Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Nineteenth-Century Origins of Our Times (precis)

In Graff’s study The Nineteenth-Century Origins of Our Times we see the different views of teachings and beliefs about the development of history in the 19th century. Graff expands on the views of both the “Optimists” and the “Pessimists” where the Optimists believed the worthiness of the poor and supported a free educational system which allowed the talented succeed, and the Pessimists promoted education for the poor as a way of controlling them where their “desire was to control the lower class, not to assist their advancement” (213). Graff speaks of the illiteracy findings of Soltow and Stevens where they tried to shed some light on illiteracy among whites, primarily seamen, and the reasons for their illiteracy. Their finding showed that those whites who were illiterate were primarily farmers and laborers who reflected a neglect of schooling. The illiteracy rate seems to have decreased with the promotion of reading and the press. At the time the poor were seen as immoral and those who were of superior status feared that if the poor were educated they would cause trouble. As a result, education was seen as a way to teach morality. Morality based literacy was a way for the young to assimilate to the dominion of the literate.
Graff also speaks of the high number of illiteracy among African Americans, primarily a result of slavery. White salve owners feared that like the poor, slaves who were literate would perhaps cause trouble. However, African American did what it took to gain literacy and those who were literate among them would teach one another to read. Not only did they have the white supremacists against them there were also other factors that contributed to slow progress of their advancement like the shortage of teachers and the confusing teaching methods that did nothing but confuse the students. Clearly the education system had mush to work on.
Though the educational views of today are very different than they were a century ago we often come across large numbers in some societies where illiteracy still exists. Even in big cities like Los Angeles, though rare, we come across individuals who have managed to slip through the cracks of the educational system and are fossilized in their learning advancement. It is clear that even today literacy is a form of hierarchy where the financially stable have a better chance of advancement through literacy than the not so fortunate not only because of finance but also because of circumstance.

Precis : Sponsors of Literacy by Deborah Brandt

Precis : Sponsors of Literacy by Deborah Brandt
In the article, Sponsors of Literacy, the author Deborah Brandt explores the functions of literacy in the American society and examines those who are responsible for the spread of literacy to the public, also known as sponsors of literacy. Before Brandt begins her exploration, she states that, “Literacy looms as one of the great engines of profit and competitive advantage in the twentieth century (Brandt 555)”. Therefore, it is clear that in the American culture, literacy is considered as a very valuable asset especially important for economic status as well. That then becomes the reason why Brandt feels the need to explore the different sponsors of literacy in the American culture.

Brandt then begins to explain her research methods which involved over a hundred people born between the years of 1900-1980. The selected were from diverse communities and had to forgo an in-depth interview that questioned their literacy developments throughout life.
There are three key issues that are stated by Brandt as the purpose of the interviews as well…
(1) How , despite ostensible democracy in educational chances, stratification of opportunity continues to organize access and reward in literacy learning
(2) How sponsors contribute to what is called “the literacy crisis,” that is, the perceived gap between rising standards for achievement and people’s ability to meet them
(3) How encounters with literacy sponsors, especially as they are configured at the end of the twentieth century, can be sites for the innovative rerouting of resources into projects of self-development and social change.
The conclusion that the article seems to take is that literacy is developed through different means for every individual. The sponsors of literacy play an important part, but the individual desire of literacy plays an important part as well. For instance, religion or job placement can be highly effective on the level of literacy used by individuals.

Monday, May 18, 2009

(Precis) En Los Dos Idiomas

Marcia Farr initiates her study, En Los Dos Idiomas, by stating the importance of social networks amongst immigrant families and how “they are particularly important for mexicanos because of compadrazo, “the Mexican system of godparent like relationships that function as a reciprocal exchange network to facilitate economic survival and provide emotional and social support” (468).” This strong network of intergenerational relationships provides a means by which traditions can be readily passed on, traditions of which include literacy and its importance.
Marcia introduces the term lirico which refers to the literacy they “picked up” informally from others who used only spoken language. Many of the men in her study state that because of their socio economic situation in Mexico they were unable to attend school consecutively, resulting in very minimal literacy skills, hence their dependence on lirico. Although a very informal form of literacy, lirico is remarkably effective, since most of the individuals in her study are able to cope with everyday literacy matters.
Literacy is an intensely social process which is found in the learning process itself, as

Farr explains “literacy is a social phenomenon in several aspects:
"First, it is a system or tool, created by human beings and passed one from one human being to another. Often it is accomplished though formal schooling, but it is also achieved lirico, informally, as a natural part of (nonschool) life. Second..., literacy is essential in maintaining human relationships…….. Finally, human relationships are crucial in the learning process…. Trust and commitment provide the human base from which learning and teaching are carried out. (475)"
Literacy skills correlate with the number of years of schooling as would be expected, but there are interesting exceptions, all of which have to do with personal motivations to learn and use literacy. As mentioned above, maintaining a human relationship was one of the primary reasons for the growth of literacy amongst this group of individuals studied since most of the women in their lives were still in Mexico, and maintaining that relationship with them “motivated” their knowledge and use of written language.
Literacy was very important and encouraged in this household. Children were encouraged to do bilingual studying and attend extracurricular activities, doctrina (church), where their literacy skills can further unfold. The adults, at times, even pursue personal literacy activities which help advance their own learning, such as taking GED courses or attending the weekly English courses. Literacy activities were interwoven throughout the daily lives of both adults and children.

Precise involving Heath and "Protean Shapes in Literacy Events"

In a chapter entitled, "Protean Shapes in Literacy Events: Ever-Shifting Oral and Literate Events", Shirley Brice Heath contends that it is inaccurate to limit literacy to one continuum. Instead of limiting literacy to fit within the confines of one mold, it is significant to analyze different regions within a society. Analyzing different regions enables one to take in resources available to a region to enable their literacy. For instance, an all-Black community utilizes their oral tradition which enables them to be active participants within both their community and across the globe. Brice utilizes authors such as Heath who wrote about this all-Black community, Tracton, to prove her point.
Many societal members of Tracton make sufficient money. Indeed, the income that Tracton residents bring in is often comparable to many who posses college degrees. Differing from those holding college degrees, many Tracton communes work in mills. Rather than focusing their literacy on defining it as an ability to write, Tracton people uphold oral tradition as being vital to their definition of literacy. Often times, Tracton people read about current events; for instance, and then relate these events to other societal members. Thus, a "literacy event" takes place (445). Heath makes a case for a varying definition of literacy which should be determined on where a group of people is located and what resources are available.
Heath brings up a different point. Literacy shall not be limited to one continuum. This black-community reminds me of people such as the bus mechanic in Dr. Boland's family and our conversation in class about people's desire to go to college. Some people have different interests in life. Indeed, they may prioritize engaging with other people over engaging in texts to inherit information. In essence, it is not fair nor is it possible to confine people to a continuum because one's level of literacy may differ in one area such as the oral tradition; yet, it could be strong in the book sense of literacy.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Language Negotiations (Auto week 6)

Over the course of a few days I noticed that language negotiations can go undetected by the beholder unless someone points them out. Personally I’ve never really paid much attention to the ways I use and alter language up until I read the guidelines for this assignment. I found that it was much easier to point out those negotiations of someone else than the ones I personally made. When answering the phone at work or even when answering a personal call from an unknown caller, I noticed that people including myself tend to sound more proper. For example, I would normally answer my cell phone with a “yes?” if I know the caller. However at work or when answering an unknown call I feel obligated to say “hello, Colton Middle School”. If at work the call is not for me I would ask “may I please ask who’s calling?”, yet if it were on my cell phone I would probably just ask “who’s this?”. Sometimes making the transition from one to another can be so abrupt that I forget which environment I’m in, hence answering my cell phone with a “Colton Middle School” instead of a simple “hello”. The caller, usually a friend, finds it hysterical.
As I reflect on my language negotiations, I think of the times I’ve had to attend job interviews where the way I normally speak goes out the window and out comes my proper and intellectual alter ego. When trying to impress someone of power [job interview] I normally stay away from slang or any type of non proper speech. I make my best attempt to sound sophisticated and educated and even when I don’t quite have an answer to a question I try to sound as if I did.
Language negotiations also occur in written language. Such negotiations are usually more noticeable in text messaging where everything is usually abbreviated or in slang. The emails I send are usually altered as well. Emails to professors and my school principal would usually be more refined than the ones I would send to friends and family. Everyone makes alterations that are suited to fit into the environment in which we are, whether it be consciously or not.

Anne's Autobiographical Essay # 6

Language negotiations that I make daily, that I hardly notice that I make correspond with my place of work. Discourse within the workplace is very contrary to that which I partake in, with my co-workers. Setting the scene, I work at Olive Garden. In the middle of the restaurant, an employee goes in doors which lead to an "alley." This "alley" serves as a place to obtain one's drinks, food items, and products for the restaurant. The kitchen is also within the alley. Typically, a discourse is more professional in dealing with people that one is serving. This is the case so that the clients will come back, tell other people, and so that they have an enjoyable experience. When a person speaks with their colleagues, they will not implement this tool of filtering.
An intuitive writing experience, in which I noticed a need for a shift within my writing, is the precise. I took a step back and noticed that I implemented a great deal of transitions. Not only did I fundamentally incorporate institutionalized grammar and punctuation, but I wrought my text so that it sounds like I have more authority. When a person reads my writing I want them to be able to pose the question so what? In essence, as a critical writer who provides a text for critical readers, I want the reader to be able to understand the message that I am trying to convey. In essence, journal writing differs significantly from that relating to academics.

Anne's Precise for May 11th

Gee brings up social situations throughout her text. Indeed, she argues that, language that one utilizes should be appropriate within their given social setting. Thus, Gee defines what literacy studies ought to encompass. Along the same lines, if one is to identify what language is, it is not so much grammar as it is, how one uses the grammar in a particular social setting. Since language is often coupled with grammar, it is relevant to come up with a new term-"social practices." Furthermore, to couple social practices with a new word all together that identifies what people who study literacy do to determine whether people are literate, we have "Dialect"(526). Gee stresses that "Discourse" is significant because it is defined as how one contextually uses language.
How one attains a "Discourse" has to do with linguistics, which is defined by Gee to be, a "body of knowledge"(527). Lingusitics strech from how one learns their native tongue to all settings involving language, that are contrary to institutionalized instruction. Gee ascertains that anyone is capable of acquiring linguistics; i.e, acquiring linguistics from family members, social circle, etc. However, not everyone can be a linguist. For instance, one must know how to act, think, value and talk in social settings where it is difficult to have the where-with-all in which to do so, if one lacks the familiarity of the institution. Extending "Discourse" to incorporate women and minorities, one comes to find out that they have the disadvantage. Case in point, Gee argues that to attain a Discourse, one must often be involved with it and put aside any values, etc. that one has accumulated in their home. Gee goes on to define a few more terms such as, "sympathetic fallacy," this term pertains to nature. For instance one may tell a story, such as the 5-year-old did in Gee's work, then they will incorporate nature into their story. The incorporating is relevant because, it coincides at the same time as particular events. To take something away from Gee's work, she ascertains that literacy is accumulated from one's home setting.
Typically, one accumulates an ability to be successful in discourse environments, other than their home, this is determined by their status. Indeed, if one goes into a church, institution, etc. and carries on well, in conversation with those around them, it is because of the events that have taken place in their home. Gee's text and arguments fit in perfectly with how one acquires their language. One first acquires their language based on adult interaction. Hence, one is able to act, speak, value, think well based upon an influx of both their home-based, and schooling environments.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Literacy and the Politics of Education

In the article, Literacy and the Politics of Education, written by C. H. Knoblauch, it touches on a deeper understanding about the concept of literacy. One important element that Knoblauch points out is that the idea of literacy is much more than what society usually perceives literacy as: which is simply reading and writing. Another strong point that the article gives is that only those in “power” and who are obviously literate have the ability to set literary standards for society as a whole. The problem is that there are many different circumstances pertaining to literacy for every individual or group of people. Therefore, it is inevitable that many people may not even reach those standards of literacy.
Knoblauch points out that there are four notable kinds of literacy that exist in societies. Those are functional literacy, cultural literacy, personal growth literacy, and critical literacy.
Functional literacy is probably the most familiar type of literacy, especially for modern society. It is literacy in the simplest form in which people use as a necessity. It is the literacy used when people process information. It can stems from reading an instruction manual to sending an email. It is the literacy that exists in the very basic everyday functions for people.
Cultural literacy depends more on the individual or particular groups themselves. It is when cultural values are trying to be passed down to further generations. This type of literacy is also known as traditional literacy because it “includes the awareness of the cultural heritage”. The big argument behind cultural literacy is that the rise of technology has weakened people’s abilities to memorize and hold on to tradition. For instance, since all people have cell phones, it is most likely that those people have lost the ability to remember phone numbers.
The third type of literacy is called literacy-for-personal-growth. This type of literacy is connected to the way humans develop cognitive thinking. It thrives on achievement and power. This type of literacy argues for the sake of literacy itself. It wants individuals to embrace literacy and let their minds wander into their own imaginations.
The last type of literacy noted is called critical literacy. This type stems from the Marxist theory, and is also deemed as a negative in our American society. It is the type of literacy that motivates people to urge for change in their current society. It refutes dominant organizations, and urges that all people have equal opportunities.
After Knoblauch describes these four types of literacy, there is a realization that “no definition tells, with ontological or objective reliability, what literacy is.”

Monday, May 4, 2009

Anne's Autobiographical Incident for Week 5

Thinking back to the first time in my life, in which my language abilities made me feel important or powerful, involves a reason for which I have decided to go into the teaching profession. The circumstances involved with this empowering literacy event involved: grade six and Mrs. Dallape's History class. First of all, I became a better reader because I enjoyed reading. I once heard a quote about how reading allows one to travel without ever even leaving their seat. This is completely applicable to Mrs. Dallape's History Class. As sixth graders, we learned about different civilizations around the world. Mrs. Dallape enabled her students to set foot in different cultures by reading about them and, writing about them as well.
Often times, Mrs. Dallape would allow students the option of reading aloud. Reading aloud enables one to use a different side of the brain. One hears the words aloud and comprehends them as well. Needless to say, I was constantly reading aloud. Reading abilities, I feel define the kind of student one is. For instance, if one's reading abilities are up to par for their grade level then they will more than likely achieve success in school.
Reading aloud was important in Mrs. Dallape's class because it helped me to attain attention from both my peers and my instructor. I aided others to want to become better readers and students. Indeed, because I liked to read I hope I motivated others to want to read as well. At the end of the school year, Mrs. Dallape asked me to read stories aloud and record them onto a tape recorder. This literacy event enabled me to become a more effective communicator; in addition, I currently have no qualms about participating in oral discourse with others.

"The New Literacy Studies" Precise

Street opens her piece entitled, "The New Literacy Studies," by primarily illuminating an autonomous literacy model. Transcribing the autonomous model, one would identify this model with someone in the field of instruction who adheres to those who are in authority. This figure highlights that one progresses on the basis what guidelines governing institutions have implemented so as to define a person as being literate. One comes to find out that a person's literacy skills are not solely determined via the institution; hence, this model is ineffective.
The fact is, specific groups of people often control the wealth of knowledge; indeed, specific groups tend to control who is granted access to literacy. Street ascertains that in identifying literacy and providing a model for literacy, one should understand that literacy skills are inherited differently, based on the individual. If one is deemed literate, the person who categorizes this person should understand the person's cultural background. In addition to making sense of words on a given page, and building sentences one's literacy ability has another criteria. This criteria for determining literacy is based on the amount of literacy resources that authority figures release and also what one's cultural background is.
Street's ideas about literacy are credible. Willingly, Street gives credit to those wishing to attain literacy. Boys and girls from different areas around the world who come to the Uited States are going to have different skills. People in authority who provide the curriculum for instructors of literacy should have regard to this fact. In essence, one's ability should not be determined by the literacy that institutions engrain in pupils' heads; rather, authority shall also take into consideration orality. Orality encompasses other people's thoughts and the way they realease their thoughts to others within their communes. Street brings forth thought provoking discourse. Street highlights that not all regions have institutionalized reading and writing supplies; hence, evaluators must take this into consideration.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Auto (week 5) Psychological Terminology

Being the eldest child of parents who only spoke Spanish came with many responsibilities, one of which was translating. As a child I detested translating, but with age I learned to like the challenge of converting words from one language to another. I remember sitting in the car with my mom one day and translating an NSYNC song to Spanish because she wanted to know what the song said, up to then I had never realized how fast and accurate I was. It was this day that I realized that I wanted to pursue a career which involved my usage of both languages, I had never been so proud of my translating skills. To this day I occasionally catch myself in my car trying to translate songs from English to Spanish as fast as possible or vice versa. I hate to admit that it’s a very bad habit because sometimes I can’t stop my brain from doing it so that I can enjoy the song.
Being a bilingual instructional assistant at Colton Middle requires that I translate IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meetings for non-English speaking parents. This, you would think, should be a “piece of cake” but it’s not. You see I’ve never really been required to translate anything in a formal setting up until I started working at the middle school. My first formal meeting was so dreadful that just thinking about it gives me chills. I walked in to the meeting thinking that I would just be translating behavioral issues but I was wrong. I had really walked in to a room with about 5 teachers, a counselor, the school psychologist, the principal, a social worker and a member of the district. I was so nervous that I was hoping and praying for an earthquake just so I wouldn’t have to translate. When the psychologist started to throw out terminology that I wasn’t familiar with I wanted to crawl up under a rock and die. I had never felt so illiterate in my life, not even when I first started second grade without knowing a word in English. That day I went home and looked up words that I had remembered. I also asked one of the other bilingual aides if I could observe a couple of her meetings, to familiarize myself with the terminology. It has now been about two years and over 40 meetings since that horrifying first that I have become immune to such embarrassment and more familiar with psychological terminology. I now translate those meetings as if I have been doing them my whole life, but I will never forget that horrific incident.

AUTO week 5

There are plenty situations that can qualify for either question. However, there was a time when I felt that both situations could be applicable, and that is when I had my first big interview. I was interviewing for a job at Riverside Community College, and the way the interview process worked was as a group setting interview style. Therefore, there were about five or six department officials that were carrying out the interview. I felt like I was in one of those detective movies because I was literally being grilled by all the interviewees. I know that interviews are typically frightening for any person, but what made it worse was the fact that there were several “Big Wig” executives that were interviewing me all at the same time. I was only nineteen at that time, so I don’t think my so-called professional language usage had been fully developed. Although, I don’t usually perceive myself as a shy person, I was very much frightened and nervous throughout the entire interview. I remember one question was, “How well are you with computers?” and my answer was, “Yes, I am great with computers, I took a couple of CSI classes in college”. The mistake I made was when I said “CSI”, which stands for Crime Scene Investigation. What I meant to say was “CIS”, which is Computer Information System. It was funny thinking about it now. After the interview I was sure that I totally bombed the interview. The funny part is that I got a call from them a couple weeks later, and I got the job. Therefore the group probably didn’t even catch my mistake.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Anne's Autobiographical Incident for Week # 4

Think about a positive schooled experience with literacy learning. What were the circumstances of this learning? How did other people figure in this experience? Why was it meaningful for you? Discuss the significance of the event today.
Positive schooled learning experiences have most significantly come from my recent year at California State University San Bernardino. Professors have a way of instructing so that one's writing can be thought of as a sandwich. Introductions are always necessary, they incorporate what the text will be about. In addition to that, the body should always reflect what the introduction has stated. Most importantly, I have learned that the conclusion should be an analysis of what has been written. Lastly, the conclusion should answer the question so what?
I never thought about posing the inquiry, so what? I always remember reading over different texts that my colleagues wrote. I never thought about asking the question, so what? What would one like me to take from their writing? Typically a paper should encompass different ideas that critics or others have come up with; however, to make something truly eclectic, a writer should add their own insight. For instance, Professor Sanders recently said to think of the following when creating one's own text, "Here's what the critics have said, but here is why I (as the writer) disagree." Also, Sanders gives other suggestions such as, "Here's what scholars have stated, but here's what they have left out." At the same time, Sanders says another example is "Here's what critics have said and, this is why they are right." Prior to Sanders' class I never thought about writing a paper in this way.
In my past year at C.S.U.S.B, I have also come across incorporating quotes so that I react to them. In addition, it is also important to always site what has been written. An example of this is a paper I wrote on the Mexican American War. I did not have any expertise about the war. I learned everything involving the Mexican perspective from different sites. A very valuable lesson I came across dealt with going back and siting all the places in which I derived ideas that were not my own. Thus is why my literacy learning years at C.S.U.S.B have made a significant impact on me.

Ethnography & Composition/ Moss (Precis)

There are two main elements that are addressed in Beverly J. Moss’s article, Ethnography and Composition: Studying Language at Home. The first being the definition of Ethnography, for Moss explores the position of an Ethnographer and how the research should be done. The second element that Moss is concerned about is the relationship between the Ethnographer and the environment, which includes the people that a part of that particular environment.
Moss is doing research on language acquisition learned outside of school. She claims that much of the language that student’s acquire are learned from different community functions that student families are a part of. Moss reflects on her own personal language acquisition as a child, and realized that much influence was taken place at her local Church congregation. Therefore, Moss begins her research, but before she begins she must first gain some knowledge about Ethnography.
According to Moss, “Ethnography is a qualitative research method that allows a researcher to gain comprehensive view of the social interactions, behaviors, and beliefs of a community or social group (Moss 389).” Moss points out certain restraints that may arise when attempting to pursue an ethnographic research project. Since her research would be done at a place that she herself is a part of, then certain approaches must be done. Moss examines the pros and cons when being put in the position of doing research in an environment that is the Ethnographer is a part of. The objective of the Ethnographer is to gather the most righteous information, and Moss points out that sometimes if the people are aware of the research then they are most likely to covet their honest intentions. Therefore, it will tamper with the outcome of the research being made. Moss encourages Ethnographers, who are in the same position as her, to act as a part of the community while doing the study. Therefore, the community feels more comfortable and will start to act like their usual selves. The best results are obtain when the community feels at ease with the Ethnographers.

The Ethnography of Literacy (Precis)

In John F. Szwed’s article “The Ethnography of Literacy”, Szwed elaborates on the misconceptions of literacy and how it is studied. Literacy around the world is viewed very differently. In the United States, for example, literacy has been singled out as a root cause of poverty where the responsibility for failure is assigned variously to poor teaching, overcrowded, classes, family background, the media, and the directions of contemporary society itself. But as Szwed claims, “we do not fully know what literacy is” we teach our children something we know very little of. Literacy has been viewed as a yes or no matter where either one can or cannot read but as Scwed states, “literacy goes beyond the basic assumption of being able to read and write”, we should consider the “social meaning of literacy where the roles these abilities play in social life, the varieties of reading and writing available for choice, the context for their performance, and the manner in which they are interpreted and tested, not by experts, but by ordinary people in ordinary activities” are taken into consideration (422).
The reading and publishing of novels is declining and as a result illiteracy is on the rise. Szwed attempts to explain that literacy is not declining but what is declining is what we consider to be literate. For example; most wouldn’t consider magazines, billboards, bills, graffiti, junk mail, cereal boxes or pornography to be a “book” but it is something that requires the same abilities one would need to read a book and be considered literate. Current available statistics “tell us nothing about the variety of function that reading and writing can serve. To consider only the use of books, in addition to providing information and pleasure- they are bought as decorations, as status symbol gifts, investments, and for other reasons yet to be discovered” (425), therefore to consider a person literate only if they read books would be incorrect.
Aside from the influence of school on literacy, family life along with extracurricular activities such as church also has a major influence on children. This leads to the assumption of families thinking that the school is not properly educating their children and vice versa. Scwed also talks about a case where black students using Ebonics were told that the words used in their poetry were misspelled and incorrect. Here the school did not take into account the language varieties the students may have. Similarly is the case with bilingual children where schools must learn to take their background into consideration when evaluating their literacy and competence.
Though I agree with Scwed with his views on literacy. I also feel that old literature (novels) must continue to be enforced on our children. The reading of contemporary literacy structures of today won’t be enough to keep future generations afloat, for novels not only require the ability to read but to critically think as well.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

AUTO Week 4

I grew up in the typical Catholic family. Therefore, when I was a child it was mandatory to go to mass every Sunday, and pray the rosary from time to time. Now, as an adult with a hectic schedule, my parents really can’t force their religious beliefs on me anymore. However, the tradition really stuck with me and I try my best to make it to mass on Sunday and pray the rosary if I have time.

I remember a few years ago, I think I was a freshman in college, when I really contemplated on my faith. I remember sitting in a pew at Church listening to the Priest preach about the day’s gospel, and really trying to understand the message the Priest was trying to convey. I realized that I must have read/listened to these gospels a billion times over and over again, but I never really analyzed the text thoroughly on my own. Strangely enough, Orange Coast College, the school I was attending at the time, had a religious studies class that focused on analyzing the gospels, so I registered.

When I started the class, I thought there were going to be a bunch of Crazy Christians who were going to try to prove how their faith was stronger than the others. I was totally wrong. Actually, I think everyone there was just as curious as I was. The class was a complete success for me. I learned so much about the Bible, and the history of it. The instructor was great too. I think before the class, I was never really able to defend my beliefs, and now I was.

Besides the epiphany I had with the class, the learning process was great and important as well. I think a person will only have a good learning experience if the interest is there. Also, the environment is important as well. The other students were as interested as I was, so it was a shared learning experience. I think it’s difficult to learn if you are the only one who wants it.

Auto (week 4) Math and I will NEVER be friends!

From early on in my education, about 4th grade, I had decided that Math and I would never be friends. My parents couldn’t understand why I was thriving in all other subjects that were more language oriented, since I didn’t speak much English, than in Math the subject which didn’t require as much language competence. I couldn’t quite understand either, perhaps I just wasn’t interested. For the most part, I was a good student which allowed me to slack off and still pass math with at least a C. Most of the math I learned was through memorization. My times tables, for example, were drilled into my head by my father who insisted that I memorize them, and I did. Fractions, where by far the most difficult part of Middle school and High school math, I just didn’t seem to find a reasonable excuse for wanting to be involved in the learning process of math, let alone fractions.
After high school I attended a Rio Hondo College in Whittier where I had to take a math placement test, which would decide whether or not I had to take a college math course. I tried studying a few nights before, but I knew I had no chance. About a week after the test my results arrived in the mail, I had scored so low that I would have to take three math courses before I could transfer to a university. My fist day of college “elementary math” came and being in a class full students all in the same math plane made me feel more optimistic about math. The instructor, whose name I don’t recall, was very nice and approachable. She had a very interesting way of making us learn mathematical formulas; she sang the formulas to "Pop! goes the weasel" or most commonly known as the “Jack in the Box” song. One of the formulas I could never seem to forget is the quadratic formula as she used to sing it:
“X is equal to negative B
Plus or minus the square root
Of B squared minus 4 (a)(c)
All over two A”
As I sit here and write the “lyrics” to the quadratic formula, I picture her clapping and singing to the beat of the song as if it was yesterday. Some of the students thought she was ridiculous, and initially I did too, but I grew to like her approach to those dreadful formulas. It was then where I started to see math differently. I then began to use this very same beat when it came to learning anything in all my other courses. Even today I find myself trying to implement the same approach to the kids I work with. If found that you can sing the process of meiosis to this beat or even when it comes to memorizing prepositions. I might look or sound crazy to them, but as long as one student can benefit from it then I consider my work well done.

Monday, April 20, 2009


The first book that ever really affected me in some way was The Giver by Lois Lowry. I was in 8th grade and it was one of the books that our class was assigned to read. It was the first book I couldn’t put down, and even though my teacher gave us a span of almost a month to read the novel, I read the whole thing in just three days. I have always loved books that portray a unique pseudo reality. Lowry created a unique world where the people experienced no pain, and the role of the giver was to sacrifice him/herself and indulge all of the communities pain and true reality. Jonah and the Giver’s role in Lowry’s society was take on the real world and cope with a range of emotions and reality. I guess it mattered to me so much because I realized that in reality all people are like Jonah and the Giver, we all feel pain and the affects of the world that surrounds us. It made me realize how we should be thankful for being given the choice to decide on our actions, and understand that sometimes that attribute may be painful at times.

Like I said in the autobiography before, reading books gained a reward in my family, and I was always the little bookworm. Although, my parents were non native English speakers, they knew that books were important for education, so they tried very hard to persuade all of us to read. Since my family is very religious, most of the books read to us when we were children were Bible stories. I enjoyed those stories very much too. I have a big family of seven children including myself, so distractions were always in effect. Those times still remain as a positive memory in my life because we were all together having fun.

The last book that really mattered to me was Ishmael, written by Daniel Quinn. It’s funny thinking about it now because in some way it relates both to The Giver, and the bible stories my mom use to read to us as children. Ishmael reveals another truth about society and the book incorporates many religious aspects. I liked the book because it made me realize it distinguishes two separate types of people in the world, which are the Takers and the Leavers. The takers like to use up all the resources given and feel that they rule over all of the rest of the world. The leavers, who are more primitive feel that they are connected or as equal the world/environment. The problem is that the Takers are persuading the bulk of society, so they use up all of the earth’s resources for their own wellbeing. The book made me realize that the American society as a whole carries the Taker attitude because we feel that we must have control over everything over the world. I guess I really like books that reveal the differences in culture and people.