In Access, Identity, and Education – a course taught by Jody Cohen – we read an article by Martha Minow. This reading discussed the “Dilemma of Difference” (I couldn’t find the entire reading online, but here’s a quote: “The dilemma of difference may be posed as a choice between integration and separation, as a choice between similar treatment and special treatment, or as a choice between neutrality and accommodation”). From what I remember, Minow pointed out two problems with “difference” in the classroom: if teachers recognize that students are different, and meet their different needs differently, they run the risk of isolating some students. They might create a “different from” mentality – a separation between normal and different studdents. However, if teachers DON’T accommodate needs, some students may not get the treatment they require for learning.
Below is my response to a twitter convo that began with "What is a school?" and evolved into "How does a school bridge the gap between the classroom and external experiences?"
Last semester I finished a course on the culture of poverty. It blew my mind when I realized that every race had a group of people that shared a culture that stemmed from poverty---one of survival, hopelessness, resourcefulness, the value of hardwork,and sufferings from marginalization.
Excited to read about poverty and the people who lived it, I dived right into readings from Oscar Lewis, who was an "expert" on the cultural traits of poverty, and Judith Goode, who defended and understood poor communities in contrast to Lewis. And so, through class discussions and readings, I was under the impression that I was "learning" because I was reading from scholars who dedicated their careers to observing and analyzing poverty.
It wasn't until I was well into writing papers for the course using these sources did I finally stop and say to myself, "I know firsthand what poverty and its culture is like, why must I have old, white-privilaged scholars who never lived it validate my experiences in my paper?" To my frustration, I was learning things I had known all along. If anything, I was the expert.
Which brings me to an answer of the question: How can schools bridge the gap between the classroom and external experiences? Well, we must change the structure of our schools by making the external experiences of the students the focus of the classroom.
Titagya Web site http://titagyaschools.org/wordpress/
Leslie Dodson, Don't misrepresent Africa.
Chimamanda Adiche, The danger of a single story. http://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story.html
A resource: the blog for the partnership between Titagya Schools and the Bryn Mawr/Haverford Education Program.
From the Titagya blog,
This web page is designed as a place to collect and generate ideas, experiences, and connections useful to developing a partnership between the Titagya program to build preschools and kindergartens in Northern Ghana and the Bryn Mawr/Haverford Education Program, at Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges, outside of Philadelphia Pennsylvania. To begin, the partnership is focusing on exploring cross-cultural curriculum development, with a focus on the themes of conflict resolution and the role of creativity, interaction, and play in learning.
We will not be actively contributing to this blog in ED250, but it is still a repository of learning from Bi-Co students in past Education classes.
The syllabus "lives" on Google Docs. It may change throughout the semester, so check the online version for the most current information about assignments.
Click for the syllabus (opens in a new window).
While last night's performances were really touching and funny, we all know that they went far beyond that. They showed our sense of agency to go into the world with the knowledge we've gained and actually make a change--whether that change is simply modifying how we will personally operate in the world or taking our knowledge to a broader audience through teaching, playing games, noticing bias in youtube videos, or rapping. The only thing I hope is that our efforts don't stop just because this class has. I hope we continue to keep what we've learned in our minds far beyond this class and our years at Bryn Mawr. In my group's performance, we didn't get a chance to share what Robin Kelly said, and that is that we can't change the media until we change society; and we cannot change society until we change ourselves. It is only in this sort of cyclical pattern of “making new people” that we can “make new television.”
For our final performance, we decided to do some slam poetry! We all wrote about different aspects of our E-Sem experiences and from various perspectives. Mfon also did a crossword puzzle about the packing problem. Some other topics included learning about banking education and our own perceptions of our socioeconomic statuses and realizing our responsibilities as Bryn Mawr students to bring up touchy topics like class to campus and make them relevant to our peers. Our poems were personal and allowed us to share what we learned from this E-Sem and how class mattered to us back then and how it will matter to us in the future. I remember discussing the project with my group and all of us being unsure about which area about the broad topic of class we would be writing our poems about. It's a complicated subject!