Sunday, April 10, 2011

Literacy with Attitude

Finn's Literacy with an Attitude
After reading Emily’s blog I realized that I have very similar thoughts on how to connect Finn with other authors we have read so far this semester. Delpit and Johnson run though Finn’s piece the most and have the strongest and most direct connections.
First off, I want to compare the connection from Finn to Delpit.  The quote, “he didn't say to an errant student, 'What are you doing?' he said, 'Stop that and get to work.' No discussion. No openings for an argument" shows a lot about what Delpit preaches.  If the students are told explicitly what is expected of them and what to do, then there won’t be such a cultural miss. There has to be control in the classroom and it has to come from the teacher.  If the teacher has authority, then the students know exactly what is expected from them.  When a teacher starts to ask instead of tell, it confuses the students.  We talked a lot about this in class and how primarily white teachers will ask a child if it is time to be playing with their toys.  This is giving the child a chance to think about what they want the answer to be and most often will just continue playing with the toys.  However, what really needs to be done is for the teacher to say put the toys away.  Then the child has no choice because they know exactly what should be done.  Delpit would say that being told the rules directly and explicitly is what needs to be done and that is what Finn is doing in his classroom with the students who need more attention.  He is such a hit with the students because he actually takes the time to tell them what he expects so there is a clear outline of what the class is going to entail.
The second connection is from Finn to Johnson.  Johnson would agree with Finn in educating those who are poor in order to help them succeed in the world.  If the poor were educated the same, then there wouldn’t be such a “divide in levels of income, wealth, dignity, safety, health, and quality of life.”  We actually spent a great deal of time talking about these differences in class and I agree with both that if everyone was equal in education, then all these things would be closer together and there wouldn’t be such a divide in who is more powerful in the world.  Finn actually uses this in his own classroom when he explains what he wants and gives clear directions as to how he wants it done.  He gets through to his students because there is no longer a divide between the upper level students and the lower level students.  Each student receives the same directions and therefore has an equal chance of succeeding.

I want to talk about my own education growing up and how we had inner city kids at our school.  They received the same directions as everyone else in the room and therefore in my opinion were able to succeed if they put the time and effort in like everyone else.  I wonder if having them in class with the upper level students made the difference instead of being in an environment that treated you as if you were poor from the start.  Does location really make a difference?


  1. I like the connections you made. I made the same ones. I really liked how you connected the authors. You made it very clear how they were the same and how Delpit would agree with what Finn is doing with his students.

  2. I think it's interesting how you connected Finn to Delpit. I think Finn is looking back on what he did with the students and regretting the way he handled them. Delpit would have said that being clear and explicit is the way to go, but Finn argues that no opening for discussion is what handicaps these students so much. They are never given any experiance debating, sharing their own opinons, or solving problems with creativity. The clash of the educational theorists!

  3. I was basically going to say the same thing you did Mary! I was going to say that yes while clear direction is useful but then there is no mutual respect in the classroom. ONLY the teacher has a voice and opinion and the students should just listen, never question.

  4. I was just trying to state that while students can also have a voice in the classroom there has to be some sort of respect and authority figure. We read in another piece that students expect to have authority and if thre isn't any then that is when they fall extremely behind. It is kind of like what we all did the other day in class. We did the worksheet because Dr. Bogad has the authority in the classroom even though we all are free to speak our mind whenever.