In about the first half of Freedom Writers, Ms. Gruwell made extremely minimal progress teaching her students. The rather apparent cause of the students’ lack of progress was their unwillingness to put for any substantial effort into the class. Rather than attempting to present her students with more material which they would practically ignore, Ms. Gruwell decided to face the root cause of their learning issues. She continuously pressed the students, demanding an answer as to why they resisted formal education. One day, a girl answered Ms. Gruwell’s question stating “It’s because we don’t respect you.” It seemed that Ms. Gruwell took this as less of an insult and more as a challenge. She went on to present her students with assignments which she felt would intrigue her students, while simultaneously treating them with the level of respect they would eventually give her. It seemed that as the students received assignments which interested them (seemingly for the first time in their school careers) they found it easier to trust and respect their teacher for her efforts for the sake of their education. This coupled with the level of respect Ms. Gruwell showed her students seemed to really bring the kids out of their shells both towards the teacher and the others in the class, allowing their learning barriers which previously seemed impermeable to quickly disintegrate.
While watching the film The Class I was rather surprised in the way the school year unfolded within the class. To rationalize the shock I was feeling recognized that I had never observed a classroom form a teacher’s perspective and that I had never attended school in a city district. The main aspect of the teacher student interaction which troubled me was the students blatant lack of respect for a man who was doing everything in his power to make a positive difference in their lives. While some students complained about being singled out and criticized, I feel that they were simply further displaying their lack of respect towards the teacher, as he did no such thing in my opinion. However, while viewing the film it was also clear that the teacher’s methods were significantly flawed in many cases. In retrospect, I feel that this was a key element of the film, as Mr. Marin was constantly altering his teaching and discipline methods to better fit the unique needs of his students. I feel that through showing his numerous failures with the students, including his dramatic failure with Solemon (sp?), the viewer is sent the message that failure is not ultimate. Rather, it is suggested that when you are faced with failure you should work to change the situation in search of more successes and positive outcomes, however small they may be.
While doing my research for my annotated bibliography, I noticed an interesting bit of overlap between my research topic and and book I am reading in my business ethics class called The Ethics of What we Eat. The main goal of the book is to increase awareness of ethical dilemmas regarding the choices we make when it comes to buying and eating food. The author goes into disturbing detail about how farmers (mainly big factory farms) treat animals in an unethical manner, and thus argues that we should feel a conflict of interest when buying such food products. Despite such ethical issues, these products maintain their place as the most popular among American consumers. My current does not reach as far as to why we favor such products and instead focuses more on why we favor unhealthy food products, I can’t help but wonder if the causes of the two are the same: peer and media influence. As I proceed with my researched argument I intend to bring The Ethics of What we Eat into my paper, so long as I can support use it in support of my thesis, to broaden my examples of peer and media influence on food choices.
Influences on How we Eat
As the number of obesity cases across the world continue to grow, common eating patterns and choices have scrutinized in search of potential causes of this world wide epidemic. How did it come to be that as industrialized countries became more knowledgable and prosperous, their populations simultaneously became less healthy? The obvious answer is that our population has developed a rather strong taste for unhealthy foods and that food companies thus put their efforts towards satisfying the desires of the people. Continue reading
Until class on Tuesday, I was slightly worried about what to research for my annotated bibliography. I had subject ideas in my mind ranging from alcohol advertisements effects on minors to the best times to learn in a young persons life to how individual’s feelings about global warming inspire preventative action. Despite all of these ideas, I had no major thesis I wanted to investigate. After listening to the presentations on Tuesday I started developing a completely new idea: nutrition. The final presentation in class was focused on how the media pressures individuals, especially woman, to meet a standard of beauty most pertinent to their weight. Because of this presentation I started to think about how women (and men) attempt to attain the body image they desire. The first thing that came to my mind was by fad dieting, which is an unhealthy and often ineffective form of dieting that is generally made popular by celebrities, magazines or other pop-culture sources. Through my annotated bibliography I plan to research how certain fad diets become so popular, the effects of them, etc. I’ve always had a level of interest in nutrition, so I feel that this is the perfect opportunity for me to further my understanding of it while also doing my project. -Thank you group that presented the article about the media’s effect on the perception of body image for inspiring my project idea.
While reading John Taylor Gatto’s essay Against School, I came across an interesting segment on boredom. Gatto began his essay by blaming boredom for the shortcomings of schooling systems. He then goes on to tell a quick story about how his grandfather taught him at a young age that “The obligation to amuse and instruct myself was entirely my own,”. This idea came off as very interesting to me, and as I proceeded in the reading I found a second idea which granted me a possibly explanation as to why entertaining yourself (not including texting or chatting with people on the internet) came off as such an illogical solution to entertainment. Gatto believes that school systems actually train the children in it to be almost socially dependent on others. Upon reading this theory I certainly was not quick to dismiss it, as I have felt that my entertainment is contingent on my interactions with others over the years. I am not willing to simply abandon the idea that it is merely my personality, but was certainly influenced by Gatto’s argument that schooling is to blame for many individuals boredom while alone. I also feel that the technology based era we are living in is also a potential cause of boredom. As we have access to a nearly constant stream of information at our fingertips (phones, laptops, etc), we surely adapt to the vast amounts we take in. In my view, this adaptation leads to people quickly becoming bored with one topic and being ready for the next. Our expectations to be constantly amused created by the technology era coupled with our tendencies to rely on others for our entertainment instilled by schooling systems leaves many without the mental skill set to simply amuse themselves as Gatto’s grandfather required of Gatto. Hopefully in the future we will change our society in such a way so that a skill such as this can develop and mature in the future children.
In preparation for Tuesday’s class I read the essay in Acting Out Culture about the function of grades in the school system. I found myself really buying into Alfie Kohn’s argument that grades lead to a negative in almost every aspect of an individuals learning experience. The key factor which hooked me about Kohn’s argument was that grading assignments leads students to learn how to get good grades, not absorb information. Obviously, this is undesirable for everyone involved in the education process. Alfie Kohn goes on to suggest that eliminating grades will actually lead students to learn more and supports this claim with varying types of evidence. While reading, I found myself thinking “this claim must be true.”
In class on Tuesday we went on to discuss the essay together. It wasn’t until this point that I actually found myself disagreeing with Kohn’s argument. Until the beginning of seventh grade my school actually applied Alfie Kohn’s basic suggestion and didn’t distribute grades. While I was experiencing these years of schooling I never felt a great deal of pressure to do well on something, I simply would engage myself and see how it went. Upon entering seventh grade I learned that despite never receiving any official grades, my teachers had been keeping track of me. At this point I found myself in a math class that I felt I was overqualified to be in, and barely understood how I had ended up there. Looking back, I was obviously placed there by my teachers recommendations. Had I known that my progress in math was being assessed as it was, I surely would have made efforts to show my teacher I knew more and studied harder. I actually feel that I was put at a disadvantage by not being graded earlier and knowing what kind of progress I was making. In other words, I feel that do not only provide a way for outsiders to see the learners progress, they also show the learner how they are doing.
While discussing the short essay in Acting Out Culture in class it was mentioned that due to our (students in the class) involvement in current trends, such as fashion trends, it is harder for us to be aware of them. I found this to be an interesting and very valid point as I could pick out trends of other generations easily and had to do much more extensive thinking in order to notice some present among kids today. The example in the book about the website Threads helped me understand my general position on fashion trends that are currently present and popular. The author described the website as one which allowed submissions of artwork to be voted on. The submission with the highest vote would then be produced as an article of clothing and sold on the site. While the author was arguing about marketization and drawing a much deeper conclusion from the example of the website than simply what the trend of today is, I feel that it is also very telling about fashion today. The main idea behind the site is uniqueness, individuality. Those who buy clothing from there feel that they are unique because the clothing wasn’t designed by a clothing brand. To me, this is the trend of fashion today. Everyone seems to be trying to flaunt their individuality through their clothing in some way or another. Such efforts tend to be rather unsuccessful in my eyes. As everyone makes their attempt at individuality in clothing style, they all end up wearing quite similar styles.
The other day in my sociology 101 class my professor discussed the idea of the “self looking glass” to the class. This term was coined by an early sociologist and explains wha I feel is a very accurate perspective about how we develop into who we are today. The idea of the “self looking glass” is that individuals take into account how they feel/think others judge them, and base their actions and behavior off of this. There are certainly those who feel that they act and behave without taking into account the judgment of others, but I feel that society as a whole follows the ideas of the “self looking glass” quite closely. Continue reading
The other night, while reading while reading chapter four of They Say I Say, I came across a topic which I found worthy of special attention. The author was explaining the idea of voice markers, something I had only been subconsciously aware of prior to reading it. He explained how simple voice markers such as “I agree” or “I argue” are sufficiently effective for writing, but that a more advanced use of voice markers can add a style or flare to writing. However, despite the writer coming off as more advanced or sophisticated through using more complex voice markers, I feel that if they are too complex or obscure it can weaken the writing. It is crucial while writing to not sacrifice the reader’s understanding for style.