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Monthly Archives: September 2010

What makes the world go ’round

What sets worlds in motion is the interplay of differences, their attractions and repulsions. — Octavio Paz

Photo courtesy of earthrights.org

What a fascinating discussion we had this past week on diversity!  It had not occurred to me before that I cannot describe my culture.  I’ve always known that I grew up in a somewhat privileged environment with basic values of working hard and playing fair, but those don’t strike me as cultural characteristics as much as they seem to be attributes of personal character.  The town in which I grew up was a very homogenous middle-class suburb that was predominantly white with so few exceptions I could have counted them on one hand.  My undergraduate studies were at a similarly predominantly white institution, where I was actually a minority on several levels — gender (although this is not the case of the student body there today), socio-economic status, and political leanings.  And yet, I did not feel out of place on campus, so there must have been enough of a shared culture to make me comfortable.

I do know I’ve been in situations where I’ve felt out of place, which I suppose could be construed as being in the midst of a culture other than my own.  So I know what my culture is not.  This was most acutely felt during my marriage when we would spend time with my husband’s family who is Filipino.  Their idea of family extends well beyond actual blood relatives, and they have many customs and rituals that were unfamiliar to me.  There was also a language barrier at times because although they all spoke English, they would choose to converse in Tagalog or another dialect when they gathered in social settings.  And yet, as uncomfortable as that could be for me at times, I have not shied away from other opportunities to inject myself in other cultures.  When I had the opportunity to teach a Junior Achievement program on financial literacy, I purposely chose an inner city school rather than one in a suburban area that might be more like my own neighborhood.  Sometimes I wonder if that first grade class didn’t teach me more than I taught them.  These children came from home environments quite different from my own and had experienced things that I still cannot fathom at my age, let alone could have dealt with at age 5 or 6.  On an even more personal level, that last few men I’ve dated have all been from different ethnic/racial backgrounds from me and from each other.  Maybe through exposure to these different cultures I will be better able to put a definition to my own culture.

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2010 in ADLT 601

 

Aimlessly wandering

I had a really hard time writing my educational biography.  Well, more like I had a hard time finding a path or common thread in my educational biography.  Sometimes I feel as though I’m going through life letting life happen to me rather than making my own way.  Maybe that leaves me open to exploring opportunities I wouldn’t have otherwise considered, but I wonder if I’ll get to the end (however that gets defined) and wish I’d done something different.  At the risk of sounding like a complete cliché, maybe for me it is all about the journey, and the destination is inconsequential?  But I’m jealous at time when I listen to my classmates talk about their teaching experiences or how they’re excited to take something new they’ve learned and incorporate it into their own practice.  I’m more like a sponge just taking it all in right now and hoping I’ll remember some of it when the time comes… if the time comes.  One of these days I’ll figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

Postscript (added 9/26/10):

It was interesting to read the except from my blog in the summary handed out in class.  It struck me that the excerpt from my blog sounded very “external” (going through life letting it happen to me), and yet I typically think of my self as having an internal locus of control, esp. when I think back on how I faced my recent period of unemployment.  I wonder if this inconsistency is part of the unsettled feelings I have about my life now because I’m thinking I am taking control over my situation but in actuality, I’m not, or at least not to the extent I think I am.  Definitely something to ponder more.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2010 in ADLT 601

 

Silence in the House

I wasn’t really sure where he was going when he laid out the magazines and the magic markers, but then he explained that he wanted us to create posters to represent the different learning theories.  Interesting, I thought, and I immediately picked up a National Geographic magazine and started flipping through it.  Others in my group began discussing the main points about Cognitivism which lead to more ideas for pictorial representations.  As I watched our poster come together, I was sure we’d have the best one.  We’d managed to find all the right words and pictures we needed, and everyone in our small group had an equal hand in putting the pieces together.  Then it was time to pull back together as a class and talk about all the posters, and I was equally impressed with the work of the other groups.  That night was certainly not the first night I’d been impressed by the breadth of experience sitting around that room.  I think that’s what I’ve enjoyed the most so far in my M.Ed. classes — the interaction among the students and different perspectives from walks of life different from mine.

My favorite poster was the one that depicted the first few levels of knowing presented in the WWK book, probably in part because I am really enjoying reading that book.  I was surprised at the strong negative feelings others in the class had about the book.  I recognize that this research is a bit dated, but I think we’d be naive to believe that we’ve eradicated silence from the world.  I feel as though I’ve met silent women through the novels of Silas House, a contemporary author who writes about families in rural, southeastern Kentucky.  My sister now lives in that same area in Kentucky and has described women she’s met who have probably “graduated” from silence, but who are now firmly in a received knowledge role where they wouldn’t think of questioning the way it’s always been done — why would you even want to?  To an educated woman, it is troubling to think that there are still women who don’t believe they can think for themselves, but it would be a mistake — and would further restrict their voice — to deny their existence.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2010 in ADLT 601