educationthesis

Archive for the category “Inspiration”

Out of Breath

I mean this in all ways of the phrase. I am physically out of breath from walking up the four flights of stairs in Feinstein and I’m mentally out of breath after the culmination of our Education thesis comes to a close. As I sit here at this probably extremly infected and germ ridden computer at the library I’m excited about presenting our thesis. It’s been a long time coming and we’ve done a great job using different mediums to capture about what it means to be educated and the definition in and of itself. My experience in this project has allowed me to broaden the way I think aboutn what I’ve learned and who I have learned it from. So just a little shout out to my fellow EduLadies, let’s kill it today and have fun with it as well! Let’s show em’ (Sharon Hay) what we got.

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What unites the…

What unites the learners is a belief that learning is practiced for the sheer joy of it—rather than to acquire certification or secure a job. Learning occurs when we engage with the world, in friendship with others, using our hands and wits and reflecting on our discoveries…as a mood, a way of doing and thinking that provides another option to learners who are seeking to discover things for themselves. Learning is not about getting it right or becoming the expert; it is about creating an environment of conviviality, discovery, and joyfulness.

(from Walk Out Walk On by Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze)

Sound familiar?  I just stumbled across this quote while going through the enormo paper I’m writing for my honors independent study (because clearly, learning has not taken place if you don’t have 30 pages to show for it).

Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About…

I’m serious here, we gave them something to talk about! So just about ten minutes ago I was doing my thang in Slavin, making plants, eating popcorn, etc. and I get a group text from my fellow EduGal Anne saying to check out our new poster pronto. Ironically I was heading there anyway and as I approached I was thrilled to see some fellow peers standing there as well. Not only were they standing there they were chatting about what was ont he poster and a specific comment that was written. Amongst the already filled in poster there was a comment that said “Marriage Equality” and poiting to it was “Catholicism”. The two kids were very adamently discussing the two topics and why or why they did not correlate. One of the boys was arguing that they both do not need to be talked about together and that they are two seperate parts of content. The other guy was arguing that they are compeltely relevant to eachother because of the catholic churches stance on same sex marriage. The conversation/argument wasn’t getting too heated. But it was so freshing to see such an open and honest opinionated conversation space being created and fostered in a sometimes “not so democratic” space. Regardless I’m loving whats going on here. I know we’ve been feeling rather confused about our final event and end goal it’s nice to see things happening day and day.

ALSO sidenote: sorry about this slightly provocative music video…you know what i was getting at though?

Hay Hay

Sharon Hay took it down I repeat, Sharon Hay took our sign down. So yeah this is old news to everyone, but I haven’t really had enough time to reflect on it yet this week to post about it. She told me that she was “approached” about it by numerous students, but yeah and the sky is purple on Tuesdays. Regardless, Sharon (GST one) gave me the boost to go into her office with her and get the poster back. After awkwardly realizing she is not Carol Craft, we had a discussion about why it was taken down, etc. It just amazed me the whole time as I sat in her hypocritical office adorned with “Best Leader” awards etc. that this lady, for lack of a better word, has the right to tear down a conversation at an institution meant for students. The best part is at the end she said she would enjoy to have these “student facilitated conversations” yet just as long as the question was run by her first. I send her a question last night, and I still have yet to hear back from her. I’m sending her a “check up” tonight. Since I know how strenuous it must be to look over one simple question.

Besdies for talking smack about Sharon Hay our group had a great meeting in the heart of student city, McPhails. Right outside the scene of the crime, the taking down of our poster that is. Us EduChicas met with Tom and were able to have a great conversation about what our final event could possibly entail and what it means to bring about social change. As I still struggle with definitions wether that be the definition of activism, change, education, etc. there are things that come along once in a while that remind me what we are doing in worth while.

This morning after sifting through the trash PC calls e-mail I came across an e-mail from Nick Longo with Lynnzie copied on it as well. It read: ” Hey Brenna and Lynnzie, Do you have any visuals of the responses you got in Slavin yesterday? Very interesting and important project…Nick”. Although it’s small it was a reminder that there is a point to each task we go about. Wether a post lasts a week or 24 hours we are creating a dialogue, and moving in the direction of what I have been defining as, social activism.

Dalai Lama for president!

Education is much more than a matter of imparting the knowledge and skills by which narrow goals are achieved. It is also about opening the child’s eyes to the needs and rights of others. We must show children that their actions have a universal dimension. And we must somehow find a way to build on their natural feelings of empathy so that they come to have a sense of responsibility toward others. For it is this which stirs us into action.”

-His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

Joy, Project Joy

Okay I literally do not even know where to begin. So, as I’ve been talking about, I went to the talk today with Steve Gross, Chief Playmaker for the Life is good Kids Foundation. Although the talk wasn’t swelling 64’Hall it was still incredibly moving. I felt like it spoke on behalf of everything that I believe in when it comes to service. So often I am concerned that service is founded in a feeling of obligation, and that is shown in the attitude that some people have when they work within service. As a CL, I’m aware I’m making a complete generalization, but I find myself surrounded by a large majority of people with poor attitudes. Our meetings with the organizer of CL’s and CP’s are poorly attended, filled with complaints, and people sitting their with sour faces on. I observe this all in confusion, isn’t the whole point of serving this position remaining positive and bringing a great attitude to our sites let alone the meetings? Something Steve talked about in our talk today was that emotions wether they are talked about, can be felt in a room. We can feel tension if someone is frustrated in Capstone, you can feel your roommate being pissed off when you’re all sitting in the same room, and you can feel the happiness coming from someone who just got accepted to grad school. All of these feelings are what promotes positive service, so why am I so often confronted with poor attitudes in the line of service? Not to say I’m above my occasional days of dreading going to service, but I know every day I get there I leave my attitude at the door and try to put my best face and foot forward. Yet I only come from speaking on behalf of only a few days a week doing service, if it was my every day task would I be so exuberant?

At the end of Steve’s talk I went up to him and asked him what he thought the difference was between social service and social change. His response included the work of Tom’s, the shoe-giving project. Tom’s, I feel like in our society, is a generally accepted idea about serving those less fortunate. Yet Steve outlined this as a quick fix to an outside issue that maybe “Tom” doesn’t even understand? What if a village that received a box of Tom’s shoes really would have benefited from rice or clean water? Steve said this type of quick fix and uninvolved charity was on behalf of social service. Such a charity is helpful, but it has nothing to do with getting to know the people you are trying to help. Rather it is social change that is interactive and involved. His illustration of the difference between the two gave me great introspective into a further understanding of what it means to serve on behalf of service or change.

To bring this all together, maybe I find myself finding those involved in some social services with poor attitudes because they are not necessarily connected to the issue at hand rather they feel like a servant to the service? And could it be that social change is the type of service that allows for a more interactive experience that leaves an individual feeling happier and more optimistic about change?

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.

I’m an ALT Edu Chica

Okay everyone listen up. So I know recently we’ve been doing a lot of posting about out CP and meeting with them, but I have something a little different right now that I think everyone should take a minute and watch. It’s a video so it’s fun, duh! Anyways so if anyway has been reading some of my posts before CP took over our world, most of my posts surrounded alternative learning methods in public school districts. So often I found in my research that alternative methods really only are applied to “alternative” or private schools that can fund such endeavors. But this video has give me hope for alternative methods in the public schooling system. I love how this video also touches upon the obvious criticism and possible skepticism found by the education system now in place. It reminds me a lot of my program abroad, and our capstone as well. Just because these kids are in high school doesn’t mean they aren’t able to be passionate about what lies ahead of them after school. At one point in the video it says

“Although it is an “Independent Program” it could not be more dependent.”

If that’s not our class in a nutshell I don’t know what is.

http://commonaction.blogspot.com/2013/02/meaningful-student-involvement-at-work.html

What Adults Can Learn From Kids

One of the most inspiring TED talks I’ve ever seen.

For some reason, my brain just turned on. It’s been hibernating for a few days. Over the past few months, the five of us have asked ourselves the critical question that we often try to evade amidst the comfort of our conservative utopian university. What is the purpose of learning?

With the excitement of working with the Ray workers, why not extend this question to the students, faculty and employees of PC? And then it hit me: why don’t we ask this critical question to the entire PC community? Sure, the ideas are undoubtedly in a nascent stage of developing, but we have to start somewhere.

About ten minutes ago, after an explosive facebook thread amongst the edugals, I sent the following email to Dr. Sears, Ms. Yee, and Ms. Hay:

Hi ______,

My name is Grace and I’m a senior here at PC. As part of my senior thesis, I am working with four other Global Studies majors (included on this email) on an activism project related to language learning, education, and identity. Thus far, we have re-conceptualized education to mean a broad spectrum of things: learning to cook, learning languages, learning to collaborate, learning to communicate, to explore the world, etc. Over the past six or so months, we have asked ourselves the following critical questions: what does it mean to learn? What is the difference between school, learning and education? How does language learning relate to identity?

Last week, we were notified that our project, titled Visualizing Language Learning: Narration through a Lens was awarded a $700 grant, funded by PC. We are planning on using this money to fund the photography portion of our project. But, we need your help.

In addition to working with the ESL program at PC, we are hoping to bring our ideas to the PC community. In doing so, we urge students, professors and employees to ask themselves the same critical question that has been inspiring us all year: what is learning? If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

Forgive me for the length of this email, but I wanted to preface my request with some overview of what we are doing. We are hoping to spend part of our grant to inspire the campus to ask themselves the aforementioned question, using the platform of a chalkboard the size of a wall to do so. On the chalkboard (which can be peeled on and off, don’t worry, nothing is permanent!) we would ask a similar question, leave chalk, and hopefully after a few days see what the students and professors have to say.

Clearly this is a big request, but we are motivated and have big dreams for this project. Our intentions are not to instigate controversy or unrest, but just to read what people have to say. We are hoping to utilize a wall in slavin for this chalkboard, but are willing to work with whatever you are willing to provide.

We are also willing to meet with you in person and explain our goal face to face. Please let me know if there is anything I can do in the meantime to get this project off the ground!

Thank you for your time,

Best,

Grace Schierberl

If we aren’t going to dream big, why dream at all? It sounds so cliche I almost just threw up in my mouth, but it’s kind of true. In order to sustain the excitement about re-conceptualizing education through a diverse lens, we need to hear from as many people as possible.

my mom and i walk into a bar…

Whenever family/alumni weekend rolls around, my first instinct is always to get the hell out of Providence. So I came home for the weekend (currently blogging from my amazingly comfortable bed) and tonight my mom and I went out to the movies. Before our movie, we each got a drink and I was telling her about our photo voice project, meeting with some of the women from Ray today, and getting the research grant. Now let me say, my mom is without a doubt my best friend in the world, and I can talk to her about anything. But I have never felt that I have been able to explain/communicate (to anyone in my family) what I learn/do in Global Studies and what it’s all about. My love of traveling, experiencing and understanding other cultures, learning about social issues, and working for social change is not something that is shared by anyone in my immediate family and I have always felt that when I talk about these things it just goes right over their heads and that they don’t really care.

So I was talking about how we are working with some of the ESL learners at PC and how they use their half hour break to work on their English. My mom interrupted me and said something about how people have such misconceptions about immigrants who work here and don’t speak English and she was like “I’ve told so many people about the project you did when you were a freshmen when you interviewed the women who worked in the dorms…” Back in Dr. G’s 101, with Taylor in my group, we were given the project to do something to enact change about a social problem. Our group chose to interview some of the women who work on campus cleaning the dorms, focusing on the idea that everyone has a story to tell. They told us all about the lives they had left behind before coming to the U.S., the jobs they had had there, and the pride they had in their work here. Apparently I told my mom about this project, because she even remembered that one of the women was a pharmacist before coming here. She told me that, whenever her boss or someone at work says something about how “these people” need to learn English or that they’re taking jobs, she tells them that they “have no idea what they’re talking about, that “these people” work so hard and are often well educated and have held high paying jobs in their countries before coming here.”

This conversation blew my mind. I cannot believe that my mom even remembers this project, let alone has been so affected by it and is still thinking about it three years later. She said, “people have no idea about these kinds of things unless they take classes about them like your classes. I don’t understand these things like you do, but I’m your voice when you’re not there.” It might sound wicked cheesy, but I feel so proud- proud of my mom for standing up for something that means so much to me, proud of myself for apparently making her aware of this, proud of the project we did 3 years ago, and proud of us now. We’re not just a cult and we’re clearly not as difficult to understand as I thought. I feel confident now that with the things and the way of thinking and questioning that we are learning we have the ability to teach others and perhaps change the way that they think/make them think differently about critical issues that affect us all.

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