Friday, January 11, 2008

The gauntlet has been thrown...

I started my last semester of grad school on Monday. This week has been exhausting! I only have two classes, but because we start student teaching the first week of February, we have to cram a semester's worth of education into one month. Yikes. My classes are interesting, though: The Teaching of Reading (very helpful for English teachers, believe it or not) and Culture and Schooling (aka Diversity in the Classroom). A lot of reading, but it's mostly helpful and interesting and (let's face it) nothing I can't handle, as I am a reading fiend. One of the most useful books so far has been Cris Tovani's I Read It, but I Don't Get It, which has really helped me understand how I read, as well as how I make sense of what I read. I'm sure it will be useful for my (future) students, as well.

One of the articles that I got a lot out of was Dr. Ruby Payne's Understanding and Working With Adults and Children From Poverty. I didn't agree with a lot of what she said (rebuttals are available here and here), but her idea of "3 voices" really struck a chord with me. According to Dr. Payne,
Inside everyone's head are internal voices that guide the individual. These three voices are referred to as the child voice, the adult voice and the parent voice. It has been my observation that individuals who have become their own parent quite young do not have an internal adult voice. They have a child voice and a parent voice, but not an adult voice.

What an internal adult voice does is allow for negotiation. This voice provides the language of negotiation and allows the issues to be examined in a non-threatening way.

Educators tend to speak to students in a parent voice, particularly in discipline situations. To the student who is already functioning as a parent, this is unbearable, and almost immediately, the incident is exacerbated beyond the original happening. The tendency is for educators to also use the parent voice with poor parents because the assumption is that a lack of resources must indicate a lack of intelligence. Poor parents are extremely offended by this as well.

As I was reading, I realized that that's one of the reasons I dislike my (temporary, part-time, weekend) job so much. So many of our customers are older (and richer), and they tend to talk to me like I'm either 5-years-old or really, really dumb. They like to put exclamation points on the ends of all of their sentences: "Well, aren't you a good little cook!" "You sure do look busy over here!" etc, etc. They also frequently ask me a question, and then proceed to talk right over me as I'm answering them. It's very frustrating, but at least now I can think of it in terms of education and use it as an example of how NOT to treat my students.

In other news, Bea over at Feeling Kinda Blog Today has challenged everyone (I guess?) to join her in reading 52 books in 52 weeks. I am already on books 3 (the aforementioned Tovani tome) and 4 (The Fourth Bear, by Jasper Fforde). I love reading Fforde - a friend of mine described his books as "English major porn," and while I wouldn't go quite that far, they are really entertaining in a geeky, literary in-joke sorta way. Yay, books! I'm trying to beat last year's reading record by reading 100 books this year. I'm also counting YA novels, which is probably cheating because they tend to be short. Not to mention a horrible guilty pleasure. I mean, research for when I'm a teacher. Yeah.

In other other news, my friend Ashley has decided that she must lose 50 pounds* before her boyfriend gets home from Iraq in March. I figured, what the heck, I could stand to get in shape, too, and so we began a Serious Workout Regime this week. We started with this strip aerobics/hip hop dance video hosted by Carmen Electra, and holy crap, I have never been so sore. Until the next day, that is, when we hit the elliptical machine at the University fitness center. Yowza. The Regime has been temporarily suspended, pending a full recovery of my poor back and thighs.

*this is a completely arbitrary number on Ashley's part, as she doesn't own a scale and, consequently, has no idea how much she actually weighs

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