Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Which book?

I would probably choose Black and White for this program. This book delivered in many ways. Overall, it was a very interesting and fast read, and at the same time it dealt with topics that need to be talked about. I think that most people would really enjoy this book. The only thing that I think would turn people off to the book is that it ends without without really tying up the loose ends that are left.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Black and White

After reading the book I definitely have to say that I think socioeconomic status had to do with what happened to Marcus and Eddie. I do think that it had a lot to do with race issues too, but I think mostly it was SES because of the difference between the lawyers that the boys had. I felt that because of the fact that Eddie could pay for a better lawyer had a big effect on the fact that Marcus got sent to jail way before Eddie. I think that if Marcus would have had a better lawyer, then maybe he would have been able to stay out of jail longer. The way that the book ended, I don't think that Eddie will have as harsh a sentence as Marcus. It seems like maybe Eddie will get off with a sentence like only a year in jail. It's very troubling because this kind of thing can be seen happening all over the place and I think that in smaller towns it's less about SES and more about racism. I just think that overall, the kind of thing that happened to Marcus and Eddie would the same result, but for different reasons, in other places.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Thompson Article

I'll be as honest as possible. This article was confusing and difficult to read, but basically what I got out of it is that there aren't a lot of challenges being posed to children in the literature that is directed at them. There is overall a use of vocabulary that is easy, along with words that are very short. Now don't get me wrong, I don't think that books need to be extremely complicated or complex to read, but I do think that they sometimes need to be a little more realistic when it comes to actually giving an accurate depiction of what a child is going to be expected to deal with later in their educational careers. How often will children actually read something that is so easy to get through? The answer is not often, because upon reaching high school and college, children will realize that they are going to have to read things that are time consuming and difficult to get through, showing them that later in life reading becomes a more of a chore than anything else. If reading were all fun and games, then I'm sure that everyone would love it. I don't think that kids are exposed to enough things that give them a taste of whats to come and I think that if there was children's literature that started introducing them earlier to more challenging reads and topics, then there definitely wouldn't be students who have a hard time adapting once the reach college.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Fairy Tales

Fairy tales weren't always delivered to be in book form. Mostly the fairy tales I experienced were the ones that were made into movies by Disney. I do however remember studying different versions of the same fairy tale in school at certain points and I remember thinking how gruesome some of them get. I personally liked the versions that most young Americans hear because of the fact that they aren't as graphic or violent as others. I felt like the other versions from other cultures were more of a scare tactic than anything else. The ones that we hear in America tend to be more just cautionary tales and I think that this is better because it allows for choices to be made intelligently as opposed to choices made out of fear.

I feel that fairy tales aren't necessarily just fairy tales though. What I mean by this is that I feel that fairy tales are more like guidelines for longer stories. A lot of novels tend to have one or two things that were taken from fairy tales and I think that this says a lot about fairy tales. If they can become skeletons, so to speak of novels, then they aren't only good for children, but also good for adults.

One of the tales that I remember most from my childhood is probably Peter Pan. I was always the kid that never wanted to grow up. I think I remember this one most vividly because of that fact that now I try to do little things to remind myself that I need to have fun and actually take a break from responsibility every now and then to enjoy life.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I'll Stand on the Soapbox with Ms. Park

I completely agree with Ms. Park about the things that she said in her article. Books are important for so many different reasons and they need to be handled for the important things that they are. I remember, when I was still a small child getting ready to enter adolescence, that there were books that I felt were insulting my intelligence at times. People forget that children are more intelligent than they are initially given credit for and this leads to the publication of materials that are, at times, sub par. I think that it is important for the adults that work at these publishing companies to think back to when they were children, and ask themselves what they would have thought if they had been given one of these jokes of a book by their parents. No one wants to read something they feel is demeaning to them the whole time; this same idea applies to children and adults forget that.
I think that Park did a good idea of expressing this particular idea in A Single Shard. It wasn't one of the main themes of the entire novel, but it was still present. Min was always taking longer than the other potters to produce his work. The others would work with care but they would also work very fast. Min just took his time and paid attention to the detail of his work to make sure that he produced the absolute best work that he could to sell to people. He wouldn't even show a broken shard of his work to prove that he really could reproduce the new technique. He had a very all-or-nothing mentality. This is exactly what Park was getting at in her critical article: the companies that are publishing these children's books need to be sure of what they publish, and make sure that they give the kids suitable works to read because the future depends on future generations of children.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Research Paper Topic

For my research paper I want to deal with the issue of how authors are presenting themes about discrimination different ways than the typical methods like books that kind of go straight at the topic. I reviewed two books that I think cover this topic very will while doing my book reviews. These books are Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and New Moon. Both authors present underlying themes about discrimination and they deal with this theme in a unique way. I want to examine these unique ways of promoting this particular theme. For instance, in the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling presents this idea through the idea of the pure-blood and muggle situation in the book. The pure-bloods think that muggles aren't worthy, basically, of being called wizards and think that muggle-borns shouldn't be allowed into Hogwarts, and some of the more hardcore supporters of the muggle discrimination even think that they should be ruled by wizards. This is similar to what minorities go through today. It doesn't quite go as far as wanting to rule over a specific people, even though there is probably still a place somewhere where that might be wanted, but it does kind of deal with the ideas of what children go through to today in schools if they are minority students. This same idea is also dealt with in New Moon through the prejudice that the vampires and werewolves have against each other. Through the way that Stephenie Meyer depicts these two sides even, though they don't come into too much contact in the book, she shows that both sides have similar ideals and that they just don't really know enough about each other to like each other. This deals with some of the ignorance that leads people to have contempt for people of other races. There are also other things like the persecution of the house-elf Dobby in Chamber of Secrets that deal with this theme.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Examining Cultural Differences in the classroom

After reading the Dong article, I really do understand where she's coming from. There needs to be cross cultural literature in the classroom. It's very important to start implementing this into curriculums because if not then we aren't preparing students for the real world. Students aren't necessarily going to need to know what type of narrator the story has or where the climax and rising actions are when they go into the real world. I mean these things can be learned by someone who has ever read a book or watched a movie. All you have to do is ask them when the main conflict reached the breaking point and that's the climax, or what caused the conflict to reach the breaking point and that's rising action. They know these things even though they may not know the technical terms. But what the students do need to know is how to be aware of different cultures and things that are going on around them. Students need to be aware of what is going on outside in the real world that isn't the classroom. When it comes down to it, everyone knows that the classroom isn't the real world. There are things that go on in school like discrimination and racism, but these instances are almost never as serious in the classroom as they are in the real world.

With that being said, as teachers we need to make sure that we prepare the students for what they are going to encounter in the real world. They experience doses of discrimination at school, but that's in a setting where hopefully the school and it's staff will help to remedy the situation. There aren't always going to be people there to stop these things from happening and it's important to make sure that the people who are the ones discriminating and the ones who are being discriminated against know how to fix the situation when their parents or other prominent figures in either culture might not encourage a healthy appreciation for someone else's culture. By encouraging discussions and showing that there are ways that conflict can be resolved without it turning into something serious, we can show students that things can be remedied even when others say there is no remedy for a problem. Just as the teachers in the article expressed, a discussion in a healthy environment can make people more aware and even show them that they are participating in things like discrimination and racism without ever meaning to. I think that the overall goal is to make students more aware of other cultures so that they can appreciate those differences and they can learn that there is a way that we can share each others cultures without losing our own. I think that the main people who need to understand this are European-Americans. They don't realize that there are things that they could never understand unless the actually listen to the accounts of people who have been through it. By encouraging experiences with other cultures then we can show that it is possible for people to coexist without all of this conflict.

I definitely thought about what some of the responses were saying about culture and the author writing in particular dialects, because I encountered this in Esperanza Rising. The author reminded us that we were the outsiders because at times we didn't know the language and I think that becoming the outsider, even just for the duration of the book, is a good way to help students empathize with people of different cultures. We also see instances of this with Copper Sun too. The white people were portrayed as the bad guys, and that makes Caucasians aware that there are things that our race has done to harm others. We aren't necessarily responsible for things that our race took part in, but we definitely have a responsibility now to try and understand what happened and how we can work together with the cultures that were wronged to fix things. If we can do this by encouraging discussions about cross-cultural literature, then we are on the right track to doing our part. Even teachers who don't understand why they have to do this or what the purpose of this is can learn to understand that this is very helpful. The teachers in the article that had misgivings about teaching these things eventually learned that they weren't crossing a line in doing this. They were simply encouraging students to take part in their culture and be proud of where they are from. The teachers realized that they weren't taking part in any form of discrimination by bringing these issues into the classroom and all teachers can benefit from what the article had to say. If we can implement students cultures into our readings in the right way, then it is definitely a healthy experience that needs to happen.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Twilight and Harry Potter

I might be a little biased just because I really enjoy both of these books and have read them multiple times. I feel that both of them have earned the right to be at least considered for classroom use. My initial feelings toward very popular literature are that they might not be the best things to teach in the classroom because of the fact that so many people can get caught up in only reading them for pleasure. I feel that books taught in classrooms need to be interesting enough to where they offer some entertainment to keep the reader in the story, as opposed to losing the reader and causing someone to have to re-read passages over and over because they can't remember what they just read, but also doesn't enthrall them so much that they just keep reading and forget to do any analyzing. I think, a good book for a classroom is one that makes you want to analyze the text and ask questions. I definitely think that these two books would be great to either start out a class with or to end a class with. If you start a class with them, you can use them as easy examples to teach the children how to analyze things since there are themes that obviously show themselves on the surface. If a teacher taught them at the end of their class then it might offer a bit of a break from rigorous course work. So I do think that they have a place in the classroom.

I honestly think that Twilight would be a very good book to teach in maybe a freshman english class because obviously when kids reach high school there are certain things that come up that have never been issues before. Sex is of course a big topic in schools now and kids are facing it earlier and earlier. While I agree that students need to be taught about safe sex practices, I think there should also be something in the schools that promotes abstinence. This book does a very good job of showing the value of a love that is very pure and just that basically it is possible for two people to love each other without having sex. I just think that it's very important to promote the best defense against teen pregnancy and health problems that children could get themselves into because they don't realize that even though they are being safe there are things that can still happen.

As far as Harry Potter goes, I think that this book does a very good job of showing a few great things that are good values for children to see. It promotes ideas of acceptance and equality by showing that a "muggle" Hermione Granger is still equal to the other students even though she isn't a "pure-blood". I think that J.K. Rowling is definitely making a statement by having this conflict of "pure-bloods" hating "muggles" because of the fact that there are still instances of racism. It isn't gone like some people believe and this makes kids aware of some of the things that they are doing to discriminate against children even if it isn't saying straight out, "Billy you shouldn't pick on Johnny because he is of a different ethnicity." I also think that this book promotes certain values like courage and testing yourself to find your abilities that kids need to do. They need to put themselves out there to try out their abilities and find things that they're good and Harry and the others characters in the books and throughout series do a good job of promoting this idea of how testing yourself is the only way you'll find out your own strength.

I think that the question "but is it good enough" is definitely a very good question to ask. I think that every single text that has a chance of making it in the classroom needs to be placed under scrutiny to make sure that it offers some form of enrichment or teaches some key point of the curriculum. I know that there are some teachers who would break there back to find a way to use Twilight in their classroom simply because they really enjoyed it, but they wouldn't really think of why they wanted to use it. All they know is that they want to find a way to introduce it to their students and if they add to their curriculum then they know that their students will have to read it. This is a very horrible thing, but I have known teachers like this. I think that there's a very fine line between what needs to be brought into a classroom and what doesn't and I definitely think that certain texts need to be put through the wringer so to speak to make sure that they are actually doing the job that they are supposed to be doing to hold up whatever they are supposed to cover in the curriculum.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Copper Sun

Copper Sun was a very eye opening book, but at the same time I didn't really feel surprised, if that even makes any sense. I guess what I mean by that is the fact that there were things in the book that I didn't know about, but I just wasn't surprised that those things actually happened. One of the things that really surprised me was the amount of interracial sex that went on. I had always thought that it was something so frowned upon that it would never have happened back then. I suppose I should have realized that just because certain subjects were tabooed didn't mean that those particular things never happened. The book did have it's moments where it moved me and made me feel something which is something that I value very highly in a book, but it didn't really hold my attention all that well. Even though it did show a different side of what we're normally shown about slavery, I felt that the subject is one that I've heard so much about that I was turned off by the initial subject matter. However, I still feel like it was a good book, and had it been something that I hadn't heard so much about I feel like it would have held my attention better.