Case of 1831, the ruling was that Indian tribes are “domestic  dependent nations.” After getting settled in Indian Territory, the Native Americans began to set up schools. The Choctaw and Cherokee tribes were praised for their successful school systems. The Choctaw were first established in cooperation with missionaries, but then they removed the academies from missionary management and replaced it with a board of trustees. 

Moreover, Luke Lea argued that there were wilder Indian tribes that must be put into reservations. These sites were supposed to focus on minimal educational skills with an emphasis on agricultural excellence. The Western Native Americans resisted resulting in the Indian Wars which led to the creation of the Indian Peace Commision. Despite the name suggesting a change to this abusive treatment, the Indian Peace Commision worked to deculturalize the Native Americans as well, with their main focus as promoting the English language. Boarding schools helped to do this and destroy other Indian customs. These educational facilities were not found on the reservations as a means to distance the young Native Americans from their families and livelihoods. They worked to exemplify and teach patriotic imagery, songs, and selections.  The United States wanted the young natives to alter their allegiance to the federal government and abandon their original tie to their tribal government. Boarding schools were cruel and treated children as if they were members of the military. Some facilities even went as far as to build a jail for those that misbehaved. Commissioner Morgan pushed that early childhood education worked towards eradicating tribal beliefs, while high school academics were centered around instilling the morals of the average American citizen. In the meantime, Pratt was working hard to really civilize the Native Americans which he thought would be done through the alteration of ownership. Pratt’s ideas backed the Allotment Movement which moved tribal ownership to individual Indians. This was founded on the grounds that tribal ownership closely resembled socialism and this change would help to fix issues pertaining to land. 

Finally, the Meriam Report in 1928 began the process that later finalized the educational efforts used to deculturalize the Native American people. The report called for a complete strip down of the original plan. It strongly criticized the efforts previously put forth by the government, complaining that isolating the Native Americans from their culture and forcing another onto them is not how to handle the situation. The report supported the notion that we should embrace their homeland and customs. For the latter half of the century, the Native Americans would put their efforts into rebuilding what the federal government destroyed. 

By writing this piece in support of the Native Americans, the author’s political perspective is made clear. He desires less government interaction when working with indegnious people until those in charge are able to accept different cultures, races, and ethnicities. In addition, his ideological and cultural perspectives are  in support of human rights and the preservation of individual cultures. He obviously feels that each person deserves the liberty to fully embrace their heritage and represent it proudly. I strongly agree with both of these perspectives and with the entire concept that the Native Americans have been extremely hurt by the federal government. I can not even imagine the heartache these poor people were forced into simply so the United States could gain power and homogeneity in society. I am truly appalled  by these actions and hope for a better future for those that had to suffer. 

Additionally, as a student, I had not learned about the great suffering the Native American people had to endure. Most events in their history were merely glossed over. My educational experience truly did not prepare me to understand these people and the hardship they went through most likely as a means to preserve the positive image the United States would like to hold. I was not educated about these sufferings, especially in this depth even in my high school years. I hope the school systems work to incorporate this history, as well as culture into the curriculum in order to create a better understanding of and stronger respect for the Native American people. As we discussed in our classes involving Gloria Ladson-Billings’ piece, “But That’s Just Good Teaching! The Case for Culturally Relevant Pedagogy,” there is a need for cultural competence which involves the understanding of one or more cultures. I believe that this aspect of a culturally relevant pedagogy would be particularly useful in the future betterment of education about Native Americans, thus wrestling in greater respect for the people and their customs. 

For my learning experience, my group and I chose to emphasize the aforementioned suffering, relocation, education, and overall abuse of Native Americans. Our presentation summarized each of the main points discussed in the previous paragraphs. Our learning objective was to inform our students about the history of Native Americans and educate them on the present day issues involving these people and our education system. My responsibilities while planning the lesson were to create an introduction slide which highlighted our learning objectives and why this information was important. During the lesson, I made sure to emphasize how the education and respect of Native Americans is vital in the perspectives of a future teacher, future parent, and current student. This was used as a means to get our audience engaged and ready to intake vital information. In addition, I created slides seven through twelve. These summarized the portion of the article I was in charge of presenting to the class. I was mostly responsible for the diminishment of Native American language and their forced removal resulting in the trail of tears and General Scott’s abuse. I was also tasked with finding related videos or articles and generating discussion questions related to these pieces which I put onto a google doc. We each went into breakout rooms with one or two other students in which we presented the inquiries and led discussions after the full group presentation. 

I felt that this learning experience was more successful than the previous one. My discussion with Shaina was fruitful and rewarding. We began by analyzing the comic I included. This really prepared us for later discussions and got our minds thinking in a more fun way with this humorous, yet very truthful graphic.

I then asked about her previous educational experiences involving the history and contemporary issues of Native Americans. We both realized that our educational experiences left out these problems or briefly covered them, mostly straight from the textbook. In addition, we agreed that our academic facilities made Native Americans seem like they do not exist today, which is far from true. To solidify this idea, we watched a video entitled Native American Students Respond to American Education. This portrayed a variety of current young Native American students who speak on how they struggle in school. We then discussed how the lack of representation of this community is greatly affecting the youth and needs to be altered. We delved into the idea that films like these are important to show in schools to teach children about contemporary issues and emphasize the need to respect different cultures. Shaina pointed out that only one child in the video desired a future career that required further education which strongly emphasized the lack of support these children are receiving. When asked what she, as an educator, would do Shaina suggested various ideas that I strongly agree with. She claimed that she would discourage the disrespect of any culture and ensure that each student felt welcome and confident in the classroom without drawing any unnecessary attention on one particular scholar. 

We then read a quote from the article, “‘That is not what happened.’ Native Americans criticize schools’ teaching of their history.” The short paragraph detailed the common experience of learning about the happy Thanksgiving feast that took place which avoids the reality of the situation. I asked why the education system would present a false positive story like this to the students and Shaina and I agreed that it was to keep a proper image of the United States in the minds of children. We desire our citizens to think we live in a highly esteemed country that is without mistakes which is far from true. Shaina pointed out that we, as a country, are quick to put blame on other people or countries, absolving ourselves from any sort of acknowledgement of guilt or regret. This is teaching our children to avoid, ignore, or simply push off their problems onto someone else. Finally, we discussed another clip entitled Trail of Tears for Kids Documentary. This video showed a short educational experience that is made for children. Since the common argument is that the truth about the Native Americans is inappropriate or harsh for young individual , we discussed if this video met those standards. Shaina and I believe that this film gave children the necessary information about Native Americans without any graphic details or imagery which is what we need to begin to do in our history lessons instead of removing the truth. We discussed how just like with other subjects, we must build our knowledge in each grade, meaning we must start with a softer, yet truthful version of this history and build as we get older, rather than altering it or removing it altogether. At the end I provided Shaina with the article, “What Every Teacher Needs to Know to Teach Native American Students.” This piece works to show teachers what to expect and how to handle this culture that may be new and different to them. I hope this inspired Shaina, and the other students who received it to improve their teaching techniques in order to adequately instruct their future students. 

Overall, I felt that this learning experience was a success. I enjoyed presenting to the class and my one-on-one conversation with Shaina. These activities truly show me that I am not alone in my outrage with the current system and their ability to gloss over important subjects, ideas, and cultures. I look forward to my next learning experience and hope it is just as prosperous as this one.

References

Educational Videos for Students. (2015, October 23). Trail of Tears for Kids Documentary: Watch our Cartoon for Kids 

on the Trail of Tears. Retrieved March 30, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Q5Z4UUitdU

Ladson-Billings, G. (2006). From the Achievement Gap to the Education Debt: Understanding Achievement in U.S. Schools. Educational Researcher35(7), 3-12.

Morgan, H. (n.d.). What Every Teacher Needs to Know To Teach Native American Students. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ858583.pdf

Spring, Joel 2013. Deculturalization and the Struggle for Equality. Chapter 2: Native Americans: Deculturalization. 

Schooling, and Globalization. New York: McGraw Hill.pp. 21-40.

Whisnant, S. (2019, April 1). ‘That is not what happened.’ Native Americans criticize schools’ teaching of their history. 

Retrieved from 

https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article228639074.html

Wilbur, M. (2019, March 27). Native American Students respond to American Education. Retrieved March 30, 2021, 

from 

Service – Questions and Answers 7

In what ways do you do well in this experience? What personal characteristics help you do well? What is difficult for you? 

 I believe I do well reading to the children and communicating to them throughout our activities. I try to keep them engaged. My sociable and empathetic characteristics are what help me do so. However, it is difficult for me to get the students to interact with each other and not just me and my fellow volunteers.

What struck you or stayed with you today? 

 The lack of students attending struck me today. Less and less students are coming each week.

My Reflection

I feel like I am making connections with the few students who do come, but there are a multitude of students who do not show up anymore.

Service Questions and Answers 6

What are you noticing about yourself and others in this virtual experience? 

 I noticed how much I enjoy interacting with children. I also noticed that the children do not interact very much with each other which is troublesome and may cause some social issues later on as a result of this online atmosphere.

What struck you or stayed with you today?

 I was struck by how excited the children were to share about themselves. During our game, they were overjoyed to share various thoughts, opinions, and facts about themselves.

My Reflection

I had fun getting to know the children more!

The Banking Concept of Education- Current Connections

In “The Banking Concept of Education,” Paulo Freire delves into this academic ideology and explores its effects. He uses detailed descriptions, as well as examples to provide evidence for his thoughts on the subject. Freire works to share why the banking concept of education is demeaning, unaccommodating, and overall disadvantageous, while also promoting the idea for academic reform encouraging a problem-posing educational experience.

The commonly practiced banking of education relies on the idea that teachers must deposit information to their students. This focuses on the dichotomy that “a person is merely in the world not with the world or with others; the individual is spectator, not recreator”  (Freire, 2013). Furthermore, it enforces a narrative relationship between teacher and student. The teacher holds the power of thinking, understanding, speaking, and making all important decisions, while the student is reduced to a mere vessel used to contain the teacher’s content. The scholars are demoted to people of ignorance in need of such an authoritative role as the teacher takes on as a means to dehumanize the educational experience. They are forced to endure years of pure repetition and memorization of content that actually disconnects them from reality. Students take on a passive role in the classroom, greatly diminishing their creative and experimental mindsets. They are stripped of their ability to develop a critical consciousness and stifles their analysis skills. The student-teacher relationship is not permitted to have a sense of unity or coexistence, rather the teacher must take on a dominating role so the students will be more likely to submit, not only in the classroom, but also in a world of oppression. Forcing students to become the oppressed and the education system and its workers to be the original oppressors. This type of education does not promote true knowledge or culture and is overall disadvantageous for society.

During my high school years, I unfortunately was subject to the banking concept of education. My teachers were simply seen as a figure of authority and worked to deposit various facts and information in my brain. I was able to skillfully memorize and repeat these ideas, making me a straight A student and highly accomplished in this academic setting. However, I was always aware that I was never truly learning. The information would seemingly only apply to the tests; therefore, I saw no use for these concepts at the end of each year. I always asked why, but received little to no response as to how these ideas truly applied to myself or my future in society. This was especially apparent in my higher level math classes. In my AP calculus class, I would frequently ask how this will be applied in real life, but my teacher was unable to provide me with sufficient answers. I truly took on the role of a passive, oppressed learner. I even feared a variety of my educators because they abused their authoritative role, making their classroom a silent and questionless environment. I strongly disagree with the banking concept of education and can say from personal experience that this is not the most successful tactic to be applied in the classroom.

Moreover, Freire suggests a more progressive form of academics, problem-posing education. He suggests that we must reject the banking concept of education in order to liberate ourselves from this toxic classroom environment. We have to understand and reflect upon this denouncement of banking, acknowledging that humanization is key. Students must no longer be seen as objects and they must begin to think for themselves. Problem-posing education provides scholars with issues pertaining to themselves and the world around them, making their academic experience more personal and live. This form of instruction works to break down the contradiction between teacher and student. Dialogue will demolish the idea that teachers are simply the ones who educate and students are those that are taught, rather both parties are being taught and teaching simultaneously. “The students – no longer docile listeners- are now critical co-investigators in dialogue with the teacher” (Freire, 2013). This relationship is not considered narrative in problem-posing education, but now is seen as always cognitive. Creativity and experimentation thrive and flourish in this type of classroom. Education can be considered the practice of freedom, rather than oppression. In addition, critical perception and consciousness are developed in problem-posing education through the acknowledgement that the world is not static, rather it is dynamic and constantly changing. Freire highlights his ideological perspective in his push for reform. He clearly is in great support of students and their right to a better education. 

I strongly agree that problem-posing education should be promoted in schools today. Although the majority of my educational experience was unfortunately more closely related to the banking concept of education, I did have some educators who worked to incorporate this type of instruction into their lessons. My statistics teacher always worked to show us how stats is applied to our lives, and the community around us. He began each class with a student presentation of a stat in which we would analyze on the grounds of relevance and validity. Furthermore, he had a project in which each student had to venture into the community and gather information in order to perform tests on such data and come up with reasons as to why the stats concluded what they did. This showed us that statistics are relevant to our lives which made the information more easily attainable, better understood, and overall more interesting. I did my project on the number of men and women who brought their pets into a local pet store. I found that more women were willing to bring their furry companions to the store. I hope to be like this teacher when I am in the classroom. His implementation of problem-posing education allowed me to view the world in terms of math, rather than simply using this information as a means to ace a test. More teachers should work to break down this frequently practiced banking concept in order to work for a better future for students and the overall society. I am glad Freire is working to put this information out there so more educators and students alike can push for this reform. I admire his ideological perspective and his willingness to speak out against this commonly accepted practice. 

My current connections article, “Relationship Between Student and Teacher” speaks about the importance of student-teacher bonds. The piece was published by The New Nation in 2020 and, similar to Freire’s work, renounces the banking concept of education. The article goes into depth about how teachers should be empathetic and encouraging towards students which relies on a basis of understanding that both participants in the relationship must have. The author details how the teacher must provide care, and trust in the classroom. The article incorporates the multitude of benefits that come about because of this positive and healthy relationship, as well as how to develop it in the classroom. Freire’s piece also highlights the importance of positive student-teacher relationships and their place in the problem-posing educational experience. Both works show that these bonds are vital in education and that teachers should not simply be seen as authoritative figures with all encompassing power, rather they should co-exist with the students in order to create a better classroom for everyone.

For this week’s presentation, my group and I decided it was best to split into breakout rooms in order to have more fulfilling discussions. I began my presentation in each room with an overview of my current connections article and how it relates to this week’s piece on the grounds of conversational student teacher relationships. I then asked each group what are the benefits of a positive student teacher relationship as a means to get them thinking about the advantages before I reveal what the article said. Most people claimed that the scholars would feel comfortable in the classroom, fostering a more encouraging and fruitful learning experience. The article identified that students are more successful in school with increased student engagement and higher grades. There is higher attendance, fewer disruptions, less aggression in and out of the classroom, and a decreased school dropout rate. I found this to be greatly encouraging for teachers to incorporate this in the classroom. It shows that students truly reap the benefits of this relationship which affects their life both in and out of school. The article identifies the importance of feedback in the process of obtaining this positive student-teacher relationship, so my next inquiries forced my classmates to think about how effective feedback is and whether grades are a good basis of deciding if a teacher can be considered successful. I agreed with my peers’ perspectives that feedback is vital in order to learn and grow with your students. Grades are not always a true indicator of a positive classroom experience. As I mentioned before, I always received good grades in high school, but this was due to my forced memorization and recitation skills that were developed during my experiences with the banking concept of education, not always because of my teacher’s educating capabilities. My classmates seemed to have similar experiences and all understand that simply getting an A in a class did not directly correlate with the teacher’s performance. This hopefully encouraged my peers to ask for feedback in the future in order to continue to improve in their classrooms, always creating the best experience for the students. 

Furthermore, I then prompted each group to ponder how a teacher could create this positive relationship in the classroom before discussing what the article had to say about it. Most students continued on the trek that feedback was key to truly understanding your students and bettering your relationship with them. The article identified eight ways in which teachers could foster these relationships. I focused on the last tip given to educators, “Teachers can’t be friends with kids, but they can connect through common interests” (The New Nation, 2020). I asked the class what they thought about this concept. There were a variety of conflicting answers which prompted me to come to the conclusion that this question all depends on how a person defines a friendship.Some people took it as a closer relationship than others, thus concluding that it should not be found in the classroom. Others saw that friendships are needed in the classroom in order to create this positive rapport. I agreed more with the ladder of the two, interpreting friendship in a more broad sense.

Next, I presented my classmates with a comic and asked what they felt the illustration meant and their thoughts on teachers’ interpersonal skills.

Most conversations resulted in the idea that students need emotional support, but questioned how responsible the teacher is for said support. My classmates and I agreed that educators must have some level of people skills, but they can not be considered therapists. However, we did not highlight where this line should be drawn and simply decided that it solely depends on individual experiences. Dr. Shutkin identified that the cartoon also delved into the debate of whether teachers should be allowed to give hugs to their students. After the class discussion, I found an article by Matthew Luginbill, “Why Don’t you Give us Hugs?” which goes deeper into this subject and both sides of the debate. I believe that teachers should be permitted to give hugs at appropriate times, like the one in the cartoon, but there is a line to be drawn to where this physical affection must end. 

My final question to my classmates related to Gloria Ladson-Billings’ piece, “But That’s Just Good Teaching! A Case for Culturally Relevant Pedagogy.” I asked whether they believed that teachers struggled to connect to students of differing races or cultures, thus making it difficult to develop these important relationships. Ladson-Billings discusses this disconnect in her piece and how to truly incorporate black students into the classroom. I agreed with my classmates that it is more difficult for teachers to make these bonds because they lack the understanding necessary to do so. I provided the class with a link to Jay Wamsted’s Article, “27 Mistakes White Teachers of Black Students Make and How to Fix Them.” As a white teacher of African American students, Wamsted is able to speak on how we can fix this gap and create positive, more fulfilling relationships with students of varying races and cultures. I strongly agree that teachers must understand this disconnect and learn how to fix it which is why I urge my classmates to. Students of all colors and cultures deserve the right to a comfortable and rewarding educational experience which begins with the teacher.

I enjoyed my current connection this week. I was able to truly be the teacher and student in my discussions with the class, thus incorporating a problem-posing educational experience. I was even told by two students that I truly made them ponder what it means to be an educator in a new light which really made my day. I hope to continue to have this positive impact in future discussions and classroom instruction when I am a teacher!

References

Freire, P. (2013/1972). The banking concept of education. In A. S. Canestrari & B. A. Marlowe (Eds.), Education 

foundations: An anthology of 

critical readings (3rd ed., pp. 103-115). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Luginbill, M. (n.d.). Why Don’t you Give us Hugs? Retrieved from 

https://oaesa.org/navigator-articles/Why%20Don’t%20You%20Give%20Us%20Hugs%20-%20Principal%20Navig

ator%20Fall%202018%20-%20032-033.pdf

Ladson-Billings, G. (2016/1995). But that’s just good teaching! The case for culturally relevant pedagogy. In E. Blair & Y. Medina (Eds.), The

social foundations reader: Critical essays on teaching, learning and leading in the 21st century (pp. 285-292). New York, NY: Peter Lang.

The New Nation. (2020, March). Relationship Between Student and Teacher. Retrieved from 

http://m.thedailynewnation.com/news/248324/relationship-between-teacher-and-student

Wamsted, J. (2020, January 07). 27 Mistakes White Teachers of Black Students Make and how to Fix 

Them. Retrieved March 18, 2021, from