Just Sort of a Reflection on Passions

Being in university is such an estranging experience to the rest of the world. It feels like we are constantly operating in our own little university-world. Everything revolves around university for me. What and when I eat, when I sleep, when I get coffee, when I work at my job; it all revolves around my schooling. Perhaps it is because I am in my final semester of my degree, but I am just so sick of my stress revolving around university, too.  Perhaps it is because I literally have not slept since 7:30am two days ago. Regardless, I’m done with dedicating every thought that passes through my mind to university. I want to take myself somewhere new so that I can see how creative I can be. I want to explore my place in the world before signing a contract to teach in some town I may never fit into. Not to mention, I have only ever known myself in a school setting. The thought of going straight out of school to begin my career in more schools without getting the chance to explore what its like to not be in school would suck the soul out of me. I know these thoughts sound depressing but to me, coming to the realization that I need a break is a huge relief in itself.

Lately, I’ve been day dreaming about what I’m going to do with my spare time when I am not constantly under pressure due to major projects coming up. I’ve been day dreaming about what it would be like to have my biggest cause of stress removed. What would I do with my time? After a really good chat with a classmate of mine, who has embarked on the exact same four year journey as I, I came to a conclusion. University is entirely hypocritical.

In my anti-oppressive education we constantly discuss how we can continue to dissect narratives that are overarching our society. We learn about classist, racist, and sexist narratives that dominate society and oppress those who fall outside of the so-called “norm.” However, as our professors collectively turn our eyes towards these narratives, they have been enforcing a narrative upon us, too. It is subtle, and behind the scenes, and taught as though it is a matter of fact. What exactly am I talking about?

The expectation that my generation will get a degree, and then work the same job until the day I die, or retire. The way professors talk about teaching is as if it is the only possible answer. The terms and phrases used imply this. Not a single professor throughout my entire degree has suggested that it is acceptable to pursue another career after completing an education degree. My parents assume that if I get a job teaching, I will be doing that for the rest of my life. My grandparents assume that if i start teaching, I will teach for the rest of my life. Everybody I’ve ever talked to about life after university has only always assumed that I will teach for the rest of my life. This makes me feel like a failure, because this does not coincide with what I want to do. I feel inferior because of my life decisions, when really, I should not feel this way at all. There is nothing wrong with what I want to do.

After my internship, I began to doubt that teaching was for me. Granted, a lot of things were happening during my internship that I will never have to deal with again, purely because of the way internships work. If I get hired, I am free to practice my pedagogy so long as I can relate it directly to the curriculum. I will not have to sacrifice my personal teaching philosophies in order to have the right to stand in a classroom. If I get hired, I will be able to be my own, independent educator. However, I find that the educational system itself requires a lot of work. The right people are not always in positions of power, and even if I receive a degree, get hired, and start working in schools, my power can much too easily be taken away from me. Also, in light of the recent budget cuts to education, so many doors have been closed on my face for my future career. The wrong people are always in power, and I am sad to say that teaching anti-oppressive education is no longer enough.

Let me say it again:

Teaching anti-oppressive education is no longer enough on its own. We have to do more.

But how? Everybody tells me that the first few years of teaching are the worst. During my internship, the most  common comment that I heard was, “You think internship is hard? Wait until your first year of teaching.” It was incredibly negative and disheartening and my colleagues offered no support of advice beyond that. I felt as though they were trying to alienate me further and further from the profession that I just spent the last four years of my life working towards. So many doors have been closing on me and my career and because of this, I had to step back and truly, honestly ask myself if teaching is for me.

When I took a step back, I asked myself, “Do I really have to do this?” But in asking myself that, I realized that I’ve only ever imagined “this” as “teaching for the rest of my life.” Nobody talks about taking a year off. Nobody talks about furthering their education before they move on to teaching.

In a talking circle in my class last night, a peer of mine said the following.

“I started my post-secondary education late in my life. I know a lot of you are in your early twenties, and you are feeling apprehensive about moving on to your teaching career. Let me just tell you, looking back to when I was 22, I never would have been able to do this, so all of you are already years ahead of where I was at your age. However, I just wanted to add that there is nothing wrong with waiting to teach until you truly feel ready.”

When my peer said this, I cried. I had been stressing and stressing about teaching because after my internship, I do not feel ready, I feel even further away from being ready than when I was in my first year. When he said this, it was the first time I had ever imagined doing something other than going straight into a lifetime-career. I knew I needed some time off, but now I’m considering taking a decade off from school.

My professors have pushed on me, subconsciously, that if I do not go straight into teaching, I would be missing out on certain experiences and important learning experiences by not teaching right away. This is not true. My professors made it sound as though the only experiences in life that will ever matter are ones that are directly related to my pedagogy and education. This is also not true. I began to see the world around me as locked away or unavailable to me, because my professors all told me over and over again, “You are a teacher for life now, so you better act like one.” This terrified me. I felt like I signed my soul to the devil and in a way, I did. There are so many things in life that I want to do that I can’t do as an educator purely because teachers are expected to be above-perfect role models for society. In our digital age, everything I do can easily be discovered, so I can’t go out and do anything that anyone could potentially take offense to (Which could literally be anything at this point) and so I feel as though I am chained to my degree. Except now, my degree is a 10 ton anvil that is popping my leg right out of it’s socket.

Over all of the years I’ve lived and been in school (which is nearly all the years I’ve lived), I’ve been taught that school is the most important thing. It will always be the most important thing I’ve ever attended, or facilitated. This is also not true. I digress.

Here is where I hope you’ll understand me:

If I’ve done nothing but go to school for my entire life and my entire future, I too will be pushing the subconscious narrative that school and post-secondary school is the only answer to how you can achieve success. My students will be just as diverse as Canada can get, and so to enter my classroom while operating in such a perspective, I am bound to push this onto my students. I need to get my head out of this post-secondary coma I’ve been slapped into.

Don’t get me wrong, I think education is the best thing that has ever happened to me, but I cannot allow myself to push my perspectives onto my students. I like being able to share my experiences with my students but how can I relate to students who do not want to move on to post-secondary? I need to live a little.

This is why I will be moving away from education for a few years. I’ve never lived a life outside of school. I’ve taken a summer class every summer, or attended a camp every other summer. I have, in every sense of the word, never not been in school. What I hope to achieve by taking a few years off is life experience. I want to travel and meet all kinds of people who do not necessarily fall into the post-secondary community and culture. It is not the only life that exists. There are many ways to live one’s life and I want to get out in the world and experience this for myself so that when I eventually decide to teach again, I can come into the classroom with a well-rounded, not-naive perspective that myself and my students will benefit from. If I decide to go back.

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Time to Collect Yo’self and Make Yo’self

For my art class we have a month to complete our final project. As always, I like to tie my art class into my learning project because I have to really push myself to be better and to try new things. Without naming any names, I’ve noticed a few people in my art experience fail as artists because they refuse to draw anything with character, and they refuse to draw anything new. They draw what they “think is cool,” but fail to realize that every decision the artist makes is fully up to them.

Every decision an artist makes must not be without purpose.

I thought I was working away from this; I was trying to make every decision count in every piece. It started with my keys drawing from this post. I was putting so much thought into every little object and colour choice, and although I was not happy with the end result, I feel as though I succeeded in taking control over my art work. I pushed myself until my brain hurt and I wanted to cry, and the result turned out better than I expected.

However, when I started my final project, I was stumped. This is what I first began with:

IMG_7336Done on Photoshop CS6 with a Wacom Bamboo Tablet!

I watched multiple YouTube tutorials but I’m posting my favourite below:

CRITIQUE TIME!

I find that watching a YouTube tutorial like the one above is the best method for me to learn how to draw. I am a visual and kinesthetic learner. I’ve noticed over the past few years that the best way to get me to learn something immediately is if the person in charge of teaching me thinks out loud. This way, I understand the process and the mindset and what to look for in order to do whatever it is that I am learning to do. I need mental checklists and guidelines, then I replicate what my tutor has done, do it a few more times, then I know I’ve learned it when I can do it on my own. However, this can be excruciatingly painful for some people to do.

When I was little, I quite piano lessons and asked my dad to teach me how to play songs by ear. I learned, but I had to have my dad sit and show me how to play each song note by individual note, and it would take hours. Granted, my father had the patience of a saint with me, so it was possible, but not everybody wants to set aside three hours to grind out a lesson with me until I get it wholly. The next best possible replacement is to watch a YouTube tutorial that essentially does the same thing.

The difference is this: I can pause, stop, and repeat as many times as I would like, and in doing so I do not feel guilty about asking somebody to dedicate so much time to me. What I’m trying to say is that YouTube tutorials and incredibly detailed books accounting for the thought process is the best way for me to learn. For the rest of my learning project I’m going to try to continue to use the book I bought at the beginning of the semester and watch YouTube tutorials so that I can learn on my own time.

However, that is not all that I have to say!

While working on my triptych I just had the image of the blonde woman (I’ve named her Fate, stay tuned to find out why), but there is hardly anything that sets her apart. There are a few interesting things to take note of, like her bare feet, the rosary, the pose itself, but other than that, her actual physical body is nothing out of the ordinary. She fits into the cookie cutter shape of every character I’ve ever drawn. When I came to realize this it saddened me because the whole point of my learning project was to learn how to draw more dynamic but also diverse characters. This means I have some more research to do. I don’t actually know how to create a diverse character, so I feel like some research into this matter would go a long way.

That’s all for now! Thanks for checking in!

Differentiating Instruction w/ Screencastify

Yes, that was a long title, but bare with me here.

I chose to review Screencastify, as it is a tool that I have invested myself in for the purpose of my learning project this semester. I’ve already mentioned it in this post in which I used the tool to record my work on a digital drawing of mine.

Overview: Some basic information

It is a chrome extension that allows users to record everything that is happening on their screens at the time. It connects to your mic as well, so you can provide spoken instruction in conjunction with the recording. It has a free version available, but there are obvious limitations. On the download page it says, “The free Lite version limits recording time to 10 minutes per video, has a watermark, 50 videos per month, and has certain features turned off like mp4 export and editing tools.” 

The paid-for version has no limitations. Personally, I think this tool is worth spending the $20-30 on, because I know it will be something that I plan on using extensively as both an educator and an artist.

Pros & Cons

Pros: This extension is really simple to use. It appears as an icon at the top-right of your browser and if you have the full version, it organizes and saves all of your videos and has them up for easy access through the chrome tab/extension. It is easy to edit the length of your video, crop it, save it, and share it, as the app provides all of these services at the click of a button. Another benefit is that the program allows you to annotate what is on your screen, giving you the benefit of underlining or highlighting specific items.

Story time! Here’s another example of how I used the app:

I had my friend record a presentation I did on my mom’s art, and the video was too big to email or send through Facebook messenger. I had her post it to her Facebook page with tight privacy settings so I was the only one who could view the post. Now, I wanted to save it so I could send it to my mom and for whatever reason I couldn’t get Facebook to let me download the video, so instead I just used screencastify to record the entire video. Now I have it saved to my google drive and I can send it to my mom, who can also download the video and actually view it. Neat!

Cons: If you don’t pay for the full app, its not really that great. Ten minutes recording time may be well enough for short little tutorials, but can really limit your opportunities in regards to what you want to share. Another con: The app claims to be “pixel perfect” but in my case I found that it really wasn’t as clear/focused as I was expecting it to be. There is a tiny chance that I am doing something wrong, but the app has such a simple interface that I’m fairly sure I’ve explored all possible solutions to my pixel problem. However, its not bad. Its just not excellent. There are definitely apps out there that could record a clearer picture, but there are not nearly as many screen-recording apps that make it so easy to use, crop, and share.

Why Teachers Need This Tool

You will be doing all of your students a huge favour by using this. If there is ever some kind of visual instruction that students miss due to illness, skipping, etc., you can record the same lesson without losing any of your presentation notes and the like, while making sure students who were not there that day still get all of the information.

Another benefit is that anyone can watch it. If you record yourself doing anything informative really, you never know who could benefit from your tutorial. It is worth it to upload your videos to YouTube, because chances are, another educator could use the video you’ve made.

Another benefit: Students can re-watch it as many times as they want. Some students can remember what the teacher said after the first time it was said, but most students need to hear it twice, or more. With screencastify, you can upload the video to YouTube, email it out, whatever works, and students can watch it repeatedly until they get the lesson at hand. This has many benefits for students of all levels and capabilities. This can be especially effective for students with auditory-learning disorders. Some students that you will encounter throughout your years will have real difficulties processing information that is heard. The information must be accompanied with notes or images for the student to look at later. With screencastify, they will get more than just notes or images. They get the best of both worlds combined, working together to create a solid learning tool that benefits nearly all students.

Another benefit: When differentiating your instruction in this way, it also does not single out any one student. Sometimes when differentiating our instruction, we struggle to find a way to do so in which the student is not singled out, embarrassed, or made to look like they are any “lesser” than students who may not necessarily depend on these extra resources. With this tool, teachers can make it mandatory to watch it once for homework (have you ever heard of a flipped classroom?) but it is up to the students if they need to watch it more than once. Another thing: their peers will have no idea who watched it multiple times to get it. It allows for privacy, in a way.

Another benefit: You can annotate your recordings in a way that highlights exactly what students or viewers should be focusing on. This allows for more precise tutorials, because it adds another layer/style of learning: text. If you annotate your videos, you are providing three different ways all at once for your students to process this information. They will be viewing, listening, and reading. And, hey! That’s three strands of the English curriculum! (See pages 28 and 32 of this ELA 9 Curriculum document to check out what I’m talking about.)

 Overall Rating:

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, which is equivalent to, I think, 8 out of 10. 

It’s pretty great, and I highly recommend that educators use this tool to benefit their students.

Thanks for reading!

Most People Miss the Point of PowerPoint

When I was in elementary school, nobody ever used PowerPoint. What even was it, anyways? All presentations were done with poster boards, cue cards, and shaking hands gripping a piece of paper that had all of your presentation notes on it. When I entered high school, PPT presentations became more popular because teachers got sick of listening to the same report on the same topic when they knew we all copied the same information from the same site. The only saving grace for these teachers was a unique PPT presentation that had visuals for them to sadly stare at as yet another student cites Wikipedia as a source. PowerPoint Slides are not necessary to create a presentation, yet teachers so often expect their students to use this tool (or something similar) when they do. Why?

According to this document, which ironically is a slide-sharing tool as well, it lists some reasons as to why PPTs can be fantastic:

  • It keeps the presenter organized
  • They present the information in a neat and organized manner
  • Slides can be printed out ahead of time

These seem like legitimate reasons to appreciate a PPT, but there is nothing saying that students can’t do those exact same things with a handout that they wrote out themselves. HELLO! Students can scan their notes and print off copies of it, too!

Teachers making their students dependent on PPT is my greatest pet peeve. There is a misconception that if students use PPT their presentations will become magically more organized and interesting, but this is not true. Students often copy and paste text, read the text off of the slides, and everybody watching the presentation will be furiously copying down the information off of the slides because they have nothing better to do. There is no point to a presentation of this style. There is no power. There is no point. You couldn’t even call it a PowerPoint at this point.

The essence of presenting is to display and dish out information in unique and amusing ways. Students will not touch Microsoft PowerPoint and magically know how to present.

 

Teachers, you still have to teach students how to present. PowerPoint will not do it for you.

You have to supplement the PPT with discussion and visuals. In my online class, we did an entire class period using PPT slides, but for every topic there was some form of discussion or train of thought that went with the slide. We would open up a web page to check out the subject, or we would watch a video, and so on. We did more than just sit and painfully absorb mountains of text that were blandly presented in bland ways. This is effective.

There is a reason there is a page full of PowerPoint Presentation memes, and that is because they can suck pretty hard when the presenter doesn’t know how to use it. Such as reading every single word from every single text-filled slide. This is not effective.

Teachers should still create a mini unit or lesson on effective presenting skills. Teach students how to keep their cool. Teach them how to summarize and narrow their topics down into easily consumed bullet points. Teach them how to upload images and gifs to the slides so that they can include some visuals to make the PowerPoint unique. One more thing– PowerPoint (Or prezi or google slides) can be incredibly fun to use. Teachers need to show students that and demonstrate the many effective uses of the tool so that students are not floundering around trying to make a presentation without actually knowing what they are doing.

Here is a Google Slides Presentation I did on one of my favourite artists. It was kooky and interesting, and had shocking photographs/memes in it to grab my classmates’ attention. I got a great mark on that assignment, because I did not read off of the slide. In fact, I hardly even looked at it, because I still knew my presentation and my content off by heart.

My point is that PowerPoint can be an excellent tool, but this does not mean it makes any presentation great. You, as the educator, still need to model, demonstrate and teach how to use the tool. Do not assume that because students are growing up in the digital age that they know how to use the tool perfectly. They may, but most likely they may not. They may know how to navigate YouTube better than you, but this does not mean they have foundational knowledge of presentation skills. Technology is not the teacher; you are.

Digital Citizenship

Something I would like to focus on in my future classrooms is showing students the many different ways that the internet can be used to further their learning. In grade ten I took a German studies class. My teacher was younger, and always excited about implementing different technological strategies to see what worked the best. Sometimes it was detrimental to our learning because simply learning how to operate the rather poorly organized platforms was such a pain that it made learning difficult rather than easy. We created a wiki space but I did not see the point of using the space because we essentially had no use for it. We used it to send in our audio clips of conversational German, but I always thought it strange that we couldn’t just email it to our teacher. It wasn’t like we had public settings so we could benefit from listening to each others’ clips, either. It was just a really backwards way for her to have all of our submissions going to a separate email and being organized on one site. It was useless to us, but useful for our teacher at the time. Now there are resources like Google Classroom (check out this video if you haven’t heard of it before) and other such platforms meant strictly for educational purposes. There is a website called Academia.edu  where scholars, students, professors, and passionate individuals can share their essays and articles on varying topics that are organized through tags.

Specifically, I think of our inquiry-based learning project that we are working on  throughout this course. I would like to do something of a similar nature with my students but in order to do that, I must first teach my students digital citizenship. I must show them how to narrow the entire internet down so that when they inquire about their topics, they use educational resources instead. No reddit threads, no wikipedia articles. Instead, I want them to learn from other people on the internet who have documented their growth and understandings on topics similar to my students’. The internet has such an abundance of resources and has become such an integral tool in the parts of the world that have access to it. It would be a disservice to my students to not teach them how to effectively utilize the internet in ways they’ve never imagined before. While I see the benefit of the “two lives” perspective mentioned in this article, I think it is unrealistic to ever consider separating digital citizenship from any form of education in communities who have access to such technology.

Another benefit to using the education for inquiry-based learning is that all forms of learning styles can be incorporated. Do you work better when you listen to instructions? Perfect, there’s audio clips for that. Do you work better when you see a visual example? Check out YouTube. Do you prefer step-by-step images that you don’t have to pause videos for? Perfect. Wiki-how has got your back. Do you require immediate feedback in order to feel comfortable in proceeding with your assignment? Join some online communities and forums in which the participants would gladly critique your work! There is something for everybody, and students deserve the chance to experiment with different digital styles of learning so that they can carry these skills forward into their lives.

In this article, the author (Mike Ribble) wrote, “Now everyone has the opportunity to communicate and collaborate with anyone from anywhere and anytime.” It would be a shame to ignore the possible implications of cultural diversity that is present in the online community. We could use this as a way to teach cultural diversity as well. Students would have the opportunity to see cultures and individuals from all over the world in a way that is much less dehumanizing than the typical news stories that typically misinform the masses anyways. For these reasons, I plan on teaching digital citizenship to my students as a means to create efficient internet-goers who can then use the internet to independently further their own education.

Drug Education in Schools

Drug education in the school system is poor. Teachers often teach drug prevention but the message is usually something inadequate like, “Don’t do drugs or you’re done for!” That is wrong. What about the students who are already knee-deep in addiction? You’ve just alienated them. What about the students who get addicted in the future? They will think they have no other option. Nobody in my public education has ever talked about the next step. Nobody in my education has properly nor effectively emphasized the options that are available to the student if they are already struggling with addiction. Contrary to the common belief: teaching how to deal with addiction will not make addiction “okay.” It will make recovery believable.

You want kids to say no to drugs? Educate them. Then, educate them on addiction so they have the chance to recognize it when they’re in it and have the power to make the choice to do something about it. Educate them so they know they have people they can turn to. Educate them so that they are not alienated, and educate them in a way that does not crush them with blame, so that shame does not prevent them from reaching out for recovery.

And even after all that: be there for your students when they need you. Give them somebody to turn to.

Educators are role models, and sometimes we are a student’s last resort. Be careful of the language you use, the attitudes you portray, and the way you respond to a student when they bring up drugs in the classroom. Even a passing comment that seems meaningless to you can portray to a student that you are not somebody they can talk to about addiction. If you portray those who are struggling as the ones to blame, or in any negative manner, your students will internalize that. For those who are addicted: they may never feel safe or comfortable enough to reach out to you. For those who are not addicted: they will continue to spread their now-internalized, negative, inaccurate portrayal of addiction.

You never know who might be struggling, so keep the discourse in your classroom open, and safe. Help your students see it this way, so that they too can be there for those in their lives who may also struggle with addiction.

You, as an educator, as a parent, as a friend, and as family, can empower those around you.

I don’t like asking people to share my posts because I’m always worried that maybe I’ve missed the point, that I’ll offend someone, and so on.. but if sharing this helps you let people know that you support recovery in a shame-free environment, and that you want drug education in our school systems to improve, then share this. Or write your own (potentially shorter) post. Or, show your support in your own way.

If I’ve missed the point, or failed to mention something, or if this post upsets you, please feel free to ask me to remove, add, change, or adjust this post. I mean no harm, I only mean to show love and support.

On Amanda Todd & Cyber Bullying

In studying the cyber bullying case of Amanda Todd, there are many things to be considered. One could easily list some of the basics such as, “Teach digital responsibility to students! Monitor your child’s internet usage! Never give out private information!” And so on. Last week in a haze through my cold and ample amounts of Benadryl, I wrote a post on Facebook  and made a blog post about the “after-steps” regarding drug education in our schools. Specifically, I addressed that schools teach prevention, but never address how to deal with such complications after they had already occurred. I believe this idea applies to multiple cases and different subtopics regarding anti-oppressive education. For example, in an article by Glenda Aleman titled, “Constructing Gay Performances: Regulating Gay Youth in a ‘Gay Friendly’ High School,” she wrote, “Providing safe spaces for them within the school is important and commendable, it does not sufficiently change the homophobic and sexist culture of high schools” (Aleman 150). As educators, we can do more.

In the context of cyber-bullying and bullying in schools, the widespread message is, “Report bullying to the staff/teachers and we will take care of it.” In most cases, students do not trust the adults nor do they rely on them to fully protect them from the harassment they are facing. In most cases, after a student reports the incident, they are more likely to be the subject of revenge from the perpetrator for “tattling” on them. “Tattling” is treated (among adolescents) as a sign of weakness for the intention of keeping the bullied silent. Most students are trapped by subscribing to this unfortunate assumption. How do we, as educators/parents/role-models, address this in an authentic way that can provide students with the necessary tools and options to combat harassment and bullying?

In a response to the article by Glenda Aleman that I mentioned earlier, I argued that by creating “safe spaces,” teachers are actually avoiding dealing with the problem at its roots. Creating a safe space with the intention of merely addressing bullying only when it happens means that we are only creating a bomb shelter (and a rickety one at that). A bomb shelter does not make the bombs go away. It will not make the opposing field reconsider launching its attacks. If anything, the bombing will only get worse in an attempt to destroy the bomb shelter. What educators must do is teach in a responsive way so that the bombs are potentially never launched in the first place. Better yet, bombs won’t even be considered. Teach students how to identify harassment. Teach harassment policies. Teach students about their legal responsibilities as law abiding citizens. It cannot stop there, for these ideas only address prevention.

After addressing prevention, teachers must also address proper coping skills. Even if the perpetrator has been entirely removed from the situation by an involved adult, this does not teach our students how to independently address these situations in the future. If we educate our students with these interpersonal skills and effective communication skills, and if we teach students about what they can do within their spheres of influence, then we will be preparing them to handle these situations in the future. Teaching these concepts will address the problem at its roots, rather than waiting for somebody to get hurt before taking responsive action.

As educators, we have a responsibility to prepare our students for the future. I do not know if such actions would have prevented what unjustifiably happened to Amanda Todd, or any other victims of hate crimes and harassment. I do know, however, that teaching for the present and the future can, in the very least, reduce some of that stigma surrounding reaching out for help when involved with cases of harassment. Lets do our students justice.

Works Cited

Aleman, G. (2005). Constructing gay performances: regulating gay youth in a “gay friendly” high school. In B. Alexander, G. Anderson and B. Gallegos (Eds.), Performance theories in education: power, pedagogy and the politics of identity, pp. 149-171. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Vlogging Is Actually Rad

But, just as is suggested in this video, it is awkward at first, too.

I got really excited about this whole vlogging thing so I made another one. I really want to get into this for my learning project because I think it will be a great way to share the literal, physical process that I am going through.

Just taking a picture of the result does not give an accurate portrayal of how long and gruesome art can be. So, recording the actual process is a lot better in demonstrating the time and care that goes into art. Here’s the new video:

 

Thanks, and let me know what you think. Give me advice on how to vlog, do art, or even just random advice to help me live my life. Until next time!

 

Who wants to be Vlog bros?

Just kidding. For my response regarding digital citizenship and communities, I decided to join the YouTube community. I joined the culture of participation. Check out my brief video below. Maybe join me in joining the community.

 

Okay, but seriously.

Who wants to try joining the community? What I would like to see is how difficult it is to get into the YouTube community. Will there be reluctance? How much effort on my half do I have to put forward to get people to notice my vlogging? My assumption is that I will be one grain of sand on a beach and it will take either something incredibly disputable or a lot of reaching out to get my videos and posts out there.

Or, something original. Hmm..

Issues in Secondary English Education

This semester I am taking  my post-internship course. I was just getting ready to sit down to do my homework when I thought to myself, “Instead of taking traditional notes, why don’t I further my involvement with what I’m reading and make a blog post about it?” Maybe this way I will attract fellow literature fans into my Professional Learning Community.

I find that I don’t learn easily when I have to sit down and just read a book. I can do it, but my knowledge after finishing my reading is only partial. I want to take my learning further in the hopes that I get more out of my courses than in the past.

I’m going to be learning for me, not explicitly for a grade. 

The book I am currently reading is titled Critical Literacy and the Aesthetic: Transforming the English Classroom, written by Ray Misson, and Wendy Morgan. So far I am one paragraph into the introduction and I have one burning question:

What on Earth is Post-Structuralism?

post-structuralismSeriously, what is it? I’ve googled it multiple times. I’ve attempted to define it every time it comes up in one of the articles I’ve read in class, and I still have no idea what it means. The definition always seems so complicated that I just can’t follow along and immediately forget the meaning. Wikipedia provides this “simple” definition:

Post-structuralism is defined by its relationship to its predecessor, structuralism, an intellectual movement developed in Europe from the early to mid-20th century which argued that human culture may be understood by means of a structure—modeled on language (i.e., structural linguistics)—that differs from concrete reality and from abstract ideas—a “third order” that mediates between the two.[4]

Does this mean post-structuralism is purely concerned with analyzing language to determine if there are any direct links between language and… what? “That differs from concrete reality and from abstract ideas–a ‘third order’ that mediates between the two?” What does it mean by a structure that is modeled on language? What do they mean by modeled? I’m so confused. My search to define post-structuralism continues.

I googled it, and found these spectacular links:

Post -Structuralism Explained with Hipster Beards and there’s a Part Two!

I think I’m starting to get it. Its an analysis of the relationships between symbols and meaning that are entirely deferred, which in turn “says something” about our culture and society. In this slideshow, it lists the radical ideas that post-structuralism requires one to understand:

  • Knowledge is the result of culture and language
  • There is no true worldview, there is no such thing as truth
  • Truth is produced by power
  • Reality all depends on our individual interpretation
  • Notions regarded as universal are mere social constructs
  • Language is performative and constitutive of the real.
  • Post-structuralism attempts to interrogate the structures of meaning and regulatory regimes (or institutions) that govern our self-perception, worldview and our capacity to communicate with others.

I’ll keep reading.

THE SENTENCES IN THIS BOOK ARE TOO DARN LONG!

My God. I am on page x and I have to stop again. Misson and Morgan, in the introduction to their book, have listed two reasons for this book’s creation. The first is to figure out what is current in critical literacy that is compatible with the post-structuralist framework, and to argue that it is far too important to be neglected and that it can be reconciled with the critical literacy agenda (Misson & Morgan x). The second purpose is to try to figure out how a post-structuralist understanding can be implemented into a classroom setting. Good question.

In the introduction the authors specify their definition of literacy. They wrote, “When we use the term we intend it to cover movies, TV shows, comics, and all those other kinds of leisure texts,” (xiii). This means that the definition of reading implies any kind of decoding and responding, while writing implies the production of all such texts (xiii).

“Any Reading is the result of complex negotiations between a reader and the text” (xv).

Chapter One deals with the history behind critical literacy in secondary schools and noted that “Literature was a creation of history, not of absolute standards of taste, and the aesthetic was a product of the ideology of a hegemonic group” (7). They also discuss Eagleton’s perception that books crafted in a certain culture will glue those beliefs to those who read it. That is, books mold its readers into enjoying certain aesthetic pleasures that assist in creating culturally-relevant morals and desires. In other words, literature is an exclusive, politically motivated category (8).

All readers and texts are shaped by their culture’s ideological assumptions and agendas (9).

Chapter two dissects the aesthetic and discusses the usual interpretation of what is considered an aesthetic. Typically it is when a work brings in two oppositional forces and melds them together in some sort of sublime way. Some examples: Inspiration and control; a melding of letting oneself get swept away by their emotions and desires but adding a certain amount of control to the process. This in turn creates two necessary elements in creating aesthetic; form and content. There must be some sort of composition taking place in which both the artist and the audience is taken into consideration.

Well, that was an adventure. I spent two hours watching videos and PowerPoints on post-structuralism. I think I’ll go to bed now.