Service – Questions and Answers 10

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 8

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 7

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 

Service Questions and Answers 6

How do you show up to this experience? How much effort are you willing to put forth? 

 I showed up to this experience with a full lesson plan ready. I read a book and led a discussion. I am willing to put forth as much effort as necessary to make this a memorable experience for the students.

What struck you or stayed with you today? 

 I was struck by the lack of students in the session. We believe it was because of the good weather. I was also very pleased with the one-on-one interaction we were able to have.

My Reflection

I really enjoyed this week. I was able to be the leader and read my students a story about Kevin the Koala. I can not wait until next week!

Learning Experience – Culturally Relevant Pedagogy

Gloria Ladson-Billings speaks extensively on the subject of culturally relevant pedagogy in her piece, “But That’s Just Good Teaching! A Case for Culturally Relevant Pedagogy.” She redefines what good education is and how to apply this method of teaching in the classroom. Ladson-Billings uses a variety of examples from exceptional teachers of African American students. She highlights the key to a culturally relevant pedagogy and the need for this type of methodology to be applied in the classroom today.

Ladson-Billings begins by identifying the vitality of this kind of teaching. She defines a culturally relevant pedagogy as, “a pedagogy that empowers students intellectually, socially, emotionally, and politically by using cultural referents to impart knowledge, skills, and attitudes” (Ladson-Billings, 2016). This is necessary because it provides a bridge between students’ lives at home and at school, specifically for African American scholars. She highlights the fact that these students have not been served well by the public school system and must have this pedagogical approach implemented in the classroom in order to succeed academically. 

The author emphasizes three criteria that are needed to successfully implement this pedagogy. 

1. “Students must experience academic success” (Ladson-Billings, 2016).

2. “Students must develop and/or maintain cultural competence” (Ladson-Billings, 2016).

3. “Students must develop a critical consciousness through which they challenge the status quo of current social order” (Ladson-Billings, 2016).

Academic success highlights the need for scholars to learn. A teacher is responsible for challenging their students’ minds in order to fuel higher level thinking. This type of educating must be done for understanding, not just for conformity to rules or high grades on a test. Furthermore, cultural competence requires for scholars to gain and maintain some level of understanding of different cultures. Teachers must acknowledge that cultures change and adapt. They must be aware of this in order to keep themselves and their pupils well educated on contemporary alterations. This will also help the teacher better connect with his/her students and keep up to date with their language in order to fully embrace it in the classroom. Ladson-Billings suggests that students must become knowledgeable about at least one other culture than their own. Scholars should be able to identify as biculturally or multiculturally competent. This highlights Billing’s cultural perspective. She is understanding and accepting of all cultures and acknowledges their relevance in education. In addition, in order to provide students with a sociopolitical consciousness, teachers must ensure they can take their knowledge from school and use it for larger social purposes. Scholars should be able to critique elements of society in order to push for reform. Each of these criteria are necessary in order to successfully implement culturally-relevant pedagogy in the classroom.

Ladson-Billings recognizes that in order to put this type of methodology in place, teachers must form close connections with their students and be able to understand them on a personal level. They keep their relationships fluid and impartial in order to fuel the completion of the three criteria. She also underscores that this type of pedagogy can be constructed in a multitude of ways. She presents a series of examples in her piece, but identifies that there is not just one route to achieve this goal. No matter how teachers go about it, a culturally relevant pedagogy is necessary to better help and understand African American students in the classroom. This highlights Billing’s ideological perspective. She strongly values the education of African American scholars and is doing what she can in order to help these individuals excel in a society that has created a variety of obstacles for them.

I strongly agree with Ladson-Billings ideas about a culturally-relevant pedagogy becoming more common in the classroom. Young African Americans already struggle in society with racial stereotypes, prejudices, and overall unfair treatment because of the color of their skin. I am glad Ladson-Billings is working on educating the public about how to truly incorporate these students into the classroom. This type of education will not only benefit African American scholars, but any student that does not know about their own culture or the cultures of those around them. Culturally relevant pedagogy is a groundbreaking and needed incorporation in the American education system in order to ensure a better future for all. 

In my personal experience, I only was able to meet two of the three criteria during my high school years. I was given the opportunity to achieve academic excellence by being encouraged to take different courses and understand varying, yet interesting topics. In addition, I was able to develop some sociopolitical consciousness. My teachers made it a point to incorporate hands-on learning in my classrooms. This would often require us to get involved in our communities and the surrounding environment so I was able to understand various issues and see the need for reform. However, I do see some gaps in my personal knowledge. I was not as well informed about mental health issues as I discussed in class which did not help fuel my push for improvements in order to benefit the mentally ill. In addition, I do not feel as if I became culturally competent during my educational experience. I lacked the knowledge and understanding of my personal culture and those around me. With these large gaps in my education, especially pertaining to different races, ethnicities, and cultures, I felt scared to speak out and ask for help in fear of saying the wrong thing or being labeled as ignorant. Our class discussions have shown me that I am not alone in these feelings; therefore, I am glad and inspired by the fact that Ladson-Billings is speaking on this important topic.

For our learning experience this week, our learning objective was to inform our audience about culturally relevant pedagogies by defining it, explaining the criteria, and identifying the reasons why this should be implemented in the classroom. We emphasized the aforementioned important themes in our presentation. While planning the lesson, my responsibility was to find an informative video on the topic of culturally relevant pedagogies, gather information about each of the criteria, generate questions about such topics, and create slides in the presentation to relay my information to the class. While gathering the information for my slides pertaining to the criteria I found a video of Ladson-Billings speaking on the subject of culturally relevant pedagogy. She summarized her main points on the three criteria presented in the article which furthered my understanding so I could more easily spread my knowledge to the class.

 My responsibilities teaching the lesson included showing the video I found. This film exemplified the variety of positive effects that come about when this type of teaching is incorporated. A multitude of young African American students spoke on how they felt more confident, empowered, and knowledgeable because of the efforts of their teacher. This video was meant to inspire the class to take on this pedagogy in their future instructional times. After the clip, I spoke on why this information was relevant to the class as future teachers and parents, as well as current students. As future educators, they must be able to understand and apply this pedagogy in their classrooms. As future parents, they must be able to recognize if their child is receiving this type of education. If not, the parent must seek better academic options or fill in the blanks themselves. Furthermore, as current students we must recognize the gaps in our own knowledge and take responsibility for them. 

Moreover, I then was tasked with presenting Emma’s slides since she unfortunately could not attend class. I read these verbatim and led short discussions for the questions she included throughout. Next, I presented my slides that explained the three criteria needed for a culturally relevant pedagogy to thrive in the classroom. After each point, I was sure to ask questions in order to keep my audience engaged and see how they understood the information I was presenting. My first set of questions worked to connect Ladson-Billings’ ideas to previous pieces we have studied. The first inquiry asked if this type of pedagogy urged schools to decrease or eliminate testing. This question was directly related to chapter seven of  Kortez’s book, The Testing Charade: Pretending to Make Schools Better. This chapter highlighted how test preparation has become dangerous because educators are teaching to the test, rather than for understanding. Ladson-Billings’ first criteria, academic success, specifically highlights the need for an educator to teach for understanding, rather than simply teaching to receive a good grade on an exam. My second question was centered around the connection between a culturally relevant pedagogy and progressivism in education. I was specifically referring to Edward Janak’s ideas in the fourth chapter of his book, A Brief History of Schooling in the United States. Progressive teaching also requires a more personal learning experience, similar to that needed for Ladson-Billing’s method of teaching. These questions were meant to identify connections between earlier topics in the class. They were not meant to imply that a culturally relevant pedagogy required a decrease in testing or totally progressivist teaching style. As mentioned earlier, this methodology can be done in a variety of ways. The questions I included after the second criteria, cultural competence, were meant to connect the ideas of a culturally relevant pedagogy to the educational experiences my classmates had and to inspire them to think in depth about how they plan to be as a teacher. Furthermore, the questions I included after my discussion of the final criteria, sociopolitical consciousness, sparked a discussion about the absolute necessity of each criteria. Mac identified that all three work together to create a well-balanced application of this pedagogy in the classroom. While, Dr.Shutkin highlighted the importance and need of academic excellence in order for the other two to thrive. My final inquiry, do you think having more teachers with varying cultures, races, ethnicities, and religious backgrounds could impact a child in education, allowed me to emphasize the need for more people of different backgrounds to educate the youth. I presented the findings from a study reported by Anya Kamenetz, a writer for NPR, in her article, “Having Just One Black Teacher Can Keep Black Kids In School.” She found that, “Having just one black teacher in third, fourth or fifth grade reduced low-income black boys’ probability of dropping out of high school by 39 percent, the study found. And by high school, African-American students, both boys and girls, who had one African-American teacher had much stronger expectations of going to college” (Kamenetz, 2017). These facts and statistics show what a role model that represents a child’s personal culture can do for their educational experience. 

Overall, I felt that our learning experience was a success. The class was less interactive than usual, but that is okay. This better prepared Jess and I for times in our future classrooms when the children do not want to participate and add to the lesson. We plan to go back to small group discussions for our next learning experience in hopes that this will fuel a stronger discussion. I look forward to future readings and conversations on this topic to broaden my perspectives and increase my classmate’s knowledge.

References

Culturally Relevant Pedagogy by Gloria Ladson Billings. (2018, February 23). Retrieved March 09, 2021, from 

DemetriusLancaster. (2015, June 24). Culturally Responsive Teaching. Retrieved March 09, 

2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Uc0dFs5nO8

Janak, Edward 2019.  The Cultural and Social Foundations of Education. Chapter 4: 

Education in the Progressive Period (ca. 1890s–1920s). Switzerland: Palgrave 

Pivot. pp. 43-63. 

Kamenetz, A. (2017, April 10). Having just one black teacher can keep black kids 

in school. Retrieved March 09, 2021, from 

https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2017/04/10/522909090/having-just-one-black

-teacher-can-keep-black-kids-in-school

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.

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.

Service Questions and Answers – 3

What are you discovering about the differences between being in person vs. online? 

 It is harder to maintain the children’s attention online. They are distracted easily and tend to unmute while others are speaking. However, it is not as different as it would be in person since children love to share their thoughts and opinions which we welcome at story time.

What struck you or stayed with you today?  

I was struck by how vocal the children were in the chat. A couple of students engaged in conversation with me in the chat and I enjoyed getting to know them.

My Reflection

I enjoyed this week’s service. I am excited to read to the kids next week!

Test Prep in Education – Current Connections

Kortez tackles the issues surrounding test prep in chapter 7 of his book, The Testing Charade: Pretending to Make Schools Better. In this section, he goes into detail about the negative effects of preparing for exams in schools. He underscores that there is line between test prep and teaching that often is overlapping. The author identifies with a strong ideology of pushing for better education for children that will adequately prepare them for real life. Kortez uses a multitude of examples to portray his ideas on the types of test prep, their effects, and the fine line between this practice and the corruption of education. 

Kortez first identifies the three types of bad test prep: reallocation between subjects, reallocation within a subject, and coaching. Reallocation between subjects essentially is when an educator distributes time to subjects based on their relevance on the standardized tests. Teachers spend more time on the subjects that are tested, while taking away valuable classroom instruction for other areas. This sometimes leads to the elimination of various subjects. I have experienced reallocation between subjects during my secondary school days. My high school would allot more time and resources towards subjects like math, science, and english, while eliminating some from various courses like art, band, and orchestra. This is because our state tests did not assess these concepts, so they did not prioritize them. Reallocation within a subject happens when a teacher focuses on the material in each  area that often appears on the exams. This involves the elimination of certain sections of a chapter or entire chapters altogether. Students must learn what is emphasized on the test, while leaving out the other information that these assessments tend to avoid. As I went on to higher level math, I noticed that these gaps in my knowledge from omitted sections created great challenges for me to fully understand various concepts. Coaching is when a teacher focuses on the insignificant details of a test. This includes the format and presentation of the questions. The tips and tricks can often not be applied in the real-world. An example is teaching children common pythagorean triples, instead of providing them with the knowledge on how to solve such math problems. I have also experienced coaching in my years as a student. Reallocation within a subject and coaching were most prominent in math courses in my experience which may be the reason as to why so many students struggle with mathematics in our current system. They are not given the chance to understand mathematical concepts entirely and are simply given certain techniques because it is easier and will help them achieve higher scores on the test. In my opinion, this is unfair, unnecessary and borderline immoral.

Kortez also includes the theme of morality in test prep. He poses the question of when this preparation becomes cheating. Some educators teach only what is on the assessments so their scores only showcase the positive results of this, while in actuality they are omitting other necessary information from their lessons plans. Therefore, each child is not given the educational experience they need. The question of whether these fraudulent improvements born out of bad test prep should be considered cheating is highly debated. Many educators see no issue with this preparation which only makes matters worse. Furthermore, many want educational reform, but their jobs depend on good test scores, thus encouraging a variety of teachers to use these undesirable techniques. Good instruction has become corrupted by this test preparation that is plaguing schools. A positive score on an assessment has been used to mark whether a teacher is good or not. Educators have begun to believe that a student’s current and future success can be predicted by their score on these tests. Young teachers are set up to inflate their students’ test scores, while inadequately preparing the young adults for the real world. In addition, Kortez exclaims, “So one would expect that test preparation would be a more severe problem in schools serving high concentrations of disadvantaged students, and it is”(Kortez, 2017). Kortez points out that unfortunately these inappropriate tactics are usually only applied to disadvantaged children, thus creating inequity in the educational sector. 

I do not blame the teachers for their need to teach to the test. They feel forced to because their jobs depend on high test scores. I put blame on the outside source that is creating these high stakes tests and not acknowledging the issues that have come about due to these assessments. One teacher going against the grain will not be enough. There needs to be an educational reform that reduces or eliminates testing which will involve the majority of educators. This will cause a chain reaction in the education system. The tests will carry less weight in schools so administrators will feel less pressure to provide high test scores in order to draw in more students. This will lead to teachers relinquishing their need to teach to the test because their jobs will not rely on it, and most importantly, the students will hopefully receive a more advantageous education that will adequately prepare them for real life.

My current connections article this week was the piece,“Standardized tests should not be required,” by Alanna Joachim , a student at the University of Massachusetts. This article was published this year in the Massachusetts Daily Collegian. Joachim highlights the fact that standardized tests have become optional for possible first year students in colleges due to the issues and risks associated with the CoronaVirus. This elimination has forced universities to examine how they are evaluating students if not by their ACT or SAT scores. I chose this article because it aligns with Kortez’s thoughts on testing and the unnecessary emphasis placed on assessments.

Connecting my current connections piece to this week’s chapter, Joachim affirms, “Standardized testing teaches students to learn how to take a test, not to absorb new information and use it to problem solve” (Joachim, 2021). This is similar to the concept of coaching as described in chapter 7. In current times, people are so concerned with receiving high test scores that they simply only provide children with quick tricks on how to do better on such exams, rather than giving them useful information. There is no true real life application to these techniques that scholars are provided so educational facilities are failing them in this mannerr. High stakes assessments lead to great stress for students. As described by Joachim, scholars feel as if they are reduced to a number or score when applying for college because the ACT and SAT are so greatly emphasized in schools today. She includes a call to action for schools to not see students in this manner and to reduce the strong emphasis on testing. 

In addition, Joachim also touches on the fact that individuals who are not financially stable tend to struggle more with these exams. They can not receive the extra help that many students pay for. In addition, they usually lack the funds needed to take the exams multiple times in order to receive their desired score. This connects to the inequity in education that was discussed in Kortez’s book. Those that are already disadvantaged continue to be negatively affected by these exams, thus making them unfair. Furthermore, Valarie Strauss from the Washington Post discusses how the wealthy actually go as far as to pay for higher scores or to be given advantages to achieve these desired results in her article, “Is it Finally Time to get rid of the ACT and SAT College Admissions Test.” This is illegal; however, it is the reality of the education system. These three pieces show evidence of underprivileged children being maltreated in the academic sector. 

For my presentation, I created a google slideshow. This allowed me to present visualizes for my classmates so they could retain the information better in order to have a more informed class discussion. I first summarized the article, then I pointed out the two aforementioned connections to Kortez’s piece. This lead into a group discussion. The questions were supposed to be presented in a kahoot so we could see the overall opinions of the class by what they voted for on each inquiry, but the program did not operate properly so I had to stick to simply asking my audience questions and taking responses. However, I was very pleased with the discussion I was able to have. I first questioned if anyone had ever felt reduced to a test score and how this impacted them academically and emotionally. I was pleasantly surprised to find that many of my classmates did not feel that they had ever been labeled as a percent or grade because they went to schools who placed less emphasis on testing. However, I did come to find that many people shared this experience with me. The idea that individuals who scored well on exams like the ACT and SAT were known for this was brought up. Although it is a great achievement to do well on these exams, I feel that it is wrong to label anyone as simply a number or percent. This is very dehumanizing and only adds to the stress of these assessments. My classmates seemed to agree with this point of view. I then asked if they agreed or disagreed with the elimination of the ACT or SAT and what schools should do in place of them. The majority of the group agreed that these tests should be eliminated; however, what colleges should use in place of these exams proved to be a harder question. The solution proposed that I agreed with most was Dr. Shutkin’s idea of the creation of portfolios. The assigned chapter first suggested these projects, but touched on the fact that they were hard to grade because there was not a consistent scale. Dr. Shutkin built off this concept and suggested that each person would have an interview to show their portfolio in order to showcase their achievements throughout high school. I felt that this was a reasonable and interesting proposal. Portfolios would eliminate the bad test preps, as well as allow interleaving learning to prosper. My final question was how these concepts connected to the previous week’s piece on Neoliberalism in Education. Emma was able to provide the opposing side, showing the benefits of the marketization in testing. I presented the connection of how the poor people are continuously disadvantaged in education. This was a strong theme in Blakely’s piece, “How School Choice Turns Education into a Commodity.” In addition it was emphasized in the final paragraph of chapter 7, as well as in my current connections article. Overall, I felt that my classmates and I had a successful discussion. They gave me new perspectives, ideas, and proposals, while I hopefully provided them with useful information on what is going on in education today. The wise words of my classmates gives me hope for a better future in academics.

References

Blakely, J. 2017, 17 April. How School Choice Turns Education into a Commodity. The Atlantic. 

Joachim, A. (n.d.). Standardized tests should not be required. Retrieved February 25, 2021, from 

https://dailycollegian.com/2020/09/standardized-tests-should-not-be-required/

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.

Strauss, V. (2019, March 19). Analysis | is it finally time to get rid of the SAT and ACT college ADMISSIONS tests? Retrieved

March 03, 2021, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2019/03/19/is-it-finally-time-get-rid-sat-act-college-

admissions-tests/