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Sunday, December 26, 2010

“If Class Divides, Let Education Unite Us”

The education system is a miniature version of our own society. Schools serve as places that promote elemental components of our society. In our world, competition is BIG. In school, students compete against each other for the best grades. In society, people with higher salaries have the best careers. The better the class one is in, the greater chances they have of attending top schools. Society has a government and law enforcement to ensure that its citizens do not get out of pocket. Depending on the area, there is more surveillance. In educational institutions, there are rules, administration, and teachers to keep students from deviation. Again, depending on the school, there are greater or lesser restrictions. Higher class families tend to obtain prestigious opportunities with a wider scope for knowledge. These are the people who are recognized as the mighty and talented few. Those in working class families exhibit more fear and are less inquisitive. They are not inclined to the beauty that is concerted cultivation. Therefore, education is a process of the promotion of society through enculturation to divide the haves and the have not’s.

Class and Fear
Although fear can be used as a tool to prevent deviance, can it also be used to sort people by class? In working class schools, children must abide by rules and procedures so closely, that to disobey would bring about unfavorable consequences. Students are also often robotic and are not accustomed to formulate opinions or to ask questions. These are components of Jean Anyon’s “Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work”. In her case study she discovered that working class schools discouraged students when they spoke their mind. This makes them academically disadvantaged due to fear. Or as Krishnamurti points out, one is not encouraged to seek truth or answers because to do so would threaten what the system stands for in the name of safety. Students who attend affluent institutions are encouraged to inquire and to do tasks in multiple ways. They are free and independent thinkers. The rules in the school are not heavily enforced so they have a lot more power over the system and their education.

Concerted Cultivation (The opportune versus the submissive)
What does concerted cultivation mean? It is a social habitus or a social situation/place where you are comfortable with your surroundings. A good illustration of this term is best shown in Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers”.

One of the sections in the book talks about practical intelligence and of a study done by sociologist Annette Lareau. A girl named Kate and a boy named Alex were raised very differently. Kate’s mother was not involved in Kate’s interests so she signed up for choir and did things independently. The trouble is that she was not nurtured by her mother to develop her interests into lasting talents, rather she only took care of her.

Alex on the other hand was prodded to ask questions and not to be submissive. On a visit to the doctor’s office, his mother prompted him to think about questions he wanted to ask the doctor about his health. While there, Alex is in control of the situation and is actively engaged in this social habitus. What Lareau tells us, is that Kate is a lower class Caucasian and that Alex is an upper class African- American. The distinction here is quite clear. The better class you come from and the better nurtured you are, the more control you gain in the presence of authority.

In lower class schools, students do not have this luxury. They are submissive and assume a lower rank within their education. Therefore the word of the teacher is golden and you are deemed unintelligent. This is the core of the “Banking Concept of Education” by Paulo Freire. It is because students are not stimulated to engage in any form of practical intelligence.

The lack of nurturing homes are causing families to lose touch with one another. Children in working class homes are cared for ,yes, but slip far away from the traditional ways of their parents. A perfect example of this is Richard Rodriguez in “The Achievement of Desire” and his experience of being known as ‘the scholarship boy’ in his family. He was made fun of and became isolated from his family. They often overlooked his achievements and interests.

So, What Now?
What should education look like? Many people who have realized the flaws in the education system have analyzed and debated about this and have come up with reasonable ways to view possible solutions. One of the many include Dr. Yung Tae Kim. He is a renowned skateboarder and teacher. He is also known for the quote “School sucks.” and surfaced that skateboarding can be incorporated into education. If one keeps working at it, they can actually learn how to achieve true success. Schools have too much power and in turn is hurting students and education. Children become written off as failures because they cannot learn material in the given amount of time and are discouraged in trying again. So if the problem is disproportionate power, then lets target that!

If education systems are discriminatory and possess uneven power, what can be done to change that? Education systems must begin by being inclusive so that everyone has an equal chance to be educated fairly and effectively. To do that, their authority needs to be equalized. How can we do this? Education must be a collaborative effort of the education system, the institution, teachers, faculty, students, and parents with open-mindedness. Treating the system as a hierarchy only works to make others feel inferior. When that happens, individuals are discouraged from being included in the “unified body” and it then stops being collaborative.

Everyone should have a voice (opinions) without being looked down upon. This starts with the students. Students have [power] as much a part to play in the whole education system and process. It is vital that they work together to give themselves a voice that best represents their feelings and ideals. Overall, education IS social; it does not just happen, it is created by the people that contribute their part and that care about where the world is going.

West African Dance: Recreating a Fading Tradition

Nigeria: Background
Africa is the second largest continent in the world. It consists of Northern, Western, Middle, Eastern, and Southern regions. There are approximately fifty-two countries and within those countries are states. Within the states are cities and within them are a wide expanse of tribes and communities. For the most part, Africa is streaming with vibrant culture; so much that one may not even know where to begin. So Africa, in its entirety, is a very complex place. Our focus here is Nigeria, West Africa and specifically, dance.

Inhabitants of the Western world would not actually give a second (or even first) thought as to what West African dance truly is or what its meanings and origins are. There are people that are students learning how to dance African dance for fitness reasons. Some may even believe that it is not even dancing and that people who engage in it are merely jumping wildly without technique or rhythm. However, what they do not realize is that West African dance is not only a dance it is a tradition and an experience!

The core of Nigerian culture is dance. It is the epicenter of social inclusion, unity, and participation in their society. Dancing in Africa is more than entertainment it is a way of life. There are numerous types of dances with various meanings. Each one is unique and are representations or expressions of their beliefs, feelings, or circumstances. In Africa, each dance is very purposeful. Each one is done in groups (only men, only women, only young,only old or anyone). Some dances are religious and are done to praise the gods and others are war dances. Dances are done at ceremonies and funerals as well. In African dance, dancers communicate with one another and an audience with their facial expressions and with their body movement. Even without the use of words, the sheer fact is that they can express their emotion and feeling so well with movement. Dancers highly value aesthetics in their dancing so they tend to be graceful and intense.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago- Lou Conte Dance Studio
The day is November, 27, 2010 as I make my way to the Hubbard Street Dance Studio here in Chicago. What caught my attention from the beginning were the students jogging or speed-walking before it actually opened! It is easy to see how determined and committed the dancers are. What awaits me next, I did not expect.

I enter the studio and tell the receptionist why I was there. Without suspicion, I was allowed to make observations on a dance class. My access was limited, however, as I was only allowed to take my notes and watch from the window. The Hubbard Street Dance Studio offers a variety of classes of different levels and styles and payment is required in order to be taught. So, as I am trying to decide which class I was to observe I was becoming a bit confused as to what dances were actually taking place. I finally decided to go back to the first studio (“Studio C“).

It was a bit difficult to hear what instructions were being given. It felt like watching the
television with no sound! From the schedule on the wall to my left, I learned that it was an African dance class that ran from 10 A.M to 11:30 A.M. At some point, an assistant who was taking a break stepped out and asked if I wanted to join. From the short conversation I had with the woman, I learned that the dancers began by doing warm-ups for an hour!

Day one: Observations
There were three women in the class (African American and two Caucasian), two guests, one assistant, and one instructor. The dancers, the assistant, and the instructor were all barefoot, in loose fitting or comfortable clothing of any color. The dancers are of no particular size so the class is very open to persons of ALL types.

Warming-Up
For the warm-ups, upbeat music was being played to energize the mood in the room. Their work outs consist of stretches, foot work, and some yoga moves. Everyone keeps up with the instructor and they use the big mirror as a guide, as well as each other. The warm-ups are important for blood flow and the muscles. Although the warm-up move needn’t be perfect, they should be nearly accurate. To ensure this, the instructor, Mr. Olumuyiwa Ojo would pause and help who ever needed assistance. He also does counts, which are very important for pacing. By now, everyone has worked up a considerable amount of sweat!

The Dance
A series of moves are being done in the dance. They sway their arms and make circular motions with them. They also do kicks, bending, stretching, and light stomp- like foot work. One of the most vital parts of the dances and pacing are the instruments. In this class, a talking drum, and cowbells are used for pacing the moves. Mixtures of beats were played that corresponded to certain steps. As with anyone who wishes to improve, there is a lot of repetition! Over the course of my observations that day, there were occasions where people would stop to see what was happening. Surely, to one who had absolutely no knowledge about this type of dance may think that all the dancers are doing is jumping up and down. I however had not yet found out the complexity.

Day Two: Observation and Insight
It has already been a week since I last went to the studio (given that this class only meets on Saturdays). I arrive and I assume my usual post, behind the window. To my surprise, the instructor notices me and invites me into the studio! He introduces me as a student conducting a project. One of the dancers asks me what my project is about and I gladly told her. In my mind, I was thrilled to actually be inside and being welcomed into the class; given that I did have a legitimate reason to be there.

Stretches
The atmosphere inside the studio felt a lot more alive and vibrant. I was able to hear Ojo speak to his students and the music. I saw two new dancers (a Caucasian man and a Hispanic lady) as well as the same woman from the previous week (Caucasian). As Ojo begins the music, he explains that the next set of warm ups are meant to get the heart pumping faster. The dancers do stepping movements and they extend bent arms forward and sway them back. This is all done while moving towards the mirror, once they reach it they run lightly backwards. The moves are all done in time to Ojo’s counts. This warm- up was done for about 5-8 minutes or so. After this, the dancers did their stretches. They did downward dogs and rose up slowly and gracefully. In another stretch, they extended their left leg back and the right leg forward while their right arm is extended forward and the left one back (vice versa). Next, the dancers stood upright on their tip-toes with their arms pointing high into the air. Ojo told his students that they are like spirits.

Dancing is intricate
This dance is a recreation athletic dance. This dance originates in Nigeria, West Africa. It is done mostly by adolescent boys. The first move is called the alternate step (diagrams are included). The dancers first must face forward then use the right side of their body (arm and leg) to sway them towards the wall to their left and vice versa. This is done four times for each side. The assistant in the room plays the talking drum because the beats are the key to the steps being done and it lets the dancers know when to change their move. Ojo shows his students how to execute the step and steps back to play the talking drum while his assistant plays the cowbell. In the next step, the dancers face forward again, but this time their knees are bent (squatting position). They walk forward on bent knees while swinging their arms on each side (knee in the middle with arms on either side of it) and this is done two times for each side. The moves were very difficult to track because they were detailed and of course, intricate! To end the move they kick their left leg in the air and must land on the left foot. For the next step, the right arm is extended back, the left is extended forward the legs are stretched opposite of the arms. This is all done while facing the right wall and then left like the alternate step. The trickiest parts to track were the foot movements and each stepping move. This is because there is a specific way to step and what foot to land on.

The interview
Being a dancer, to Ojo, means having a passion for music and the art of movement. He said that in dance, the dancer’s instrument is their body. Although his answer was not intellectual, it did not need to be. His outlook on what dance is, is being able to feel the energy and to be free the same as traditional attitudes are. In his classes, he never tells his students that they need to be perfect (since it is not professional dance) so long as they can let the energy captivate them and express themselves.

Ojo is from Nigeria, West Africa and is familiar with dance in that region. When he lived in Nigeria, he noticed that the youth there wanted to be American and were very influenced by pop culture and icons such as Michael Jackson. The main reason youth in Nigeria long to be American is because the American media is so abundant and many of them do not think that African dancing is very interesting or important. He believed that tradition was fading so he decided to start teaching West African dance to bring it back to life and to raise awareness about the tradition. Since this form of dance is much underrepresented in America, it is seen as different or unusual.
Although Ojo wants to preserve traditional West African dance, he also has to put aside some of his opinions and beliefs within the class because the students pay to learn how to dance, not to learn what the meaning behind it is. He told me that, for the most part, students he has had were in the class to keep in shape and to be active. He did mention that sometimes students did ask why they were dancing a specific dance or for the meaning of it.
What was striking is that as I watched the dancers, the young Hispanic lady would stop when she would get lost and be able to keep up with the moves. She can pick up the movements despite the steps being elaborate. Since dancers cannot always talk verbally, naturally, the people around them are communicating through their movements. The dancers are also well aware of the correlation between changes in drum beats and dance steps. Drum rhythms, again, are vital elements of movement because they indicate change in steps in traditional dances. In traditional dance, being able to do this shows acuity! While Ojo cannot force his ideas or cultural meanings to his students directly, he can still instill these elements into the class without vocalizing it! These students are unknowingly engaging in a culture they know nothing of by using these techniques. The remarkableness of them choosing this class is, that without them even asking questions or performing in a traditional way, they are still in the midst of something so different. They in a sense are recreating this culture; a rebirth of a fading tradition!

Citations

Nigeria - Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette
Retrieved from:http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/global-etiquette/nigeria.html

Dance and Music
Retrieved from:http://www.nigeriasite.com/dance.html

Idamoyibo, Atinuke A.,2003,“Dynamics of African Dance” in Humanities Review Journal Vol. 3.1, 67-73

Olumuyiwa Ojo- West African Dance Teacher at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

Learning To Fear: Emotionally and Sociologically Embedded

Fear comes about in various forms. Aspects in our lives that are unfamiliar and traumatic can conjure such fear and enable it to become emotionally and sociologically embedded into our day to day actions, perceptions, and attitudes. What happens when our ‘known world’ collides with a world that is seemingly unrelated to our own? What exists in our society to condition or perpetuate a discomfort from that contact with the unknown? What I want to consider, are the features of American society that have developed a fear of the Islamic faith.
The Event
On the 11th day of September 2001, The World Trade Center in New York City, was destroyed along with masses of people who were in and around the area by terrorists who hijacked two commercial airline jets. In Arlington, Virginia, the Pentagon was also attacked by terrorists associated with the al-Qaeda group. A fourth airliner crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. In all, there were 3,000 victims and 19 hijackers who died and 6,000 casualties. September 11th is a very heart-wrenching date for the Americans affected and many others from different countries. With masses of fatalities, people began to unite closer and became very vigilant thereafter. This also marked a distrust in the Islamic and Muslim community all together. Looks of unmistakable unease etched the faces of countless people to those who are un-American -like. Since the event, various precautions were put into place to insure that it would not occur a second time. At the mere mention of the word “terrorist” images flash of what should be warned against.

In the aftermath of September 11th, George W. Bush implemented The USA PATRIOT Act. This Act was signed into law on October 26, 2001 mainly for the surveillance of potentially threatening conversations through different modes of communication as well as varying records. Immigrants who were suspected of terrorist affiliations were deported as a result as well. The Act had supporters and people who opposed it because of its unconstitutionality. The Act was set to sunset by the end of 2005. George W. Bush’s approval ratings increased by 90% in this year.

Initially, Americans and Muslim- Americans were helping one another and sharing each others lament. In light of September 11th, Muslim organizations in the United States made many collaborative efforts to aid those who had been affected. Organizations included: the American Muslim Alliance, Islamic Society of North America, American Muslim Council and others. Many donations and food, shelter, and medical assistance were made available to those in need. Much after the September 11th attacks, incidents of violence and harassment took place. When searching for jobs, employers thought twice about the applicant because of their name. Great resentment grew in the US. Persons who resembled Middle Eastern, Islamic, or Muslim affiliation were attacked physically, verbally, emotionally, and spiritually. Sikhs, mainly from India, were mistaken for Muslims because of the turbans they wore. Mosques, temples, and other religious buildings were attacked. Americans acted against these people on behalf of the perceptions that were developed upon viewing images of suicide bombers. The images provided a basis on which to associate one who may seem to be a terrorist or a conditioned response. President Bush often referred to people of the like to be enemies and to be fought against. Thus, upon the sight of one who matches the prototype of the individual clearly offsets fear, violent and aggressively negligent behavior. Following 9/11 America went into war with Afghanistan. Patriotism and vengeful attitudes followed people who were a part of the armed forces. Many went to fight because of revenge.
Another action that raised weariness in Americans was the increase in airport security. Airports were reminders of the hijackers therefore producing the conditioned response when someone who seems suspicious is in their presence. All persons were subjected to scrutinized searches of luggage and personal items; all for safety reasons. Those who looked like a threat, were searched twice. Through this safety measure, fear is reinforced and associated again with the event. Surveys show that 81% of travelers find flying stressful. According to Brown University, air travel decreased by over 30%. Both examples of data are post 9/11.

When plans of the construction of an Islamic center and a mosque near “ground zero” were made public, the matter received much criticism. The topic about ’America being a free country’ became a highlight in the debate. Also, renewed fears about 9/11 arose. Anti-Muslim vandalism has been appearing more frequently on the subway stations in New York City. There have also been confrontations between Muslim-American youths and non-Muslim “friends” demanding to know why a mosque was being built on ground zero. The main subject this heightens is Islamophobia. Movements that support Islam raise the disapproval of them within American culture and society. Many parts of the country face the same opposition for the expansion of mosques in fear that building more, will make America vulnerable.
Modes of Communication
Vast amounts of people show their dislike for Islam through different methods. Among these methods are: online forums, news articles regarding President Obama, newspapers (independent/political cartoons), and other forms of social media with the same beliefs. People often make comments that show their disagreement or repugnance with Islam and the Middle East. In a land where free speech is the “norm”, people who display their hatred for the Middle East do not wish to be challenged. The majority of Americans see Islam as dangerous, threatening, and wrong. They express this very clearly on web forums and discussion boards online. Many usually say that they do not trust or like Islam, Muslims, or Obama. Amongst more “popular” forms of characterizing Islam and the Middle East include animated series like: American Dad, the Simpsons, or Family Guy. These shows contain episodes that relate to the same prototypes Americans have established for Muslims. These shows reestablish the perceptions that Americans “know” too well. Women having limited rights, turbans, terrorism and other such stereotypes.

So what happens if Americans do not express why they hate or fear Islam and Muslims? When will people discuss Islam and what it means? When will people see Islam politics and the Islamic faith as two separate issues? How will this fear fade within our society and culture? Can we learn to include Muslims and Islam into our culture as easily as it is feared? For now, much opposition is accepted or not challenged.



Saturday, December 4, 2010

Transculturation and the Power of the Writer!

Pratt has done a fantastic job in shedding a new light for me through her work "Arts of the Contact Zone"! However, through reading it, I come to find it difficult,in a positive way, to define what culture means.All my life in school and during discussions on culture you hear the same story.Cultures are what make people unique,they serve as a basis in which people share things in common, they promote diversity and shape our values,beliefs and our knowledge.

I personally am not sure that cultures are limited to your nationality or your parent's nationality because not everyone is raised into their "natural culture",if you will. I say this primarily because I am not a product of deeply rooted Hispanic culture because I do not know about that heritage since I have not been taught about it; I myself born in Illinois.I just go with the flow.Can that be culture; just being a part of something and following the rules and adhering to some kind or routine? Is there such a thing as losing culture? Is there such a thing as modifying it? Can one just develop a less complex way to carry on certain traditions? How does such a thing happen? Perhaps ancient practices are not emphasized as much because of changing times or the generation gaps in families have a role in diminishing "culture"? Maybe members in the family have grown out of the "traditional way" because of the negativity connected to it or disinterest (may it seem obligatory?).

I believe culture and its discourse is very different than the common dictionary definition. Upon reading Arts of the Contact Zone, Pratt makes a very bold argument about HOW cultures attempt to engage in 'contact zones'. She uses the example of Pietschmann finding a letter addressed to King Phillip III of Spain written by Poma who is Andean.Two people from two different cultures = (non established in this case) contact zone.Pietschmann prepares a paper in which he tries to explain his findings and realizes that people are confused. When people finally find a way of reading this letter, the profoundness of it became so obvious. That is the beauty of the whole story! Having this literacy made it possible to appreciate the letter.

The more intriguing part about this is the letter itself! On page 505, Pratt describes the lined drawings as European ( a form of discourse), but the drawings helped Poma express his own culture. Another instance where this is done? Persepolis! Satrapi uses a comic styled format that is usually seen as "Western" to explain her values and her culture to us since we are not a part of her culture. This IS a contact zone!! Another way to describe what is being done here is: Transculturation. Transculturation in simpler terms is a minor culture taking some ideas from particular parts of a dominant culture to push forward values,beliefs,and knowledge of their own. Its helps a contact zone arise.This is the chance where people get to exchange ideas about culture.Even so, WHY contact zones? Transculturation is similar to the discussion we had in class about the discourse communities project. Who has more power? As the writer, we have more power because we choose how much what we are told will influence what we write.In this case, Poma was the one in power.

In the end,in my opinion, there still does not seem to be a proper definition for culture.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Are You in the "Circle" or did you not find it?

Discourse Communities I belong to:

My family
   - Sister's friends 

My Boyfriend
   - His family and friends

Farragut Career Academy High School ( Home of the Admirals)
    - Policy debate team
    - Theater Club
    - Culinary Arts
    - Peer Jury and Peace Circles
    - AP and Honors classes
    - Biology bridge course at Truman College

Social Networking Sites
     - Facebook ( Old elementary school friends, high school teachers, high school friends and colleagues)
     - Yahoo e-mail
     - Blurtit.com
     - Blogger.com
     - Windows Live Mail
     - GMail

Roosevelt University
     - Individual classes ( Math, English 101, Theater, Psychology)

Rock music

The Cathedral Cafe ( local rock show venue)

City as Site ( ENLACE Chicago)

Little Village

At home no one must do anything to put the family in danger and everyone must contribute their part. Obviously, when in the presence of my sister's friends no one should say what she really thinks about the person in question. Deep intellectual talk might leave someone staring at you in disbelief or ignored ( this is also true at home). On social sites, members should not post anything obscene or that threatens safety within the site. Cheating, inappropriate clothing, acting like a tomboy, or mentioning " Joe" in a conversation does not 'fly' with my boyfriend. Lecturing or intellectual conversations are not desirable around my boyfriend's circle of friends. When I go to my boyfriend's house, it is not wise to ignore his parents or to not ask their permission before leaving somewhere. We also cannot show any PDA while his parents are around. When in classes, it is not appropriate to interrupt someone. Theater class, no one should waltz in late or be absent without prior notice because it is rude and offsets scene work. Also, when in class you must not behave or talk disrespectfully to a professor, as well as using technology during group discussions.

In my senior year, I joined my school's theater club. On my first day, I was only a spectator. In the time I was there, I did not feel like I belonged. I wanted to be a part of something different compared to the debate team, but I was worried that I would not be good. I had to study my lines constantly and work with people who already had experience. We all received at least two mini-scenes with a partner. All members had to attend regularly and participate in the warm-ups. A routine of the club was to move all the tables aside for warm-ups (no one had to remind us of this). Sometimes, I was not being believable enough for my part or meeting the expectations. For our first production, an actor quit and I took the initiative to be Teen Santa. If that wasn't enough, the instructor asked me to open the show and wear a ridiculous bootleg Santa suit. That is what we do; if the cast is lagging in something, people take the initiative and they play multiple parts not assigned to them at any given time. We learned terms special to theater like: improvisation, the fourth wall, blocking, cheating out, striking the set etc. During the scenes, we needed to react to everything and never give the audience your back. The particular play we did required to everyone to overact. We did not have major rules, but the obvious ones were to attend everyday, rehearse lines, and to have the set ready before the warm-ups began. Our instructors would stand silently until we understood that we were fooling around and not following routine. Punishments included multiple re-takes, push-ups, and going up and down the stairs ten times. If the actor was performing poorly, their part was cut or given to someone else.

To gain more "power", I would probably have to be a stronger actor. I would have to help actors who are not meeting the requirements to improve. I would have to have a perfect idea of how to play my part and be very charismatic. Also, taking charge during warm-ups while the instructors prepare would demonstrate leadership and awareness of what is to be done. The actors with stronger acting abilities were the ones with almost as much power as the instructors. They were the ones with more parts and that were used as examples more often. Even so, when they did not perform at their usual best, others with more enthusiastic acting were praised. If I constantly would have missed or did not rehearse my lines, I probably would get kicked out. The most important thing about our theater policies is the fact that all the actors come up with a consensus and concerns about incidents like that. Everyone ( instructors included) bring that to the person's attention. I believe that there are various forms of power and the method of distributing authority is different. Sometimes, it can be a mixture of all persons or the top person. For the most part, everyone has a good say so in the group, but the best performers have a better advantage. This is true because my scene partner was just not delivering and the instructor was often frustrated with him and almost cut his part out of the play.
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So the other day, I was watching an Arthur episode ( yes the cartoon, big deal). It got me thinking about discourse communities and membership.

It started off by showing Francine in a track competition. She was fed up with the same old uniforms that were falling apart due to the fact that there was always "no money". She asked Principal Hainey if it was possible to get new uniforms; she believed that the school needed more spirit. He agreed; as a result, Arthur, Miuffy, and Francine thought about forming a school committee called the LPC (Lakewood Pride Committee).

At first, their efforts were futile. They then decided to ask Buster Baxter if he could represent the LPC. In that he was " Average, like everyone else, etc". That got me thinking, well if he is average, what are they, popular? Buster agreed to be President. During lunch, he was on stage telling everyone that they should join and how he "loves" Lakewood, to get his peers to be members.

Soon, everyone was wearing LPC buttons and performed a hand signal ( index finger forming an 'I' and index finger with thumb forming a 'L'). All except Sue Ellen and the Brain. The LPC began to notice this and constantly bothered them where ever they went to become "one of them". They even received red notes on their lockers with a message that read " D.L.L." ( Doesn't Love Lakewood). It was difficult for them to contact Buster because his Secretary, Muffy, always said he was unavailable. I began to think about how that in a way can be over powering the President; Buster never said he did not want to be bothered, but Muffy knew who was calling and overrode the call. Interesting, don't you think? One of Sue Ellen's and the Brain's friends, George, also got one of those notes because he "was not cheering loudly enough". It seems to me that the LPC was too controlling.

Finally, Sue Ellen and Brain wrote Buster a note and delivered it via paper airplane. He, the next day at the track race, read it out loud. They wrote: "Just because we do not wear buttons, shout I love Lakewood, or join the LPC, doesn't mean that we do not love Lakewood." Buster explained who sent him the message and how it was true that being in the LPC didn't prove loyalty to their school.

By the end of the episode, I did not understand why Sue Ellen and the Brain didn't just join. I then realized that they were made to feel obligated to join and when they didn't, the LPC made them feel like they were traitors. I also thought about how I too was not a part of my school counsel or pep rallies. While I did neither, I still loved my school and did not feel the need to prove it in those mechanisms. I decided that they were right not to join. No one should have the right to tell you that you do not have pride for something just because you do not conform with their common practices.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Couple in the Cage: A Guatinaui Odyssey 1993

The things we see that are presumed to be authentic can be false.

led783.jpg 
       A man and a woman, both artists, had an idea for a new piece of art. Its aim was to satirize the concept of discovery; a social experiment. They displayed themselves in a cage as Amerindians from a fictitious ('undiscovered') island in four different countries. They were making an allusion to colonial practices in the 16th- 20th centuries in which natives were brought to Western countries and shown to the public. They soon began to see that audiences actually believed they were real. Throughout their performances, people took photos with them and children even interacted with them as if they were a rare curiosity. They rarely spoke, but only on occasion to tell stories in a fake language. The native 'traditions' they did included: sewing voodoo dolls, watching the television and, the use a laptop. Audiences were awed at this 'King Kong'- like "discovery" and treated them like they were unintelligent savages or a circus act. They were highly misunderstood , but few people realized the 'joke'. Some people were really outraged that humans were being displayed in this manner and decided it may be a hoax. The artists' interactions with the people resembled cross- cultural misjudgments people make that are still relevant today.

    This work raises the question of authenticity and how people still make stereotypes on things they do not understand of have knowledge about. For this work, museums agreed to let them perform. This shows the power museums hold as to what they want displayed. Fusco and Gomez- Pena make good points about people believing something that is not true and the common misconceptions that are bound to take place. They truly convinced many spectators using maps, make-up, native attire, false history and their odd actions. I believe that people should take the time to really determine the realness of something and not make ridiculous misconceptions. This also brings up a morality issue. Is it right to make people that are from a different culture seem exotic and rare like animals? They are human and should not be mistreated and made feel like they are objects for entertainment. People need to think about the credibility on things they see on a normal day. We need to question the 'real', the 'norms', and 'the unknown'. Fear and acceptance of facts deter us from inquiring. The problem is that people are not trained to ask something "different" or to be daring.
    As for my opinion, I think this piece is informative and thought provoking. I personally would not have believed the exhibit because I have background knowledge on Native American culture. The most interesting thing I learned about was their breakthrough on medicinal practices. I specifically learned about the Shamans. They came before modern medicine and used natural plants to heal the sick. They were very amazing people with a long rich history!
    So, if we are made to believe certain things how can we deviate ourselves from it? How do we know what to believe? Why do people tend to believe something that is stereotyped? How far does the authority of museums go in terms of the interpretation of art? To what extent do people misunderstand other races and cultures?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Persepolis

I am not sure of how accurate the movie “Persepolis” is, but I did see it. It was very interesting and I did not know that it was a graphic novel. I love the illustrations and the history embedded in it. I find it interesting that Marjane Satrapi based the ‘comic’ off of her childhood and I praise her for it.

Marjane shows her side of questioning. She knows that she should be entitled in knowing why exactly she must wear a veil but, because she is religious, she submits to authority. She is against the so called revolution and wants one of her own. She is very close to her mother and admires her because of her strong belief in change; yet she excludes her daughter. She tells about how the Islamic Revolution brought with it, a very restricted and structured society. The new leader says that bilingual schools are capitalistic and that he wants a ‘cultural revolution’. This was a basic ethnic cleansing.

Marjane has a special Holy Book. She is deeply involved with religion and the values of freedom and equality. She has conversations with God. In school, she is ridiculed for wanting to be a prophet. As a result, she hides her desire from her family. I believe she does this because she does not want to disappoint her parents. The only person she know that will not judge her is her grandmother. She is very understanding towards her and knows how committed she is. Marjane is a lovely young girl in this time because she shows a strong love for her family by wanting unity and for people not to suffer.

During the revolution, Marjane decides that she needs to focus on a rebellion. She makes an effort to protest in her garden. She becomes very engaged in Castro, Marx and Che. She realizes that her efforts are futile unless everyone is participating just like a bicycle as she mentions. She took it upon herself to make a change. I loved the fact that she was so open for her age. Even if her parents did not really approve, she was determined.

She also mentions that she like the comic “ Dialectic Materialism” and it reminded me about the discussion in class about Hegel. I noticed the complexity of the mind that she possessed. I believe that she is very philosophical. Once she becomes unmovable in the face of rebellion, “God” becomes skeptical. I believe the symbolism behind his disappearance is that she has chosen her true destiny.

From what I saw in the movie, she moves away because she cannot keep herself quiet. She wants the whole land to know about the injustice. As a result, she is sent to Austria. There, she is at a constant struggle to find where she belongs. I believe the essence of Persepolis is finding where you belong. When she was in her country, she is at a struggle with Faith and rebellion. Her parents do not want her to protest and religion is shoved into her mind. She is very strong however and does not let people tell her what to do or tell her who she is.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Mere Puppets of PROPAGANDA!---Cool website, check it!

     I often criticize or ignore advertisements. I do not like all this propaganda because it seems so fake. All it wants to achieve is new consumers. The advertisements serve as tools to make people have fantasies about what their life could be. They are the tool of the band wagon. If someone wears something, it becomes embedded into our media and our lives. People use these items not necessarily for luxury but, for acceptance. We want to be as happy as the images captured behind the lens. We want to be more, so we try to obtain more. By simply obtaining more, does not truly mean that we are richer. Society is brainwashed into wanting to be where these images are. Where are they exactly? Surely, they are fiction because they are deliberate situations. They are caught moments that are merely duplicates. So then where is the value in them? The emotions portrayed somehow relate to us and tap into our feeling sector. We grow fond of these familiar images as if they are truly possible. When in fact, these pictures are meant to be catchy so that they do not fail to be ignored or erased. Its all promotion and fictional propaganda, technically.
     The saying sex sells is so obscene and untrue. Power sells is more like it. People envy power and hence is more reasonable to have people dream about. Countless images of masculinity and “happiness” make sure that people try all the many ways there are to be “loved” and “accepted“. People love to be the center of new crazes and do not rest until they are the product of the media. For what? For a life that really is not the one in the magazine or billboard you last saw. I guess being raised into not really giving attention to name brands, trends, and advertisements has made me nonchalant about them.

     I did however like the comparison about the oil paintings and the “publicity. The painting represents the present state while publicity refers to some “remote” future. The paintings show how the subject’s life is, in a small scope. Pictures do not always “speak 1000 words“. Pictures do not show how the person feels or what is going on in their life. Because, come on, who wants to here about the hardships. We all want to dream of something better so we look to these images for a sense of belonging or comfort. Images in today’s society falsify identity. They play pretend on the reality. When we cease to pay attention to reality, we are only allowing for progression to stop. Well, who wants to be sad all the time? But, who wants to live in a fictitious world?

     Publicity leaks its way into our social and personal lives. They do not really make bold statements about “change” but, rather about how to change yourself and how to be admired. The moments recorded have to do their job; and that is to make more business. If not, then the business itself suffers. They are compensated at the expense of our emotions and dreams. They depict that we have very little now but, can have a great life by creating standards. Our eyes can fool us into imagining something that just is unnecessary.

    1. I love the colors and the geometry of this image. The black background really makes the color potent. I just stumbled upon this image while looking for a very different kind.

2. The two images with the balloons are a performance that I was in with two of my friends for an art internship this summer called "City as Site". We learned a lot about different ways to view art and we created temporary works of art. I loved it because it promotes a sense of community unity. The partnership is with a community organization called ENLACE Chicago. I love what they are doing for low income communities like Little Village, North Lawndale, and Pilsen to name a few.
I encourage you all to view this website because the work we did and the fun we had should be shared amongst others. I enjoyed being in the program and I hope you have fun looking and reading about everything we learned. =)

Who Do You Owe your Sucess to?

          I can relate to Richard Rodriguez’s ‘The Achievement of Desire”. I can also disagree with him in different terms. Initially, I was not a bright person. As a child I had ADD, I was out of control, I had delays in my growth and social development. I had no idea just how out of control I was. I went to many therapy sessions, early intervention programs, and special education. My mom (really my dad’s second cousin) was very involved with me and so was the rest of the family. Her love, strength and, determination proved to be highly motivational and powerful.

         The family felt a need to help me because they did not want me to end up in a terrible position or to suffer like my brothers. To this day, I wish I would be able to thank my mom for everything she did for me. One day, I stumbled upon paper work from the early years of my life. I read about all the problems I had and the problems I gave my family. I also read about how devoted my mom was and how my family gave their fullest attention. There were also some instances when observers would note that although I did not listen most of the time, I had my own unique way of doing activities. They said I was very friendly as well even if I did not play with other children.

       I feel that if your family is involved in your life, that you have a greater confidence and motivation to do your best. Of course when she passed away I felt a great sense of emptiness. I began to under achieve and lose trust in people. I locked myself away in my room and distanced myself from my family. I was again unable to socialize up until I entered the seventh grade. My teachers nurtured me and I trusted myself more. I was able to make some friends and achieve so much in only two years!

        When I entered high school, I again became better at my social skills and a lot better in academics. Still, I put my studies first and stay up late to finish projects. I also needed my sister and her husband to take me to debate competitions and pick me up from practices. They went through a lot to help me but, when I got my awards, I did not feel like they appreciated all the work I put in.

       I know that if my family were not around to help me, then I surely would not be successful. You are not successful on your own because you need people in your life to make things possible. This is where I disagree with Rodriguez. Even if I did isolate myself and my family made fun of me or get angry for me studying so much, I know that they only wanted me to not forget about them. When you involve your family with what you do and not make them feel bad, then they understand why.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Something Must be Done!

Anyon’s analysis of the different levels of schooling is amazing. She gets her points mostly right and makes good comparisons between the levels of schooling and the social classes that they correlate with.
I found that I could remember times in elementary school where I could relate to the findings based on the working class school. I remember that we always had to follow directions and that the teachers always had control. The easiest lesson to remember is the classic “How to make a peanut butter sandwich”. We were to write the directions exactly right. In math the students needed to follow directions and to know each terms and each step. I found that I always struggled because the teachers never explained why the step was necessary. Language arts class was all about the grammar and punctuation. It was vital to be precise. Some teachers were very demanding and rude to the students and did not allow for any freedom. Structure was a big thing there. No one was above the teacher and we always went together, in line as a class anywhere we were supposed to. At times, I was in classes where the teacher would not go further into the topic and assumed that everyone got it. Everything was based off of something in a book and there was rarely any thought process or creativity involved.
Some topics that Anyon did not discuss were about behavior and minorties. She focuses mainly on structure, work, and freedom. This is probably primarily due to the fact that she focused on fifth graders. The high school I went to was a mess for the most part. I was able to get great teachers, participate in programs I liked, and have open discussions. When I started, the structure was mainly the same as a working class school. Follow directions, control, easy assignments, grammar and punctuation. For the most part, my school years consisted of an “attempt” to have order and control. Mainly, by enforcing uniforms and security guards yelling half the time. This mostly had to do with the outside of how certain classes functioned. For example, in honors classes, we had a little more leeway than regular classes. We got to read at a faster pace and learn at little more interesting things. There was little resistance towards the teacher. Mainly because of the respect the students had for the instructor and his or her “coolness”. Those classes still had disadvantages because it was either you catch up, or you are failing. However, there was still help available to those who requested it. The AP teachers were even nicer. They treated us kindly, gave us a chance, invested a lot of time and effort to prepare us for exams, and connected things to a bigger picture. They liked to have discussions and to question things. They encouraged creativity and thoughts in class. I only had two AP teachers however.
While my school does not offer as much as other schools and has a bad reputation and for that matter fit into categories described by Anyon, I can disagree with her. I had teachers that did not teach honors or AP that really cared for everyone and motivated them to be the best they could be. They showed much care to students who took the initiative to seek help and to ask questions. Those are the students who benefited vastly. The major reason there were not many of those at my school was because there is a lot of gang activity and a pressure that revolves around the student’s self- esteem. They feel like society gave up on them, that they do not have a chance, that they can only expect little in life. Who is to blame? Not really a specific person. For the most part, it is the people who stop caring for the student (and/or themselves) that greatly affects how they perceive themselves and it makes me sad. If more students had someone to invest care into them and make them feel like that have a chance, maybe there would be less students giving up. Why do they have such doubt, financial and social status issues? Some parents cannot take the pressure society puts on them and thus, takes a toll on their children; whether they like (realize) it or not. Something must be done!
http://www.farragutcareeracademy.org/

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Unbelievable Ideology!

Friere talks a lot about how education is a narration ( by the instructor) and facts and figures being deposited into the student. His description of the role of a teacher and a student sound exactly like the concepts of a bank. He understands that the student could transform the knowledge and become “collectors” and “cataloguers” .

He describes knowledge as always inquiring, questioning, and pursuing the unknown like Krishnamurti. However, Friere almost talks as if education is not the route to go to if you want to have knowledge and utilize what you learn to create something new of it. He views the role of the teacher as ignorant because he or she assumes that the students have no knowledge. Thus, they validate their existence by showing their absolute need to be there. Friere insists that teachers always fail to see that the students teach them. I disagree, in this day and age teachers can admit that they themselves learn everyday and learn from their students as well. To say that teachers consider themselves the ultimate masters of education is completely incorrect and unintelligible. He give no alternative to education as far as I am concerned.

I find some of his arguments impertinent. His wording and ideology can be very hurtful and ruthless. Especially when he says teachers are depositors and students are receptacles that store. Also, his use of the word education is too broad! What kind of education is he referring to? Is he trying to write off education as a waste and a complete brainwash? While some of his arguments are interesting, he lacks sympathy. While Krishnamurti encourages individuals to challenge life and its unknown truths and he has faith in humans to some extent. Friere is tough and is a bit dehumanizing himself. He assumes that teachers view students as objects. He believes teachers are oppressors that only seek to mask the unknown truth. What Friere fails to understand is that it is not the fault of teachers for teaching certain material in a planned format. It is the authority above them that chooses what is appropriate and what goes above the “limits”. I personally, would not view teachers as oppressors because they do not get to make the major rules and structures that make oppression exist. I believe the problem is hierarchy. The very notion that educators rank low in the hierarchy of education in technical terms, suggests they are not as important to value or get the appreciation they deserve for investing their time and effort into students. If not school, then what would children do with themselves? Go on a road to self discovery? Friere makes teachers seem like they are major threats to society and that they play the biggest active role in conformity. He treats teachers as if they are robots and inhuman as possible. I believe it all depends on the mind of the student and what interests them. From there they decide what they are aching to find out about. They have minds to inquire what they wonder about.
He himself can be crude because he insists people may realize that life is full of lies with their journey to “become” fully human. (On, “the crude mind”!)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What is the Opposite of Becoming?

This is a question Krishnamurti has sparked into my mind. Also, how can we live in a world with no fear? How can you take out the things in society that conjure up the fears we have? How can you approach the issue of wanting to change society. Is the world is so comfortable with where their life stands? Obviously not but, why not try to make a change? Are we waiting for some miracle or being with the guts to do such a drastic thing? The reason is because of FEAR and Krishnamurti is absolutely correct. People's lives are embedded with fears and threats of what will happen if you do something viewed as unacceptable in today's society. Even if this was the case, things do exist that spark debate and backlash. Some do have the gut to change what they think should be rebelled against or fixed. So what not suggest or strive for a change that we all need if it is indeed important? Is it too radical? These people who want to deviate from societies supposed “norms” are feared. People are more powerful than they realize. The government fears people that rebel and try to change order that they have decided is correct.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Your Hand can fall off!

I believe writing helps you think. It helps you understand other points of view and develop a sense of creativity. I personally do not like to write because the thought process has to be concise and carefully planned. Not my specialty or style. I do like to think about things and often times my ideas come best when I talk to myself. Well, my thoughts on writing are that it is a great way to show your life experiences and unravel your mind. Writing can be personal and specifically important to you and/or can speak to others in the same way it speaks to you. My writing has improved along with my reading but, I am always learning something new about the way you choose to tell a story and what you want it to say. Works of writing are like people. They display feeling and are expressive in their imagery. They are works of art if you want them to be.
So far I have not changed my attitude about writing. I find it irritating and tedious. I would rather talk than make my hand meet the writing utensil and thus meet a white paper. That is not my cup of tea. Do not misjudge me just yet. I can write some very nice pieces if I wanted to but I do not have patience to do that. I, like Professor Sheldon, am a slow writer. I can think up things that can blow your mind. Things that can make the CIA want to kill me but alas, I keep my thoughts to myself. I am my best secret keeper, confider, and friend when there is not one else. I love very colorful and clever writing. I don't like to hear a laundry list of a detailed process someone took to get to where they want their focus on unless it is vital. I am not too big on details of everything the last ribbon on Aunt Lucy's dress that she got on sale at some store. That drags and takes the limelight from the things that need to show us the message.
An author that really got me thinking about writing, literary devices, culture/identity, and impacting messages was Toni Morrison. I love this woman and I would love and would be honored to meet her. I read Song of Solomon and it was a real, lovely, groundbreaking and amazingly touching book that I had ever read. Writing like hers has given me a desire to write in her clever way. She uses literary devices consistently and wonderfully! My senior AP English teacher Mrs. Mooney taught me very great things about writing and its power. The words you spill out on paper themselves tell a story. You pour your feelings and experiences at the moment you are giddy and know what you want to say. Writing is a work of endurance. Sometimes writing doesn't have to be about what you say but, about what you went through to get there and all the time you invested into it.