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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Literacy with an Attitude

Literacy with an Attitude, by Patrick J. Finn


I enjoyed this reading a lot because it brought many different situations and points of view to the table that not everyone really knows about. Finn does an excellent job combining facts and stories within these two chapters that involve stories from two different people and their teaching experiences at a number of different schools.

"While the same arithmetic book was used in all five schools, the teacher in one working-class school commented that she skipped pages dealing with mathematical reasoning and inference because they were too hard. The teacher in the second working-class school said, 'These pages are for creativity-- they're extras.' She often skipped them as well". Chapter 2 (pg. 10) Jean Anyon
~Jean explains that after she had been to the 5 different schools, they all use the same book but the teachers working at the working-class schools decided to skip some pages while teaching arithmetic because the pages were "too hard". It's understandable for a teacher to be able to know what a class can handle and what it can't but for another teacher to say it's for "creativity" and basically admit she doesn't teach it either is disrespectful. All kids whether they be raised in a working-class family or million dollar family deserve the same education if they are going to the same types of schools. How is it fair that some children probably go to school as an escape from home, somewhere that they can focus and learn and really do something for themselves while the teacher doesn't even challenge them  to anything.

"Teachers made derogatory remarks regarding the students. A principal was reported to have said to a new teacher 'Just do your best. If they learn to add and subtract, that's a bonus. If not, don't worry about it.' A second grade teacher said the children were 'getting dumber every year'. Only twice did Anyon hear a teacher say 'please' to a student in an unsarcastic tone. She heard 'Shut up' frequently". Chapter 2 (pg.11) Jean Anyon
~ Also in this chapter, Jean mentions that she has heard some bad things at one of the working-class schools and what she hears and observes is very disrespectful. The fact that she once heard a principal tell the teacher not to "worry" if the kids don't learn to add or subtract is unbelievable. ALL CHILDREN SHOULD LEARN HOW TO DO MATH. It shouldn't matter what school they are in, that is an elementary skill children need to learn. Also, Jean mentioning that she heard teachers frequently saying "Shut up" repulses me because I know that if a teacher ever told me that in elementary school it would alter my learning and how I feel about someone who is supposed to help me. All children deserve respect and the chance to learn and be challenged in school, yes too much challenge is not good but some kids need it to show their full potential. Some of the things Jean mentioned that she observed in the "lower-class" schools is not right, it shouldn't matter where kids live or how much money their parents make to determine if they are gonna learn or no from their teachers.

"The working-class children were learning to follow directions and do mechanical, low-paying work, but at the same time they were learning to resist authority in ways sanctioned but their community. The middle-class children were learning to follow orders and do the mental work that keeps society producing and running smoothly...The affluent professional children were learning to create products and art, 'symbolic capital', and at the same time they were learning to find rewards in work itself and to negotiate from a powerful position with those who make the final decisions on how real capital is allocated." Chapter 2 (pg. 20) Jean Anyon.
~This last quote basically wraps up everything Anyon was talking about through her experience in the 5 different schools. Children from roughly the same area in New Jersey but part of different family incomes and different schools were all receiving different education. Like I mentioned before I don't think it is right, I think that all kids should get an equal opportunity to live their dreams and be successful. Whether they grew up spoiled or grew up working for every single thing in their life as children/teenagers they still need education and someone to push them to their full potential but at the working-class and middle-class schools, no one was pushing them or helping them along that way and it is saddening to hear that.

This picture here for all we know could be three friends hanging out. But different clothes and the notion that the two on the left are looking down at the man on the right shows that somehow "society" has chosen to look down upon those who work for what they have and not be given everything in life. But why are they the lower class? because they can't get a job? because no one will higher them? because they are judged on looks, not skills? the money they make goes to their food they need and the house they need and everything else they need to live. It all just goes back into a circle for some people but it isn't right to keep them form learning new things and getting the chance to achieve goals in their future.

Questions/Comments/Points to share:
I feel as if this reading could connect to Macintosh as well, I mean come on "white privilege" could be compared to many other ways people get "advantages" or "privileges". Lower-class and middle-class could be knows as "minorities" where as the affluent professional children were those receiving white privilege. I really enjoyed this read because it made me think about how lucky I have been to be supported by my teachers through my life so far and still am, to know that my teachers are doing all they can to help me and push me to my full potential is something everyone should be thankful. I'm not putting myself in a class category like those mentioned in this book but I know a teacher has never told me to "shut up" or flat out disrespected me on a daily basis and that is something to be thankful for.


  1. Finn could definitely be connected to McIntosh, as well as many others. Just changing skin color to class and it's the same problem. Just as you, I have been supported by my teachers throughout my years in Smithfield. I can tell they want the best out of their students and are willing to do anything they can to help us.

    Great post!

  2. I really liked the second quote that you chose because that was one quote that startled me as I was reading. It's so unfair that the teachers treat the students like that. They should want them to learn the material, and should be helping them in any way possible. Just last week at my service learning a student had fallen asleep in the library and his class was leaving to go to a different class. The librarian asked the teacher if she wanted him to wake him and they both looked at each other and decided they didn't care, and that he could just stay in the library. I don't know his background so maybe they know he doesn't get enough sleep at home, but it just seemed like they didn't even care that he would be missing classes by staying asleep in the library.

  3. You had a lot of really great quotes for this piece! Especially the second quote, it really shows how the teachers treated the students. You did an amazing job analyzing these quotes!!

  4. Nicole good job with these quotes. The selection of each was well done and you analyzed them very well. I liked the picture you chose also because it perfectly explains the privileged society and the different classes.