Women as Objects

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This will just be a quick little post, but I’ve been meaning to share my thoughts about this topic.  A couple of weeks ago, one of my Facebook friends shared the photo above onto her profile.  She used the picture as a form of empowerment, but it had the opposite effect on me.  I think this picture is further objectifying women, even if it was intended as an empowering statement.  The quote is pretty much saying, “Women are cars”.  The fact that there are women in the picture that look like they are from the fifties also gives me the impression that we are expressing the ideals from that time, which was not a time for women to shine.  You see so many commercials, magazine ads, billboards, etc. with uncomfortable images of women as objects.  For example, here are a couple of images where a women literally become a part of a product: 

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Even though the first image is not really painful to look at, I believe that it has hidden messages in it that makes it very oppressive to women.  I just feel like people are finding comfort and power in the wrong ways.  Yes, it is great to be proud of who you are, but comparing yourself to an object is not helping your situation very well.

I’m curious about other opinions on this matter.  Did you feel the same way I did? Do you feel empowered by this picture?

 

A History of Education

This blog post is based on the reading, A History of Education by Painter.  This writing prompt will attempt to answer: What does race mean in this textbook? What does it mean that teachers are being taught to think in racial terms? What are the effects of teaching teachers to think in this way? The first thing I noticed about this article was the language and tone it was written in.  Since this article was written in 1886, there are obvious differences from articles today. I found it more difficult to read and understand because it was written in a different time.  I hope I don’t misinterpret some of the content, but if I do, you will know why!  Even though we are talking about race in this article, I thought it would be important to identify gender inequality with the use of the word “manhood”.  Whenever the author would talk about humans, the word “man” or “manhood” was used, which is a good identifier of the fact that it was written in the late 1800s.

In the introduction, Painter uses the word “race” to explain the human race, which is strange because the author uses the word in completely different contexts throughout the article.  At the end of the introduction, it is mentioned that “uncivilized peoples” are not included because their lives are “too primitive”.  Who was the author talking about in this instance?  We definitely would not be talking about how a group of people are “uncivilized” in our textbooks now.

The second time the word “race” was used was to recognize the Mongolian race.  A lot of stereotypes and  assumptions are talked about in the article: “They are hypocritical and dishonest ; and, once in authority, they are apt to become tyrannical, and even cruel”.  The author even talks about how they have had little progress with civilization and that they have “evident imperfections”.  Along with this, the article explains Chinese culture as the classics.

Painter explains that education in India would be of greater interest to us because they have “the same blood as ourselves” (Indo-European).  The article also says that people from India are easy prey because of their inoffensive character.  This goes on to explain that the English are influencing social, political and religious changes.  The article mentions that their divinities are strange and peculiar.  The author refers to their ideals as selfish because, “The highest religious aspiration is to be absorbed into the great, unconscious world-spirit”.

I feel like this article just encouraged the idea of othering people from different racial backgrounds.  Some positive things were said about China and India, but a lot of it explained how they were strange or uncivilized.  Following this curriculum textbook could result in teachers being very close minded and not open to new cultures because they seem selfish or weird.  It could also result in oppression because the article refers to some people as “uncivilized” and teachers could believe that to be true from reading this in the 1900s.  I think this textbook is more focused on recognizing differences than celebrating differences.  In our classrooms today, we strive to encourage our differences and embracing the different traditions we practice.

What is Common Sense and Why is it Important?

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This week in ECS 210, we were asked to respond to the following questions: How does Kumashiro define ‘commonsense’. Why is it so important to pay attention to the ‘commonsense’?  Kumashiro talks about and defines common sense in multiple ways.  In the end, it is all about what everyone considers “normal” and the expected practices, fuelled by social pressures.  He also explains that common sense gives us some sense of comfort because it helps make sense of our everyday lives.  This might be comforting, but norms privilege certain groups and identities.  Going further with social pressures, he discusses that common sense tells us what schools should be doing, and not what they could be doing.  He also talks about how protests against common sense are dismissed as irrelevant, inconsequential or inappropriate.  In this way, I feel like common sense is ruling our lives–it is almost like we don’t even have a say in what we feel is normal.  These ‘norms’ are definitely dominant and are social constructs.

So why is it important to pay attention to this idea of ‘common sense’?  I think there are endless reasons on why we should be more conscious of this term and on how we should think of the meaning of this term.  Kumashiro’s experience in Nepal is an example of differing common senses, culturally.  He liked to clean and realized that water was only located in the centre of the bazaar.  He also realized that different needs (showering, dishes, water jugs, etc.) were tended to at certain times of the day.  I think this tells us that we need to be aware of the difference of cultures, customs and daily lives in order to teach students in ways that tend their own particular needs, instead of being stuck on our own ideas of common sense.  This is also relevant when the students in his classroom told him that he wasn’t teaching right because his ideas were not strictly lecture-practice-exam.  It is very important to recognize these differences, also, because the Peace Corps had a failure to critique their own assumptions about how the U.S. were superior compared to Nepal.  Although it was not a goal to be oppressive, it definitely came across that way.

Since we are on the topic of oppression, I want to address how ideas of common sense and normalcy contribute to this.  When teachers in the Peace Corps went to places like Nepal, they would put off the message that the American way is the best way.  They were pretty much trying to assimilate these students into American culture, without even knowing it.  With this idea of common sense, students could think that they are unworthy or abnormal because they don’t relate to these ideals.  That is the scary thing.  You think that you are doing great things like bringing different approaches of teaching to other parts of the world (the main goal of Peace Corps), but you could also be oppressing others.  What bugs me about all of this is the fact that we have made it okay to oppress and discriminate because it is ‘common sense’.  Oppression is not recognized because common sense has convinced us that schools are neutral and non-oppressive.  This is absolutely ridiculous because this article has proved this idea to be the opposite.  I think that we need to carefully think about our goals and intentions because they may end up in a negative situation.  With this knowledge now, I think that we could become more conscious, open minded and genuine teachers.

Kumashiro says that values and priorities are embedded in approaches to teaching and learning.  Does this mean that our values are to oppress and to push our own ideas of what’s normal onto others?