Thinking back again to the chapter on Childhood and Postcolonization, I can’t help, but think how waste is also an example of how colonization still exists in our society. When the United Sates does not know what to do with all of their “stuff,” they just send it off to the Third World as a free gift. Not only is this unsustainable, but it is also perpetuating the power dynamic between the United States and other continents such as Asian and Africa. It is also ironic that the cycle is actually a cycle. Clothing, electronics, products are made by sweatshop workers or modern day slaves in factories in China or by children in the Democratic Republic of Congo. These products are then sent to the United States and Europe where marketers manipulate consumers into buying useless products that they will eventually dispose of in exchange for more useless goods. The products they are “useless” are then taken to thrift stores and second hand stores, which only end up selling one fifth of that back into the economy and society. Finally the cycle goes full circle as the United States then ships all of this clothing and electronics to the countries that made the products in the first place. At some point, even these countries do not even need the products since there are so many excess products.
In a class on gender and sexuality last semester, I focused my attention on transgender students at Bryn Mawr, and those that haven't been able to come to Bryn Mawr College because of their sex. Throughout the semester I met with administrators, deans, staff and students around campus trying to learn more about the school's policy on admitting transwomen as well as transmen. Following are the links to these works.
1) All "Women's" College
African Languages: An Introduction(a recent-ish reference book, with maps, to get you started - on the shelves in Canaday 1st Floor)
Ghanaian language listings with various additional info included:
CIA World FactBook - check out the Languages section on the Ghana country page... most interesting is to go to the Dynamic Statstics Tables (just click on the Languages link from the Ghana country page) and cross-compare Languages with other variables like Literacy, Ethnic Groups, Administrative Divisions, etc.
Ethnologue: Languages of Ghana - includes speaker population, region, alternate names, language family and dialects, plus link for more information
GhanaWeb: Ghanaian Languages - includes detailed info for government-sponsored and non-government-sponsored languages
One of the cool things about using Twitter in a class setting is that it allows you to continue the discussion outside the classroom. For people whose phones have Twitter apps or web access this is pretty easy but you may not have realized that you can also use a regular cell phone to submit and read tweets.
In a nutshell here's how you register your phone to your Twitter account and start tweeting via SMS:
It’s interesting to see the definition of literacy develop and how they vary, whether within my own definitions, external definitions, or dictionary definitions. The definition of literacy in its most basic and most well known meaning is: “the ability to read and write”. The definition on my computer goes on to note a second explanation: “competence or knowledge in a specified area”.
My own working definition that I wrote down in class on Tuesday was, “the way we interact with one another, how we communicate and understand each other”. In a way it seems that there are two distinctive forms of “literacy”, as the ability to read and write are very specific skills, but broadening the definition to include competence in any area makes the former definition seem redundant. Part of me continues to work out a definition for “literacy” that makes sense within our discourse. But maybe it is that the class will be incorporating literacy in all its forms.
The revised definition that came out of our small group discussion was: “a way to manipulate secondary discourses to give one agency”. In a way it reverberates my original, working definition but also expands on it. This definition also seems a bit removed from that which sees literacy as simply “the ability to read and write”, all of which serve to complicate and clarify my understanding of literacy as we discuss it in class.
When I was working at Haffner the other day, I was making Nigerian Banana Chicken. While I was scooping banana mush onto the chicken, several different full time staff passed. The chef I was working with talked to another full time staff member who was from Africa, though not Nigeria, if he recognized the use to bananas with meat. This staff member found the concept foreign as well. Later on, the staff member approached the manager asking why we did not have African soup for the African bar. He complained that the African bar had no foods that he identified as African. He said that these were still American foods. We found out further on in the conversation that the recipes are found on the Internet for the African bar at Haffner.
"...if our option is for (wo)man, education is cultural action for freedom..." ---Paulo Freire Saturday, I began my first day on the job as a MAST writing tutor to high school students excited at the chance to be a resource and mentor to four brilliant, students of color. Not wanting to impose, as Ivan Illich would say, my views around education, teaching, and, of course, literacy, I gave my students the freedom to design the writing curriculum and classroom space.I was very pleased with the outcome! My students wanted to learn how to write resumes, research papers, SAT prompts, and to write poetry! I was extremely impressed, not because their answers were not expected, but because I definitely did not worry so much about these things my freshman year of high school. Before the start of class, I had been instructed by my superiors to collect writing samples from my students. And so, on a topic of their choice, they each wrote a one page argumentative paper. However, when reading their writing samples, I became incredibly sad and discouraged as a tutor. My kids, who knew what was expected of them academically and even professionally, did not know how to write "well." It was more than grammar and spelling (these areas could be worked on easily), it was the style, the flow, the tone, the words used in their writing that I knew would be looked down upon in higher education. They had not mastered what one of my students had labeled as, "white writing."
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find any more Dagbani language learning videos than the ones that Allison already links in her blog post (and it looks like you watched in class this week).
UCLA phonetics lab has an audio archive entry for Dagbani, but it is geared toward documenting the language not teaching a non-speaker.
I did find print resources that might be helpful... with the hefty caveat that since Dagbani, like many sub-saharan African languages, is tonal you really need to physically hear the spoken pronunciations to make progress with the language. In any case, here they are:
Sorry I wasn't able to locate more!
Just to follow up on some of the posts here and on Twitter about music as a form of literacy... here are some references that might be of interest to anyone who plans to write on this topic in future.
If you missed my Tweet this weekend, I posted a link to an All Things Considered interview with the director of a new independent film featuring the music of the Bayaka pygmies: http://n.pr/wmrAhh
The film, Oka!, is a fictionalized account of ethnomusicologist Louis Sarno's experience living with the Bayaka, who create music ingeniously from all sorts of objects. Certainly we should be wary of the film's old familiar theme: "...man from economically developed, formerly known as civilized world, goes off to live and find meaning in traditional, formerly known as primitive society...", as well as the idea that any society is more "ancient" or "pristine" than any other... but, still the film looks interesting or at least fun and the library will acquire it when it comes out on DVD. Here's a link to the trailer: http://imdb.to/y5r16G
After listening to the TED talk about the dangers of a single story and reading about the dangers of damage-centered research I found myself reflecting upon my experiences from my teaching abroad in China this past summer.
For the TED talk, I agreed with a lot of what the speaker said. Even traveling around China for only two months I was able to see that there are a variety of different stories to be told of the Chinese people. There are vast differences between the urban dwellers and the people in the countryside of China. Thus it was easy for me to understand the dangers of a single story - how it create stereotypes and limits people's understanding of one another. I thoroughly enjoyed this talk because I felt it confirmed a lot of my thinking about how stereotypes get started and how people gain pre-convieved notions about others. It also confirmed my belief in the importance of seeing and experiencing things first-hand.