Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Emerging Scholars Book

I think that a good book for the Emerging Scholars this summer would be Copper Sun. I think that this book would be best out of all of the books we have read because it seems to contain content that is more appropriate for high school students. It also incorporates a good deal of history that students already know something about, slavery, while still introducing new elements of this period in history. For example, many of the students have heard about the conditions for slaves once they reached America, but many have not had the opportunity to learn about how the slaves were captured or what the conditions were like for them on the journey to America. In the same way, Copper Sun offers a view of escaping slavery that is unique. I also think that this book would keep kids' interest in having to read it over the summer.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


After reading the original Mulan story, I can see how some people might think that the Disney version is overly Westernized, yet I can also see why some things might have been added to the Disney story. Those who argue against the Disney version could argue that the love story subplot between Mulan and the captain takes focus away from the true story and distracts viewers from Mulan's true actions and triumphs. In including a love story, the tale is Westernized to imply that even though Mulan was brave enough to fight for her father in the army, the tale would not be complete without her finding a potential husband. However, some aspects of the Disney version are needed to make the film relatable and into a coherent film, such as the back story about preparing for marriage in China and the accepted customs and beliefs of families. Explaining these things is important because not all young, Western audiences have prior knowledge of these customs of the East. In this respect, I would argue that anything designed to be viewed by many different cultures should be adapted in such a way that it allows the audience to understand the culture in which they are viewing; this, however, can be done in a way so as to not diminish the purpose and basic story of the original tale.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Not so Black and White

I have to say, from the beginning of this novel, I kind of felt like the author was setting up one cliche after another. From the original story of the white, has it all Eddie and the black, doesn't have so much Marcus, I felt like the author was exploiting this friendship but it was not until I reached the scene of the crime and the aftermath of that crime that I understood or saw how deeply that friendship was exploited. From the moment that Eddie pulled the trigger and changed the course of not only his life, but also Marcus's, I felt that he was a very exaggerated version of a stereotypical white, upper-class "I can do whatever I want" mentality. I want to think that this is just the author making a more interesting story, but I fear that this mentality is beginning to work its way into the minds of more and more teens in our country. I think this is why I became so frustrated at the end of this novel, because I fear that some young people that read this would feel that Eddie got away with his crime because he was more "valuable" for lack of a better term than Marcus. I worry that this mentality, as true as it may be, is going to cause more and more problems in the future between classes in our country. I also found the author's lack of guilt on Eddie's part to be somewhat unbelievable. I just cannot fathom how someone could allow their best friend to go to jail and give up practically their entire lives in order for me to go free, especially if I were as guilty as Eddie was. I think that the author wrote about real issues that are going on in our country today, but I also feel that some of these issues were dramatized and exaggerated for dramatic effect.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Fairy Tales

As a child, especially as the first child in my family and for both sets of grandparents, I was read to very frequently and the recipient of dozens of books. The majority of those books and readings were from fairy tales or folk tales. I grew up in the golden age of Disney Princess mania, with a new character to love and admire every year. The influences of Ariel, Belle, and Cinderella were evident in the Halloween costumes, merchandise, and repetitive viewings of their films. One of my earliest memories is listening to my grandmother read a version of Cinderella to me before bedtime. In fact, every night before bed when one of my parents would ask what I wanted to read, 9 times out of 10 I would choose a fairy tale of some sort.
I am sure that I am not alone in this phenomena as I have heard many other girls say the same thing about their childhoods. I think that fairy tales have become such a large part of our culture, especially for young girls; it is almost expected and assumed that every little girl would want to grow up to be a princess. I think this is in part because the of the tradition of passing these stories down from one generation to the next. I am sure if I ever have a daughter I will enjoy reading Cinderella to her as my grandmother did to me. I think that fairy tales are also somewhat important in today's fast-paced society in that they expose children to elements of the fantastic and encourage them to believe in things of that nature; in some small way, fairy tales help to preserve an element of childhood for a little while.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Alternative Value Stances in Multicultural Adolescent Literature

The article for this week was very interesting and conveyed relatable facts about how adolescents deal with multicultural literature in different ways. "High school students may have difficulty interpreting characters' practices because they are not familiar with the cultures portrayed in these texts." This particular passage from the article shows a side of teaching multicultural literature that is often overlooked. We teach multicultural literature to expose students to cultures other than their own, yet when we teach these texts, we automatically assume that students will understand those different cultures simply from reading about them. In truth, the lifestyle of today's typical adolescent often causes students to have difficulty in understanding cultures hundreds or thousands of years old. Take, for example, Esperanza Rising. Many students used to today's technology and lifestyle would have some difficulty fully understanding the lifestyle of a poor Mexican immigrant. In order to help students more fully understand the context of these texts, we as teachers must give students a wide range of opportunities to understand the cultures spoken of in these texts. Activities in which students can try to look at life through the eyes of the characters or extensive historical backgrounds of the time and area in which the texts take place are just a few examples of ways in which teachers can help students grasp a more full understanding of the texts they read.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Research Proposal

An abundant amount of literature taught and directed toward high school students references rape and/or physical abuse. I would like to find out whether or not this exposure has an effect on the perception of sexual or interpersonal relationships or also of literature for adolescents. As a broader idea from this topic, I would like to know if students respond with more interest in "controversial" topics in literature than they do toward "classics" that we as teachers are expected to love. I came upon this topic through a discussion during the literary circles in class. If you think about all of the literature that you read in high school or that is generally taught in high school classes, as well as recommended for high school students, never blatantly reference sex-- unless it is rape or abuse of some kind. After attempting to come up with novels and literary examples to discount this idea, all I could think of was Shakespeare, which never directly referenced sexual acts, or novels taught in AP or high level classes. This presents a few questions: why do authors focus more on scaring events than the normal or mundane that everyone must deal with? how do students respond to controversial topics such as rape and abuse in literature they are exposed to in the classroom and does it have an effect on their ideas of relationships? how can these scenes of traumatic experiences teach students about dealing with those types of situations?
For my research I plan to consult at least one major literary journal to see if this idea has ever bee researched before. I also have a growing list of books both taught and recommended in high school classes that show examples of sexual or physical abuse, some of which I will explore and analyze in order to see some of the authors tactics and intentions with inserting this type of situation into their work.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Multicultural Literature

One of the most interesting quotes from Dong's article states, "The deeply rooted liberal-humanist ideology stressing that 'we are all the same' has added barriers to acknowledging and exploring issues of diversity." I feel that what Dong is saying is complete true; when we state "we are all the same" and preach the everyone is equal mantra over and over again, it is almost as if we are ignoring and disrespecting those minorities who have clearly not been treated with equality or as the same as everyone else throughout history. In the classroom, I think that an incredibly important aspect of teaching multicultural literature is immersing students in the history surrounding the actual events that may be depicted fictionally. For example, in my tenth grade English class we read the novel Night by Eli Wiesel. Before we even opened the novel, my teacher spent a few days exploring the realities and atrocities of the Holocaust and the persecution that people who were deemed unworthy went through. In relation to Esperanza Rising, I feel that the author does a good job of incorporating historical events into the novel in such a way that there is a natural open of sorts for the teacher to introduce historical events that can show students how truly real these situations and events in these fictional novels were.

I also found what Dong says about teacher empathy towards the events and realities they are teaching to be very interesting. As an education major, this seems on the surface to go against a lot of what we have been taught. Obviously no future teacher has ever been taught not to have sympathy or to try to understand or respect what minorities have gone through but we are encouraged to emotionally separate ourselves from our students and their experiences. The way that Dong describes teacher understanding and empathy seems to encourage a very emotional connection with the students; however, I think that perhaps Dong's intentions are simply misread and he is truly trying to get teachers to take a personal look at the literature they are teaching so that they can attempt to relate or convey the seriousness of these situations. Overall, I find Dong's message to be very understandable and accurate. In order to teach multicultural literature in a meaningful manner, we must look past the conventions of our past that encourage sugar-coating equality and teach the actual events and realities.