After reading Thrice Told Tale and discussing the importance of different retellings of the story, I wanted to further investigate the process of documenting a story. In the case of this collection, this story was chosen to be told by people outside of the community. As we discussed in class, community memebers did not express interest in telling the story of Mrs. Tan. Researchers outside of the community decided that this was a relevant story to tell; based on its appeal because of drama and suspense, it makes an interesting story to write about. Readers of these accounts have three different ways of thinking about Mrs. Tan, but all three stories relay information that presents an image of chaos and community disruption. Mrs. Tan's story is probably not the story that memebers of this community would want to share with others. This incident does not represent the entire community and is not a way of sharing stories that represent a more accurate and informed picture of this society. Researchers, writiers, and other documenters enjoy positions of power because they allow themselves to enter an existing community or situation and choose what they would like to write about. They can afford to write what they want and express what they see because often, they are not the ones who put a part of their identity on the line for criticism. Although maybe others disagree with the way Margery Wolf documents the findings, what readers focus on most is the content of the stories.
I want to write my post in response to our class focusing on Olga Broumas' poem "Cinderella". Reading this poem highlighted the various perspectives that always exist and how it is valuable to approach texts and situations in open and respectful ways. Reading the poem with the title "Cinderella" immediately sets up the reader to draw connections to the fairytale that many of us are familiar with already; titles have the power to change the way the text is considered before the reader even engages with it. This poem could be read without the tittle and it is possible that the reader would not associate the text with a Cinderella story. In our group, we discussed how key words like "slipper of glass" and "ashes" give hints to a connection, but also could be read as separate from the aspects of Cinderella we already know. Even changing "glass slipper" to "slipper of glass" changes what readers imagine when they read the poem. The idea of reading Broumas' poem without the title gives a chance to start drawing connections from a blank slate that allows for the generation of unrestricted ideas.
This post is to reflect on the process of researching children's literature in Ghana and share what this research project has taught me. Besides the obvious process of learning something new about a country I was generally unfamilar with, this project gave me a chance at reimaging literacy from a different point of view. I found it difficult not to compare my own life as a child with the children who were reading the literature that we researched. Until recently, children's literature in Ghana was imported from other countries and featured characters that were completley dissimilar from the readers. Children who wanted to read or who were told to read had no choice of what they would like to read; they associated books with only having characters that were unlike them. Relating to the content of the story was difficult and encouraged these children to think in a way that devalued their own identity because of the emphasis on other stories.
I wanted to go back to Maria Lugones article about world traveling after thinking about this concept in our daily lives. I recall in class when we did a comparison between world traveling and code switching through investigating their differences. In short, some aspects of world traveling included being present and listening, a goal of being at ease, and participating and observing in a open and accepting environment. We discussed code switching as a product and knowing what is expected and trying to fit into a particular situation instead of experiencing it with fewer predefined expectations. Lugones' idea of traveling between many worlds presents an idea similar to code switching but with different intentions: "Those of us who are "world"-travellers have the distinct experience of being different in different "worlds" and of having the capacity to remember other "worlds" and ourselves in them" (11). Through experiencing these different worlds, world travellers are able to be comfortable and expose themselves to many different environments and experiences shifts in their personality and ways they act. Lugones emphasizes that these are often not conscious and happen naturally due to the environment they are in (11). This differes from code swtiching where there are often active attempts to change oneself to fit into a situation. After reading this article and thinking about it in the context of daily experiences, there are many instances of code switching that happen regularly and shape the way we learn, act, and are perceived by others.
I want to reflect on Amy's visit to our class last Tuesday. I thought she was an excellent guest speaker and brought the practice element to our class that is sometimes missing in education classes. Especially after our discussion in ed311 about how there is more theory than practice in education classes, I was really excited to hear Amy discuss her role as a literacy specialist in a classroom. As our class has progressed so far, I feel like we have discussed a lot about meanings of literacy in terms of technology and connections to Ghana. This definitely makes sense as the Ghana trip is the central part of the 360, but I feel like we hadn't addressed how literacy plays out in classroom situations such as at placements. I was really impressed by Amy and the way that she took initiative and responsibility for students' learning. Her handouts were really informative, especially the sheet explaining what a balanced literacy program was. I started to think about these elements in terms of my placement which was really productive in terms of helping me make connections between our class and my field placement/work at a kindergarten. Without actively realizing that I was following such a program, I realized that many of these elements are incorporated into what I do every morning when I teach. Although it is tricky to put a set definition of what sort of elements and activities make up a productive way to teach literacy, I do think it is helpful for some guidelines to be put in place as starting points for how to treat reading and writing.
Since our introduction to the iPad on Thursday, I have been thinking about how using one would alter situations where they had previously not been used. As an expansion of the reading that listed pros and cons of iPads , I have been trying to critically think about what impact it could have on my experiences and the experiences of others. The first instance that I had been thinking about was how a iPad could fit into the kindergarten classroom where I teach. Every morning I teach a small group lesson that focuses on reading comprehension, writing letters, and making connections through a poem/nursery rhyme. The nursery rhyme is on a board and we often use white boards to practice writing words or letters as well as coloring pictures that connect to the rhyme. I can see how iPads could have a place in this type of situation; instead of erasing a whiteboard after each word or struggling to make sure every student can see the text of the poem, each child could have their own iPad. This way, they could practice writing words, coloring, or playing games on their own comfort level and a lot of time could be saved. Despite this, the introduction of iPads into this situation seems stressful. Relying on the iPad eliminates much of the work and experiences of learning. The idea of learning to write by using a stylus on the iPad or even using the touch screen to form words is not the same type of experience that our and other generations learned to write through.
I have been not so keen on spending this time on twitter and fairly unenthusiastic about twitter as a constant form of communication. I definitely see the benefits of it, and if I had an iphone or something similar maybe I would feel more in the loop with the ability to see the whole twitter website, but I am feeling like it is difficult to be constantly engaging in this online way of communication. All of this is true, but Emily's tweet "really enjoying the "third spaces" of this 360- as in conversations that are not strictly social OR class related" helped me realize the potential of twitter! (thanks, Emily!) I really like the idea of creating spaces that merge different topics, interests, and situations; clearly Twitter has the power to constantly engage our class in a way that cannot be achieved just in the classroom. Recently, I have read articles for anthropology classes that describe the concept of "third spaces". Both Asaf Bar Tura's "The Coffeehouse as a Public Sphere: Brewing Social Change" and Ray Oldenburg's "The Good Place: Cafes, Coffeeshops, and Book stores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community" address the idea of third spaces as physical places for social interaction that bridge separate spheres. I hadn't considered the potential for third spaces to exist in other forms beside as locations. Viewing twitter as a possible space that bridges different communities and thought processes has helped me move past considering twitter as only a form of informal electronic conversation.
*had trouble getting on to serendip so here the first blog post!