Sunday, November 9, 2014

Literacy with an Attitude - Connections

Literacy with an Attitude by Patrick Finn was quite lengthly, honestly, but I found much of the article to be very interesting. The beginning began with the discussion of various titles that the author had for the article. For example, Finn contemplated titles such as Subtle Mechanisms, Savage Inequalities and Making Literacy Dangerous Again. The text then continued on to information about the author. "It's about the resistance of working class children to the kind of education they typically receive, education designed to make them useful workers and obedient citizens."

"First Anyon noted similarities among the schools. They were nearly all white. They were all located in northern New Jersey and subject to the same state requirements. They all used the same arithmetic books. They had the same language arts course of study. Two of the schools used the same basal reading series. There were startling differences, however. In the working-class schools, knowledge was presented as frag- mented facts isolated from wider bodies of meaning and from the lives and experiences of the students. Work was following steps in a procedure. There was little decision making or choice. Teachers rarely explained why work was being assigned or how it was con- nected to other assignments." After reading this part of the article, I immediately thought of McIntosh and the article about whiteness as an invisible privilege. This excerpt taken from Literacy with an Attitude explains how prominent the division of working class and upper class is. It is a first hand study of five elementary schools and shows the reality of the separation.

"When I discussed discipline problems with other teachers, a frequent topic of discus- sion in the teachers' lounge, I would talk about my teaching meth- ods as methods of control. I had work assignments on the board when the students entered the classroom, and so there wasn't a moment when they didn't have anything to do. I didn't say to an
errant student, "What are you doing?" I said, "Stop that and get to work." No discussion. No openings for an argument." (page 4) What this teacher said here is the exact way that Delpit explains students should be talked. The teacher explicitly tells her students what they need to do without any discussion about it. 

In essence, this article is for teachers, parents, and students who are on the side of working class children. It is about a new brand of teachers who are learning new and effective ways to teach students in working class classrooms. It is about making literacy powerful for students. 

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