educationthesis

Archive for the category “Hopes/Concerns/Questions”

Cómo se dice…

I have no idea what to title this post.  It’s not the last, it’s not goodbye, it’s not an ending.  None of what we’ve learned, done, or created this year will ever really be over, so no final reflection will say everything I want it to say.  I think that right there is sustainability.

First, our event.  Someone (Brenna, probably) aptly described the set-up process being like Extreme Makeover: Educhica edition.  We were scrambling to get the last posters up as our first participants walked through the door, but luckily they were friends willing to put their tape-rolling skills to use!  After that, we had a full house (bowl?) of people coming through.  It was a mixed crowd of students of differing years, roommates, professors, and administrators (up to number 2 in command).  Some weren’t able to stay for the dialogue, some (like Sharon Hay, surprise!) dropped in just for a while for the dialogue, and others stayed on after the “official” dialogue for even more dialogue.  The stories told on the posters and in the photos served as the discussion points for reconceptualizing learning and then we were able to introduce the idea of a democratic space.  Administrators and non-seniors were really excited about the idea.  Really good questions and answers came from all sides as we tried to imagine what this space would look like.  Because of that dialogue, there is still work to be done on all sides–they want ideas for where this space might be, what it would look like, and they want to show our posters to others in administration.  The fact that this didn’t end with our event I think is a sign of success, even though we’ve learned to be so selective in using that word.  Now, it’s up to us (not just the Educhicas, but who were a part of the conversation) to move forward with this.

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Grace already posted the beautiful picture of us.  The happiness and harmony between us in it is completely indicative of our group this year.  We are a motley crew, but Grace got it right when she said “none of this would’ve been possible if we did individual theses.”  Not just the work we did, but also everything that we learned through the relationships with each other, would not have been possible.  The passion we each brought to this project brought our five different personalities together.  Each meeting, we learned something new and brilliant about someone’s abroad experience, laughed away our stress, and were patient with ourselves through the confusion.  Through the trust and spontaneity, the Educhicas were born.  Ladies, you have taught me so much about bravery in tough situations (EFA), patience in unclear ones (the endless task of defining ourselves and our lens), relaxing and finding humor in everything  (every meeting), and going on loving what we’re learning.  You were inspiration, support, smiling faces, solidarity, and working hands, hearts, and minds all year.

So, like I said, this isn’t a goodbye or ending post, it’s more of a “thanks” and reflection post at this time when the nature of our relationship will be changing, but the relationship itself and the changes it has brought on will remain forever.  (and you thought you were sappy, Grace)

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WHOA–bringing it full circle and kickin’ it up

FINAL EVENT DETAILS:

When: Wednesday, May 8

Time: 4:00-6:00pm

Where: the Fishbowl

Who: every single one of you

While my lovely group might be ready to sit on me and be like, “Anne, CHILL”, yesterday I was completely swept up in activist adrenaline.  It started with Lynnzie’s and my independent study celebration lunch at the Abbey with Dr. Grossman (I won’t say goodbye lunch), led to the hoodie rally led by Cedric and Dr. JZ, a peer mentoring dinner where I ran into Raf, and then a meeting about the Smith Hill Café (which I’m not even going to be around for, tear).

At the rally, PC’s issues with race and diversity were again brought to the fore.  A group of students and faculty marched from Harkins to Slavin lawn, chanting, then singing songs from the Civil Rights Movement.  As Cedric said, it’s sad we still have to singing them.  After that, there was a space for professors to explain why we were all there (check out the article tom posted on facebook) and then the megaphone became public property.  Students came forward in a succession to tell their stories about discrimination that they had felt on campus and to stand in solidarity and support of one another.  Every bit of it reflected a story behind the responses we have been seeing on our posters.

It brought everything full circle.  I used my lit review in a paper I wrote for another class (without the feedback I am STILL WAITING ON, THOMAS R. KING).  Reading it again, one of the quotes I had used was a reference to a girl activist who had said she learned far more from the people who shared their stories at rallies than anyone who had ever spoken at her.  It was a space where we were learning from each other and it was an education in activism, community support, and solidarity.  I salute Dr. Jordan-Zachery and all those who were involved in facilitating that space.

After the rally, Lynnzie and I jetted down to our posters in Slavin.  The “PC has NOT taught me” boards were full and we had one giant one left.  Inspired, we wrote a new one, “Dear PC Administration…”, on the last board we had.  After that, I sat down on the nearest couch and sent out emails to the students and faculty I had recognized at the event, eager to keep the momentum going.

We realized last night that invitations are going to be far more expensive than expected, but we need to have them printed so we can distribute them ideally Monday, but Tuesday could work too.  To do lists are my thing:

Before Saturday:

-Send out as many invitation emails as possible.

-Design postcards (thank you Sarah and Magali for responding to my frenzied texts last night)

-Send them to Kaytee Stewart or someone who can send them to Copy Center to have them printed.  (pay that department back)

-Print off pictures of/with Sonia and Lily–my idea is to print them in color on printer paper so that half of the page has the picture, and they can use the other half to write about the picture, so we can use them at our session Friday.  Thoughts?

-Have last session with Sonia and Lily (colorful from Holi).  😦

Monday/Tuesday

Pick up and distribute invitations.

-Assemble our pictures and posters–figure out plan for displaying them in the ‘bowl.

-Make powerpoint of targeted responses.

-Decide on flow and facilitation of the event.

Wednesday

set up

-make it happen

This song always plays in my head when it all starts happening like this:

 

Making dates

RECLAIMING EDUCATION: MAY 8, 4:00-6:00 (pending confirmation)

The Educhicas could not wait any longer.  There are two weeks left of academic life at PC and last Thursday I was still lacking the imagination for our final event.  We now have photos and material from our visual research, but what on earth were we to do with it?  Lynnzie and I conferred and decided to stay after class to sort it out with tKL.  It was so helpful to talk it out and Kara, brilliant as always, took notes for us.  

All along, we’ve been thinking and talking about the learning that takes place outside of the classroom.  In the classroom, you have the division between the all-knowing professor and the student, an empty vessel.  The obsession with formal education and the US diploma have led to a valuation of that knowledge above the learning that takes places within relationships and among people who don’t have a piece of paper saying they’re $200,000 in debt for their degree.  Our photovoice deconstructs education on three levels: what students say about their education, the relationship we have with Sonia and Lily (the learning they and we have gained through our time together, their knowledge menospreciado because they don’t have degrees), and the stories and lived experiences of invisible people on this campus.  They have all sorts of lived experiences that no textbook could teach you.

With that in mind, it seems natural that we would present to faculty, administration, and other students who would carry it on.  The presentation will have to be interactive, engaging and make people start to question.  Maybe we should do a role play on what professors and students look like in civ seminar like the role play we did in capstone at the beginning of the year…

We’re meeting tonight to powwow for hoursss and hammer this out.  Stay tuned.

Final Event Feedback

We didn’t get to talk about our final event at our workshop, but we would really like your bright minds and ideas!  Ready, GO!

free speech?

As we continue to put up our open-ended prompt-posters around campus, we are realizing more and more the need for people to be able to talk and think about these sorts of questions and the need for some sort of open, democratic, truly free speech space on campus that is not controlled by Sharon Hay, her minions, and the rest of their bureaucracy. Especially when it comes to discussing and challenging the systems that hold this institution in place, we shouldn’t need permission from the system itself.

Honestly, I think that Sharon Hay probably took down our poster for the superficial and simple reason that it doesn’t help sell the school to prospective students and their parents when negative things are written about the college- “I pay $57,146 to… eat terrible food, be silenced by bureaucracy, (and my personal favorite) to not have a place to masturbate.” However, in theory, the issue of taking down the poster is much more serious. Of course the administration isn’t going to want us to encourage students to think about how ridiculous it is to pay $57,146 a year for school. If we start thinking about it, and talking about it, and realizing that a lot of us agree that it’s completely outrageous, we might actually DO something to threaten the lucrative business that is private higher education. Even the sarcastic, smart ass answers on the poster hint at the fact that we’re not walking away from this experience with anything that justifies such insane expenses. For these types of conversations, we need a space that is not regulated by those whose interests lie in the suppression of such discussions.

But here is where I feel a bit hypocritical. We want to promote free, uncontrolled speech and we want all voices to be heard. With that being said, I do not want to give anyone a platform to say things that are hateful and discriminatory. And that’s what happened with this last poster, when someone answered the question by writing “to see less qualified people get scholarships because they are minorities.” Is it okay for us to pick and choose which “stories” and whose voices get heard? How do we even do that in an anonymous, unregulated space? I am all for dialoging about these tricky, controversial topics, but is this making way for dialogue? Or is it giving people the opportunity to be hurtful and spineless without a second thought?

Also- and maybe this part is selfish- I don’t want one person’s ignorance to take away from the bigger point and goal of our project. We’re not looking for specific answers, but the goal is critical thinking and ownership of these topics relating to our education. I want people to be empowered to voice their opinions and think about things that perhaps they haven’t ever stopped to think about before. But when someone writes something like that, the focus becomes that one comment and not the bigger picture or even the question that we were trying to ask.

So how do we balance these two sides of our project? How do we ensure that all voices can be heard without allowing our project to become a tool for racism or any other form of discrimination?

Workshop Update Dos

Storytellers and Community Partner Relationships

We are still working with Lily and Sonia every Friday in Ray, chatting in English (as much as possible) about the pictures they or we bring in, but we have also added the PC student body/passers-by in Slavin (and facebook users) to our storytellers.  This has added an anonymous component to the stories we are receiving.  On facebook, the stories are coming in anonymously to our Reclaiming Education page where we’ve asked “What is the most important thing you’ve learned in your life?”  People have sent in photos and captions to our gmail account, which we then post on the facebook page.  We hope to get more opinions and perspectives on education from people with different levels of formal education and people who are at different stages in the process of education.  To deepen the differing perspectives, we are also going to distribute posters asking for responses to our questions in academic departments to get professors’ responses as well.

Initial Findings/Developments

So far, the photos we have been discussing with Sonia and Lily are photos from their past of their families and important events.  They fall within the “artifacts” category of the Mitchell book.  We’ve asked them to bring back pictures about what education means to them for next week, because up until now our conversations about the photos have probably served the “building rapport” purpose rather than the “social change” purpose (though the relationships in themselves are social change too!).  Other than that, we have taken a little bit of a different spin with our visual research.  We put up one poster last week in lower Slavin with the prompt “I want to learn…” and left markers for people to record their responses.  We also created a facebook page with the prompt “What is the most important thing you’ve learned in your life?”  On the facebook page, we’ve asked for people to submit photos and captions, but on the wall in Slavin we have only handwriting.

The poster in Slavin received a lot of responses and the facebook page is still receiving more entries.  It has 37 likes so far and we are looking for more ways to promote it within PC (Feinstein, ResLife…).

From Sonia and Lily, we’ve learned some really interesting things based on their stories and perspectives.  Relevant to education, they told us about how they believe that education begins with the mother, which places a lot more emphasis on the family.  The family is one of the smallest systems of relationships there is, so if that is where your important education happens, how we think about learning and education has to shift.  Within the family, learning comes from relationships and from example.  Relationship based learning, whether it comes from the traditional family or from other families that we form (communities, capstone?), is the learning that carries you and is meaningful.  The education system as a whole doesn’t tend to view things that way; rather, it pushes for passive learning and often doesn’t reflect the “real world” that requires us to work with other people to effectively solve the issues that we face globally.  Though the education system claims to teach us the most important skills, it doesn’t create a space to use those skills in a critical way to promote social change.

Final Event/Social Change Questions

We really need help with our final event and audience!  We are imagining maybe an “Education and Storytelling” event that allows us to share the stories that Lily and Sonia have shared with us as well as the responses we have received from our posters and facebook page.  The education system doesn’t reflect the knowledge to be gained from human interactions, the real world, our experiences together, and what we need to live well together, so we want to present something that challenges both the content that we are required to learn and the terms on which that learning takes place.

What are we actually trying to change in society?  Though it sounds vague, we want to change how people view education and what’s required of us in terms of that learning.

Timetable

April 14–post “I pay $57, 135 a year to…” prompt in Slavin

this week–distribute posters to departments

April 18–present our workshop and take down the poster prompt

April 19–meet with Sonia and Lily to go over the photos they took about education

April 22–post a new prompt in Slavin

April 25–take down poster from Slavin

April 26–meet with Sonia and Lily

last week–event prep

Overall Questions / Challenges

Right now, we are struggling the most with clearly identifying our problem and the final event audience.  It’s also hard to connect the experiences we’re having with Sonia and Lily with the data we’re getting from facebook and the poster.

The global impacts of this is that the current education system presents the world as it is and presents a very narrow vision of that world that does not reflect the lived realities.  Allowing learning, anywhere, to take place on the level of relationships that appreciate the variety of experiences and knowledge that everyone has, would allow people to better confront the global issues that we’re dealing with.  Education for empowerment and social change is what we’re trying to envision with all of this.

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https://www.facebook.com/pages/Reclaiming-Education-PC/237779579695993?id=237779579695993&sk=photos_stream 

Posts from last semester

Education as a “justice solution”

Education focused on validating the learner’s knowledge and agency now and not in the future when they’ve acquired a particular skill

Education focused not on integration into a broken system but that empowers the learners to foster something better

While looking through my posts from last semester, that’s what I pulled out of our discussions in the past trying to sort out what education is.  Thoughts?

My S#!+

This is my “better late than never” response to Thursday’s discussion. I’ve had time to really think about where I was coming from with my view on education and it’s relation to social change/social service. While although our discussion towards the end of class seemed to take a turn for a defeated feeling and sense I think that was a needed talk. By voicing our frustrations we are able to talk out our feelings, yet it’s important to not get caught up in what we think our situation will end up being to what it could end up being.

I think this talk can also relate to our life after graduation. Personally when I think about what the future holds for me in regards to a career I feel a sense of defeat because I’ve been taking classes for four years about the social change I can make, but how can I incorporate that into a real life job that will help me pay off all of the college loans that I currently have? Or enough to have me eventually live outside of my parents house and care? The reality of it all makes me feel almost overwhelmingly defeated, but I’m trying to not get lost in the possible dissatisfaction. In regards to both discussions in class about our CP’s and life after graduation, I think the most important aspect is that we take what we’ve learned and see how many ways we can apply it to the reality’s we are working and will be working with.

Yet it continues to amaze me how often the topic of education comes into play in different outlets of my life. For example, today I was giving a tour to a few kids from a YES Charter School and one of the teachers on the tour was a Teach For America member from ’08. After the tour I talked to him a little bit about the TFA experience, and how I was still interested in getting involved with educational change. He told me to look at this group of schools in Houston that cater to underprivileged children in the Houston area and get them into schools with full rides to different universities around the nation. It once again gave me hope in the possibility of educational systems catering to all of the needs of children in our society.

Kivel reading thoughts

Already posted my reflection to the forum on Sakai but just throwing it out here as my CP reflection for the week (since we couldn’t meet last week with our CP due to their vacation time).

Kivel’s article highlights the differences between social service and social change.  Service addresses the needs of individuals suffering from the impact of institutions while social change aims to challenge the causes of the systemic exploitation and violence.  Service works within the system.  Social change calls into question the system itself.  In thinking about the EduChicas photovoice project with the Ray workers, I’m grappling with whether or not we are perpetuating the system with our service to them.  We are offering English lessons.  This is a skill which is valuable to them and necessary for communication.  The section about getting ahead v. equal opportunity is making me rethink this though.  The system tells immigrants that learning English is the most valuable skill they can have and yes, it is certainly needed in order to move around and effectively communicate with people.  However, the system does not necessarily promote the desire for other types of skills that they have.  Indeed, the system usually equates immigrants with little skills, or ones that can only fill custodian functions.  In my GST 101 class, we did a project on the ABM (formerly Eurest) workers and the woman who we interviewed was a pharmacist in the Dominican Republic before coming to the US.  Rarely do we wonder about the professions of the Ray/ABM workers before they fulfilled these duties.  If there were equal opportunity in the system, their other skills and prior knowledge would be taken into account once they immigrated.  Instead, the only skill that’s advertised and pushed on them is learning English.  This makes me wonder what the Ray workers did before they immigrated.  What were their jobs like?  I’m curious to explore this more.  Is English really their only obstacle to a different job/future in America?  Is that not what the system tells them?  How much more access do they really have if they know English?  Are they aware of other hindrances to their participation in society besides legal status and language ability?

The getting ahead or getting together question resonated with our CP partnership, especially the question “How do you connect your population with others in the same situation?”.  Earlier in the semester, the EduChicas had discussed trying to connect members of EFA or a related organization with some of the Ray workers.  I feel like that could have great potential especially after reading this article.  I wonder if any of the Ray workers would like to partner up or do some collaborating with these types of organizations.

In all of this, I am still grappling with what change in education we want to make.  What greater social change will our photovoice project point to?  I’m not sure how to connect education with our ESL service/photovoice exchange.  This article helped highlight for me why I (we) need to go beyond ESL service and gave some good prompts as to how to begin to think about the system behind it, but the actual thing we want to change might need to come from more discussion with the EduChicas and from greater engagement with our CP.  To connect this back to the comments I made about immigrants’ skills, would education come in here and how there’s a disconnect between it and the real world?  I’m still left in the dark as to which systemic flaw within education we should try to address.

Counteracting

I am picking up from where Anne left off at the end of her last post.  As of late, I’ve been thinking a lot about the social change that I hope to create with my group.  After listening to the presentations and hearing the different questions and feedback, I was quite struck by what was being said.  In particular, tom had emphasized how the system is excluding the people we are collaborating with and that we need to be careful that the social change we are trying to create isn’t pushing them back into it.  With respect to the EduChicas, I’ve been trying to think about what that could be.

I probably harp on this too much, but I can’t help but think there’s something to it.  Since we are doing ESL classes through photovoice for our project, we are essentially aiding the assimilation process of the immigrant workers (I’m not saying however that that process is totally negative).  One of the main reasons why I was so excited in my post “my ideal learning community??!!” was that we had native English speaking Sodexho workers who wanted to learn Spanish!  I think in some ways that is pushing back against the current of assimilation and working to build a different type of community.  The workers that want to learn Spanish are really interested in learning.  They hound me about it frequently.  The problem we are having is logistics and trying to get everyone to meet together, which would make for a really awesome learning circle.  Is it still just as important to do separate lessons even if the English and Spanish learners can’t do it together?

This got me thinking about the future.  Knowing now that there is a desire to learn Spanish among the Ray workers, how does one go about ensuring that this can happen?  We have many native Spanish speaking students at PC and plenty of Spanish majors/minors that would probably love to collaborate on Spanish learning, but who do you tell about that?  Who would get the ball rolling?  I had discussed with Anne and Lynnzie that the ESL courses at PC are run through Campus Ministry under the Social Justice branch.  How would we categorize SSL (Spanish as a Second Language…not sure if that’s a legitimate acronym) classes?  What are the implications of it being labeled a social justice issue?  Is it just as much of a social justice issue as ESL classes?  I think this last questions opens up some dialogue and debate.  Regardless, I would love to see Spanish classes given in Ray.  I think it would be a wonderful way to counteract the system and create a much better, stronger community.  Whether or not this is done in collaboration with our photovoice research, I would still like it to happen.

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